SSS welcomes Expanded Maternity Coverage’s GAA funding

The state-run Social Security System (SSS) on Tuesday welcomed the swift passage of the proposed expanded maternity coverage for female workers with identified source of funding during the bicameral committee conference held at the lower house yesterday.

The proposed law or the “105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Law of 2018”, a consolidation of Senate Bill 1305 and House Bill 4113, has identified that the benefit amount necessary to implement the Act shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.

“We are very thankful to the bicameral committee as they have seen the need to identify enough funding mechanism to fully implement the proposed law. We, at SSS, recognize their advocacy to provide better social security protection to female workers especially when they put their own life in danger during and after pregnancy,” SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel F. Dooc said.

Dooc, however, clarified that his statement was based on the report given by the SSS team who attended the bicameral conference committee meeting yesterday. SSS has yet to receive the official committee report.

Under the proposed law, the current number of covered days for maternity leave will increase to 105 days from 60 days and 70 days, for normal and cesarean delivery, respectively. Solo parents will enjoy additional 15 days or a total of 120 days of maternity benefit. There will also be no limit on the number of times of pregnancy compared to the current limitation of four pregnancies.

“We are in the process of finalizing the numbers for the said measure as we only have actuarial studies for the 100-day and 120-day proposals. In the 100-day actuarial study, the maternity benefit disbursement will increase by about P3.6 billion. But that study does not include the unlimited number of pregnancies so we also have to look into that. We’ll present the numbers from our actuarial study soon,” Dooc said.

SSS actuarial studies showed that an additional 0.3 percent in monthly contribution is needed if the earlier version of the expanded maternity bill will be passed into law. So from the current 11 percent monthly contribution rate, it would have to increase to 11.3 percent. That would cover for the additional benefit disbursements and increase in unfunded liability to be brought about by increasing the maternity benefit payment period to 100 days.

“We are not against any proposal that would give additional benefit to our members. We are sensitive to the needs of the members who have clamored over the years for higher SSS benefits. However, we cannot afford to lose the pension fund in the future if no sustainable source of funding is identified to fund the additional benefit payments,” Dooc said.

At present, the contribution rate for maternity benefit still remains at 0.4 percent of the monthly salary credit of a qualified member or around P64 for every P1760 monthly contribution.

SSS has so far disbursed more than P3 billion worth of maternity benefits to over 157,000 qualified female members from January to June 2018. Maternity benefit disbursements jumped by 12 percent to P3.37 billion during the first half of 2018 from the P3.01 billion disbursements on the same six-month period last year.