I am the middle child and I have two siblings. My elder sister has a mental disability while my younger sister is still in high school. Our father left us when we were still very young. So, I learned very early in life to be responsible and to help my mother in taking care of my sisters. She worked very hard for us just to make sure she provides our needs.
Unfortunately, our mother passed away last year and I am left with the sole responsibility of looking after my siblings.
I am just new in my job. I only started last January of this year. To be honest, I am having difficulty attending to the needs of my sisters because of my work schedule. I am wondering if I can legally ask my employer to provide me with a flexible time. My friend told me that I am qualified to be considered as a solo parent, but I am not quite certain about it. Is this possible even if I am not the oldest sibling? Are there other labor benefits available to me? Please advise. Thank you and more power.
Section 3 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8972, otherwise known as the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000, defines and categorizes the term “solo parent.” One of the categories mentioned therein is when any family member assumes the responsibility of the head of the family as a result of the death, abandonment, disappearance or prolonged absence of the parents or solo parent (Section 3 (a) (10), Ibid.).
Given that you have assumed the responsibility of being the head of your family in view of the death of your mother and taking into consideration the prolonged absence of your father, we believe that you fall under such definition of a “solo parent.”
Accordingly, you may request from your employer to grant you a flexible work schedule, provided that such will not affect your individual productivity and the company productivity.
Nevertheless, if you are employed in the private sector, your employer may decline your request if the Department of Labor and Employment has given them an exemption based on meritorious grounds (Section 6, Id.). If you are a government employee, the grant of flexible work schedule is subject to the discretion of the head of your agency. Should your agency adopt flexible working hours, your weekly working hours must not be reduced and the core working hours must be prescribed, taking into account the needs of the service (Section 16, Implementing Rules and Regulations, R.A. No. 8972).
At any rate, no employer is allowed to discriminate against any solo parent employee with respect to the terms and conditions of his or her employment on account of his or her status (Section 7, R. A. No.8972).
Apart from the benefit of a flexible work schedule, “solo parents” are entitled to receive the benefit of parental leave of not more than seven working days every year, which shall be in addition to such leave privileges that are granted under existing laws. However, in your case, you may only avail it when you have already rendered service of at least one year (Section 8, Id.). If there is already 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 it is greater than the seven days provided under the law, the greater benefit shall prevail. However, emergency or contingency leave benefits provided under a company policy or a collective bargaining agreement must not be credited as compliance with the statutory parental leave (Section 21, IRR, R. A. No. 8972).
It bears stressing that solo parents must give proper notice within a reasonable time period to their employer of the availment of such leave. They must likewise present a Solo Parent Identification Card to their employer (Section 19, Id.). Please be informed that parental leave is non-cumulative. Neither is it convertible to cash unless specifically agreed upon previously. But the solo parent may seek damages if such leave was denied as a result of non-compliance by the employer with the provisions of the Rules (Section 18 and 20, IRR, R. A. No. 8972).
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.