13th month pay subsidy plan for MSME workers still being studied

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MANILA – The subsidy program that will enable micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to release the 13th month pay of their employees is still being studied, Malacañang said Monday.

In a Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Department of Finance (DOF) is waiting for more information from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

“Kinakailangan aktuhan muna iyan ng DOF and before the press briefing tinanong ko po ang DOF, may mga impormasyon pa raw po silang hinihintay sa DOLE. Siguro I will bridge para malaman na natin ang kasagutan – yes kung yes; no kung no (The DOF has to act on it and before the press briefing, I asked the DOF and they said they’re still waiting for information from the DOLE. Perhaps I will bridge to find out if there’s an answer—yes if yes; no if no),” he said.

On Sunday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he will propose a subsidy for MSMEs should they be unable to give the 13th month pay of their workers.

Bello said the government could refer lending facilities to concerned and affected MSMEs.

He also maintained that employers are mandated by Presidential Decree (PD) 851 to extend 13th-month pay to their staff on or before December 24 of every year.

Citing Labor Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez, Roque said the 13th month pay will be the monthly basic compensation computed pro-rata according to the number of months or days an employee has worked in a company.

“Ang pro rata po ibig sabihin niyan 12 months iyan ‘no, kapag nagtrabaho ka ng 12 months mayroon kang 1 month/13 month. Kung nagtrabaho ka ng anim na buwan, kalahati lang makukuha mong 13th month (Pro rata means that when you have worked for 12 months you have one month/13 months. If you worked for six months, you will only get half of your 13th month pay),” he said.

Last week, Roque said employers are still legally required to give workers their 13th month pay since the law on the grant of the incentive remains in effect.

“Hanggang magkaroon ng bagong batas e baka hindi po ‘yan pupuwede ma-defer (Until there is a new law, they can’t defer the payment of 13th month pay),” Roque said.

The government has already provided subsidies to MSME workers after the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was raised over Luzon from the middle of March until end-April, which was extended until the end of May for Metro Manila.

This is through the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) program, which extended about PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 cash aid to MSME workers. -PNA

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