10 things you should know about 13th month

 

Excited to receive your 13th-month pay? I am too. But on the HR and Payroll side, it can be a headache to compute and prepare. That’s why your employer some times releases your 13th-month as early as the 15th or 30th of November to comply with the payout deadline.

Here’s everything you need to know about your 13th-month pay:

1. It is a monetary benefit mandated by law.

The 13th month pay is defined as a monetary benefit based of an employee’s basic salary. This monetary benefit is a core general labor standard, with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as the agency responsible to oversee any compromises in fulfilling the mandated payout.

2. Your 13th month pay is different from your Christmas bonus.

The 13th month pay is considered a bonus mandated by law, while the Christmas bonus is a separate benefit or payout and it depends on your employer whether they’ll dole it out or not. Companies in the Philippines usually give out Christmas bonus due to team or company-wide performance or revenue-sharing.

Unlike the 13th month pay, your Christmas bonus could come in other forms. It could be cash, gift certificate, a Christmas basket, canned goods, extra leaves that could be convertible to cash if unused, or anything of value.

3. Your 13th month pay should be given to you no later than December 24 of every year.

While the law does not stop employers from giving out 13th month pay early, the law requires employers to give the mandatory benefit at least before Christmas day. According to Presidential Decree 851, the main reason why the 13th month was established as a mandatory benefit is for the Philippine labor force to “properly celebrate” the yuletide season and the New Year, and have the opportunity to invest or save.

The great thing about the Philippine Labor Code is that it provides protection from employers who do not comply with the 13th month pay provision. Aside from releasing the 13th month pay, employers are also required to submit a report of compliance to any DOLE branch on or before January 15 the succeeding year. Should your employer fail to pay your 13th month pay, you may file a money claim case with any DOLE branch.

4. Your 13th month pay may not be equivalent to your monthly basic salary.

According to the law, your basic salary should only be earnings or primary payment paid to an employee for services rendered. On the other hand, basic salary does not include:

  • cash equivalent of unused vacation and sick leave credits;
  • cost-of-living-allowances (COLA) granted pursuant to President Decree No. 525 or Letter of Instructions no. 174;
  • overtime;
  • premium;
  • night differential, and
  • holiday pay.

Your 13th month pay should be not less than 1/12 of the total basic salary you earned within the calendar year. This means your 13th month pay is monthly basic compensation computed pro-rata according to the number of months (or days) you have worked in your company.

Example:
Juan earns a basic salary at Php15,000 per month at company ABC. He has been working for 10 months in the company. As such, Juan stands to receive:

(Php15,000 X 10 months) / 12= Php12,500.00

If Juan has any absences or lates during the month, the pay equivalent of those should be deducted from basic salary first before determining the 13th month pay.

5. You may not be able to receive your 13th month pay.

According to the law, the following are not allowed to receive 13th month pay:

(b) Employers already paying their employees 13th month pay or more in a calendar year or its equivalent at the time of this issuance;
(c) Persons in the personal service of another in relation to such workers; and
(d) Employers who are paid on purely commission, boundary, or task basis, and those who are paid a fixed amount for performing a specific work, irrespective of the time consumed in the performance thereof, except where the workers are paid on piece-rate basis in which case the employer shall grant the required 13th month pay to such workers.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III noted in an interview a rank-and-file employee nonetheless should still receive 13th month pay regardless of the way how his or her wages are paid or the nature of his or her employment as long as they have worked for at least one month. This is also stressed in the DOLE handbook.

6. You can actually view how much you stand to redeem your 13th month pay on your payslip.

Depending on how the payment has been set up, the 13th month redeemable is taken from 1/12th of your monthly basic pay worked. The figure from the previous month is them added to next month’s redeemable, and the next month and so on.

For this example, the employer used base pay to calculate an employee’s 13th month pay redeemable:

First Payslip PH 13th Month Pay

On the second payslip, the redeemable is then added to the computed redeemable for the second month, as shown here:

second slip PH 13th month pay

Should your employer use the gross pay to determine your 13th month pay, the gross pay will include allowances and payments payable to gross and then will be divided by 12. This is actually great, because your employer will be giving you a portion of the benefits or any multiplier on top of your basic pay for your 13th month pay.

Your payslip will also show when you should expect your 13th month pay. In this case, the employee from this example will receive the full 13th month on December 15.

7. Maternity leave benefit are not included in the computation of 13th month pay.

Maternity leave benefit is a benefit employed women claim as a member of SSS (Social Security Service). Even if you receive money during your maternity leave, you technically have not rendered work and earned your keep during your maternity leave. As such, Payroll will not consider the number of days on maternity leave as a factor to compute your 13th month pay.

8. Your 13th month pay is not subject to tax, except for some people.

Republic Act 10653 states that gross benefits not more than Php82,000 received by employees and officials of both public and private companies or entities will not be subject to tax. If you’re a web developer or someone in a managerial or director position in your company, this provision might not apply to you.

9. Resigned or terminated employees can still get their 13th month pay.

The Philippine Labor Code is pro-employee, and has provisions that cover those who resigned voluntarily or whose services has been terminated any time before the 13 month payment. Computation for the benefit is still the same, but it will be in proportion to the number of days a resigned employee has rendered.

10. You may want to check with Payroll about upcoming tax deficits.

Yes, this is a thing. You may have heard of tax refund, but you might also incur a tax payable if the tax withheld is less than the tax due on your annual gross compensation income. This is possible because of adjustments to your withholding tax. Payroll will usually have an updated Withholding Tax Tables on hand from the Bureau of Internal Revenue and could help you determine if there is a tax deficit ahead of the end of year computation.

Any tax deficiency will usually be deducted on the first or second pay of the succeeding year. The employer is required by law to give a tax refund or secure the deficit not later than January 25. If you already have plans for your 13th month, it’s best to check first if you have a tax deficit to avoid getting a significant deduction on the month where you’re probably broke because of the holiday celebration.

Final Thoughts

Your 13th-month pay may be a great addition to your income. To be able to maximize your expected receivable, avoid coming in late or not coming in to work. If you have to be absent for work, take advantage of your company’s leave credits or emergency leave policy to ensure you have a perfect attendance. It’s also great to pay attention to other aspects of your payslip, like your withholding tax, to anticipate any tax deficits and use your 13th month pay to cover this deductions in your first or second paycheck of the succeeding year.

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HR/Payroll Or A Business Owner? Here’s A Guide To Prepare For SSS Contribution Hike

The 1.5% SSS contribution hike to 12.5% on employee’s monthly salary is expected to be implemented in January 2018. The move to increase the contribution was largely credited to President Rodrigo Duterte approving the two-stage monthly pension increase of Php2,000 to retirees. Since March, each SSS pensioner gets an additional Php1,000 on top of their previous monthly receivable from the agency. To cover the additional pensioner money, Duterte also approved the plan to increase member contribution rate of 11 percent by adjusting the yearly by 1.5 percent until it reaches 17 percent by 2020.

While this is a great thing for paying SSS members, the move is just one of the many financial and payroll adjustments needed to be done correctly by entrepreneurs and HR staff.

Employer’s Share

The current SSS contribution, which is 11 percent of the employee’s salary, is being shared by the employer (7.37 percent) and employee (3.63 percent). The SSS usually releases an updated contribution table to avoid confusion and overpayment/underpayment.

sss contribution table 2017

SSS Current 2017 Employee-Employer Share Table from SSSguides.com.

Early this year, SSS Chairman Amado Valdez clarified in an interview that while the current setup suggests a 70:30 employer-employee share, it does not mean that the same rate will be used in the upcoming increases.

There is little employer’s feedback publically available regarding the increase, but a trade association chair indicated that the increase could make a significant impact on operational costs. Employers Confederation of the Philippines chairman emeritus Donald Dee expressed in a statement that while the association supports the intention behind the contribution increase, there should be a study conducted regarding the matter. He also said the average cost spent per employee of the association is already higher than other companies because they spend more money on other benefits and not just SSS.

Ahead of the SSS contribution hike, it is best for companies (via HR and Payroll departments) to anticipate the changes they would need to avoid over or underpayment. Here are a few things you need to prepare ahead of the changes:

1. Make sure all employees have an online account.

The SSS has an online facility where all employees, employers, and other members access contributions and membership records, perform online transactions, request for copies, and set appointments with their SSS servicing branch. This means they can check online instead of having to talk to your HR Team about these details.

It’s easy to direct incoming employees who have yet to have an SSS number to set up their online account. For employees who have forgotten login details of their online account, they can simply do a password reset or email at onlineserviceassistance@sss.gov.ph.

2. Make sure your employer online details are also updated on your SSS online account.

SSS aims to have almost every transaction done online, which is great for HR and Payroll who needed to keep tabs on pertinent employer and employee information. On the other hand, hard changes like change in business address or company type will still require you to provide supporting documents that are needed to be submitted at a physical branch.

3. You would still need to go to SSS to pay for the contributions

It would be nice to be able to pay for your employee contributions online. As of the moment, you would still have to make the payments directly at a physical branch with the following:

  • Accomplished SSS Form R-5 or also known as the Employer Contributions Payment Form
  • Accomplished SSS Form R-3 Contributions Collection List
  • Cash or Check totaling amount payable to SSS

4. You would need to be diligent in keeping employee contributions updated

The R3 form is a list of all contributions collected for employee-members. HR (with Payroll assistant), need to submit this form every month or every quarter. You would need to submit this along with the USB file or the printed version and copies of the Transmittal Certification and Employee File per month.

For some companies experiencing high attrition or is expanding its workforce at a rapid pace, it can be quite taxing to prepare an accurate R3 form. It’s easy to overlook or prepare all required documents in one go and forget to include updated information that could lead to underpaying or overpaying SSS contributions. Moreover, it can also be complex when there are changes in the company that require salary adjustments.

Here are some tips for you to make this process easier to manage:

  • Pay on or before the 10th day of the following month. As your employees have different SSS numbers, it will be easier for HR and Payroll to collect and prepare updated documents.
  • Pay SSS contributions with the SSS branch who handles your company’s records. It can be easier for HR/Payroll or business owners to pay the contributions at a nearby branch, but it would be much easier to deal with the branch that can access your records and handle application concerns or requests faster.
  • Get an HR/Payroll software who can handle repeated SSS processes. The SSS’s file generator program can be a frustrating tool to do, and some free R3 file generators online may not be reliable or safe.

An HR/Payroll software like PayrollHero can not only generate the reports you need for SSS contributions, it can also come with features like an AI assistant who can handle employee changes, requests and other things that could have an impact on contribution computations. An AI assistant can also help onboard new employees and collect the required data needed for your R3 report.

SSS R3 Form PayrollHero

Generate SSS R3 forms and automate mundane HR and payroll functions with our 30-day free trial. You can also download government forms here.

5. Inform employees about the changes in SSS policies and increases in their benefits.

HR is duty-bound to not only keep employees informed about SSS policies but also inform any effects on their payslips. While a memo or an email may suffice to inform employees, HR and Payroll will still get questions from employees about deductions on their payslips down to the last cent. Unless you have an HR or Payroll assistant to assist in addressing these type of questions, handling repeated inquiries is a waste of your time and company resources.

Final Thoughts

As the government intends to make frequent increases on SSS contributions over the next five years, you may want to invest your time and effort now to make sure your HR and Payroll teams have the right processes and systems in place to deal with these increases. Streamlining HR and Payroll tasks will ensure that SSS contributions are correct and updated with minimal effort and use of resources.

SSS Contribution Increase 2018: Why It’s Actually Good for You

In early 2017, the Social Security System (SSS) announced that it intends to increase the contribution rate for the national pension fund. According to the agency, the contribution per SSS member will pay 15 percent more than the usual amount, which is around Php15 to P240 extra every month.

At the moment, the implementation of the SSS contribution increase was postponed until 2018. If the implementation went according to plan, you would have seen the effect on your payslip last May. SSS president and chief executive officer Emmanuel F. Dooc said the agency wanted to wait for the tax reform to be implemented first so pension fund members can use the money saved on taxes to offset the contribution increase.

With the impending contribution increase, you’d probably wonder if this will have a real-life effect on your take-home pay. Here are 5 things to know about the SSS contribution increase and why it’s s actually a good thing for you.

1. The contribution increase will help extend the life of the SSS fund.

Why is this important: You are ensuring there’s enough money for SSS to pay your pension when you’re eligible to claim it.

Before we delve into this further, let’s brush up on what the SSS fund is exactly.. The SSS fund functions as a source of funding to provide social benefits, including your pension, that supports its contributing members.

In order for the account to not run out of money, the group needs to:

  • admit new members who are willing to contribute to the account, and/or
  • increase the contribution collected from existing members

As members claim their payout from the SSS fund, there’s also a possibility that the account will run out of money sooner than expected.

And we can see this from the actions taken early this year. During his campaign trail, then-presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte promised to increase the pension receivables of over two million retirees. After winning the presidential election, Duterte approved the contribution hike, resulting in the SSS fund’s life getting shortened from 2042 to 2032. If the increase does not go through, there is a possibility people who will claim or retire after 2032 will not be able to receive their pension.

2. The fresh injection of money means more benefits for you.

Why this is important: Expanded maternity benefits and unemployment benefits.

At the moment, an SSS member can avail the following benefits:

  • Cash allowance to cover the number of days absent due to injury or sickness
  • Maternity benefit
  • Retirement benefit that would come in either a monthly pension or lump sum payment
  • Disability cash benefit that would come in either a monthly pension or lump sum payment
  • Death and funeral benefits
  • Eligibility for a salary or business loan
  • Eligibility for financial assistance or mortgage loan

Recently, the SSS has said it is considering to offer more benefits for its members once the increase is implemented. This means expanding the allowed number of leaves from 60 to 120 days (and improved cash benefits), relaxed restrictions on childbirth and miscarriage, and changes to the maximum coverage amount, among other things. Moreover, the new funds from the contribution increase and the agency’s investments could also introduce a benefit that would financially assist members who are recently unemployed. If the contribution increase pushed through back in May, the agency was confident to declare that such additional benefits would have been made available to its members in the same year.

3. The contribution increase could also mean more pension payout.

Why this is important: Who doesn’t want more money for retirement?

To understand why is this so, let’s discuss how SSS computes your pension. Under the current law, SSS computes your pension based on two things:

  • The number of contributions you made as a member, and
  • the total amount of the contributions that have been paid

The agency then computes the average of all of your contributions from the date of your coverage as a member or compute the average of your contributions in the last five years. Whichever is higher, this will be the amount the SSS will use to compute for your pension.

Some enterprising members opt to contribute the maximum rate as long as they can afford it.

However, there are at least a couple of loopholes in the SSS that allows you to pay a higher contribution amount allowed by law to increase their computed pension amount. For example, a member who earns Php15,000 a month pays Php110 for his SSS contribution monthly. He then decides to increase his contribution six years before retirement to Php1,760 a month. This then leads him to receive a lifetime monthly pension of Php9,900 a month. Unfortunately, this is not something the current proposed laws would address.

4. The increase has a minimal effect on your take-home pay.

Why is this so: Your employer shares the burden of your contribution.

SSS members who are employed only shoulder one-third of the calculated contribution, while your employer shares two-thirds of it.

Once the increase is implemented, the total contribution will climb from 11 to 12.5 percent. The implementation will also see the increase in maximum monthly salary credit from Php16,000 to Php20,000.

Insurance and banking comparison experts GoBear created a computation table. It clearly shows that employers will take the brunt of the increase. When you think about it, the contribution hike essentially forces your employer to invest more in you.

But what if you are a self-employed or voluntary member? Well, it’s not that bad as well. Considering the fact that most of us are really bad when it comes to saving or investing money on ourselves, the SSS contribution increase is simply one way to change our attitude about money.

5. The SSS plans to introduce more increases in the next five years.

This means: Expect more annual contribution increases.

SSS President and CEO Emmanuel Dooc see these annual increases as a good thing for people who are aiming to increase the pension amounts they can claim in the future. Dooc added they aim to increase the member contribution rate from 11 percent to 17 percent over a  six-year period.

Although the debate about the increases is still ongoing, let’s note the fact millennials make up a third of the Philippine population, and are expected to make up 75% of the workforce by 2030. Add that to the number of workers retiring, and you have a social services situation that could put a strain on the SSS fund. Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno himself said earlier in an interview that an adjustment in member contribution rates will allow the fund provide better benefits, higher pension amounts, and services as cost of living and pension and benefit claims increases.

Final Thoughts

The SSS contribution increase ensures the long-term viability of the fund, provide more benefits and increase the pension amount you will receive upon retirement. Even if the increase will be implemented, the proposed collection amount will not really have an effect on your take-home pay, more so when the tax reform will take effect. Moreover, the increase is simply stage one of the SSS’s plans to revitalize the fund and improve the benefits and services it offers to members.

Are you still not convinced why there’s a need to increase the contributions? If you are willing to take on a high-risk, high-return investment like stocks, mutual funds, real estate, and even in a business you don’t understand, why not bet on a sure thing instead? The SSS fund is a government-backed fund that’s mandated by law to support you for a lifetime.

At the end of the day, it might be better to put a little more of your hard-earned money on a secured investment.