COVID-19 vaccinations in private firms should be free: DOLE

Angela Coloma, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 13 2021 02:51 PM

COVID-19 vaccinations in private firms should be free: DOLE 1
Health workers inoculate their fellow health workers with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the Ospital ng Maynila on March 09, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - No worker should be charged for their vaccination against COVID-19 or be discriminated against if they refuse to get injected, the Department of Labor and Employment said as it issued guidelines on the administration of vaccines in the workplace. 

DOLE’s Labor Advisory No. 3 Series of 2021 sets guidelines for the private sector seeking to inoculate their employees against COVID-19. 

According to the guidelines signed by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, companies may procure COVID-19 vaccines, supplies, and other services. 

Firms may also "seek the support of the appropriate government agencies in the procurement, storage, transport, deployment, and administration of COVID-19 vaccines.” 

Employees should not pay for their vaccination. 

“No cost of vaccination in the workplace shall be charged against or passed on, directly or indirectly to the employees,” the advisory read. 

Workplaces are also mandated to encourage employee vaccination. 

The DOLE also said there shall be no discrimination against an employee who refuses or fails to get vaccinated.

“Any employee who refuses or fails to be vaccinated shall not be discriminated against in the terms of tenure, promotion, training, pay, and other benefits, among others, or terminated from employment,” DOLE said. 

Labor Undersecretary Maria Teresita Cucueco reiterated this in a later briefing. 

“Ang sinasabi i-encourage na mapabakunahan ang empleyado pero kung hindi ho sila papayag hindi po ito basehan ng termination, promotion, at iba pa nga hindi papasukin sa loob ng kompanya. Discriminatory na po iyan, hindi po 'yan sang-ayon sa mga issuance ng DOLE,” she said. 

(This indicates that employees should be encouraged to get vaccinated. But if they refuse to get vaccinated, this should not be basis for termination, or promotion, or barred entry in their workplace. That is discriminatory, that’s not in favor of the DOLE’s issuances.) 

The DOLE previously said that the "no vaccination, no work" policy is illegal. 

The Philippines, lagging behind Asian neighbors as it is 2 weeks into its COVID-19 vaccination drive, has started inoculating health care workers, with roughly 11 percent of the total health worker population injected with COVID-19 vaccines as of March 10. 

Among those to be vaccinated next in the government's priority list are senior citizens and economic frontliners, among others. 

The private sector, along with the national government and some local government units, have inked a deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine procurement, which are estimated to come between May and September. Some companies are also in talks with other vaccine developers.