THE Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) on Thursday said companies will not be allowed to defer the distribution of the 13th month pay of its workers, even as businesses struggle amid the economic slowdown.
“We will not postpone, we will not defer and we will not give any exemption to the payment of the 13th month pay,” Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said in an online briefing, Thursday.
“Hindi pwedeng i-defer (It cannot be deferred)… the employers should pay employees 13th month pay on or before Dec. 24,” he added citing Presidential Decree No. 851.
The DoLE will issue a new order on the 13th month pay on Friday (Oct. 16).
Mr. Bello also made it clear it will not exempt any company from the 13th month pay, but said the DoLE is working on a proposed government subsidy for companies badly affected by the crisis. He said the proposal will be submitted to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III.
“Maliban sa proposal namin na magbigay ng subsidy ang ating government, meron alternative proposal, and that is to open ‘yung linya ng mga bangko, para makautang ‘yung ating mga micro and small enterprises (Aside from the proposal to grant a subsidy, we also have an alternative proposal and that is for banks to extend loans to MSMEs),” Mr. Bello said.
This followed the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council meeting attended by Mr. Bello, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECoP) and other labor groups to settle discussions on the 13th month pay.
ECoP earlier sought a deferment of the 13th month pay or exemption for some firms. As a compromise, ECoP urged the government to grant loans for companies in order to cover the 13th month pay.
ECoP President Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr. said the exception provided under the law applies to businesses incurring substantial losses for the last two years.
“The reality is I don’t believe anybody is going to apply for the exemption. To begin with under the law, the exemption, di naman kasama ang pandemic (is not covered),” he said over phone, Thursday.
“My suggestion, which readily everybody agreed… why don’t the government come up with a facility to lend those who have no cash to pay the 13th month pay.”
Meanwhile, the Associated Labor Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), which was also present during the meeting, welcomed the DoLE’s decision.
“This positive development proves that social dialogue between labor, business and government particularly on important issues involving these key sectors really works,” ALU National Executive Vice-President Gerard R. Seno said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan