by Roy Stephen C. Canivel, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Mar 20, 2019
Costs entailed in implementing the Expanded Maternity Leave Law would affect the decision to hire women by a majority of small and large companies surveyed by the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (Ecop).
Almost half of them supported the month-old measure that nearly doubled this benefit for female workers, according the country’s biggest employers’ group.
The Ecop survey showed that 66 percent of 70 companies it polled said the law signed by President Duterte on Feb. 21 would affect their hiring decisions. It was not immediately clear if this meant they would not hire more women or they would set a limit on the number of female workers.
Ecop, however, said the law might not affect the employment of women at all. It cited equal employment opportunity and gender equality standards, a hiring system based on qualifications, and the belief that women were “more organized, more detail-oriented, and generally more reliable” than men.
The law grants 105 days of paid maternity leave to all working mothers in the government and the private sector, plus an option to extend the period for 30 days without pay. Single mothers will get an extra 15 days.
Previously, female employees were entitled to 60 days of paid leave for normal delivery and 78 days for cesarean delivery.
The maternity leave will be granted to women at every instance of pregnancy.
According to the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, the 105-day maternity leave is equal to Laos’ and better than Indonesia’s 90 days. It exceeds Myanmar’s 98 days, which is the recommendation of the International Labor Organization. Only Vietnam’s 180-day maternity leave is higher.
The results of the March 11-15 survey of Ecop were presented during a general membership meeting of Philippine exporters on Tuesday.
An Ecop official noted that this was just a “preliminary” poll, with the final number of respondents expected to total more than 100 once the survey was completed by March 30.
The survey showed 49 percent of the respondents were supportive of the Expanded Maternity Leave Law, 34 percent were not, and 17 percent were indifferent.
Ranking the costs they would incur under the law from 1 to a “very substantial” 5, the respondents gave an average of 3.63. Twenty of them gave a rank of 4.
Commenting on the figure, Ecop said the law meant “higher cost implications” in the benefits employers would give female workers, as well as in hiring and training temporary replacements for those on maternity leave.
This would also compromise the productivity of the company, leaving female-dominated smaller enterprises “adversely affected,” it said.
105 days of paid leave
Earlier, Ecop president Sergio Ortiz-Luis said 90 percent of businesses that were considered “micro” would find it difficult to comply with the law. Only 4 percent of the survey respondents were in this category, however.
Pertaining to their size, 51 percent of the companies surveyed were considered large, 23 percent were medium, and 22 percent were small.
Thirty-nine percent of the companies had more than 50 workers who could potentially avail themselves of this benefit, while 54 percent had one to 10 workers who were eligible for the additional 15 days of maternity leave allowed for single parents.
The 70 companies included 18 in manufacturing, eight in services, seven in logistics and transportation, and five in information technology and business process management.