Senate approves bill for 120-day maternity leave

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Senate approved 22-0 the Expanded Maternity Leave Act on third and final reading Monday, granting working mothers 60 additional days of maternity leave.

Senate Bill (SB) 1305 grants a total of 120 days of paid maternity leave to all female workers regardless of civil status or legitimacy of child, with an option to extend for another 30 days unpaid.

Single parents will get a total of 150 days of paid maternity leave.

The measure also allows 30 days of the 120-day maternity leave to be transferred to alternate caregivers such as spouse, common-law partner, and relative up to the fourth degree of consanguinity, including adoptive parents.

Senators Risa Hontiveros and Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara authored and sponsored the bill, which was co-authored by Senators Francis Pangilinan, Loren Legarda, Nancy Binay, Manny Pacquiao, and Antonio Trillanes IV.

"By granting more time for a mother to be with her newborn child, we provide the optimal environment for neonatal and maternal health," Hontiveros said in her sponsorship speech.

Once enacted, SB 1305 will effectively amend Republic Act 1161, or the Social Security Act of 1997, which grants 60 days of maternity for leave those who undergo normal childbirth, and 78 days for caesarean.

The bill will also amend Republic Act 7322, granting 30 days of paid leave to fathers instead of the former seven days.

Violators of the proposed law will be penalized with a fine between P5,000 and P20,000, and imprisonment for not less than six years and one day, but not more than 12 years.

In a Facebook post, Hontiveros commended the Senate approval of the bill, saying "After 25 years, isang napakagandang regalo sa lahat ng mga kababaihan ngayong Women's Month! [After 25 years, this is a great gift for all women this Women's Month!]"