Vaccines are one of the most effective tools for protecting people against COVID-19. Consequently, with COVID-19 vaccination under way, some may be considering whether to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory in order to increase vaccination rates and achieve public health goals.

With complaints that some private companies and establishments require workers the proof of COVID-19 vaccination before they are allowed to enter their workplaces, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III issued Labor Advisory No. 3, Series of 2021 or guidelines on the administration of COVID 19 Vaccines in the workplaces.

The Labor Secretary has directed DOLE Regional Offices and Attached Agencies to monitor companies and establishments implementing “no vaccine, no work policy” and for workers to report to DOLE those companies and establishments that are compelling their workers to get vaccinated.

The Advisory states that covered establishments and employers shall adopt and implement the appropriate vaccination policy in the workplace as part of the Occupational Safety and Health consistent with the guidelines issued by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) in accordance with existing laws, rules and regulations.

In addition, covered establishments and employers may procure COVID 19 vaccines, supplies, and other services and may also seek the support of the appropriate government agencies in the procurement, storage, transport, deployment, and administration of COVID 19 vaccines. No cost of vaccination in the workplace

The Advisory also states that covered establishments and employers shall endeavor to encourage their employees to get vaccinated. However, any employee who refuses or fails to be vaccinated shall not be discriminated against in terms of tenure, promotion, training, pay, and other benefits, among others, or terminated from employment. No vaccine, no work policy is not allowed.

In cases that the employer refuses to let the employee report to their work place, the DOLE will then issue a compliance order directing the employer to allow the employee to report or to be allowed to report in the workplace and if still the worker is not allowed to report then as far as DOLE is concerned, they are present and they should be paid. The no vaccine, no work policy has no legal basis and also, there is no legal basis for the employers to compel their workers to be vaccinated. In fact, it is a violation of the freedom of choice of our countrymen as guaranteed by the constitution. You cannot compel anybody to do something against his will. Nobody, not even the government, could compel anybody to undergo vaccination. More so it is not legal for any employer to require a worker to be vaccinated for him to go to work.

As reported to DOLE, many private companies and employers, however, are discouraging unvaccinated employees from physically reporting to their offices and just work from home whenever possible. This was meant to protect those who have yet to be inoculated and to prevent the spread of the virus in the workplace.

It also pointed out that Republic Act No. 11525 on the COVID-19 vaccination program “states that vaccine cards shall not be considered an additional requirement for employment purposes.

In my personal view, the COVID-19 vaccines are effective for protecting people from COVID-19 virus. They can keep you from getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines also help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19. Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

After being vaccinated, individuals should continue taking simple precautions, such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, keeping rooms well ventilated, avoiding crowds, cleaning hands, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue. Get tested if you are sick, even if you’ve been vaccinated.

END/Patrick Rillorta