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President Rodrigo Duterte convenes with the officials of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Malaca%uFFFDan Palace on March 16, 2020 / PNA

Duterte asks employers to give 13th-month pay in advance

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President Rodrigo Duterte appealed to private firms to grant workers their 13-month pay bonus in advance to help those who may suffer from job losses because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.

In a televised public address, Duterte encouraged employers to give the 13-month pay, or even half of the worker's salary, during the health crisis.

“Iyong sanang mga malalaking enterprises dito (I hope the big enterprises here), maybe you can consider paying the 13th month pay or just paying them maski kalahati sa sweldo nila kung walang trabaho (even half of their salary if they have no work) as a way of showing your solidarity with the Filipino at this critical time,” he said.

He noted that by giving the advanced 13-month pay, employers are ultimately easing the burden already being felt by wage earners.

“Kahit pro-rated lang --- 'yung ano divided by mo sa mga buwan --- pro-rated lang tulong na iyan ay ating mga kababayan habang naka-quarantine (Even if it’s just prorated—prorated is already help for our citizens while they are on quarantine),” he said.

Under Presidential Decree 851, all rank-and-file employees in the private sector are entitled to receive the 13th-month pay on or before December 24 of the year.

However, an employer may give to his or her employees' one-half of the 13th-month pay before the opening of the regular school year and the remaining half on or before December 24 of every year.

The mandatory benefit pay should not be less than one-twelfth of the total salary earned by an employee within a calendar year, regardless of the nature of employment.

The decree provides that every covered employer is required to make a report of compliance to the Department of Labor and Employment regional office not later than January 15 of each year.

Meanwhile, he also urged businesses to suspend rental fees and stop counting the days until their employees resumed work.

He also sought large business owners to assist micro, small and medium-scale enterprises.

“I urge our business leaders to find ways to help small businesses and ease the burden which is felt by the ordinary citizen right now,” he said.

At least PHP2 billion has been earmarked by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to help assist workers affected by Covid-19.

Aside from the monetary assistance, affected workers will also be offered emergency employment.

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