DOLE eyes soft loans to help employers comply with 13th month pay

To help employers who are still reeling hard from the effects of the pandemic, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has suggested offering soft loans for them to pay for their employees' 13th month pay.


Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he already discussed it with Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) President Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) chief Ramon Lopez.

"Baka pwedeng mabigyan ng soft loan ang ating mga employers (Maybe we can provide soft loans to employers) so they can fulfill their obligation under the law and that is to pay the 13th month of all their employees on or before December 24 this year," Bello said in a virtual briefing on Thursday, Oct. 14.

According to Bello, he recognizes the plight of the employers, especially those in the micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), who have also been affected by the restrictions brought by the health crisis.

"I can feel the agony of the employers. Talagang apektado ang ating mga negosyante at talagang gipit na gipit sila (Our entrepreneurs are really affected and they are really having a hard time)," he added.

However, Bello emphasized that paying the employees' 13th month pay is "not only a legal basis but also a statutory obligation" that they need to fulfill.

The labor chief is optimistic that his suggestion will be realized as the ECOP president had a positive response to the idea and will continue to talk with Lopez.

Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III will be also informed on the matter to coordinate with loan facilities, Bello added.

Under Presidential Decree 851, employers are mandated to pay the 13th month pay on or before December 24.

The payment shall not be less than one-twelfth (1/12) of the total basic salary earned by an employee within a calendar year.