By: Roy Bersales
GIVING the workers’ 13th-month-pay before December 24 is an obligation of the businessmen to their employees.
In a statement issued on October 31, Labor Secretary Sylvestre Bello 3rd said “[i]t is a must that employers pay their workers’ 13th-month pay not later than December 24.”
Atty. Jose Sonny Matula, president of Federation of Free Workers (FFW), lauded Bello’s call to businessmen saying it was a “timely and good reminder.”
Matula noted that Presidential Decree 851 “require[s] employers to pay [their] employees 13th-month before December 24” of each year comes.
The labor leader, who is also a lawyer expert in labor laws, explained that PD 851’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) actually allow businessmen to pay their employees’ 13th-month-pay in advance by paying the employees in two schedules within one year period.
PD 851, issued during Pres. Ferdinand Marcos’ term, showed that an employer may pay one-half of the 13th-month-pay before the opening of the regular school year and the other half will be on, or before the 24th day of December of every year.
Bello emphasized that “All employers are required to pay their rank-and-file employees the 13th-month-pay, regardless of the nature of their employment, and irrespective of the methods by which their wages are paid, provided they worked for at least one month in a year.”
“The 13th-month-pay is a labor standard provision of the law that the DOLE does not compromise as to its payment. And employers are duty-bound under the law to report their compliance with this worker benefit,” he said.
“Good labor-management relations, increased workers’ and enterprises’ productivity and competitiveness result to workers being paid what is due them,” he added.
The 13th-month-pay is defined to mean one-twelfth (1/12) of the basic salary of an employee within a calendar year.
The basic salary includes all remunerations or earnings paid by an employer to an employee for services rendered, but may not include cost-of-living allowances (COLA), profit-sharing payments, cash equivalents of unused vacation and sick leave credits, overtime pay, premium pay, night shift differential pay, holiday pay, and all allowances and monetary benefits which are not considered, or integrated as part of the regular or basic salary of the employee.
Bello, on the other hand, warned businessmen that if they failed to abide with the law, they “are liable to money claim cases that aggrieved employees may file with any DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) regional offices.”
While he welcome Bello’s early reminder, Matula strongly urged the workers “to organize themselves into unions, or associations, to bargain with employers’ higher benefits than what are provided in minimum labor standards provided by law.”
In companies with unions, workers have 14th-month-pay, 15th-month-pay, etc in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), Matula averred.