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article imagePhilippine Congress eyes passage of comprehensive pregnancy law

By Antonio Figueroa     Jan 10, 2013 in Politics
After passing the contentious Reproductive Health bill, which President Benigno S. Aquino III signed into law last December 2012, the Philippine Congress is eyeing in approving a measure that will give employed pregnant women inclusive coverage.
Authored by Rep. Maria Evita R. Arago of the third district of Laguna, a province adjacent to Metro Manila, the initiative, House Bill 6691 proposes to establish a complete package that would benefit women employed while they are on the family way.
“Pregnant women who are employed,” the lawmaker said, “will enjoy… medical leaves once every month for pregnancy-related medical consultation” on the condition that the recipient “has previously furnished her employer a medical certificate confirming her pregnancy and the ailment or affliction she might be suffering from is a result of her pregnancy.”
The bill, which covers health, economic, and social benefits, also mandates that leave privileges under existing laws shall apply.
To avail of the medical leave, the legislator said, the pregnant woman must have rendered service of at least one year before she became pregnant and her condition does not affect individual and company productivity, adding she shall “notify her employer at least five days in advance each time she takes such medical leave.”
Under the bill, a pregnant woman is qualified for aid if her income is below the poverty threshold of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and it has passed assessment by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) worker in her area.
The bill likewise seeks to provide secure and flexible working hours for pregnant women as long as it does not adversely affect productivity, mandates the Department of Health (DOH) to develop a comprehensive health care program for pregnant women for implementation in hospitals, medical centers, and health units.
Under existing Philippine laws, every pregnant woman working in government is entitled to a maternity leave of 60 days, whether normal or by caesarean section.
She is also entitled to full maternity benefits if she has worked in government for at least two years, and if she has rendered service for over a year but less than two years, her maternity benefits will be proportionate to her length of service.
For privately employed pregnant women, she is entitled to take a leave with full pay for 60 calendar days when normal, or 78 calendar days for caesarean delivery.
To avail of this, she has to comply certain conditions, such as membership in the Social Security System (SSS), the employer was previously notified of the pregnancy and due date, and has paid at least three monthly SSS contributions within the 12-month period preceding the semester of childbirth or miscarriage.
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