₱13-billion subsidy sought for employers who can’t provide 13th month pay

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 22) — A lawmaker is seeking a ₱13.7 billion subsidy for employers who are unable to provide their workers with the 13th month salary and Christmas bonuses.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez has filed House Resolution 1310, urging the national government, particularly the Department of Labor and Employment, to implement a subsidy program for qualified and distressed businesses and employers, specifically the micro and small enterprises.

In a statement, Rodriguez noted that due to economic difficulties caused by the pandemic, many employers “are suffering losses and do not have the funds to pay the mandatory 13th-month pay even if they are willing to do so.”

“Our workers in the micro, small and medium enterprises have suffered so much since March 15 from layoffs or reduced working days up to now, and it will be cruel to deny Christmas to them by not giving their 13th month pay!” Rodriguez said.

The resolution, filed October 19, but only released to the media on Thursday, came after Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III reported that they have sought the help of President Rodrigo Duterte to help provide between ₱5 billion and ₱13.7 billion so the government can subsidize the 13th month pay of employees of micro and small enterprises.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Department of Finance is still studying this proposal.

Citing data from the Department of Labor and Employment and the Philippine Statistics Authority, Rodriguez said that between 1.5 million and 5.1 million SME workers have been adversely impacted by the pandemic.

In Cagayan de Oro alone, more than 16,000 workers have been laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lawmaker added.

Bello earlier said that employers who did not work for weeks or months during the lockdown periods will receive lower 13th month benefits, as computation will be done pro rata regardless if the absences were voluntary or not.

He also previously advised employers to give workers their 13th month pay no later than December 24 this year, as the agency will not accept request for exemption or deferment from employers.