DOLE-10 execs: Unvaccinated workers must undergo RT-PCR testing

Dec. 02, 2021

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Establishments and workplaces may allow their unvaccinated employees to report for work, provided that they be tested for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

While business owners cannot force their workers to receive the vaccine against COVID-19 as part of the protocol, they can be required to take the RT-PCR or the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction before punching in, said Atheneus Vasallo, technical service and support division chief of the Department of Labor and Employment-10 (DOLE-10), in a recent online press briefing.

He said workers who refused to get inoculated can be required to undergo the RT-PCR at their own expense or as prescribed by the companies.

Vasallo cited the national interagency task force Resolution 148-B that mandates employers to have their workers vaccinated, which is applicable to workers eligible for getting the jab.

The resolution states that in areas where there are sufficient supplies of COVID-19 vaccines as determined by the national vaccines operation centers, all establishments and employers in the public and private sector shall require their eligible employees who are tasked to do on-site work to get inoculated.

The resolution also adds that “eligible employees who decline to get vaccinated may not be terminated solely by reason thereof. However, they shall be required to undergo RT-PCR tests regularly at their own expense for purposes of on-site work. Provided that, antigen tests may be resorted to when RT-PCR capacity is insufficient or not immediately available.”
For the religious who observe practices and beliefs, Vasallo is also reminding them to also comply with what the law requires.

Albert Gutib, DOLE-10 regional director, said that the RT-PCR testing can be conducted regularly at least once every two weeks.

For workers on special arrangements, Gutib said RT-PCR testing is not required from those who are on work-from-home arrangement or those who would want to utilize their substantial leave credits.

To support those who are willing to be vaccinated, the regional director said all workers with vaccination scheduled during work hours will not be considered absent.

“As to the legal framework, this issuance of IATF is based on Section 15 of the Constitution or the right to health then came along the right of the Congress in certain circumstances of which they may delegate the power to the president to carry out policies,” said lawyer Amor Bajarla, DOLE-10 mediation-arbitration and legal services officer.

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