Solo parents can avail of more benefits after the bill providing for such lapsed into law on June 4 without President Rodrigo Duterte's signature.
The Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act or Republic Act No. 11861 provides additional benefits to solo parents such as a monthly subsidy of P1,000 for those earning a minimum wage and below, discounts for baby milk and food products, and prioritization in government housing projects.
Here's what you need to know about the new law:
Who is classified as a solo parent?
A solo parent, under the law, refers to anyone who supports children who are unmarried, unemployed, and 22 years old and below or over the said age but are unable to fully take care of themselves due to a physical or mental disability or condition, and falls under any of the following categories:
A parent who provides sole parental care and support to a child or children due to:
- Birth as a consequence of rape even without final conviction
- Death of a spouse
- Detention of the spouse for at least three months or service of sentence for a criminal conviction
- Physical or mental incapacity of the spouse
- Legal separation or de facto separation for at least six months
- Declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage
- Abandonment by the spouse for at least six months
- Spouse or any family member of an overseas Filipino worker or the guardian of a child of an OFW, provided that the said OFW belongs to the low or semi-skilled worker category and is away from the Philippines for an uninterrupted period of 12 months
- Unmarried mother or father who keeps and rears the child or children
- Any legal guardian, adoptive or foster parent who solely provides parental care and support to a child
- Any relative within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or legal guardian who assumes parental care and support of a child as a result of death, abandonment, disappearance or absence of parents for at least six months
- A pregnant woman who provides sole parental care and support to her unborn child or children
What are the benefits of solo parents under the new law?
No work discrimination
Employers are forbidden from discriminating against any solo parent employee because of his or her status. Employers, under the law, may enter into a flexible working arrangement with solo parent employees.
A forfeitable and noncumulative parental leave of seven working days with pay every year shall be granted to any solo parent employee regardless of employment status, who has rendered service of at least six months
The Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority shall provide scholarships for solo parents and a full scholarship for one child of a solo parent in institutions of basic, higher, and technical vocational skills education.
Solo parents and their child however should meet the qualifications set for the scholarship programs of DepEd, CHED, and TESDA.
Child minding centers
The Department of Labor and Employment and the Civil Service Commission under the law are tasked to promote and encourage the establishment of appropriate child minding centers within the workplace or in accessible locations to the workplace.
Breastfeeding in the workplace
Working mothers, who are solo parents too, are encouraged to practice breastfeeding in the workplace.
Social safety assistance
Solo parents and their children are entitled to social safety assistance sich as food, medicines, and financial aid for house repair in the local government unit of their residence during disasters, calamities, pandemics, and other public health crises as may be declared by the Department of Health.
Solo parents earning a minimum wage or less are entitled to a P1,000 monthly cash subsidy provided that the solo parent is not a recipient of any other cash assistance or subsidy from any other government programs.
Discount and VAT exemption on baby products
Solo parents earning less than P250,000 per year can avail of a 10% discount and exemption from value-added tax on baby's milk, food and micronutrient supplements, sanitary diapers, duly prescribed medicines, vaccines, and other medical supplements purchased from the birth of the child until six years of age.
Automatic PhilHealth coverage
The new law also grants automatic coverage under the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. with premium contributions to be paid by the national government provided that premium contributions of solo parents in the formal economy shall be shared equally be employers and the national government.
Prioritization and allocation in housing projects
Solo parents, under the new law, should be prioritized in housing projects with "liberal" terms of payment on government low-cost housing programs.
How to avail of benefits?
Solo parents need to present their Solo Parent Identification Card and in some instances, the solo parent booklet, to avail of the additional benefits.