PRIVATE companies were warned yesterday that the government may seize their properties and bank accounts and use them to pay for the salaries of employees, including the holiday pay, if the firms fail to settle their obligations by the end of the year.
The warning was aired by Labor Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez during the Laging Handa public briefing. He said labor inspectors would go around to check if private firms are complying with labor rules, including the payment of salaries, benefits, and holiday pay.
Benavidez said the DOLE allowed the deferment of payment of holiday pay due to the pandemic but stressed they must be settled by yearend.
He said the DOLE usually orders companies to pay their employees but added that administrative complaints can be filed against firms, which could lead to sequestration of property.
“Kung maging final and executory po iyong aming mga desisyon, puwede po naming ilitin iyong mga ari-arian ng mga kumpanya, puwede po naming i-garnish iyong mga bank accounts o iba pang credits ng mga kumpanya nang sa ganoon iyong proceeds po noon ay maibigay po natin sa mga manggagawa (If the decision becomes final and executor, we can seize the property of the company, we can garnish the bank accounts or other credits of the company so the proceeds can be given to the employees),” he said.
Complaints can be filed in any of 16 DOLE regional offices that will also hear cases.
The DOLE also called on private employers to give their employees the mandatory 13th month on or before December 24.
“Please do not forget. If you haven’t given it already, please do so on or before December 24,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.
Under Presidential Decree 851, all employers are required to pay their employees, regardless of the nature of their employment, a 13th month pay not later than December 24 of every year.
The DOLE issued an advisory last week reminding private sector employers that “deferred holiday pay on account of the existence of a national emergency arising from the COVID-19 situation” that they have until December 31 to settle the holiday pay of their employees.
The advisory covers the holiday pay for the regular holidays throughout the year – Araw ng Kagitingan and Maundy Thursday (April 9); Good Friday(April 10); Labor Day (May 1); Eid’l Fitr (May 25); Independence Day (June 12); Eid’l Adha (July 31); National Heroes’ Day (August 31), and Bonifacio Day (November 30); and the special non-working days such as Black Saturday (April 11 ); Ninoy Aquino Day (August 21); All Saints’ Day (November 1); All Souls’ Day (November 2) and Immaculate Conception Day (December 8).
Benavidez said more than two million private sector employees from more than 96,000 establishments are under “floating” status due to the pandemic.
He said those in floating status for six months or more should either be hired back and or retrenched and paid separation pay equivalent to one half of pay for every year of service.
He said employees who are not rehired or retrenched without being given their separation pay can file a case in any DOLE regional office.
He also said that companies still unable to rehire their employees, who were forced to go on leave, after six months may apply for an extension of the rehiring period. – With Gerard Naval