The Department of Labor and Employment said Thursday it will not allow the postponement, deferment, or exemption of the payment of the 13th month pay.
"We will not postpone, we will not defer, and we will not give an exemption to the payment of the 13th month pay," Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III said during the “Laging Handa” press briefing.
"The law says pay the workers the 13th month pay on or before Dec. 24 The DoLE will implement that," he added.
The Labor chief said this will be the content of the order that they will release Friday regarding the issue of the 13th month pay as well as their answer to the request of employers to extend the period to rehire employees who were temporarily terminated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It cannot be deferred. The provision in Presidential Decree 851 is very specific that the employers should pay the employees 13th month pay on or before Dec. 24. There's a slight complication because the Implementing Rules and Regulation (IRR) issued by the late former Labor Secretary Blas Ople, there is an exception. He stated there that employers or companies in distress should be exempted from paying the 13th month pay," said Bello.
"Based on our deliberation, there should be no exemption. That's why we are requiring all employers to pay their employees on or before Dec. 24 the 13th month pay," he added.
The Labor chief said they are currently preparing a proposal to Finance Secretary Carlo Dominguez to possibly give subsidy to employers categorized as micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) or give them an opportunity to make loans with banks.
"The employers want to give it (13th month pay) but there are those not capable and these are the MSMEs. We will help them if our Secretary of Finance will approve our request," said Bello.
The National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council composed of labor groups, business and employers, and government met Tuesday to discuss the issue on 13th month pay, among others.
During the meeting, workers strongly opposed exemptions on the payment of 13th month pay.