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Philippine govt allows firms to bar unvaccinated workers

Firms can turn away job applicants because being inoculated against Covid-19 'is a valid requirement'

Philippine govt allows firms to bar unvaccinated workers

A volunteer medical worker prepares to administer the Sinovac vaccine to workers during a vaccination drive for economic frontliners, organized by the vice president's office and city government, in Manila on July 20. (Photo: AFP)

Companies in the Philippines have the right not to employ workers who have not been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, the Labor Department says.

The department was responding to criticism of several large corporations by labor unions for turning down unvaccinated applicants.

The hiring of employees is an employer’s right so corporations can by law refuse to accept unvaccinated workers, it said.

“Before a person is employed, there is no employer-employee relationship. As to whether you can be employed, that’s the privilege of the employer,” labor secretary Silvestre Bello told reporters on Oct. 21.

He said vaccine requirements are a valid yet added qualification for someone to qualify for a job they are applying for.

“Sometimes employers specify something that they are looking for, like a 25-year-old with a pleasing personality. If you don’t have a pleasing personality, they can reject you, right? It’s a valid qualification, correct?” Bello said.

Getting vaccinated is not only for our own good, it is also for the good of others

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases recently required all employees to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Bello described the policy as a valid exercise of the power of the state to safeguard the health and well-being of the Filipino people.

Labor union Nagkaisa said its criticism of employers was not opposition to the vaccination policy but an appeal to companies to provide a grace period for applicants to get vaccinated.

Lawyer Sonny Matula said the Covid vaccine issue should not be weaponized by companies to violate workers’ rights.

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“We will continue our advocacy for the promotion and respect of workers’ rights such as the fight against contractualization, national minimum wage and better bargaining power, especially during this pandemic,” Matula told UCA News.

Meanwhile, BaguioBishop Victor Bendico renewed his call for Catholics to be inoculated against Covid-19. He also urged his fellow prelates to get vaccinated so that they could serve the Church fully and with more charity.

“Getting vaccinated is not only for our own good, it is also for the good of others,” he told Catholic-run Radyo Veritas on Oct. 19.

The bishop said every Catholic has a moral duty to keep each other safe from the virus.

Addressing the workplace issue, he said the policy is meant to keep everyone safe. “We need to make sure we are not carriers of the virus ourselves. Thus, we need to be vaccinated,” he said.

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