What now? Labor exec says foreign employers might soon make vaccination a job requirement

Published February 22, 2021, 7:31 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

The day might soon come when host countries for migrant workers would make vaccination from the dreaded coronavirus disease (COVID-19) a requirement before they even think of hiring such workers.

(Screencap from Zoom / MANILA BULLETIN)

Director Alice Visperas of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) raised this imminent scenario during a virtual press briefing Monday, Feb.22, even as she confirmed that Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III was in talks with officials from the United Kingdom (UK) and Germany on the procurement of COVID vaccines that would specifically be used on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

“Wala pa tayong official list ng mga bansa na nagsasabi na isasama na nila yun (vaccination) sa list ng requirement nila, but we are hearing some indications from our POLOs (Philippine Overseas Labor Office) na may mga countries na pinaplano na ito (We still don’t have a list of countries that have officially indicated their intention to turn vaccination into a requirement, but we are hearing some indications from our POLOs that some countries are already planning to do this),” Visperas said.

“Gusto na nila may vaccine na yung kanilang kukunin na workers. Darating din yung panahon baka hindi na sila kukuha pag hindi pa nabibigyan ng vaccine (They want to hire workers who have already been vaccinated. The time might come when they will refuse to hire people who have not been vaccinated yet),” she said.

The big problem for Filipinos is that the country has not yet received its supply of the foreigner-made vaccines, at least for the purpose of mass inoculation. The government pandemic task force has admitted that the shipment for the jabs has been delayed.

But Visperas claimed that the OFWs’ sterling reputation abroad will serve them well amid this predicament.

“Personally I don’t see na magiging balakid ito, sa nakikita ko na gusto talaga ng mga employers abroad ang ating workers (Personally I don’t see this as a hindrance to deployment of OFWs, since employers abroad really like our workers).”

Over 600,000 displaced OFWs have been repatriated to the country since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year. To say that most of them would like to be redeployment again is an understatement.

Regarding the vaccine deal that Bello is working on with the western countries, Visperas said that the feedback has been good since “talks are already at the ministerial level.”

“If they didn’t want to do to it, they would’ve dismissed our request outright,” she said in Filipino.