The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has given assurances all workers in the public sectors will get their 13th month pay this December.
“Deferring or giving exemption to the payout of the 13th month pay benefit is no longer on the table,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said, adding “the government will move forward with handing out subsidies or loans to ‘distressed’ employers to enable them to comply with the labor standard.”
Bello made the announcement after meeting with labor groups and employers where they discussed the issue on the deferment of the payment of the 13th month bonus as the COVID-19 pandemic impacted businesses.
From the labor sector, Elmer Labog, chairperson of the militant Kilusang Mayo Uno said in Filipino “This is the victory of our united action and voice in the midst of earlier pronouncements officials would defer payment of the 13th month pay.”
In the Senate, Sen. Joel Villanueva on Thursday urged DOLE to closely monitor employers’ compliance in releasing the 13th month pay.
The 13th month pay, he noted, would be a huge help to our workers who have been suffering due to the pandemic.
“I am appealing to our government to help our distressed employers to be able to comply with the 13th month pay law,” said Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee.
Bello said the government would implement the law.
Under Presidential Decree No. 851, employers from the private sector are required to pay their rank-and-file employees a 13th Month Pay not later than December 24 every year. The 13th month pay is equivalent to one twelfth of an employee’s basic annual salary.
Bello said that DOLE acknowledged that many businesses, especially micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), would be unable to comply with the 13th Month Pay law.
The Labor Secretary earlier said the labor department was looking at the possibility of allowing companies badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to defer the payment of their workers’ 13th month bonus.
Another possibility that was being considered was for the government to subsidize the 13th month pay of micro, small and medium enterprises workers.
Bello said he recognized that many establishments continued to experience low income, especially Metro Manila, due to the COVID-19’s threat.
He admitted there were establishments who could not give the 13th month pay, particularly the micro, small, and medium enterprises and they would be prioritized by the government once the request to subsidize was approved.
“Employers should give the 13th month pay of their rank and file employees on or before December 24,” Bello said, adding “They are entitled to this benefit, regardless of the nature of their employment and irrespective of the methods by which their wages are paid, provided they worked for at least one month during the calendar year.”
But KMU clarified that the point still stood that the national government through appropriate agencies must allot subsidies for micro, small and medium enterprises struggling amid the pandemic and economic crisis.
KMU also called on the workers to be vigilant and continue to be united as they monitor the implementation of the order set to be released during the weekend.
Villanueva himself said the Department of Trade and Industry was among the agencies where the MSMEs could seek help because they have available loan facilities at 0 percent interest.
“Let us guide our MSMEs since they will play a big role in reviving the economy,” he said.
Based on the DTI record, 99 percent of our businesses belong to the MSMEs, and there are about 5.7 million workers who are employed here. With Ben Chavez