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Get to Know Your SSS Maternity Benefit Under the Expanded Maternity Leave Law

We address the most common issues related to SSS maternity benefits under the EML law.

Working women who have just given birth can now enjoy the full benefits of the 105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave (EML) Act, or Republic Act. No. 11210, now that the Implementing Rules and Regulation (IRR) was released last May 1, 2019.

EML grants qualified working moms, regardless of civil status and legitimacy of their child, 105 days of maternity benefits equivalent to 105 days for every instance of live childbirt, no matter the type of delivery. Of the 105 days, the mom can transfer seven to the father of the child or an alternate caregiver.

Qualified solo parents under the Solo Parents' Welfare Act of 2000, or Republic Act No. 8972, are entitled to an additional 15 days of maternity benefit on top of the 105 days. The EML law also provides new moms the option to extend their maternity leave for 30 more days without pay.

For miscarriage or emergency termination of pregnancy, the law grants 60 days of paid maternity leave.

Based on feedback we have received, EML is a much welcome gift and those who gave birth after it was enacted felt fortunate to use it. Still, many pregnant women and female workers have a lot of questions about the implementation of the new law.

Here, we address the most common issues related to SSS maternity benefits under the EML law based on its IRR:

When did the EML law take effect?

The EML act was signed last February 20, 2019, and it became effective on March 11, 2019. That's 15 days from its publication in the Manila Bulletin on February 23. (It was published in the Official Gazette on February 21.)

It is retroactive. Though the IRR was released on May 1, moms who have given birth on March 11 onwards and already claimed their maternity benefits can still receive the remaining amount of the mandated maternity benefit.

Who are eligible to receive the EML benefits?

All women who gave birth on March 11 onwards can avail of the new maternity benefits. Women who work for the government sector, as well as private, professional, and informal sector female workers and voluntary contributors to the Social Security System (SSS), are covered.

When should I apply for maternity benefits?

To qualify to receive the SSS maternity benefits, the procedure largely remains the same. Female members should have paid at least three monthly contributions within the 12 months immediately before the semester of her childbirth or miscarriage. They should also have given her employer or the SSS (for self-employed, voluntary members) notice and proof of her pregnancy: the SSS Maternity Notification form and a medical certificate and ultrasound scan.

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Maternity leave with full pay is also granted to SSS female members who give birth, miscarry, or had an emergency termination of pregnancy not more than 15 calendar days after termination of employment. It also covers female workers in the public or private sector with pending administrative cases.

Is giving birth to twins equal to two maternity benefits? How about overlapping miscarriages?

SSS will pay the female worker only one maternity benefit per childbirth or delivery, regardless if she had multiples (i.e., twins). In case the female employee had two consecutive miscarriages, or a miscarriage and subsequent live birth, SSS will grant her maternity benefits for both. But the amount of the maternity benefit corresponding to the period where there is an overlap will be deducted from the current maternity benefit claim.

When can you start your maternity leave?

A pregnant female worker can start her maternity leave before or after she gives birth. Once she goes on maternity leave, however, it should be continuous and uninterrupted. She is allowed take her maternity leave before giving birth as long her leave days do not exceed the total number of days she is entitled to, whether that's 105 days for live births, 120 days for solo parents with live births, or 60 days for miscarriages and termination of pregnancy. That said, the number of your post-birth leave should not be less than 60 days.

If a new mom chooses to extend her maternity leave for 30 days without pay, she must give her employer written notice at least 45 days before her 105-day leave ends. No prior notice is needed in the event of a medical emergency, but subsequent notice should still be given to the employer. The new mom also has the option to use her sick and vacation leaves to receive compensation during her 30-day maternity leave extension.

How much can you get from your SSS maternity benefit?

The computation and the amount of your SSS maternity benefit are based on your monthly salary credit (MSC) of your SSS contribution. MSC is the compensation base or salary level for contributions and benefits related to the your total earnings for the month. When you apply for a loan or a benefit, SSS uses this bracket to determine how much you are entitled to. (Click here& the for the latest SSS contribution table.)

Here's how to compute the SSS maternity benefit: Within the 12 months immediately before the semester of the female worker's childbirth or miscarriage, add the top six highest contributions to get your total MSC. Divide your total MSC by 180 days to get your average salary credit or your daily maternity allowance. Then multiply your daily maternity allowance by 105 days or the number of maternity leave days you're entitled to, to get your total amount.

Employers from the private sector shall pay for the difference between the full salary and the actual cash benefits received from the SSS. (Private sector employers who employ less than 10 people may be exempted from paying the salary differential.) SSS will pay the full maternity benefit for those who are self-employed, voluntary contributes as SSS female members, and those who have been separated from their employers before giving birth.

Employers are still mandated to advance the full SSS maternity benefit to its female employees within 30 days from filing their maternity leave application, and SSS will only reimburse the amount computed based on her average daily credit. This is why employees are required to submit the SSS Maternity Reimbursement form and its necessary requirements.

How does the transferring of leave days to the father work?

A new mom can transfer or allocate up to seven of her 105 days paid maternity leave to the child's father, whether or not he is married to the new mom. It can also be transaferred to an alternate caregiver who can be a relative within the fourth degree of consanguinity or someone she lives with, regardless of gender.

Normita Doctor, SSS Benefits Administration Division vice president, explained briefly how this transfer is going to happen when the IRR was released. If the mother chooses to give seven days to the new father or alternate caregiver, SSS will only pay for the new mom's "un-allocated" maternity leave days, or 98 days.

The SSS female member should notify her employer that she wants to allocate seven days to the child's father or an alternate caregiver, who should also inform his or her employer, regardless if it's a company from the private or public sector. The seven-day leave transferred to the child's father or alternate caregiver can be used in consecutive days or intermittently, but not after the new mom's maternity leave period has ended.

If allocated to the father, it will then be credited as an additional paternity leave benefit on top of what is mandated under Republic Act No. 8187, or the Paternity Leave Act of 1996. The Paternity Leave Act, however, provides seven days of paternity leave only to new dads who are married to the new mom and living in the same household as her and their newborn. It is not filed with the SSS but instead with the new father's employer as typical work leave.

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