No exemptions: DOLE says firms must give workers 13th month pay

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 15 2020 11:43 AM | Updated as of Oct 15 2020 12:20 PM

Customers shop for Christmas decorations in Quezon City, amid the general community quarantine in Metro Manila,Sept. 20, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA— The Department of Labor and Employment said Thursday it would not defer or exempt any firm from giving employees their 13th month pay, even as the coronavirus pandemic left businesses struggling. 

Speaking at the Laging Handa public briefing, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said his agency on Friday would issue an order on the 13th month pay. 

He had earlier said implementing rules and regulations of the law exempt "distressed" companies from giving the mandatory benefit. Presidential Decree No. 851 mandates the payment of this incentive every year.

Pressed on what the order would state, Bello said: "We will not postpone, we will not defer and we will not give any exemption to the payment of the 13th month pay." 

"The law says pay the workers their 13th month pay on or before Dec. 24. Iyan ang ipapatupad ng Department of Labor," he added. 

(That is what the Department of Labor will implement.)

Watch more in iWantTFC

The DOLE is seeking permission from the finance department to help micro and small enterprises give their workers 13th month pay through government subsidy or loans, Bello said. 

The labor department order that will be released Friday also covers employers' requests for the extension of the 6-month floating status of some workers due to the COVID-19 crisis, he said. 

The pandemic has displaced some 3.5 million workers, said Bello. 

The DOLE is looking for alternative deployment markets for migrant workers and has been providing livelihood assistance, he said.