The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) urged companies affected by the Covid-19 pandemic just to delay and not completely discard the granting of 13th-month pay to their workers.
In a virtual press briefing yesterday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the issue on the grant of 13th-month pay needs to be discussed by the management and employees.
This came as quarantine restrictions impaired the economy and affected business operations.
“Since the businesses are not doing well and the management cannot afford to give such pay, they may defer it. That might be the more acceptable formula to address the issue of the payment of the 13th-month pay. They cannot pay it right now, maybe they can settle it next year or next month. That’s an option. The other option is, if the company is distressed, (you) are excused. But you have to prove that you are distressed,” Bello added.
Bello admitted that they have to come up with an advisory to determine the meaning of “distressed company”.
Under the law, if a business establishment is characterized as a distressed company, it is exempted from giving 13th-month pay.
“We have to come up with an advisory to determine what is the meaning of a distressed company or a distressed business establishment for them to be exempted from the payment,” he said.
Bello also said they are looking to exempt micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) from payment of 13th-month pay.
“Undersecretary Benjo (Benavidez) and I discussed when it comes to 13th-month pay, if MSMEs may be exempted and then those with a capitalization of P1 million and above may be required but this is still being studied, it will be a subject of a tripartite consultation,” he added.
Presidential Decree 851 provides for the grant of 13th-month pay as a mandatory benefit for private sector workers.
An employer may give his or her employees half of the 13th-month pay before the opening of the regular school year and the remaining half on or before December 24 every year.*PNA