Uncategorized

Expanded Maternity Leave IRR: All you need to know (Part II)

This is Part II of easy-to-read FAQs on the Expanded Maternity Leave Law. If you want to check the full text of the EML IRR, you can check it out in Part I.

Are female workers of the informal economy, and voluntary SSS contributors eligible to access maternity leave benefits?

Yes, if they have remitted three monthly contributions to the SSS within the twelve-month period before the semester of childbirth.

Who are considered informal economy workers?

Female workers in the informal economy are those who are self-employed, occasionally or personally hired, or subcontracted; paid and unpaid family workers in household enterprises, including home workers; micro-entrepreneurs and producers, and operators of sari sari sores.

Who are considered voluntary SSS contributors?

These are Stay-At-Home spouses, an OFW who upon termination of her contract overseas, continues to pay SSS contributions, a covered employee separated from employment who continues to pay SSS contributions, a self-employed member who realizes no income in any given month but continues to pay SSS contributions.

Can maternity leave be allocated?

Yes, a female worker may allocate up to 7 days of leave to the father of the child, whether or not they are married. In case of death, absence or incapacity of the father, the female worker may allocate the leave credits to a relative within the fourth degree of consanguinity, or the current partner of the female worker sharing the same household.

May the current partner be female?

Yes. The IRR contains the phrase “regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identity” of the partner.

Is the option to allocate applicable in the case of miscarriage or emergency termination of pregnancy?

No.

How much will the female worker in case she opts to allocate?

She will be paid the amount corresponding to the period not allocated.

Who will pay for the seven-day allocated leave?

The seven-day allocated leave is paid leave and will be borne by the employer of the father, or the alternate caregiver as the case may be.

How is the intent to allocate conveyed?

The intention to allocate is conveyed upon application of the maternity leave. Likewise, the father or the alternate caregiver must also inform his employer of his allocated leave.

What if one of the parties is from the public sector, and the other from the private sector? Can the female worker still allocate leave credits in that case?

Yes.

Must the allocated leave be used in a continuous manner, or can it be used intermittently?

It can be either continuous or intermittent. However, it should be consumed within the period of the maternity leave of the female worker.

What if the female worker dies?

The balance of her maternity leave shall accrue to the father, or the qualified alternate caregiver. If the money benefits have already been paid in full, the father or qualified alternate caregiver may still enjoy the remaining leave credits but without pay.

Is it a criminal offense to deny maternity leave benefits to qualified female workers?

Yes. The law punishes with a fine of not less than 20,000 pesos and not more than 200,000 pesos and imprisonment of 6-12 years anyone who violates the provisions of this law.

General

Expanded Maternity Leave IRR: All you need to know (Part 1)

So the Expanded Maternity Leave IRR is out! What great timing: on Labor Day, as a tribute to workers everywhere, and less than two weeks before Mother’s Day, as a tribute to all Moms. Since our office, the office of Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros, is the sponsor and champion of this law, I thought I would prepare a set of FAQs based on the law and the Implementing Rules and Regulations for working-out-of-the-house Moms like me. The law is available via this link. If you want to read the full text of the EML IRR, you can read it below:

This is PART 1: MATERNITY LEAVE FOR PUBLIC SECTOR AND PRIVATE SECTOR EMPLOYEES.

I will be posting PART 2 soon: ALLOCATION OF MATERNITY LEAVE CREDITS (the Daddy Quota!), MATERNITY LEAVE FOR VOLUNTARY CONTRIBUTORS (informal workers, freelancers, OFWs) and NATIONAL ATHLETES.

First things first, when is the effectivity date of the EML?

The EML has been effective since March 11, 2019. (This is 15 days after the official date of publication, which I think has been set at February 23). This means that all qualified female workers who delivered or miscarried on March 11 or later shall enjoy benefits under the law. This confirmed by the SSS in an interview quoted by Smart Parenting.

What are the maternity leave benefits under RA 11210?

Generally, a qualified female worker who has delivered an infant is entitled to receive 105 days of maternity leave, full pay, with an additional 15 days if the female worker is a solo parent. She is entitled to 60 days of maternity leave, full pay, in the event of miscarriage or emergency termination of pregnancy. The female worker may also choose to allocate a maximum of seven days to the father of the child, or in his absence, a qualified alternate caregiver. An additional maternity leave of 30 days may be availed of, on top of the 105 days, without pay.

What is the amount of maternity leave benefit that qualified female workers are entitled to?

All qualified female workers employed in the formal economy are entitled to full pay.

What exactly is the definition of full pay?

Full pay refers to all remuneration or earnings paid by an employer to a worker for services rendered on normal working days and hours not lower than the wage rate fixed by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board including allowancesprovided for under existing company policy or collective bargaining agreement, if any. Full pay in the public sector, on the other hand,  includes the basic salary and allowances as may be provided under existing guidelines.

Is there a maximum number of times that maternity leave benefit can be availed?

Maternity leave shall now be granted in every instance of pregnancy, miscarriage or emergency termination of pregnancy, regardless of frequency.

What about multiple childbirths (twins or triplets)?

The female worker shall enjoy only one maternity benefit, regardless of the number of offspring.

What about overlapping maternity benefit? (This can happen when, during the 105-day maternity leave period, the female worker gets pregnant again, but miscarries; or, during the 60-day period after miscarriage, the female worker gets pregnant again then miscarries again)

The female worker shall be enjoy maternity benefits for the two contingencies, but the leave must be utilized in a consecutive manner.

How shall the maternity leave be used?

Enjoyment of maternity leave cannot be deferred but should be availed of either before or after the actual period of delivery in a continuous and uninterrupted manner. It can be credited as combinations of prenatal and postnatal care, but in no case shall postnatal care be less than 60 days.

Who are qualified to avail of maternity leave benefits under RA 11210?

Female workers in the public sector, female workers in the private sector, female workers in the informal economy, female workers who are voluntary contributors to the Social Security System, and female national athletes.

Who qualifies as a solo parent?

Solo parent refers to a covered female worker who falls under the category of a solo parent defined under Republic Act 8972 or the Solo Parents Welfare Act of 2000.

Public sector employees

Who are considered female employees in the public sector?

This category includes any pregnant female worker in the government service, regardless of employment status and length of service, in National Government Agencies, Local Government Units, Government Owned and Controlled Corporations, State Universities and Colleges or Local Universities and Colleges. Employment status may be permanent, temporary, coterminous, fixed term, casual, contractual, substitute or provisional.

May maternity leave also be availed of by teachers during long vacations?

Female teachers may also avail of maternity leave even during long vacations, i.e., summer and Christmas, in which case, both the maternity leave benefits and the proportional vacation pay (PVP) shall be granted.

How will public sector employees be paid?

The female worker shall have the option to receive full pay through lumpsum payment or regular payment of salary through agency payroll.

How are disputes to be resolved?

For public sector employees, disputes shall be filed initially to the head of agency and then appealed to the Civil Service Commission. The agency shall not hold or delay the payment of full pay to the female worker pending the resolution of the dispute.

Private sector employees

Who are considered qualified female employees in the private sector?

To qualify for the grant of maternity leave benefit, the female worker must meet the following requirements: (a) three monthly contributions in the twelve-month period immediately preceding the semester of childbirth or miscarriage; (b) the female worker shall have notified her employer of her pregnancy and the probable date of her childbirth, which notice shall be transmitted to the SSS.

Are domestic workers (kasambahay) included?

Yes, they are included. The IRR defines employed female worker as “a female worker, including a domestic worker, who performs services for an employer in which either both mental or physical efforts are used and who receives compensation for such services, where there is an employer-employee relationship.’

What if the SSS benefit is lower than the actual pay received by the female employee?

Employers from the private sector shall pay the difference between the full salary of the female employee and the money benefits received from the SSS. (For example, if the employee receives 30,000 pesos a month, and then receives from the SSS 16,000 pesos as the monthly maternity benefit, the company has to be shoulder the balance of 14,000 pesos.) This is subject to exceptions, such as if the employer is a distressed establishment, is employing not more than ten workers, and is considered a micro-business enterprise with total assets of not more than 3 million pesos. (To know more about this, please refer to the IRR, which outlines the exceptions in detail).

How are disputes resolved?

Disputes relating to SSS payments shall be lodged before the SSS. Disputes regarding the payment of salary differential, and labor standards issues, shall be filed before the DOLE.

Uncategorized

Last night, I said things

Last night was rough.

You woke up every two hours, always in a fit of anger. I was perplexed. We haven’t really had straight nights of sleep, but it’s been a while since you were this difficult. Nothing I could do could comfort you. Boob? Not interested. Rocking on my chest? Not interested. Getting carried in a vertical position? Yes, ok, that works, but when I tried to put you back in your crib, all hell broke loose again.

I was tired, love. I just wanted to sleep. My arms were hurting from having to hold you vertically for what felt like hours. I also wanted to shut you up so that your Heit (*daddy) — who came home at 2am tired AF after a late-night Airbnb tenant check-in — can sleep. And did I say I was tired?

And so… I may have said things. To your little red angry face. I called you difficult and annoying. I said, verbatim, to all 31 chubby inches of you, “stop being a spoiled brat.”

Finally, you drifted off to sleep around 4:30am. I laid you on your crib and tiptoed out of your bedroom. You wailed again and I waited a while before checking in, and then you drifted off to sleep. “Little monster”, your Heit and I mumbled to each other, making groggy promises to encourage you to be more independent and less attention-hungry.

At 7am, you woke up for the morning. I half-asleep carried you downstairs to Leizl so I can get more sleep in. At 10am (thank God for Labor Day) I lumbered down for coffee. That was when Leizl sprung her news.

It turns out that this morning after I brought you down, she thought you were heavier than normal. She opened your diaper, and what do you know? It was full of poop. Humongous, sticky, stinky C-R-A-P. We had gotten so used to your pooping habits (daytime only, and with warning so we know to perch you in your little bowl), that it didn’t even occur to me to check your diapers for blowouts.

You must have been trying to push it out all night, and it might have already been in your diapers while I was busy being angry with you.

You must have been trying so desperately to tell me how uncomfortable you were, and I was busy calling you a spoiled brat.

I was so focused on my own feelings, I failed to consider yours. I was so focused on how last night was rough on me, I forgot to consider how it could also be rough on you.

I’m sorry, love. I’m sorry for the things I said, and for the things I thought about you. I want you to know that I’m learning, day by day. Every FAIL moment, a reminder to do better. Every parenting mistake, a lesson for the future.

And, on the upside, messy shitty lessons stick around the longest.

Baby Love My Baby Love

1:00 am

No, my baby doesn’t sleep through the night.

He is 14 months old, he is put to bed at 8:30pm, and every 1am without fail, he wakes up, makes his “awake-ness” known to the whole house, gets breastmilk, and then — depending on whether or not the goddesses are on my side — either slips back to sleep or gets cranked up and demands mommy time.

Yes, I know that babies past the age of 6 months *SHOULD* sleep through the night with no difficulty.

Everybody has told me that. I have been inundated with suggestions on how to get him sleeping for 8 hours straight. It has been suggested that I am an overindulgent mom, and my son, a despot in a teacup. A particularly pushy Tita has told me, “there is no medical reason a child above one needs to feed between dinner and breakfast.”

Of course, I’ve read all sorts of books to get him sorted. I’ve spoken to sleep coaches. We have had some improvement after employing some sleep training methods: after the post-midnight feed, we’ve gotten a straight stretch of sleep until 6am. I have gotten a bit used to it, and my body clock has adjusted accordingly.

But here’s the thing: there still is, it seems, enormous social pressure to drop the midnight feed. In the mommy blogs, in the self-help books, in the parenting forums.

I have decided recently to say SCREW IT.

No, it’s not just because I want to make sure my baby is fed when he’s hungry. Or comforted when he needs comforting. Or my warm body when his crib feels big and empty, and his room dark and forbidding.

It’s because that sliver of time when the universe around me fades to a whisper, is the only time my child and I truly have to be alone together. At 1:00am, when the work WhatsApps taper to a halt, when my husband is softly snoring beside me, when our household staff have retired to bed, I feel my child’s heartbeat next to mine. At 1:00am, I breathe his baby smells — milk and powder and little-boy wonder — and trace my fingers on the curvature of his head. I watch him sleepily look for my fingers to hold, reassured by the feel of our palms touching. At 1:00am, I watch what my embrace does to him, how it quiets the swirling chaos, and I wonder to myself how long my embraces will continue having that effect.

At 1:00am, I am his and he is mine.

Special Occasions, Uncategorized

Of gentle easters and infinite wells

(I wrote this yesterday, Easter Sunday)

My husband forwarded me via Whatsapp on Thursday the Easter promo of the hotel we are checking into for the holiday weekend. Face painting, egg hunting, magic show, arts and crafts. ‘Sounds good’, I texted him back, almost automatically, as I was in the middle of something. When I found myself a moment, I ran through the list of activities again — elaborate, expensive, instagrammable — and suddenly found myself being taken back to the more simple Easters of my childhood in the 1980s.

We spent our early years in an apartment in Paco, the same place my mom and her siblings grew up in. It was a house with doors that creaked with age, drawers that groaned with the weight of forgotten odds and ends, walls that held sepia-hued graduation photos from the 60s and the 70s, and a 5-square meter laundry area we all optimistically called the Little Garden. When you looked up towards the ceiling, you would see yellowed balls attached to wooden beams: the result, we were told, of a game my uncles used to play as irrepressible boys, where wet cottonballs would be thrown high up in the air to get as many stuck to the ceiling as possible. My brother and sister and I, we spent the earliest years of our lives in that house with the smugness and softness of unquestionably loved children. Love was the abiding truth of our childhood, and in many ways, the love in that house was a blanket that was flung over us to protect us and insulate us from the vagaries of the world.

Easter was always a festive occasion. My Mom’s younger sister, Auntie Boots, designated herself to be our Easter Bunny. She was, however, terrible at keeping secrets and hiding things. Weeks before Easter Sunday, we would start sniffing around for the plastic egg cases that would hold little pieces of candy. They would always be in one of two hiding places: in the small storage room where the ironing board was kept, or in my great grand-aunt’s room, in the wooden cabinet that hid reams of white bond paper and other wonderful things. We peeked at the candies during Holy Thursday and Good Friday, making deals to trade, planning how to spread them out so they would last the summer. Then Easter Sunday rolled in. After the Sunday mass, the big hunt commenced. My aunt made riddles that needed to be solved and elaborate maps that needed to be deciphered. When you find one egg, the clue for the next egg would be inside in, and so on. I loved it! When we were done, we all gathered together, showed off our loot, and then received our “big” Easter gifts. Which was maybe a Nancy Drew book for me, a Bobbsey Twins book for my brother, a stuffed toy for my sister.

My son and other kids of his generation will spend Easter Sunday in gleaming malls and big hotels, while their parents will partake of commercialized Easter brunches in tastefully-decorated spreads. It is certainly more convenient, anyhow. I already know I probably do not have it in me to make elaborate maps and mind-boggling riddles (and while we are at it, homemade Halloween costumes and daily themed bento boxes). But — and this is what I also realized today, amidst the wistful nostalgia washing over me — memories of our own happy childhoods are not there to shame the parents we now are. Rather, they are wells that we draw from, infinite and self-replenishing, so that whether our children take part in a mall-organized egg hunt or find themselves hunched over an elaborate DIY easter treasure map at home, love in its purest and clearest form becomes the abiding truth of their childhood.

Uncategorized

Raising a half-white boy in the age of Glutamax

So this whole Glutamax brouhaha has got me thinking about my little Dutch Pinoy. His dad has hazel eyes, light brown hair, and the kind of white skin that turns angry red under the sun. While it is too early to tell exactly how he will look as a teenager, it is safe to say that his Caucasian genes will always be undeniable. 
When i was pregnant with him, a friend of mine joked that since he would probably be good looking due to his Eurasian blood, smart due to genetics (heh 🤓), and educated due to social expectation, he only needs to manage his body mass index and the world is his oyster. 
I rolled my eyes then, but it was when i had him and we would bring him to malls and public places that the pervasiveness and relentlessness of our national obsession with whiteness truly became apparent. Once, at a Watson’s store, a circle of maybe 15 people actually formed around him to watch my son perform the impressive, extraordinary feat of…waving. They all say the same thing, “ang puti puti!” That awful Glutamax commercial only affirms what we have constantly been told: that white is valued, brown is commonplace, dark is ugly. If you’re dark, you should want to be white. And if you’re white, you can expect to get perks you don’t deserve.
Once I told my husband that we should probably send him to school in the Netherlands so he can experience being a minority person of color. Racism is academic until one experiences it first hand, and I’m absolutely fine with exposing my child to discomfort and vulnerability to make sure he doesn’t become an asshole. (My husband said we should go all-out and send him to Texas or some other MAGA state. Um, not sure about that.)
But yes, I worry. worry about what it does to a child’s mind to constantly be praised for being “maputi”, to be called guapo because he is mestizo. I worry about what it does to his can-do spirit and his drive if things are handed to him without him having to work hard for them. I worry, most of all, about what it might do to his soul — a soul that i wish will always be sensitive to the many ways the world is wounded and hurting.

So if you know us and are a part of our lives, please, do help me a bit, especially when our son is a bit older and can understand you: Resist the temptation to tell him how white and cute he is. 😊

Crazy Mommies

The weird alphabet soup of the mommy cult

“So, my DH and I were TTC for a while, and one day, after many years of trying, one day AF simply did not come, I decided to POAS, and then boom, BFP. So here I am, FTM and WM with my LO who I EBF’d until he turned one. I’m getting all sorts of parenting methodology advice — from CIO, to BLW, to AP — all of which which I am trying to vet and understand, even though many times, I’d rather be a SMUM.”

(Translation: So, my dear husband and I were trying to conceive for a while, and after many years of trying, one day, Aunt Flo simply (menstruation) did not come, I decided to pee on a stick, and then boom, Big Fat Positive. So here I am, first-time mom and working mom with my little one who i exclusively breastfed until he turned one. I’m getting all sorts of parenting methodology advice — from cry-it-out, to babyled weaning, to attachment parenting — all of which I am trying to vet and understand, even though many times, I’d rather be a Smart, Middle-Class Uninvolved Mum.)

Yes, acronyms are apparently a big deal in the mommy groups, and to be honest, that’s something I’ve never been able to completely understand. I mean, what global mommy referendum did I miss where they all took a vote and decided to call their kids “LO”? Whose Aunt is “Flo” and why did they name menstruation after her?

My foray into this wild, wordy world was through the TTC support groups. I derived immense comfort being among women with the same fertility issues (where we talked freely about whether or not a menstrual cup after sexual activity can effectively hold sperm in, and shared grainy photos of pregnancy test sticks with each other), but I have to be honest, I spent an inordinate amount of time just googling what those acronyms meant and it annoyed the bajeesus out of me. The seconds saved by typing ‘BF’ instead of ‘breastfed’ are negated by the minutes lost by another mom who can’t for the life of her figure out why someone else’s baby is BoyFriend.

If I might venture a potentially unpopular opinion, my guess is that this preoccupation with acronyms and secret code is symptomatic of larger exclusivist, “my tribe vs your tribe” tendencies. If you know the secret code, you’re mommy-approved. If not, you can’t sit with us. For example, if a parenting group espouses a particular agenda, stating a view even remotely contrary to that agenda is met with censure (“that post is against the rules, mommy” is a line I have seen hundreds of times, and btw, can that ‘mommy’ in the end be more passive agressive?), not with engagement, compassion and conversation. I am still astonished at how this “you can’t sit with us” vibe — a vibe that I haven’t felt in a long time as a grown-up, self-confident woman in an adult world — is so prevalent in some mommy groups. I am even more astonished at how debilitating and unnerving it can be.

So dear veteran mommies, if you feel the need to bust out your esoteric acronyms to prove your mommy street-cred, please try to picture the bewildered first time moms out there, overwhelmed by the relentlessness and (loneliness!) of new motherhood and reaching out for allies. I know because I am one of them. They (or, more precisely, we) have neither the time nor the emotional resources to figure out your weird alphabet soup.

Be wise, compassionate and clear, or STFU (no translation necessary).