'I think it's legal': Duterte says employers can refuse to hire unvaccinated workers

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 10 2021 12:11 AM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his belief that there is nothing illegal about companies refusing to hire unvaccinated job applicants.

According to Duterte, it would be illegal to fire unvaccinated workers, but it is not illegal to turn down unvaccinated job applicants.

"Kung nandiyan ka na sa trabaho mo at ayaw mo magpabakuna, well that is too bad for the employer but sabi ng mga labor lawyer, strongly say, hindi pwede yan na paalisin mo kung ayaw magpabakuna. That could be a violation of the law, I agree with it," he said in a recorded speech aired late Tuesday.

(If you are already working and you do not want to get vaccinated, well that is too bad for the employer, but labor lawyers say, strongly say, you cannot be removed from your position just because you refuse to get vaccinated. That could be a violation of the law, I agree with it.)

"'Yung papasok kayo, na you seek employment, and one of the reasons that would be asked of you by the prospective employer would be kung bakunado ka. Na kung sabihin mo, hindi, whatever reason 'yung ibigay mo sa kanya, ang importante lang naman sa kanya, bakunado ka o hindi, kung hindi ka bakunado, hindi ka tanggapin sa trabaho," Duterte added.

(If you are seeking employment, and one of the reasons asked of you by the prospective employer is your vaccination status. If your say you are unvaccinated, whatever your reason, the only thing that's important for the employer is if you are vaccinated or not, and if you are unvaccinated, then you won't get the job.)

"I think that is legal. You have the right to refuse, not to accept as an employee somebody who is not vaccinated, and would go and join the rest of the employees in the factory, or in whatever workplace you have," he also said.

For Duterte, turning down unvaccinated job applicants is just a way for the employers to protect their business and their current employees.

"It could mean loss, o stoppage of whatever kung lahat nagkasakit na (if everyone gets sick). In this case, you are protecting your property, your investments," he said.

"And second, you are protecting your employees because you can be contaminated again. That's the problem with COVID. Sana kung ibang sakit, pagka tinamaan ka (If it was any other illness that when you get sick), you get the immune system in your body. Itong COVID, you can get contaminated again and again and again," Duterte also said.

The Department of Justice earlier said employers can't fire or withhold the salary of unvaccinated workers.

As of Tuesday, a total of 29,809,085 Filipinos have been fully vaccinated. This represents 38.64 percent of the more than 77 million target of the government.