13th month pay to be given on pro rata basis

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 19) — Workers awaiting their 13th month pay might not receive it in full this year as the benefit will be pro rata based, a labor official said.

This means the 13th month pay is based on the actual salary earned by the worker, Labor Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez explained, adding the minimum amount of the benefit is computed by adding all actual salaries and dividing it by 12.

"Kapag nagtrabaho ka ng 12 months, meron kang 1 month (o) 13th month. Kung nagtrabaho ka ng anim na buwan, kalahati lang makukuha mong 13th month," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque further explained in a separate briefing.

[Translation: If you worked for 12 months, you will get one (whole) month's (salary) or the 13th month (pay). If you only worked for six months, you will only get half the 13th month (pay).]

The provision of the 13th month pay became a hot-button issue in recent weeks after Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III mentioned the possibility of exempting pandemic-stricken companies from paying out the mandatory benefit or allowing them to defer giving it out.

The official eventually clarified late last week that all employers must give staff their 13th month pay no later than December 24 this year, which had been the case all along with Presidential Decree 851.

Labor and civic society groups criticized the official, urging government agencies to provide micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) additional aid instead to ensure all workers are able to receive their 13th month pay.

Roque also mentioned that the government is currently studying this proposal, adding that the Finance Department is awaiting more information from the Labor Department.

Bello likewise said the agency needs up to ₱13.7 billion to subsidize the 13th month pay for employees of MSMEs.

CNN Philippines correspondent Tristan Nodalo contributed to this report.