Saturday, 19 December 2009

Gov’t: 13th month pay is mandatory, Christmas bonus discretionary

MANILA (PNA) -- The government on Friday reiterated that all wage and salary workers in the country are entitled to the 13th month pay as mandated by law.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said that based on the time-honored Presidential Decree No. 851 issued on December 16, 1976, all employers in the country are required to pay their employees a 13th month pay not later than December 24 of every year.

Roque, emphasized, however, that the 13th month pay should not be confused by workers with the Christmas bonus,

The Labor and Employment Chief said that while the law definitely requires employers to pay their rank-and file employees the 13th month pay, the generous granting of a Christmas bonus, on the other hand, remains, basically, a management prerogative.

Roque reiterated that the Christmas bonus is not a part of such benefit as mandated by the law, though employers may also grant their workers bonuses on top of the 13th month pay, depending on their discretion, or Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and other agreements.

The workers can only ask the management to grant them Christmas bonus which is discretionary on the part of the employer, adding that all wage and salary workers should report to the nearest DOLE office any employers who are unable to pay them the 13th month pay on or before December 24.

As this developed, the Labor Chief appreciated the generous effort being made by members of the country’s employers sector to ensure that their employees are granted, aside from the 13th month pay mandated by the law, a Christmas bonus on top of the law-required 13th month pay.

Media had earlier quoted the assurance of the more than 500-corporation strong Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) that employees will be receiving their Christmas bonuses this year.

Amidst the recent typhoons that hit the country, ECOP president Sergio Ortiz-Luiz, Jr. was also quoted by the media that the endeavor will help to make a happy Christmas for employees, adding that some member firms under the umbrella have already distributed bonuses to their respective personnel.

Meanwhile, the DOLE’s Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC), has clarified the salient provisions of PD 851 requiring all employers to pay their employees a 13th month pay.

The BWC, which is the DOLE’s agency administering the country’s laws on working conditions, said that the 13th month pay which all employers are required to pay their employees, must not be less than one-twelfth (1/12) of the total basic salary earned by an employee in a calendar year.

While all employers are required to pay their employees the 13th month pay not later than December 24 of every year, an employer may, however, give to his or her employees one-half (1/2) of it before the opening of the school year, and the remaining half on or before December 24.

For this purpose, the frequency of payment of the monetary benefit may be the subject of an agreement between the employer and the recognized collective bargaining agent of the employees, the BWC emphasized. (PNA)

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