THE Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) has issued guidelines on the release of the 13th month pay this year, 2021.

The Dole said the pay should only be proportionate to the number of days the employees reported for work after work was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Labor Department also stressed that no request or application for exemption from payment of the 13th month pay, or for deferment of the payment shall be accepted and allowed.

“Because there were many employees who weren’t able to go to work due to suspension of work, the pay is only proportionate, which is the right computation of 13th month pay that the employer has to pay to the employees. Due to that, the amount will only be less,” Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez said in a mix of English and Tagalog during a briefing on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021.

To help employers, especially the small businesses, Benavidez said the Dole is offering soft loans so that companies will be able to pay the salaries of their workers.

Pro-rate, postpone

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III recently said the 13th month pay should be given to employees in accordance with the law.

“The 13th month pay is a statutory obligation and there are no excuses. (Employers) need to pay it. Although we understand that many companies might find it difficult, it should be given to the employees,” he said.

Bello said companies can also talk to their employees, especially if they are unionized, to ask if they could postpone the release of the 13th month pay or opt for a prorated payment.

As long as the employees agree, the 13th month pay may be given on installment, Bello said.

Article 5 of the Labor Code of the Philippines, as renumbered, and Presidential Decree No. 851 require employers in the private sector to pay their rank-and-file employees their 13th month pay.

The minimum 13th month pay required by law shall not be less than one-twelfth of the total basic salary earned by an employee within a calendar year, Dole said.