Christmas 2020 may be remembered as the simplest if not the loneliest of Christmases for most employees of micro enterprises.

08112020 OFW ROMERO 2 1024x683 - No Christmas bonus for 2 M micro enterprises’ workers – ECOP
(JANSEN ROMERO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

ECOP President Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. explained at the Pinas Muna Tayo virtual press conference that 90 percent of businesses in the country are micro enterprises and they account for 50 to 60 percent of total workforce.

He said employees in this sector may not be able to get Christmas bonus.

Ortiz-Luis explained that the micro businesses are very vulnerable and have high attrition rate even without the pandemic. He estimated roughly two million workers might not get a Christmas bonus.

Ortiz-Luis, however, noted that at the start of the lockdown, President Duterte had asked employers to advance the Christmas bonus or the 13th month pay to their employees and many of the upper small, medium and large enterprises heeded the President’s call.

Even as these businesses also experienced difficulties, many were generous and have social consciousness programs.

Big companies also normally give out bonuses of 14th, 15th, 16, 17th and others even give up to 18th month bonuses. Thus, ECOP appealed for employers to be extra generous this Christmas season to their employees.

“We are appealing to them to help. It is good that our inflation is steady and many are still shopping for Christmas,” he added.

But Ortiz-Luis also raised optimism that more companies would still be able to open their businesses as Christmas approaches as the government allows higher operating capacities of most establishments.

Meantime, Trade and Industry Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said there will no upward movement in prices of Christmas products because inflation has remained low. But she urged shoppers to shop early to be able to save because normally prices of products, especially luxury and premium items rise as Christmas approaches.

Because of the pandemic, Castelo said that consumer behavior may change this season and many would temper spending for Christmas because of the uncertainty.

“People are more conscious on their spending because there is no certainty and would keep their money in their pockets and buy products like food and home improvements because everybody stays home so might as well do some home improvements,” she said.

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