DOLE warns employers vs failure to pay 13th-month obligation

Employers who have not yet provided a 13th-month pay obligation to their employees have at least five days more to comply starting Monday, Dec. 19, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) noted on Sunday, Dec. 18.

In an interview with DOLE Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma on Super Radyo dzBB, he reminded private companies of the December 24, 2022 deadline for the mandatory 13th-month pay.

Laguesma clarified that no employer was exempted from paying their employees their 13th-month pay, even if they have only been working for the company for a month.

While he said he understands that most companies are struggling to cope with the adverse effect of the COVID-19 pandemic , Laguesma emphasized the need to obey the letter of the law with regard to the 13th-month pay.

“Alam naman natin na yung mga kumpanya lalo yung mga nasa kategorya na micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) ay hirap pa rin dahil hindi pa sila lubusang nakakabangon, pero gusto ko lang sabihin na wala pong exemption sa pagbabayad ng 13th month pay [We know that the companies, especially those in the category of MSMEs, are still struggling because they have not fully recovered, but I just want to say that there is no exemption from paying the 13th month pay,” Laguesma prompted.

Laguesma also urged employers who face difficulty in providing the 13th-month obligation to seek the help of the department to avoid legal responsibility under the Labor Code of the Philippines.

He said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) also has a program through which small businesses may borrow from the Small Business Corporation (SBC) to provide employees their mandatory 13th-month pay.

Laguesma advised employers to dialogue with their employees so that they can meet halfway and come up with a winning solution to settle the problem.

“Pwedeng pag-usapan ng manggagawa at employer kung paano matutugunan ang 13th month pay kung hirap ang kanilang kumpanya ,” said Laguesma.

Laguesma warned that the Labor Department is seriously monitoring for 100 percent compliance of the the 13th-month payout.

He said employers who would either fail to pay the 13th salary on time or would not pay it will be facing consequences of the law.

The 13th-month pay law was introduced in 1975 as part of President Ferdinand Marcos' Presidential Decree No. 851. It aimed to resolve issues related to minimum wage, which no longer matched the cost of living.