DOLE eyes aid to small firms for 13th month payout

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THE government is now studying giving a new round of assistance for companies struggling to pay the 13th month benefits of their workers, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

In a radio interview on Wednesday, Labor and Employment Secretary Bienvenido E. Laguesma said the aid may be in the form of a subsidy.

“We are studying if we can give assistance or subsidy to companies, which are unable to comply with the 13th month law,” Laguesma said.

The labor official said the assistance may also be the reimplementation of the interest-free loan facility of the Small Business Corp. (SB Corp.), which was launched last year.

“We are checking if the facility is still open and available and what’s the status of payment by those who were helped,” Laguesma told BusinessMirror in an SMS.

Last year, SB Corp. allocated P500 million for its “soft loan” program to help micro and small firms meet  their 13th month payouts.

DOLE said it is considering providing the support since it noted no company can be exempted from Presidential Decree (PD) 851, which grants the 13th month benefit for employees in the private sector.

Under the decree, the 13th month pay should be “proportionate” to the total salary earned by workers in a year divided by 12 months.

“There is a saying that the law may be hard [to follow], but it is the law. This [PD 851] is a basic social legislation to help [workers],” Laguesma said.

He urged employers to give the 13th month benefit of their workers before its deadline on December 24, 2022.