DOLE chief Bello pushes for 13th month pay deferment

Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre III is still pushing for 13th month pay deferment, insisting that under the law, companies that are in “distress” maybe be exempted from releasing the financial benefit.

“The law is very clear. We have to pay our workers on or before 24 December their 13th month pay. The only exception as provided under IRR of the late secretary… is when the company is in distress,” said.

Presidential Decree No. 851 (1) Section 1 states that: “All employers are hereby required to pay all their employees receiving a basic salary of not more than P1,000 a month, regardless of the nature of their employment, a 13th month pay not later than December 24 of every year.”

On Tuesday afternoon, the Department of Labor and Employment, the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council, labor and business groups discussed the issue.

The DOLE chief said he would also push for bankrupt companies to be allowed to forego giving 13th month pay.

“Pero, last night during the Cabinet meeting, I had the occasion to discuss this with Secretary Mon Lopez, my partner, the DTI. Sabi ko, ’Sec. Mon, meron kaming proposal dito na ‘yung mga distressed companies will be exempted,’” said.

DOLE chief Bello pushes for 13th month pay deferment

Bello said the 13th month pay deferment is still better than exempting companies in distress in providing it.

“‘Pero mayroon another option’ kako ko sa kaniya. ‘The other option is instead of exemption, puwedeng deferment.’ And I was surprised with the reaction of Secretary Mon Lopez. Sabi niya, ‘okay, puwede rin. Instead of exemption, puwede rin na deferment na lang’,” he added.

Malacañang said Monday that companies could not defer the release of  of workers unless the law is amended.

“The law has not been amended. That is the law,” presidential spokesman told a press briefing.

“Let’s allow the DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) to that. But I think until a new law is passed, that cannot be deferred,” he added.

DOLE is expected to release its agreement with the Tripartite Council on the 13th month pay deferment issue on Wednesday.