The need to release 13/14th month pay of employees
We are grateful to the big businesses who heeded the appeal of President Rodrigo Duterte to take care of their workers and employees during this time of national emergency. Their compassion and good example inspire other enterprises whose source of wealth is the labor of their workforce. The President has been apprised accordingly of their exemplary deeds.
We, in government, will continue to work doubly hard to ensure the welfare of our most valuable resource, our people, especially in these trying times.
Allow us to thank in particular the group of companies of Aboitiz, Ayala, ICTSI/Solaire Group, JG Summit, Jollibee, Lucio Tan, Metro Pacific, San Miguel Corporation, SM and Udenna Group who committed to give their employees and workers their full pay for the duration of the enhanced community quarantine. In most cases, the employees of these companies will not use up their available leave credits, will be advanced their 13th and/or 14th month pay and given other financial relief.
I call on other big enterprises to take the extra mile in assisting their workers during this crisis situation.
I again appeal to our employers not to resort to retrenchment amid the work stoppages, suspension of public transportation and restricted movement of people in the communities. I implore business owners to earnestly find other measures to preserve employment of workers so as not to compound their already dire condition.
Most of our workers want to work, but they are constrained. Doing so will be to defy lawful orders made in the national interest.
There are ways out of these specific problems.
We have already provided guidelines for the implementation of flexible work arrangements including the work from home (WFH) scheme. As of this time, the WFH is the safest manner to keep our workers employed. It is also the most compliant with the policies under an enhanced quarantine situation.
However, the WFH is not applicable to other workers particularly those in the manufacturing industry. This is where initiatives from employers become important and necessary.
For enterprises allowed to continue operations and whose skeletal workforce is needed at the workplace, a temporary housing provision can be considered. This way, workers no longer have to go home without available public transportation or be at risk of being stopped at checkpoints.
I also encourage our employers to release the 13/14th month pay of employees while work is suspended so they can have the means to buy basic necessities. The advance payment is a practical response to help our wage earners survive the month-long quarantine. We’ll find other ways if the quarantine is extended.
Let us continue to work together to beat the Covid-19 because by doing so will preserve the nation’s most valuable human resource. — SEC. SILVESTRE H. BELLO III, Department of Labor and Employment