As the Christmas season approaches, many Filipinos look forward to receiving their 13th month pay. But some workers might not receive it in full this year, and it has a lot to do with the pandemic. 

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In a statement, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello II said some pandemic-stricken companies may be exempt from paying out the 13th month pay this year or possibly defer the payout. 

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According to the law, the 13th month pay is a mandatory benefit for all workers which must be given no later than December 24 of each year. Employers may give up to one-half of the 13th month pay before the opening of the regular school year and the other half on or before the 24th day of December of every year.

Will there be a 13th month pay for 2020? 

After receiving much criticism for his statement about companies being exempted from paying out the 13th month pay benefit, Bello eventually clarified that all employers must release the 13th month pay no later than December 24 this year.

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But there's a catch. 

The 13th month pay will be on a pro-rata basis. It means there's a possibility you may not receive your 13th month benefit in full. It will depend on the actual salary you earned in the past months. 

According to Labor Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez, your 13th month pay will be computed by adding all the actual salaries you received this year and dividing it by 12.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque clarified the rule. "If you worked for 12 months, you will get one (whole) month's (salary) or the 13th month (pay). If you only worked for six months, you will only get half the 13th month (pay)."

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That means, if you are one of the workers whose salaries were reduced because of the pandemic, you can expect that your 13th month pay will be smaller this year. Regular employees who also got laid off because of the pandemic are also entitled to receive their 13th month pay computed based on the pro-rata rule. 

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