14th Month Pay Bill Refiled for 18th Congress
Senators started filing their priority bills in advance last July 1, 2019, before the formal opening of the 18th Congress at the House of Representatives on July 22. Most Senators aim to assist public school teachers by exempting them from income tax, increasing their salaries, and additional compensation of P10,000 allocated separately in three months.
One highlight of the advanced filing was the 14th month pay bill for employees of the private sector refiled by Senate President Vicente Sotto III. Sotto also filed for measures which will lower the age of criminal responsibility and combat fake-news and terrorism.
Senate Bill No. (SBN) 10, also known as “An Act Requiring Employers in the Private Sector to Pay 14th Month Pay” seeks to provide employees with a supplemental income for “rank-and-file employees regardless of their employment status, designation, and irrespective of the method by which their wages are paid provided that they have worked at least one month during the calendar year.”
However, the measure’s legislative status remains pending since July 2016. The 17th Congress referred the proposed measure to the Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development, while the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship act as the secondary committee.
SBN-10 Received Mixed Reactions from Labor and Business Groups
A labor group lauded the Senate President’s refiling of the 14th month pay bill. The General Alliance of Workers Associations (GAWA) of Negros Occidental Secretary-General Wennie Sancho asks lawmakers to support the proposed bill which will benefit thousands of workers, especially those who live in the provinces.
“This should be a national effort. Employees in the government have been enjoying many perks that can also be shared with private sector workers,” he said.
However, the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) raised their concerns on the proposed measure. Chief Executive Officer Frank Carbon believes that it could “deter business growth” and disrupt productivity among employees.
“What could probably be given is an incentive or productivity bonus, not a 14th month pay that will make workers to just wait instead of encouraging them to work hard,” Carbon said.
“We are not amenable (to the proposal) as it will result to more pay without productivity scenario. That is not the way you grow business, growth comes from hard labor,” he added.
DOLE to Analyze the Impact of 14th Month Pay for the Private Sector
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) welcomed the Senate President’s proposed Senate bill but Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said they would have to determine the effects of SBN-10 towards the country’s economic stability and take the interests of both the labor and management into consideration.
“We support anything that benefits our workers and their families. However, we must ensure that the proposal will not cause imbalance between the needs of labor and the capability of employers. We must study it very well, Bello said.
The Labor Secretary also emphasized the need to consider the employer’s capabilities since the Philippine economy depends on the sustainability of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME).
“We must take note that around 90% of the businesses in the country are MSMEs, so we must always consider the capability of the employers to bear extra expenses. We do not want to give our workers with false expectations that might result to industrial controversy,” he said.