MANILA -- Labor groups on Monday welcomed the approval by the bicameral conference panel of the Expanded Maternity Leave (EML) law or the 105-day paid maternity leave for female workers both in government and private sectors.

In a statement, the Federation of Free Workers (FFW) said the action by the Senate and the House of Representatives “is a manifestation of a society that cares.”

“The FFW and other unions under Nagkaisa welcome said measure of both chambers (Senate Bill 1305 and House Bill 4113) as it also recognizes that taking care of a child is not the sole responsibility of the mother,” it added.

The proposed consolidated version of legislation grants seven days out of the 105 days maternity leave could be allocated for paternal leave, while an additional 15 days of paid leave may be availed by solo mothers.

“The approved bill almost doubles the existing benefit under the SSS (Social Security System) which is laudable and in accordance with existing ILO standard,” the FFW added.

On the other hand, Partido Manggagawa (PM) welcomed the bicameral approval of expanded maternity leave.

“It’s really the fruit of collective efforts. It became possible when women workers, trade unions and allies in Congress work hand in hand and doing campaigns in many forms just to make things done for the sake of women, their children and their families,” PM secretary general Judy Miranda said in a separate statement.

Once signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte, the current 60-day maternity leave benefits will be increased to 105 days. This is one week higher than the ILO standard of 98 but falls short of the 120 days approved by the Senate.

The leave benefit is transferable. It also increases the paternity leave by 100 percent and gives additional 15 days for solo parent.

Likewise, it provides for benefit is 60-day leave benefits for cases of miscarriage or termination of pregnancy.

The final version also mandates employers to cover the salary differential from the PHP16,000 maximum cap approved by SSS. It also removed the current limit of four pregnancies, adopting in effect the concept of freedom of choice in every instance of pregnancy. (PNA)