Bishop says deferring 13th-month pay is bad idea

October 14, 2020 - 5:04 PM
A man counts a wad of Philippine Peso bills he received from a relative working abroad at a money remittance center in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines September 19, 2018. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

A Catholic bishop on Wednesday said that not giving employees their 13th-month pay this year amid the coronavirus pandemic is a bad idea.

Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, head of Caritas Philippines, said that for workers not to receive their bonuses this December “is adding insult to injury”.

“It is a great injustice and inhuman to not give the 13th-month pay at this time when many workers are affected, financially, by this pandemic,” Bagaforo told Radio Veritas.

Labor chief Silvestro Bello III earlier said he is reviewing the possibility of deferring the 13th-month payouts and other options.

He said the agency needs to study which companies can be exempted from complying with the law.

“Since the businesses are not doing well and the management cannot afford to give such pay, they may defer it. That might be the more acceptable formula to address the issue of the payment of the 13th-month pay,” Bello said.

“They cannot pay it right now, maybe they can settle it next year or next month. That’s an option. The other option is, if the company is distressed, (you) are excused. But you have to prove that you are distressed,” he added.

Malacañang, however, said a new law may be needed to exempt employers from paying the 13th-month pay this year due to the economic crisis brought by the pandemic.

Labor groups also insisted that the 13th-month pay cannot be waived, forgone, cancelled, deferred or unpaid.