Christmas is the most awaited season of many in the Philippines—the gift giving, the parties, the light shows, and Simbang Gabi are just some of the things we Filipinos look forward to every December. But aside from these, many also look forward to the 13th month pay since it is an extra month’s salary one gets to take home for their family.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has said that they might allow ‘distressed’ companies and establishments to either delay the 13th month pay, or just do away with it entirely. This earned the ire of many netizens, with some saying that this is unfair to the employees who have been working hard amid the pandemic and are expecting a bonus by the end of the year. (Read: 3 Prayers of Guidance and Enlightenment for Government Leaders)
“For what? Pinaghirapan ‘yun ng mga employees so there’s no reason para i-delay unless kung walang wala yung employer,” one commenter said.
Response from Malacañang
The announcement by DOLE has prompted the Malacañang Palace to issue a statement regarding this. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that employers still need to provide their employees with their 13th month pay even with the pandemic as the law requiring them to do so is still in effect. “Let the Department of Labor and Employment study it. But in my opinion, that cannot be deferred until there is a new law,” Roque said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also added that employers must give out employees’ 13th month pay even if the company is suffering losses. “Under the law [Presidential Decree 851], there’s no exemption even if the company is incurring losses,” the senator, and former labor secretary, said.