Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday encouraged private sector employers to comply with the provisions of the Labor Code on the payment of 13th month benefit, saying that good labor-management relations, increased workers’ and enterprise’s productivity and competitiveness, and business profitability result from workers well-cared for and paid what is due them.

“The 13th month pay is required of private sector employers according to the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 851 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations,” said Baldoz shortly after she issued Labor Advisory No. 12 Series of 2013 reminding private sector employers of their obligation.

Reminding employers to pay their workers their 13th month benefit has been Baldoz’s regular advocacy since she assumed the position as Secretary of Labor and Employment in 2010.

The 13th month pay is defined to mean one-twelfth (1/12) of the basic salary of an employee within a calendar year.

The basic salary includes all remunerations or earnings paid by an employer to an employee for services rendered, but may not include cost-of-living allowances (COLA), profit-sharing payments, cash equivalents of unused vacation and sick leave credits, overtime pay, premium pay, night shift differential pay, holiday pay, and all allowances and monetary benefits which are not considered, or integrated as part of the regular or basic salary of the employee.

“The 13th month pay must be paid on or before 24 December of every year. This year, the 24th of December falls on a Tuesday, so employers may pay their workers the 13th month benefit on this day, but I urge them to pay earlier to avoid the rush,” explained Baldoz.

She added, however, that employers may pay their employees one-half of their 13th month benefit before the opening of the regular school year–May or June–and the remaining one-half on or before 24 December. If not paid after this date, the 13th month pay becomes due and demandable.

Baldoz said rank-and-file employees in the private sector are entitled to the 13th month pay, regardless of their position, designation, or employment status, and irrespective of the method by which their wages are paid. The only condition is that they should have worked for at least one month during the calendar year.

To enable workers and employers appreciate better the formula and computation of the 13th month pay, Baldoz issued a sample illustration, as follows:

13th month pay        =          Total basic salary earned during the year
12 months

Under the Labor Code, every covered employer is required to make a report of compliance with the law to the nearest DOLE regional office not later than 15 January of each year.

Baldoz said employers failing to pay the 13th month benefit are liable to money claim cases that aggrieved employees can file with any DOLE regional office.

“Once the DOLE receives a request for assistance (RFA) to resolve a non-payment of 13th month benefit, the RFA will be acted upon using the single entry approach (SEnA) mechanism of conciliation-mediation which is a very accessible, fair, non-litigious, and inexpensive dispute settlement system,” said Baldoz.

She said that as of November 2013, the DOLE has acted upon through SEnA 493 RFAs on 13th month pay issues involving 1,195 workers, and successfully settled the money claims amounting to P14.9 million for the benefit of 1,332 workers.
Baldoz also bared that the compliance of business establishments with payment of the 13th month benefit has tremendously increased over the last three years, owing to the government’s sustained campaign for voluntary compliance and strict enforcement of general labor laws.

“From 88.23 percent in 2011, compliance with payment of the 13th month benefit shot up to 94.76 percent in 2012, and to 94.92 percent as of October of 2013,” said Baldoz.