No automatic grant of exemption from 13th month pay, says DOLE

Published October 12, 2020, 5:30 PM

by Leslie Ann Aquino

A company that applies for exemption from paying the 13th month pay is not automatically exempted, according to an official of the Department of Labor and Employment.

DoLE Undersecretary Benjo Santos Benavidez explained that while companies can apply for exemption, it does not mean that it will be granted such exemption automatically.

“They can apply for exemption but its not automatic,” he said in an online forum Monday.

Benavidez, however, said that they have yet to receive any application for exemption.

“To my knowledge, none applied last year and the recent year. That is understandable because in the past years we (did not) have this pandemic yet,” he said.

The labor official also revealed that most companies that they have inspected are compliant with the payment of the 13th month pay.

Under Presidential Decree 851, employers are required to grant 13th month pay to all its rank and file employees.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III already explained on Sunday that the IRR of PD 851 provides for an exception.

“We are not exempting anybody from paying the 13 month pay but the IRR of PD 851 provides for an exception, not us,” he said.

Meanwhile, Benavidez warned employers, which temporarily laid off its employees due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, against hiring new workers. 

“When an employer floats his workers, there is no reason to hire new workers,” he said.

“In such cases, the concerned workers may file a complaint and question the circumvention of his right to security of tenure with the company,” said Benavidez.

But, he said, not all hirings can be considered a violation of one’s security of tenure, saying  its a case to case basis. 

“We need to take a look at who are the workers on floating and are the ones being hired. They might not be similar positions,” said Benavidez. 

Under existing laws, temporarily terminated employees must be rehired after six months. If not, employers must provide the terminated employees with their mandatory separation pay.