Employers must pay their employees the mandatory 13th-month pay on or before December 24, Christmas Eve, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reminded them Wednesday.
Private sector employers are mandated to pay the benefits due to their workers equivalent to an employee’s one-month salary, Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma said.
This developed as the Department of Trade and Industry released the price guide for Noche Buena products on Wednesday to guide consumers on the current price of products sold in the market, boost awareness, and assist the public in making informed purchases.
Prices have increased by 10 percent to 27 percent, depending on the product, compared to 2021, Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said during the Laging Handa briefing.
Meanwhile, Laguesma said in a radio interview: “There is no exemption, no deferment. We recognize employers are still struggling. But according to the law, there is no exemption for the 13th-month pay.”
However, he noted that employers and employees could forge special arrangements to pay out the benefit.
“That matter (special arrangement on the payment) is between the employer and employees. They can just come to an agreement. We have not overcome the pandemic, but we need to understand the condition of the workers. For our (employer-employee) relationship to be happy, I hope we grant them what is set by the 13th-month pay law,” Laguesma said.
Castelo said the price of ham went up 10 percent, fruit cocktail by 13 percent, and mayonnaise by 27 percent.
“DTI continues to monitor, especially now, during the Christmas Season. For the Noche Buena products, we have a list of prices sold in the market,” she said.
Manufacturers also informed the department they would raise prices this year, Castelo said.
“We also have a standing appeal to the manufacturers. We understand that cost of production during this time is really high, but we appeal to them that if possible, the increase should be at an absolute minimum, but at the same time, they won’t suffer losses. We also don’t want them to lose money, but the increase should not be too much for consumers,” Castelo said.
Noche Buena products include ham, fruit cocktail, queso de bola, cheese, sandwich spread, mayonnaise, pasta or spaghetti, elbow macaroni, salad macaroni, spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, and creamer or all-purpose cream.
Presidential Decree 851 requires employers in the private sector to pay their regular rank-and-file employees their 13th-month pay.
They are entitled to 13th-month pay without regard to their position, designation, or employment status, and irrespective of the method by which their wages are paid, provided they have worked for at least one month during the calendar year.