Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday said that the government, through the Department of Labor and Employment, is doing more to improve workers’ pay.
Commenting on the results of the 15 March Pulse Asia survey showing the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III’s approval rating of 33 percent; disapproval rating of 33 percent; and 35 percent who responded that they neither approve or disapprove, or undecided, with regards improving/increasing the pay of workers, Baldoz said:
“Maybe many of the respondents do not feel that much the impact of what the government is doing to increase their incomes. So, this is really a challenge to us to exert more effort to inform our workers of government programs and services aimed at adding more money to their pockets,” she said.
Other than the productivity-based pay incentive schemes under the Two-Tiered Wage System which the DOLE is promoting and encouraging companies to adopt, the government just recently increased the minimum tax exemption privilege of minimum wage earners, as well as the tax exemption ceiling for 13th month pay and bonuses from P30,000 to P82,000, thereby improving workers’ incomes.
Baldoz also said that recently, the Bureau of Internal revenue issued Revenue Regulation No. 1-2015 expanding de minimis benefits, by providing a P10,000 tax-exempt cap on productivity incentives and other benefits received by employees arising from collective bargaining agreements.
“Our workers continue to receive progressive increases in wage-related benefits mandated by law every time minimum wages are raised. Some of these, she said, are holiday pay, overtime pay, night shift differential, service incentive leave pay, maternity leave pay, paternity leave pay, and 13th month pay. Some of these wage-related benefits also continue to be tax-exempt, Baldoz emphasised.
“There is even pay for Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) leave,” she said, urging workers to also take these into consideration.
She said the tax exemption alone of the minimum wage under R.A. 9504 means higher take-home pay for minimum wage earners.
A taxpayer on single status who is spared from paying income taxes enjoys an additional disposable income in the amount of P41.00 per day if he/she works in NCR, and by a range of P6 to P21 if he/she is a minimum wage earner outside NCR.
If the taxpayer status is married, assuming husband and wife are working, with four children, their disposable incomes are higher by P68 per day if both are minimum wage earners in the NCR, while in the other regions, the disposable income for the same taxpayer status can go as high as P49.
She also cited non-cash benefits that many companies provide their workers. Some of these most common non-cash benefits are meal allowance, transportation allowance, and education, health, and housing subsidies.
“And whenever there are price and supply shocks for basic commodities, especially rice, the DOLE Regional Offices, together with the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Boards and the Department of Trade and Industry, in cooperation with manufacturers, conduct Diskuwento Caravans, mobile outlets that sell basic commodities at discounted prices to ensure continuing access of workers and their families to basic food and non-food commodities.
Baldoz noted that actually, the approval and disapproval ratings in the 15 March Pulse Asia survey with regards improving/increasing the pay of workers have improved compared to the same Pulse Asia survey on 15 November, where the approval rating was 32 percent, while the disapproval rating was 35 percent.
“What I was baffled about was the increase in and the magnitude of respondents who could not decide whether to express approval or disapproval,” she said.
“Nevertheless, we at the DOLE will continue to work in unison with other government agencies and with our tripartite partners to ensure that our workers will get their just and fair share of the country’s economic growth in terms of increased disposable incomes,” she said.