Expanded privileges of solo parent

There are many challenges solo parents face — being constrained in domestic chores, serving multiple roles as a mother and a father to their children, having to live away from their children to work, and needing to earn twice as much to augment the needs of their child. Solo parents are most worried about financial concerns; and these difficulties, if not properly managed, will impact their child’s/children’s development.

This year is a celebration for solo parents as Republic Act 11861, also known as the Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act, lapsed into law on 4 June 2022. It provides additional benefits for solo parents which will help them ease their burden of single-handedly raising their child or children.

The measure introduces amendments to RA 8972 or the “Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000” with the main objective of making it easier for solo parents to access the relief they need. For instance, the new law specifically reduces the period before someone can be considered a solo parent due to abandonment from one year to six months.

Furthermore, grandparents who have sole parental responsibility over their grandchildren, as well as the spouses or family members of low/semi-skilled overseas Filipino workers who are away from the Philippines for an uninterrupted period of 12 months, are now entitled to the benefits given to solo parents.

Solo parents will likewise receive support from the government as the law directs the Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary, in coordination with other agencies, to develop a “comprehensive package” of social protection services for solo parents and their families that includes, among others, livelihood opportunities, legal advice and assistance, parent effectiveness services, and stress debriefing.

With the enactment of RA 11861, the following are the privileges that will cater to the 15 million solo parents in the Philippines and will support them as productive members of society:

1. Prohibition from work discrimination against any solo parent employee concerning the terms and conditions of employment;

2. Employers may enter into agreements with their solo parent employees for a telecommuting program;

3. Parental leave of not more than seven working days with pay every year, in addition to leave privileges under existing laws;

4. Scholarship programs for solo parents and a full school scholarship for one child of a solo parent in institutions of basic, higher, and technical vocational skills education;

5. Social safety assistance such as food, medicines, and financial aid for home repair during disasters, calamities, pandemics, and other public health crises;

6. A monthly cash subsidy of P1,000 per month per solo parent who is earning a minimum wage and below;

7. A ten percent discount and exemption from the value-added tax on baby’s milk, food, micronutrient supplements, and sanitary diapers purchased, duly prescribed medicines, vaccines, and other medical supplements purchased from the birth of the child or children until six years of age of a solo parent who is earning less than P250,000 annually;

8. Automatic coverage under the National Health Insurance Program administered by PhilHealth with premium contributions to be paid by the National Government;

9. Prioritization of solo parents in re-entering the workforce, and their children, as applicable, in apprenticeships, scholarships, livelihood training, reintegration programs for OFWs, employment information and matching services, and other poverty alleviation programs; and

10. Prioritization and allocation in housing projects with liberal terms of payment on government low-cost housing projects.

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