Malacañang: 13th month pay can't be deferred unless law is amended

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 12) — Businesses cannot delay the release of the 13th month pay of workers nor be exempted from paying it out unless the law mandating it is amended, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

"The law has not been amended. That is the law. That is a mandatory provision of the Labor Code," said Roque, when asked about a proposal to allow "distressed" businesses to defer the release of their workers' 13th month pay.

"Hanggang magkaroon ng bagong batas eh baka hindi po yan pupwede ma-defer," he added.

[Translation: Unless a new law is passed, it (13th month pay) cannot be deferred.]

Roque, however, said it was up to the Labor Department to study the proposal.

Last week, Labor Secretary Silvestro Bello III said the agency needs to study which companies can be exempted from paying out the mandatory benefit to their employees.

He said the agency was also looking into exempting micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) gravely hit by the pandemic from giving workers their 13th month pay, noting that deferment of payment was also an option.

Labor groups criticized the idea, urging government agencies instead to provide ailing companies more assistance to help them dole out the 13th month pay amid the health crisis.

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Presidential Decree 851 mandates the provision of the 13th month pay to all rank-and-file employees not later than December 24 every year.