THE proposed 14th month pay for private sector workers in the country, once approved, should be given in staggered scheme, the top official of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) in Western Visayas said.
Donna Rose Ratilla, regional governor of PCCI in Western Visayas, said not all businesses can afford, especially the micro and small enterprises.
Ratilla said a staggered scheme, like giving the 14th month pay in several periods, would at least lessen the cost on the part of the companies.
"We hope that there should be a bracketing also as to the business is qualified whether as micro, small, medium or large," she added.
On July 1, Senate President Vicente Sotto III filed Senate Bill 10 that seeks to require employers in the private sector to remunerate the 14th month pay.
Prior to this, Sotto filed Senate Bill 2, also seeking for 14th month pay, and it has been pending in the Senate since July 2016.
The senator said the 13th month pay is gobbled up by Christmas expenses. Thus, there is a need for extra earnings in the middle of the year to help ordinary workers in school and medical expenses.
For a labor group in Negros Occidental, the measure seeking anew the provision of 14th month pay for private sector workers is a welcome development.
Wennie Sancho, secretary general of General Alliance of Workers Associations (Gawa), said 14th month pay will serve as supplemental income for the workers to augment their meager salary.
"The management has to understand that the 13th month pay being received by the workers is already passé as there have been reductions on their purchasing power," he added.
For PCCI, however, the provision of 14th month pay is a win-win solution.
Ratilla said those who can afford to pay should only be covered. "Small businesses should be given consideration."
She earlier told SunStar Bacolod that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) remain to be the backbone of the local economy. They comprise 94 to 96 percent of the economy, thus there is a need to empower them, the PCCI official added.
The proposed measure covers all non-government rank and file employees regardless of their employment status, designation and irrespective of the method by which their wages are paid provided that they have worked at least one month during the calendar year.
Under which, the 13th month pay shall be paid not later than June 14 and the 14th month pay shall be paid not later than December 24 of every year provided, however, that the frequency of payment of this monetary benefits may be the subject of agreement between employer and employee or any recognized or collective bargaining agent of employees.
The proposal pegs the minimum amount of the 14th month pay at not less than 1/12 of the total basic salary earned by the employee within the calendar year.
It should not be below the employees’ basic salary.
It can be recalled that the local business, earlier, expressed apprehensions on the bill as “it may deter business growth.”
Frank Carbon, chief executive officer of Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), said the proposal to require private companies to pay their rank-and-file employees a 14th month pay will lead to laziness on the part of the workers.
"It will not invite businesses to grow," Carbon said, adding that "what is needed maybe is incentive or productivity bonus, not a 14th month pay that will make workers to just wait instead of encouraging them to work hard."