Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Thursday asserted that the payment of 13th month pay is mandatory and should not be postponed or deferred even amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We will not postpone, we will not defer and we will not give an exemption with the payment of the 13th month pay,” Bello said in a Laging Handa briefing.

“The law says pay the workers their 13th month pay on or before Dec. 24. Iyan po ang ipatutupad ng Department of Labor (DOLE),” he added.

Earlier, Bello said the DOLE was looking into giving exceptions to micro, small and medium enterprises “in distress.”

Bello explained that there was a misinterpretation of the “Exemption of Distressed Employers” section in Presidential Decree No. 851.

The DOLE has reached out to the Department of Finance to provide subsidies and loans to small enterprises so thay could pay their workers’ 13th month bonuses.

“Having said that, nag-request kami kay Secretary (Carlito) Dominguez na kung maaari bigyan ng subsidy iyong mga employers that are categorized as micro and small business enterprises. Mabigyan sila ng subsidy o kaya mabigyan sila ng opportunity to make loans with our banks, lahat ng ating bangko,” Bello said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro