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Department of Labor and Employment: 13th month pay in 2020

According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Philippines ' economy could lose about $669 million and $1.94 billion. This translates to 87,000 to 252,000 jobs lost across the five sectors. Within this figure, there are businesses that have closed their doors and even failed to pay their employees' salaries. 

Most employees were sent home with any wages to sustain them during the pandemic. This has rendered the families poor and even unable to cater to their basic needs. Even though the government approved the tranche program in which each family was to receive funds, it was not enough.

 This is why the government issued instructions for businesses to pay their employees' outstanding salaries. Through the Department Of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the authorities stated there would be no deferment exemption postponement of 13th-month pay. 

Below, we will break down the statement issued by the department to understand it better. Plus, we'll also see how the agency plans to enforce the new rule.

13th Month Pay will be paid on time

On Thursday, October 15th, the Department of Labor and Employment stated that all employers must pay their employees their 13th-month pay. This should be done not later than 

December 24th, 2020. The labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III further said during a briefing that they wouldn't postpone, defer, or even give an exemption to the pay payment.  

He continued to say the law stipulates that the workers are to be paid their 13th-month wages before December 24th. He even stated that this is what the Department of Labor will enforce. Moreover, according to the Presidential Decree (PD) 851, the pay is not supposed to be deferred based on their interpretation. Hence, no exemption would be done to employers. However, Bello's statements faced a lot of criticism from the labor and other groups. He said the department would survey to see which firms shall be exempted from giving the 13th-month pay. He was talking from both sides of the mouth, which caused a problem with the labor groups.

Nonetheless, he came out to clear the air and state implementing rules and regulations of Presidential Decree (PD) 851 involved the exemption of distressed firms. He further said his department would put a request to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to help the employers in distress. He said, "We requested Secretary Dominguez if they could give a subsidy to employers that are categorized as micro and small business enterprises. If they could be given a subsidy or opportunity to make loans with our entire bank." 

According to Bello, despite the request made, no firm has approached the department and said they wouldn't be able to pay their employees. However, the Employers' Confederation of the Philippines came forth during a meeting with the employees. Workers stated some micros; small and medium enterprises wouldn't make the 13th month pay.

For this reason, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) stated that they would release a complete department order on the issue on Friday, October 16th, 2020.

On the other hand, Senator Franklin Drilon stated he was going to consider the statements made by the DOLE, though when it comes to the Presidential Decree PD 851, there won't be an exemption granted on the annual 13th-month pay. He even quoted the "Memorandum Order No.28," which President Corazon Aquino issued in 1986. The memorandum states that no distressed employer shall be exempted from making the 13th pay to its employees.

Senator Franklin continued to say such an exemption was found in the implementation of rules issued in 1975. He further stated no clause in the law provides for exemption, and President Cory's issuance superseded it. Senator Franklin even stated he was the Labor Secretary then who was in charge of crafting the revised rules and regulations on the 13th-month pay grant. For this reason, he made sure all the rank and files employees would receive an annual month pay.   

Defend Jobs Philippines, an association of labor unions and urban poor groups, welcomed DOLE's move. They even added that the government should allocate funds for MSMEs. This, in turn, enables them to give their workers the 13th-month pay on time. They even stated the Department Order that will be released on October 16th must oblige all employers and not exempt anyone.

 Business Group Employers confederation of the Philippines also echoed the same sentiments. ECOP President Sergio Ortiz-Luis even told CNN the Philippines stated that half of the MSMEs had been forced to close due to the pandemic. 

 Some firms are still struggling with paying their salaries to employees and rentals. Others have been forced to close down because of financial struggles. He continued to say, "We never asked for exemption or deferment. We're just concerned about the small industries because the worst scenario is they'll just close down and declare bankruptcy." 

DOLE move to enforce 13th-month pay law

On Thursday, the labor groups marked a victorious win for workers. This is because the labor department decided to implement the 13th-month pay.

 Elmer Labog, the chairperson of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), in a press release, said, "This is our triumph for being one in letting our voices be heard. Despite the attempt to ignore our rights, we fought for our 13th month pay. Long live the workers."

He even applauded the move by the DOLE to give subsidies to MSMEs. This helps to cushion them during the pandemic. He further stated the government must assist distressed firms. 

Moreover, Labog also urged Congress to pass a pro-people budget. The budget is supposed to assure workers of economic rights and steady income. Simultaneously, the Associated Labor Unions (ALU) joined the chairperson in applauding the DOLE move. 

Gerard Seno, the executive vice-president of ALU, said the workers are happy and thankful for Bello, who broke the 13th-month pay deadlock that was seen. The union welcomes the decision made to disallow the deferment of payment and exempt employees' pay this year. This decision would boost employees' morale in the private sectors as well, who are having a hard time amid the pandemic. 

Raymond Mendoza, the President of Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), also applauded Roman Lopeza, the trade secret. For supporting the decision made by the DOLE. Moreover, their move to help troubled businesses pay the mandatory benefits was a plus since the loan facilities were accessible.

Additionally, the presidential decree 851 states that employers have to pay their employees the mandatory benefits. And this should be done or before December 24th this year. DOLE even stated it would release an advisory on the 13th-month pay granting on Friday the 16th.

RoboCash will help if there is no 13th-month payment

We understand the 13th-month pay might take a while to be enacted while others might be left out. For this reason, if you do not fall under the government and you need money urgently for emergency expenses, you can borrow from Robocash.ph

The platform offers fast online loan ph that attract an interest rate at 11.9% depending on the loan requested. The loan tenure is flexible enough and starts from 7 to 30  days. 

However, when requesting a loan from Robocash, ensure you repay it on time. Hence, only request for a loan if it's an emergency. 

Conclusion 

Through the Department of Labor and Employment, the Philippine government has made a bold move to ensure employees are paid. The 13th-month pay will ensure those laid off during the start or amid the pandemic have gotten their salaries. The employers are expected to make the payments before December 24th. 

However, some employees might miss out on the program because their firms have been shut down for good. Some are even struggling to pay rents to leave alone the employees. This is why you need RoboCash by your side. The firm offers you personal loans that have a low-interest rate. However, borrow what you can repay.