By Chester B. Cabalza
SOLO PARENTS’ WELFARE ACT OF 2000
“An Act Providing for Benefits and Privileges to Solo Parents and their Children, Appropriating Funds Therefor and For Other Purposes ”
“Raising a family is difficult enough. But it’s even more difficult for single parents struggling to make ends meet. They don’t need more obstacles. They need more opportunities…”
Republic Act No. 8972, also known as the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000 was enacted on November 7, 2000 to promote the family as the foundation of the nation, strengthen its solidarity and ensure its total development. Towards this end, it shall develop a comprehensive program of services for solo parents and their children.
Section 3 (a) of RA 8972 enumerates any individual who falls under the “solo parent” of the following categories:
(1) A woman who gives birth as a result of rape and other crimes against chastity even without a final conviction of the offender: Provided, That the mother keeps and raises the child;
(2) Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to death of spouse;
(3) Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood while the spouse is detained or is serving sentence for a criminal conviction for at least one (1) year;
(4) Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to physical and/or mental incapacity of spouse as certified by a public medical practitioner;
(5) Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to legal separation or de facto separation from spouse for at least one (1) year, as long as he/she is entrusted with the custody of the children;
(6) Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage as decreed by a court or by a church as long as he/she is entrusted with the custody of the children;
(7) Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to abandonment of spouse for at least one (1) year;
(8) Unmarried mother/father who has preferred to keep and rear her/his child/children instead of having others care for them or give them up to a welfare institution;
(9) Any other person who solely provides parental care and support to a child or children;
(10) Any family member who assumes the responsibility of head of family as a result of the death, abandonment, disappearance or prolonged absence of the parents or solo parent.
The Act also provides the Comprehensive Package of Social Development and Welfare Services for solo parents and their families which will be developed by the DSWD, DOH, DECS, CHED, TESDA, DOLE, NHA and DILG, in coordination with local government units and a nongovernmental organization with proven track record in providing services for solo parents.
The employment-related benefits available to all “solo parents” are found in Sections 6, 7 and 8 or RA 8972.
However, there shall be Flexible Work Schedule that the employer shall provide for a flexible working schedule for solo parents: provided that the same shall not affect individual and company productivity and that any employer may request exemption from the above requirements from the DOLE on certain meritorious grounds.
Flexible Work Schedule refers to the right of a solo parent employee to vary his/her arrival and departure time without affecting the core work hours as defined by the employer. The employer shall provide for a flexible working schedule for solo parents, as long as it shall not affect individual and company productivity. In case of certain meritorious grounds, the employer may request exemption from DOLE.
There shall be Non-Work Discrimination where no employer shall discriminate against solo parent employee with respect to terms and conditions of employment on account of his/her status.
Herein, employers are prohibited from discriminating against any solo parent employee with respect to terms and conditions of employment on account of his/her status.
Solo Parents can also claim Parental Leave, in addition to leave privileges under existing laws, of not more than seven (7) working days every year who has rendered at least one (1) year. However, said leave is non-convertible as per Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR). If there is an existing or similar benefit under a company policy, or a collective bargaining agreement or collective negotiation agreement the same shall be credited as such. If the same is greater than the 7 days provided for in the Act, the greater benefit shall prevail.
“Parental leave” means leave benefits granted to a solo parent to enable him/her to perform parental duties and responsibilities where physical presence is required.
Subject to income thresholds (“poverty threshold”) set by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and subject to the assessment of the DSWD worker in the area. Other benefits available to solo parents are found in Sections 9, 10 and 11 of RA 8972.
Educational benefits, including scholarship programs for qualified solo parents and their children in institutions of basic, tertiary and technical/skills education, and non-formal education programs appropriate for solo parents and their children.
Housing benefits, including allocation in government low-cost housing projects, with liberal terms of payment
Medical assistance, with comprehensive health care programs for solo parents and their children to be implemented by the DOH through their retained hospitals and medical centers and the local government units (LGUs) through their provincial/district/city/municipal hospitals and rural health units (RHUs).