Surrogate solo parent’s access to benefits for his wards limited

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I have two nephews aged 12 and 19 years old. They are both illegitimate as my brother is not married to their mother, who passed away in December 2015. My brother has never been there for his children. He made his vices his priority than my nephews’ needs to the point that he abandoned them, which forced me to take my nephews in. I am having a hard time right now because I am just new at work. I don’t know if I am qualified to avail of parental leave and flexible working schedule considering that I am not the “parent” of these children who are under my care, and also the other one is no longer a minor. Please advise me on this matter.
Stanley

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Dear Stanley,
There are various benefits granted to solo parents pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 8972, or the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000. This includes flexible working schedule, non-discrimination at work and parental leave of not more than seven (7) working days for employed solo parents (Sections 6, 7 and 8, RA 8972).

Also, government agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Health, the Department of Education, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Commission on Higher Education, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, the National Housing Authority and the Department of Labor and Employment, in coordination with local government units and a non-government organization, are mandated to create a comprehensive package of social development and welfare services for solo parents and their families that comprises livelihood development services, counselling services, parent effectiveness services and the like. (Section 5, Id.) Educational and housing benefits as well as medical assistance shall also be afforded solo parents and their children. (Sections 9, 10 and 11, Id.)

We wish to emphasize that the term solo parent is not only confined to biological parents of the children they are caring for. It is enumerated under Section 3 (a) of RA 8972 that the term solo parent embraces “x x x (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.”

Moreover, the term children is not only confined to those who are below 18 years of age, unmarried, unemployed and are living with and dependent upon the solo parent for support. Persons above 18 years may still fall within the definition of the term children if they are incapable of self-support on account of their mental and/or physical defect/disability. (Section 3 (b), Id.)

Accordingly, you may be able to qualify for certain benefits granted to solo parents if you can clearly establish that you are solely providing parental care and support for your nephews who are 12 years old and 19 years old, should the latter be incapable of self-support on account of his mental and/or physical defect/disability.

Where parental leave is concerned, you may only be able to avail of the same if you have already rendered service with your employer for at least one (1) year. Insofar as flexible working schedule, it may only be granted if it will not affect individual and company productivity, and your employer may request exemption from the Labor departtment on certain meritorious grounds.

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.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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