The Philippines just made it a lot easier for working moms to spend time with their baby, thanks to a new law. On February 20, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Expanded Maternity Leave Act of 2019, giving mothers up to 105 days of paid leave.
A significant increase from the previous 60-day maternity leave that women in the Philippines had, the long-awaited law also allows single mothers an additional 15 days along with the option for all moms to take an extra 30 days of unpaid leave if desired.
The new law applies to all working mothers regardless of what sector they work in and how they gave birth (it covers abortions, miscarriages, and stillbirths as well).
“Today is a massive victory for women and their families,” Senator Risa Hontiveros said in a statement, reports Bloomberg. “While there will be more battles and challenges in the future, today, women win.”
She added that now parents “can bond and create more lasting memories with their loved ones, as families everywhere receive the greatest gift of all – time.”
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III also pointed out the benefits of paid leave for the country as a whole. In an interview with PNA, he said, “When you are a happy employee, you work well… It’s for the good of everybody especially for our women workers.”
The Expanded Maternity Leave Act may be a major move for moms in the Philippines, but it leaves dads wanting. Of the 105 days, only seven can be given to new fathers, meaning they can take a total of just 14 days of paid leave.
However, despite its shortcomings, the new Philippines law is still far better than the current status of parental leave in the U.S. While more and more states have recently put better policies in place (Washington just became one of five states to offer paid leave), the U.S. remains the only developed country without guaranteed paid parental leave.