Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III revealed that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is in favor of deferring or putting off for the meantime the 13th month pay of employees of enterprises affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bello said that he already discussed the matter with DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, adding that instead of exempting the distressed companies, allowing deferment appears to be an ideal move.
“I was surprised with the reaction of Sec. Lopez. He said: ‘Okay. Instead of exemption, it can be deferment only,’” the DOLE chief shared.
Bello noted that the said matter is still up for discussion with the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC), stating that that he’s hoping to “arrive with a consensus between workers and employers.”
“Since businesses are not doing well and the management cannot afford to give such pay, they may defer it. That might be the more acceptable formula to address the issue of the payment of the 13th-month pay,” said Bello.
“They cannot pay it right now, maybe they can settle it next year or next month. That’s an option. The other option is, if the company is distressed, (you) are excused. But you have to prove that you are distressed,” he added.
Advocacy group Associated Labor Unions (ALU) had earlier expressed that it’s opposing the plan of the DOLE to allow the postponement of the 13th month pay of employees, insisting that it’s a labor benefit that’s mandated by the law.
Filipino social media users have also expressed negative reactions over the said issue, noting that some employees are looking forward to receiving their 13th-month pay benefits especially at a time when they need to exhaust all the possible financial resources they can get.
The Palace, meanwhile, maintained that it’s leaving the decision on the matter to DOLE.