Employers can refuse hiring unvaccinated applicants; but once hired, they cannot compel vaccination — DOJ

Published November 11, 2021, 3:57 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra

Since “employers have the prerogative to select whoever they wish to employ on the basis of their own standards,” they can refuse job applicants who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 “since there is no employer-employee relationship at that point,” Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra on Thursday, Nov. 11.

However, Guevarra emphasized that “if they (employers) have already hired and signed up someone, they cannot say, ‘okay, you are already hired but you must get vaccinated.’”

“That is the compulsion that is not allowed under RA 11595,” he stressed as he referred to the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021.

“The President is correct,” said Guevarra as the secretary supported the President’s stand that employers have the right to refuse hiring job applicants who have not yet been COVID vaccinated.

During the Talk to the People aired last Nov. 9, Duterte expressed belief that employers have the legal right not to hire applicants who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I think it’s legal for employers not to accept people who are not vaccinated,” the President said.

“Tama sila (They’re right). I agree with them, and as a lawyer, sabihin ko, mukhang tama ang ginawa ninyo (I would say, it looks like you did the right thing). You’re just protecting business and other people. So what’s – what could be the legal argument against it?” asked Duterte.