The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) conducted two Tripartite Executive Council (TEC) meetings held last March 29 and April 5, 2019 regarding the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 11210 entitled “An Act Increasing the Maternity Leave Period to One Hundred Five (105) Days for Female Workers with an Option to Extend for an Additional Thirty (30) Days Without Pay, and Granting an Additional Fifteen (15) Days for Solo Mothers, and for Other Purposes”.
The first issue on the proposed IRR was the coverage, particularly, who shall be covered by the law. Various representatives from the labor groups stated that government employees under job order and/or contract of service arrangement were not among those mentioned under the coverage of the IRR. As such, they strongly recommended that these employees should be included under the coverage of the IRR. The labor groups explained that around 600,00 to 900,00 employees are under this job order and/or contract of service arrangement, and most of these employees are female. Hence, the application of the law in relation to these employees was urgently sought by the labor groups.
In addition, among those covered by the law are female workers who are non-SSS members and female national athletes. Female workers who are non-SSS members shall be governed by Philhealth. However, members of the TEC questioned the extent or the amount of the entitlement the Philhealth may give a female worker. Unfortunately, there was no representative from Philhealth to answer the question. Regarding the female national athletes, members of the TEC questioned who the employer of these athletes are, if any.
Another issue raised was on the maternity leave benefit itself. Members of the TEC asked why 105 days paid leave is given to a female worker after live childbirth and only 60 days is given to a female worker for a miscarriage and emergency termination. The DOLE answered that the 60-day benefit is given to a female worker to recover from the hospital procedure and any day beyond 60 days shall be for the purpose of taking care of the baby.
On the salary differential provision, the IRR states that the SSS shall reimburse to the employer the maternity benefits advanced to the employed female member, only to the extent of one hundred percent (100%) of her average daily salary credit for one hundred five (105) days or sixty (60) days, as the case may be, upon receipt of satisfactory and legal proof of such payment. The IRR further states that “employers from the private sector shall pay for the difference between the full salary and the actual cash benefits received from the SSS.
The Employers of the Philippines (ECOP) commented that the Expanded Maternity Leave Law merely states that “the SSS shall immediately reimburse the employer of one hundred percent (100%) of the amount of maternity benefits advanced to the female worker by the employer upon receipt of satisfactory and legal proof of such payment”. This means that if the employer is made to pay the salary differential between the actual cash benefits and their regular wage, the SSS shall reimburse the employer the salary differential paid to the qualified female worker. Hence, it is ECOP’s position that the provision in the IRR stating that the SSS shall reimburse the employer only up to the average daily salary credit is not consistent with the law.
There were no other crucial nor important provision that were discussed thereafter. The DOLE announced that another TEC meeting shall be conducted within the month of April.