When Parents Go Solo, Can They Find Help in Law?

We asked two solo moms on their experience with the Solo Parents Welfare Act:

Godivinia Tupas, mom of 3 whose ages are 18, 16 and 15.

Gudi works as a support engineer in a financial company in Manila. She escaped from the clutches of an abusive husband and has been a solo parent since 2001.

“I'm fortunate enough to be employed in a company that follows and respects this law and that has unbiased treatment to employees. With the additional seven days leave, I have more time to spend with my kids,” she says.

But there are some problems with how the law is implemented.

I think it's not a problem per se, but the benefits of this law is only beneficial to working solo parents. If one is unemployed, they won't feel any difference. Plus the requirements are so many. For someone employed, it’s time consuming completing the requirements. The processing is very slow. We would need a week or even one month after for the ID to be released,” says Gudi.

She suggests that the law should give solo parents the option on how and when to avail of privileges, particularly the 7-day leave.

“Companies do not follow same rule. Like for us, some managers only allow us to use straight the seven days. While other managers allow us to use it only when needed. This is also something that the law should clear up because the purpose of the seven days additional leave is for the solo parent to use it wisely,” suggests Gudi.

Mayang Azurin, mom of 13-year old Karl

Mayang is a policy analyst and non-government organization advocate, with special interests in international development cooperation, women's rights, solidarity economy and good coffee. She and her spouse parted ways in 2008.

A single parent since 2008, she only learned of the Solo Parents Welfare Act much later when the demands of child rearing increased and she researched about the rights of solo parents. She applied for an ID in 2011.

Mayang says the law definitely helped her. “Now I am able to use my sick leaves for my own check-ups. I attend to all my son’s school activities without using all my vacation leaves, which should be used for the purpose of replenishing yourself.”

“Back then my employer didn’t know about the law. I had to do some advocacy work in my office, which luckily was accommodating to such needs. They just required me to get the solo parents ID as required by the law. When I got it, they started honoring my applications for solo parents leave,” narrates Mayang.

Mayang feels that there is a need for the State and its agencies to promote the law because it’s tough for single parents to have society accept them and for them to assert their rights. Second, it is not in the nature of employers to provide benefits for their employees.

“The process of application requires a strong degree of cultural acceptance of single parents and a psychological readiness on the part of the solo parent to be asked why she/he became a single parent,” explains Mayang.

Citing Sen. Sotto who believes that solo parents are “na-ano lang,” Mayang says such attitudes are the reason why solo parents, especially women, don’t bother revealing themselves or be interviewed as such by government agencies or employers.

In the case of employers, Mayang says they might be updated about the latest industry incentives and market trends but additional state-sponsored leave credits for employees will be the least of the things they want to hear about.

“The truth is, the law has been there for 17 years now and I bet that there is low compliance among companies. Unlike other statutory leaves such as vacation leave, sick leave and maternity leaves, solo parent leaves are not yet honored by many companies,” she surmises.

She also believes that the poverty requirement for other benefits stated in the law, such as scholarships and housing assistance, are unreasonable and unhelpful.

“Just being a solo parent shrinks your family income by half. Your health weakens, work becomes more challenging, and society discriminates against you. This is a different dimension of poverty to which solo parents are subjected to,” Mayang stresses.

And yet the benefits for poor solo parents might not even be there. “One time, I went to a housing fair in a mall and asked a government agency if they have special incentives for solo parents. He said they don’t have it,” she recounted.

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