A worker who worked for even only one month is entitled to receive a 13th month pay in accordance with labor laws.
The Associated Labor Unions (ALU) pointed this out even as it reminded employers to release workers’ 13th month-pay this December.
In a statement, ALU spokesman Alan Tanjusay said, “All rank-and-file employees regardless of position, designation or employment status have the right to claim their thirteenth month pay cash bonus. Even if they are employed for only a month during the calendar year or receiving a salary of only P1,000 per month, they can avail of this bonus.”
ALU’s point was consistent with the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) stand, which strongly argued that release of the 13th-month-pay is a legal obligation of capitalists to their workers.
At the same time, Tanjusay clarified that the 13th-month pay is different from the Christmas bonus.
“The 13th month-pay is mandated by a law for employers to grant to their workers. The Christmas bonus, on the other hand, is not mandated by law but is a discretionary act of goodwill on the employers’ part. This may be given in cash or in kind or a combination of both,” he said.
Tanjusay added that the “[13th month] bonus must be equivalent to a month’s basic pay excluding allowances, overtime pay, premium pay, night shift differential, holiday pay, profit-sharing payments, cash equivalent of unused vacation and sick leave.”
“Employers must give it in cash. If they convert it to rice or grocery items, it’s not 13th month pay bonus anymore. If they want to give rice and grocery items, it is welcome but it must be received as additional bonus,” he explained.
“Employers cannot also promise to pay the 13th month pay when they have the money for it. Hindi rin po pwede na utangin ng employer ang 13th month pay bonus na ito sa kanyang manggagawa. Bawal po ito [the 13th month pay is not a debt that the employer can pay the employee later. It is not allowed],” Tanjusay said.
He added that the ALU is urging the DOLE to make sure that they senforce the 13th month-pay law.
Tanjusay made the statement because according to him there are some abusive employers who resort to different schemes and tactics to avoid paying the mandated 13th month bonus.
He said that aside from converting the 13th month bonus to grocery items, gadgets or appliances, some employers resort to giving a token or prize in a raffle to avoid paying the 13th month pay of their employees.
According to the rules and regulations of Presidential Decree 851 or the 13th Month Pay Law, the 13th month pay shall be paid not later than December 24.
An employer, however, may give to his or her employees half of the 13th month pay before the opening of the regular school year and the remaining half on or before December 24 of each year.
NELSON S. BADILLA