INTERIOR and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año on Wednesday, December 1, 2021, clarified that coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccination for on-site employees is not mandatory.

Año reminded local government units (LGU) of strict compliance to protocols issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases on unvaccinated on-site employees.

“That's not really mandatory because workers who are unvaccinated can still report for work (if) they can present a negative RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) test at least every 2 weeks,” he said in a text message to Sunstar.

“It would be advisable for them to get vaccinated rather than paying for the tests and risking losing their jobs,” he added.

Año made the statement following a resolution issued by Cebu IATF chief implementer Melquiades Feliciano, stating the vaccination of employees both in public and private sectors is "mandatory." Feliciano also said those unvaccinated will not be allowed to report to work and entry to their workplaces starting December 4.

The national IATF requires unvaccinated employees to provide a negative RT-PCR before they will be permitted to go to work starting December 1.

“To give ample time for unvaccinated employees to secure a negative RT-PCR result, the mandatory submission of this requirement will be enforced effective December 4, 2021. To simplify this directive, unvaccinated employees who will fail to submit a negative RT-PCR result shall not be allowed to report to work starting December 4,” the resolution reads.

However, Feliciano echoed in his resolution the protocols set by the national IATF on unvaccinated employees.

“You can only return to work upon presentation of a negative RT-PCR result. Moreover, if you remain unvaccinated, you will henceforth be required to submit a negative RT-PCR result every two weeks,” he said.

“If you fail to meet this requirement, you will not be allowed again to report for work,” he added.

Feliciano said partially vaccinated employees who missed the schedule for the second dose are also required to undergo and submit a negative RT-PCR test result every week until they get fully vaccinated.

The national IATF protocol states that partially vaccinated on-site employees will be allowed to report to work without a negative RT-PCR as long as they can present the schedule of their second dose.

“During your absence because of your failure to submit proof of vaccination and/or a negative RT-PCR result, such absences will be automatically charged to your remaining sick leave credits,” he said in the resolution.

“In the event that sick leaves are no longer available, the company may apply your available vacation leaves. In case that neither SL (sick leave) nor VL (vacation leave) is available, the no-work no-pay rule shall apply,” he added.