PRIVATE enterprises in Central Visayas that are facing financial challenges have been given until November 29, 2023 to submit exemption applications in anticipation of the P33 minimum wage hike that is set to take effect on October 1.
Lilia Estillore, chairperson of the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board Central Visayas (RTWPB 7), announced this during a press conference Monday, September 18, to highlight the impending wage hike across the region.
Estillore, who also serves as director of the Department of Labor and Employment Central Visayas (DOLE 7), said she acknowledged the difficulties that may be encountered by micro-businesses trying to meet the new wage requirements.
"For micro establishments, as pointed out by both labor and management representatives (on the wage board), they have the option to apply for exemptions under specific conditions," she said.
The wage board issued Wage Order ROVII-24, announcing on September 5 the forthcoming P33 daily minimum wage increase.
This order outlines the adjustments, setting the new daily minimum wages for non-agricultural establishments categorized from Class A to C within the range of P420 to P468.
Smaller enterprises, with fewer than 10 employees in both agricultural and non-agricultural sectors, will witness revised pay scales ranging from P415 to P458.
With the deadline for exemption applications approaching, businesses throughout the region are expected to conduct a thorough assessment of their financial capabilities and workforce requirements to determine their eligibility for exemption from the P33 minimum wage hike.
Evita Mendoza-Balane, wage board secretary, outlined the criteria for businesses seeking exemption from the impending wage hike, aligning with standard wage orders and the Omnibus Rules on Minimum Wage Determination of the National Wages and Productivity Commission.
She said that to be eligible for exemption, businesses must consistently employ no more than 10 workers and have been adversely affected by natural disasters or human-induced calamities.
Also, businesses with fewer than 10 employees seeking exemptions must fall into the retail and service category and have maintained their workforce below the required number for at least six months to qualify.
Balane said establishments applying for exemption due to calamity-related reasons must demonstrate that the calamity occurred within six months before the effective date of the wage order.
She said businesses affected by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic are no longer eligible for exemption, a departure from previous years when pandemic-related challenges led to numerous exemption requests.
Businesses previously found to be non-compliant with wage orders are not eligible to apply for exemptions.
Deadline and process
The deadline for establishments affected by the wage increase to submit exemption applications is November 29, providing a total of 75 days for submissions.
The application process commenced on September 16, the day after the wage order was published.
Balane said the wage board has a 45-day window from the date of application filing to reach a decision, underlining that incomplete applications will not be considered duly filed.
In cases where an establishment is granted an exemption, they will be relieved from complying with the wage order for one year from the effective date of the wage increase.
For businesses whose exemption applications are denied, they will be obligated to pay their employees the mandated wage increase from the effective date of the wage order, along with a one percent interest per month, retroactively applied to the effective date of the wage increase.
Interested applicants have the option to personally file their applications at RTWPB 7 or any nearby DOLE 7 field office. Alternatively, they can file for exemption via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. (KJF)