MANILA - The 13th month pay of workers is "mandatory" under the law, Malacañang said Monday, as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) studied a proposal to let some companies defer the distribution of this benefit, as the coronavirus pandemic left them struggling.
"The law has not been amended. That is a mandatory provision of the Labor Code," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque
"Pabayaan po nating pag-aralan ng DOLE. Pero sa aking tingin, hanggang magkaroon ng bagong batas, e baka hindi po iyan pupuwedeng ma-defer," he told reporters.
(Let us allow the DOLE to study it. But I think, until there is a new law, that might not be deferred.)
Media reports last week quoted Labor Secretary Silvestro Bello III as having said that his agency would study the exemption of "distressed" micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) from giving the benefit.
On Saturday, Bello said he was "misunderstood" when he mentioned that there is a provision which says that companies in distress are exempted from paying 13th month pay.
“It is very clear under the law that the 13th month pay has to be paid on or before Dec. 25. That is the law. There is no way you can delay or defer the payment of 13 month pay,” he said.
Since the coronavirus upended lives and livelihoods, some 13,127 companies had laid off workers or permanently closed while 116,471 others had temporarily closed or observed flexible working arrangements, data from DOLE showed.