EMPLOYERS who require their returning employees to under a diagnostic test for the novel coronavirus should shoulder the cost, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said on Saturday, May 23.
He said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) have already made it clear that no such requirement has been imposed on returning employees.
Besides, he said it is impractical to conduct diagnostic tests on all returning employees given the limited test kits.
“A Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) test is not mandatory to allow personnel to return to work. Wala pong ganyang kautusan na nanggaling sa pamahalaan at maging sa DILG, DOLE at DTI. We want to restart the economy, and get employees back on their feet and provide for their families,” said Año.
“Wala po tayong ipinag-uutos na ganyan, nilinaw na ‘yan DOLE at DTI. Kaya sa mga LGU na nag-iissue ng executive order na nire-require ang mga kompanya, opisina na dapat ay itest, hindi dapat ganoon, wala tayong ganoon ipinag-uutos,” he added.
The DILG said instead of Covid testing, a screening or diagnostic test must be conducted by companies and even by government agencies and LGUs.
Año said that tests would only be necessary if an individual has a travel history to coronavirus-affected country, has COVID symptoms, or has exposure to a confirmed positive case, among others.
He encourages companies to ask returning employees to fill-out disclosure forms indicating their activities for the last 14 days emphasizing that a truthful response from the personnel is expected as this is the first step in stopping transmission in the workplace.
“Yung mga bumabalik na empleyado ay kailangang magfill-out ng disclosure form for the last 14 days, kung saan sila nanggaling, mayroon ba silang nakausap na kamag-anak na nag-positive, gaano sila kalapit sa isang kapitbahay na nag-positive para mailagay sila sa PUMs,” he said.
The secretary also reminded companies allowed to resume operations to strictly observe minimum health standards prescribed by the Department of Health to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the workplace.
Meanwhile, DILG spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said there is no need for returning employees to seek travel authority from their barangays as their companies are enough in order for them to get pas at quarantine checkpoints if necessary.
"Lilinawin ko lang po na para po sa mga nagtatrabaho sa mga industriyang pinapagayan ng ating batas o pinapayagan ng IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force), ang kailangan niyo lang pong ipakita ay inyong company ID or certificate of employment. 'Yun lang po, hindi po kayo kailangang humingi ng travel authority," he said.
"Ang travel authority ay para po 'yan sa mga stranded individuals. Kung kayo po ay nagtatrabaho sa isang establisyimento na pinapayagan ng IATF na mag-operate, ang kailangan niyo lang po ay inyong company ID," Malaya added. (SunStar Philippines)