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13th month pay, Holiday pay, and failure to pay taxes

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Arresto Menor
Thank you in advance for any advice that you can give me. I am an American that has adopted the Philippines and is staying here permanently. Because I've only lived here for about a year I am not completely familiar with local labor laws, and the company I'm working for is trying to use that to their advantage, even saying that I'm not eligible for things like 13th month pay. I've been trying to research the laws for myself, but I'm unsure what the next step should be.

My complaints against the company are as follows:
• Failure to pay 13th month pay for 4 months worked in 2011. In my contract, 13th month pay is not specified as included in my regular pay. They claim language stating that “bonus payments and other gifts” will not be paid as stating that the 13th month pay is not owed.
• Failure to pay Holiday pay
• Failure to pay 2 half-days time-off approved by company admin as paid
• Failure to pay taxes and then reimburse the deductions per company policy
• Failure to ensure that my employment as a foreigner is legal and properly registered with the required authorities, and even made it difficult when I attempted to do so on my own. This is important to me because I want to do everything legally and ethically.

These same problems exist for a number of other foreigner employees and similar problems exist for many Filipino employees, to the extent it seems to be company policy to ignore these laws.

Because I feel the company has dealt dishonestly with me I have chosen not to renew my contract which expires in a few days. Last week I advised them in writing that I would not be renewing and requesting that they pay these things (amounting to PHP 36,551.72, excluding the unpaid taxes) and provide evidence of the taxes being paid as well.

They replied today in writing saying:
1. 13th MONTH PAY – From the very start it was discussed to you that the salary is fixed and no additional payments shall be given you
2. KOREAN HOLIDAYS [The company is Korean but the holidays mentions in my letter are those defined in the Philippines’ law) – Those were all paid holidays and was not deducted from your salary. All holidays mentioned are paid. All native [this is the term the company uses for foreigner employees, because we are native English speakers] employees are not eligible for holiday pay for they are receiving a fixed salary.
3. 2 HALF-DAYS – There are no rules that all half-days are paid. Besides, all contracts below 1 (one) year are not eligible for leave credits. [This doesn’t even address the concern. I am not sure if they are avoiding the problem, or simply do not understand it.]

No reply regarding the failure to pay taxes has been made beyond a short conversation that amounts to “It’s not April 15 yet.” This issue is perhaps the most important as it could cause problems getting an American visa for my wife so we can visit my family.

The references to the salary being “fixed” seems to be more their opinion of what they want to happen than a legal definition. It is referred to in the contract as the “basic salary” and doesn’t fit “fixed amount for performing a specific work, irrespective of the time consumed in the performance thereof” as deductions were made for tardiness, absences, etc, and therefore is respective of time consumed. The term “fixed” in this case was never used in any conversation or writing until their response to my letter.

Now I’m not sure what I should do next. Do I complain to DOLE? Do I engage a lawyer and file a lawsuit? Do I do something else I don’t even know about yet?

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i do believe that your proper move is to make a complaint to dole

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