Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Tuesday, Oct. 13, revealed that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is in favor of deferring the payment of the 13th month pay instead of exempting distressed companies from paying such.

08112020 OFW ROMERO 2 1024x683 - DTI in favor of deferring 13th month pay, reveals DILG Sec. Bello
(JANSEN ROMERO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

The labor chief said he discussed the matter with DTI Sec. Ramon Lopez, Monday.

“I said we have a proposal that distressed companies will be exempted, but the other option is deferment instead of exempting,” said Bello during the Malacañang press briefing.

“I was surprised with the reaction of Sec. Lopez. He said: ‘Okay. Instead of exemption, it can be deferment only,’” he added.

But Bello said the issue on the possible deferment or exemption will still be discussed later that day by the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC).

“Hopefully, we can come up and arrive with a consensus between workers and employers togetjer with DTI, National Labor Relations Commission and the Department of Labor and Employment,” he said.

Last week, the Associated Labor Unions (ALU) opposed the plan of the employers and the DOLE to provide exemptions, forego and defer payment of basic labor standard 13th month pay.

“The 13th month pay benefit at this time of the year have already been earned and accrued by employees. Therefore, 13th month payment cannot be waived or taken away by giving exemption to employers or deferment of payment,” said Gerard Seno, ALU National Executive Vice President, adding that the “13th month payment benefit, just like minimum wage, is a basic labor standard that cannot be waived or deferred.”

Under Presidential Decree 851, all employers are required to pay all their employees a 13th-month pay not later than Dec. 24 of every year.

The Implementing Rules and Regulations of PD No. 851, however, provides exemption to the payment of the 13th month pay if they are deemed as “distressed employers,” or those that are currently incurring substantial losses.

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