Drilon to DOLE: Make sure companies won’t abuse IATF reso on unvaxxed workers

Published October 22, 2021, 4:37 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Friday appealed to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to ensure that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) resolution, now feared by unvaccinated workers, would not be abused by business owners, especially those in the restaurant and in-person services.

Drilon urged the government to be “reasonable” as most of these workers are not yet vaccinated because of the lack of sufficient supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

He pointed out that even vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. admitted that the government’s vaccination program is facing logistical challenges and there are regions including Metro Manila that are still below the target vaccination rate of 70 percent of their eligible population.

“It is not their fault that the rollout of the COVID- 19 vaccination program is slow,” Drilon said in a statement.

“While an employer owning restaurants and establishments offering in-person services can require vaccination of its employees to comply with IATF guidelines and protect both the workers and customers going into these privately-owned establishments, it is unreasonable to terminate employment or withhold salary when the employee remains is unvaccinated through no fault of his own,” the former labor secretary stressed.

Drilon stressed the government should not pass the burden on employees and employers should facilitate the employees’ vaccination if they can.

“They will get vaccinated once the vaccines are available. Until such time, let us be more reasonable and understanding of their situation,” Drilon said.

“The DOLE should not be rash in saying that the employer can resort to termination of employment in these cases. Termination of employment is the ultimate penalty that employers can impose. It should not be easily resorted to,” he pointed out.

Drilon said he is also vouching on Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III’s statement that he will not favor a mandatory vaccination for all workers until we have a sufficient supply of vaccines.

“I support Sec. Bello’s statement that there should be no mandatory vaccination for all workers until we have addressed the supply side and the logistical challenges,” Drilon said.

He said an employee can be placed on leave without pay until he is vaccinated. However, for those employees who were allowed to work despite not being vaccinated, Drilon reiterated it is illegal to refuse to pay wages or salaries for work or service that has already been rendered.

“That is illegal. If work has been rendered, it is illegal to withhold salary regardless of the vaccination status of the worker,” Drilon said in response claims by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) that there are companies engaging in the so-called “now vaccine, no pay” scheme.