DOLE eyes possible mandatory vaccination for employees but…

Published October 6, 2021, 2:43 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Wednesday, Oct. 6, said the agency is looking into the possibility of allowing mandatory vaccination for employees before going back to work.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III leads the rollout of a special vaccination program for workers in the construction and manufacturing sectors on Wednesday, September 8, 2021. (Photo from the Department of Labor and Employment)

This, after several business groups were urged to restrict the activities of unvaccinated persons to support the government’s mass vaccination efforts for the “common good” and to help in the recovery of the economy.

“We are seriously considering issuing an advisory na kailangan magpabakuna para makapasok ka (that you need to be vaccinated to be able to go to work),” Bello said in an interview over radio station DZBB.

However, Bello noted that there is a need to thoroughly study this move as there is still no legal basis to make vaccination against COVID-19 a requirement for workers to keep their jobs.

“Again, we have to study the legal implication because you cannot compel anybody kung ayaw niyang magpabakuna (if they do not want to get vaccinated),” he added.

“Wala pang batas sa mandatory vaccination and if you will make it a condition na bakunado na dapat para makapasok, this might be considered as discriminatory kaya pinag-aaralan pa natin (There is no law on mandatory vaccination yet, and if you will make it a requirement, this might be considered discriminatory so we are still studying it),” Bello explained.

But the labor chief emphasized the need to be conscious of the health implications if a worker is unvaccinated such as the possibility of unknowingly spreading the virus to other employees or customers.

According to Bello, the Department is expected to issue an advisory on the matter within the week.

DOLE released an advisory last March against the “no vaccine, no work” policy which the agency tagged as “discriminatory.”

Under Labor Advisory No. 3 signed by Bello, the agency reiterates that “any employee who refuses or fails to be vaccinated shall not be discriminated against in terms of tenure, promotion, training, pay, and other benefits, among others, or terminated from employment.”

The advisory also states that establishments and employees shall instead encourage their employers to get their jabs.