COMPANIES may now use the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ resolution on the alert level system as a legal basis to fire or withhold the salaries of their employees who are not fully vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said on Thursday, October 21, 2021.
Bello said this is possible as the resolution, particularly on Alert Level 3, mandates that only companies or establishments with fully vaccinated employees may expand their operational capacities.
“Because now there is an obligation on the part of the employer na dapat vaccinated ang mga empleyado niya (that employees should be vaccinated), so he can require yung mga empleyado na magpabakuna (employees to be vaccinated) because now, there is a legal basis,” Bello said in a television interview.
Under Alert Level 3, establishments are allowed to operate at 30 percent indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals and 50 percent outdoor venue capacity regardless of vaccination status, provided that all employees of these establishments are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Cebu is under Alert Level 2, a less restrictive classification, but which also requires fully vaccinated employees in particular establishments allowed to operate.
Partido Manggagawa chairman Rene Magtubo immediately expressed disappointment at Bello’s statement on unvaccinated workers, calling it “disheartening” that the labor secretary would suggest “a Solomonic solution to a complex problem of health employment.”
“We do not agree with the interpretation of Secretary Bello that the IATF resolution on alert levels can form the legal basis for terminating employees. Said resolution on vaccination is never and should never be part of the just and authorized causes for terminating employment contracts,” Magtubo said.
“While refusing unvaccinated workers to work in facilities prohibited by alert levels is a practical health measure employers can impose, terminating them from work is a cure more than the disease. What can be done is place our workers in the order of priority in reporting for work based on alert levels, but never that their unvaccinated status be a ground for their termination,” Magtubo said.
Sought for comment, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Steven Yu said: “We find it best to wait for the guidelines, whether it is the call of the business owner or mandatory. It is not clear if it is the basis for termination or they are simply put on floating status.”
“I think this needs more clarification, and we have to look at the human rights based on the constitution,” Yu added.
Under Alert Level 2, establishments are allowed to operate at 50 percent indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals and those below 18 years of age, even if unvaccinated, and 70 percent outdoor venue capacity regardless of vaccination status, provided that all employees of these establishments are fully vaccinated.
Under Alert Level 3 until the end of October are Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Siquijor, Davao City and Davao del Norte.
Under Alert Level 2, on the other hand, are Batangas, Quezon Province, Lucena City, Bohol, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Cebu Province, Davao de Oro, Davao del Sur and Davao Oriental.
Negros Oriental and Davao Occidental have been placed under Alert Level 4, the strictest level.
Businesses that are allowed to operate under Alert Level 3 are venues for meetings, conferences, exhibitions and parties; restaurants and other food services; personal care services, gyms, spas and other leisure facilities; amusement parks; recreational venues like internet cafes, bowling alleys, billiard halls and swimming pools; tourist attractions including galleries and museums; cinemas; film, music, and television production; limited face-to-face classes for higher education and for technical-vocational education; and licensure exams administered by government agencies.
For Alert Level 2, the same businesses and activities above are allowed to operate, with the addition of funfairs/peryas or kid amusement industries such as playgrounds, playrooms and kiddie rides; and entertainment venues like karaoke bars and concert halls.
Earlier, Bello had said the “no vaccine, no work/pay” policy reportedly being implemented in Metro Manila was illegal. (TPM, JOB, CTL)