ECOP rejects proposed menstrual leave as ‘counterproductive’

The head of the association of Philippine employers is opposing the proposed legislation to grant paid menstrual leave to all female employees in the country, saying the Menstrual Leave Act is “counterproductive.”

Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr., president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), said in a radio interview that the bill is counterproductive in view of the many leaves already accorded to women.

“There comes a point na yung mga binibigay na… mga benepisyo sa babae becomes counterproductive,” he told Radyo Pilipinas recently.

Gabriela party list representative Arlene Brosas filed House Bill (HB) No. 7758 on March 22, 2023 seeking to grant paid menstrual leave of a maximum of two days per month with 100% daily remuneration to all female employees in the public and private sectors.

Brosas in her bill cited the “need to provide women with the flexibility and support they need to manage their reproductive health without the fear of negative consequences such as losing pay, falling behind in work, or facing disciplinary action.”

HB 7758 covers all female employees, except pregnant and menopausal women, regardless of the nature or status of their employment.

But Ortiz-Luis pointed out that women already have a host of paid leave benefits, including service incentive leave, maternity leave, solo parent leave, battered women leave, and gynecological leave.

He said these women-specific benefits including menstrual leave, when added to the mandatory paid leaves given by employers and the national holidays as well as Saturdays and Sundays off, would equal to 338 of possible leaves out of 365 days of the year for women.

In rejecting the bill, the ECOP head said it is possible its approval will lead to discrimination against women in employment.

Under the bill, discrimination against the hiring of women is prohibited: “No employer whether in the public or private sector shall discriminate against the employment of women in order to avoid the benefits provided for in this Act.”

Moreover, the security of tenure of those who avail themselves of the menstrual leave benefits is assured. “As such, the exercise of this option by them shall not be used as a basis for demotion in employment or termination,” the bill said.

Violation of the provisions of the bill has penalties. Any person, corporation, trust, firm, partnership, association or entity found violating this Act shall be punished by a fine not exceeding P100,000 or imprisonment of not less than 30 days or more than six months, HB 7758 said.

But Ortiz-Luis said discrimination may not be completely avoidable. “Mayroon tayong batas against discrimination… pero talagang yung mga kumpanya ay [kung] masyadong magastos… hindi mo naman mahuhuli kung sino nagdi-discriminate,” he said.

He further said that while it’s good to look to the outside world for good practices, in the case of the Philippines, it may not be applicable as the menstrual leave benefit could put off investors.

Brosas said that menstrual leaves have been introduced in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Spain.

Said Ortiz-Luis: “May mga investor tinitingnan din ang mga labor [laws] natin dito, nadi-discourage pag nakikita nilang kung anu-anong pinagpapasok nating leave.”

He recommended instead that women file for sick leave or vacation leave when experiencing menstrual pain.

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