THE more than 1.5 million workers in the government will receive their Christmas bonus this month, most likely starting this week, Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor said Monday.
Under Section 8 of Republic Act No. 11466 or Salary Standardization Law 5, Defensor said the year-end bonus equivalent to one-month salary, plus a P5,000 cash gift, “shall be given in November of every year.”
Defensor said the mandate of the law is restated in National Budget Circular No. 579, which Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado issued in January this year.
“I am assuming that the budget secretary has released the funds needed for the payment of the government workers’ Christmas bonus and P5,000 cash gift,” Defensor, chairman of the House committee on public accounts, said.
He said if the funds are already available, agencies could begin giving the bonus on Nov. 15.
“And since this week’s payday falls on Sunday, the bonus could be advanced as early as Thursday for personnel on a four-day workweek, or Friday for those on the usual five-day work schedule, or on Monday,” Defensor said.
Defensor noted that last year, most agencies released the Christmas bonus in mid-November.
He said if government employees intend to do shopping after receiving their yearend incentives, they should do it early to avoid the usual Christmas rush and the attendant traffic jams next month.
At the same time, Defensor urged private sector employers to release the 13th-month pay or yearend bonus of their employees early.
He said paying the bonus ahead of Dec. 25 schedule would be a “gesture of compassion” on the part of employers.
“That will surely ease the financial burden our workers and our people have to face everyday because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic difficulties. Many of them are forced to resort to borrowing money just to make both ends meet,” Defensor said.
He said private sector employees could also do early shopping to escape the Christmas chaos.
RA No. 11466, signed by President Duterte on Jan. 8 this year, contains the newest four-year salary upgrading program in the bureaucracy. Avisado’s Budget Circular 579 implements the program.
Under the law, the lowest-paid worker gets an adjusted monthly salary of P11,551 up to P12,244, depending on length of service, this year.
The pay increases to P13,00-P13,780 on the fourth year (2023).
On the other hand, the highest-paid official, the President, receives P407,734 this year. His salary goes up to P431,718 in 2023.
The law applies not only to national government agencies but to state corporations and local government units as well.
However, it does not apply to President Duterte and incumbent members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Constitution prohibits them from being beneficiaries of their official acts.