Options on settlement of 13th-month pay bared


Cash-deficient companies reeling from the effects of the pandemic may consider negotiating with their workers for a possible delayed full payment of their 13th-month pay this year, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

At a virtual news briefing on Wednesday, Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III disclosed that companies might consider paying only half of the 13th-month pay of their workers before December 24, 2021, payment deadline. The companies could just then settle the remaining balance by next year.   But he stressed that the said scheme should gain the approval of affected workers before such could be implemented.

“If the employee approves, there is no problem because the law on 13th- month pay is a benefit intended for the employee. If an employee says he/she can wait until next year, then there is no problem,” Bello said.

Companies or firms that will enforce such arrangements without the approval of their workers, however, could face charges for violating Presidential Decree 851, according to Bello.

Bello issued the recommendation after Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Ma. “Joey” Concepcion III said some employers may struggle to pay the 13th-month pay of their workers due to existing business disruptions caused by the pandemic this year.

“The 13th-month pay is a statutory obligation. Its payment cannot be avoided [by companies]. If you don’t pay it, you will be sued by your workers for sure,” Bello said.

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