Employers to decide on work rules for unvaxxed employees

Updated: Dec 2, 2021

PHILIPPINES: Will it be a “no jab, no job” rule effective December 1? At the end of the day, it will be up to the employers, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has advised.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has ordered all employers to require their staff reporting to work on-site to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Workers who remain unvaccinated shall be required to undergo regular testing, at their own expense.

However, local labour groups have cried foul over the proposed “no work, no pay” policy, claiming the ruling is a form of punishment against workers who choose to remain unvaccinated.

Trade Union Congress of the Philippines national spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said the government should instead provide incentives to employees in order to convince them to get vaccinated. These could include options such as paid leave, financial bonuses, rice allowances, or provision of shuttle services to vaccination sites.

Associated Labor Unions Central Visayas vice president Nora Ana Meterio-Diego said the “no work, no pay” policy would also be a disadvantage to workers who risk allergic reactions or serious illness from the vaccine. She added that the government should shoulder the expenses for the swab testing and antigen test of unvaccinated employees.

Some business leaders have also questioned DOLE’s plan. Filipino Cebuano Business Club chairman Rey Calooy said that while management was overwhelmingly pro-vaccine, the government plan was a “counterproductive” move. He urged HR professionals to instead offer incentives or proper counselling to persuade workers to get inoculated.

“We need education within the company on the benefits of getting vaccinated. And HR should understand why that particular employee won’t get vaccinated. Maybe that person has psychological hesitance or phobia that they can talk about,” Calooy said.

DOLE Labor assistant secretary Teresita Cucueco responded that employees who refuse to be vaccinated can still have other options to work and get paid through workaround arrangements with their employers.

“If the employee has a work-from-home arrangement, he can work from home. But if he needs to be on-site, he can work, but he has to be tested first and tested regularly," she said. "Now, if the worker still refuses that arrangement and he has leave credits, his employer can apply the credits for the days he is not on site. If the worker does not have (leave credits), he may have to follow the no work, no pay rule."

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III reiterated that employers cannot terminate their workers who refuse to get vaccinated, but are allowed to order them not to report to work.

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