New bill demands free childcare for staff of large employers

PHILIPPINES: Large employers may be required to establish day-care facilities for their staff's children, if a new bill already passed by the Senate becomes law.

Titled The Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act, the bill is part of a bigger program to grant more benefits to single parents in the workforce. It also seeks to amend the existing law which provides benefits and privileges to solo parents and children. The bill is scheduled to enter the conference committee level with Congress when legislative sessions commence on January 17.

One of the provisions in the amendment stated that national government agencies, including government-owned and controlled corporations with more than 300 employees, as well as private companies with more than 200 staff, will need to establish day-care centres to accommodate their employees' children who are aged five years and below.

Each facility will be free and accessible to all employees, with priority given to solo parents. The bill further stated that the daycare centres should be located within the workplace as much as possible, or in a nearby accessible location.

The new amendment also stipulated that these employers should prioritise giving solo working parents telecommuting benefits. Additional new benefits for the solo parents are seven days of parental leave on the condition that said employees have rendered service for at least six months with their employers regardless of employment status.

Other new benefits include discounts on infant formula, diapers, medicines, vaccines, medical equipment and other child-rearing necessities. The bill also sought discounts for hospital bills and school tuition fees for the children.

It is estimated that there are at least 15 million solo-parent families in the Philippines.

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