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.
Bello cited the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases resolution for alert levels which allowed essential establishments to operate at a certain capacity provided all their workers were fully vaccinated.
“You can tell your workers, ‘Wag ka munang pumasok kasi delikado, bawal pa’ (Do not report to work for the meantime because it is not yet allowed). But they are still your employee, hindi mo siya pwedeng i-terminate (you cannot terminate them) But then, ‘no work, no pay’,” Bello explained.
However, Bello said this ruling only applies to businesses allowed by the IATF to operate under the alert levels system such as restaurants, hotels, and personal care establishments.
The labor chief maintained that non-vaccination is not a legal basis for employers to fire their workers or withhold their salary, adding that the Department will investigate those who are imposing a “no jab, no pay” policy.
Once confirmed, Bello said they will issue a compliance order against erring employees for them to pay the salary of their workers as delaying their payment is also a violation of the labor code.
“Yung hindi pag-vaccine, hindi iyan legal basis to withhold the salary of the employees, so hindi pwede ang ‘no vaccine, no pay’ policy (The non-vaccination of employees is not a legal basis to withhold their salary, so the ‘no vaccine, no pay’ policy is prohibited),” he explained.
“We should never forget that we are in a democratic country. There is what we called freedom of choice. Hindi mo pwedeng pilitin ang isang tao na magpabakuna unless may batas na nagsasabing dapat tayong magpabakuna (You cannot force someone to get vaccinated unless there is a law requiring it),” Bello added.
Meanwhile, Bello still encouraged employees to get inoculated, especially if there is enough supply of COVID-19 vaccines, to help restart the economy and bring back the livelihoods amid the ongoing pandemic.