Saturday, April 28, 2012

On Women and the Workplace: Night Work and Solo Parent Leave (Part 2)

Cathy (not her real name) works at an organization with 24/7 operations. Having just returned from maternity leave, she complains about her late-night shift as the schedule limits her time to breastfeed her baby. She also expressed concerns about her supervisor who does not allow her to take leaves for emergencies involving her baby. This, despite the fact that everyone in her workplace knows: Cathy is a solo parent.

Republic Act (RA) No. 10151, "An Act Allowing the Employment of Night Workers, Thereby Repealing Articles 130 and 131 of the Labor Code," actually caters to Cathy's first concern. The Act may be more known for enabling women to take on work assignments at night (from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am) as a means of promoting equal employment opportunities for women and men; but more than this, RA 10151 also provides women with alternatives to night work on special circumstances, which are described as follows:

(a) Before and after childbirth, for a period of at least sixteen (16) weeks, which shall be divided between the time before and after childbirth;
(b) For additional periods, in respect of which a medical certificate is produced stating that said additional periods are necessary for the health of the mother or child:
    (1) During pregnancy;
    (2) During a specified time beyond the period, after childbirth is fixed pursuant to subparagraph (a) above, the length of which shall be determined by the DOLE after consulting the labor organizations and employers.

Article 158 of the Act further provides that "a woman worker shall not be dismissed or given notice of dismissal, except for just or authorized causes provided for in this Code that are not connected with pregnancy, childbirth and childcare responsibilities." The same goes for her status, seniority, access to promotion, among other benefits.

Should pregnant women and nursing mothers really be needed to take on night work, a certification on the woman's fitness to render night work must be issued by a competent physician, other than the company's. Read more here.

Meanwhile, for Cathy's other concern, RA 8972 or the "Solo Parents' Welfare Act of 2000" actually entitles solo parents--both women and men--to take seven (7) days parental leave in addition to the vacation leaves, sick leaves and other service incentive leaves being provided by employers. Such parental leaves may be availed only under two conditions: one, the solo parent must have a Solo Parent ID issued by the City/Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office; and two, when the solo parent has rendered service for at least one (1) year in her current employer.

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This post is written in response to the the concerns commonly raised by friends who are in the same situation as Cathy. Somehow, I feel morally obliged to perform a "layman's" research on such topics and post my learnings on this blog. Special thanks to Atty. Nikki de Vega for her column, New Law on Night Workers, at the Business Franchising PH.

The next installment of the Women and the Workplace series shall delve more on the issues of solo parenthood in line with Sen. Loren Legarda's pending bill, Senate Bill No. 1439, which seeks to add more support and benefits to solo parents.

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