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Workers to get X’mas bonus-DOLE

LEGAZPI CITY --- The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Bicol has assured the more than 100,000 workers employed in some 7,000 private companies operating across the region that they would receive their 13th Month Pay this Christmas as mandated by law.

DOLE-Bicol director Joel Gonzales made the assurance in the wake of fears that companies that are “in distress” because of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic would be allowed by the labor agency to “defer” the giving of 13th Month Pay to their employees in some other time than “on or before December 24,” a date fixed by Presidential Decree (PD) 851.

“No. We will not allow any deferment of this benefit because this is mandated by law,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales emphasized that the 13th Month Pay is badly needed by the workers because they are all hardly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, “so the more that we have to give this benefit to them this difficult time.”

He did not comment on the proposal of government subsidy of the 13th Month Pay of private workers should a company formally write DOLE that it is “in distress.”

The DOLE Bicol chief issued the assurance even before DOLE Secretary Sylvestre Bello III had recanted his earlier pronouncement that companies in distress could be allowed to defer payment of 13th Month Pay to their employees.

Also, Gonzales reminded private companies to pay their resigned or separated employees using the proportionate computation of their 13th Month Pay.

“As example, if an employee worked at least three months before his resignation or termination, he is entitled to the sum of the three month-pay divided by 12 months,” Gonzales explained.

Regardless of the reason of the separation or resignation, the former employee is entitled to 13th Month Pay. Again that is provided by law, he said.

Meanwhile, the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in Bicol is going to review the RTWPB RBV – 20, a wage increase order for Bicol-based workers, after it was not implemented as it fell short of the affirmation and publication requirements to be effective.

Francia Ocmer, board secretary of RTWPB-Bicol, in an interview, clarified that, although the wage order was approved last March 6, but it was not affirmed by the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) of the DOLE central office.

“This RTWPB RBV – 20 was not affirmed by NWPC and was not also published in newspapers of general circulation. Without compliance of these requirements, the wage increase was not implemented,” Ocmer said.

Had this wage order been implemented, private employees would have been receiving an increase of P25 from their daily wage, supposed to be given in two tranches last April (P15) and July (P10).

Due to the failure to implement the wage increase, the board would now review or approve another new wage order.

“But because of this pandemic which is still grossly affecting our economy, it is hard to say if the employers will be capable to give any wage increase,” Ocmer said.

“I am not saying that an increase in the daily wage is not possible because our workers are really in dire need of such additional pay. But we need to put into considerations several factors, including the plight of our businesses, in order to balance every thing,” Ocmer explained.

She added that the board has its monthly regular virtual meeting which is being attended by labor representatives and employers’ confederation so the possibility of approving another wage order is still there.

At present, employees in the region are receiving daily minimum wage of P310/day based on wage order number 19, which took effect Sept. 21, 2018.

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