The release of the 13th-month pay cannot be deferred, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said today after Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that he is mulling the possibility of allowing some companies not to pay the mandatory benefit.
“The law has not been amended. That is the law. That is a mandatory provision of the Labor Code,” Roque said today in his daily press briefing.
However, he said that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) should be given the leeway to study the possibility of allowing some companies to defer the payment, specifically those that have suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Let the DOLE study that. But from my point of view, unless there is a new law, I don’t think that can be deferred,” Roque said.
Presidential Decree 851 states that private companies should give their employees their 13th-month pay no later than Dec. 24 each year. The pay is equivalent to an employee’s one and a half monthly salary. In an interview last week, however, Bello said companies in “distress” could be exempted from giving out the mandatory benefit, leading some groups to express outrage.
The coronavirus pandemic — and the ensuing lockdowns– has resulted in the Philippines’ first recession since 1981, the waning years of Ferdinand Marcos’ regime. According to the Social Weather Stations, thousands of businesses have closed, while at least 27.3 million Filipinos have lost their jobs as of July. Roque said in August, however, that the dire situation “could have been worse.”
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