Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Belo III has added an exception to his previous statements against the implementation of some private employers of a “no vaccine, no work or pay” policy, saying that restaurants and personal service establishments may do so.
Belo’s new stance on the matter is that these establishments may withhold wages or even terminate employees, on the basis of on unvaccinated status.
The labor chief’s basis lies in the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF) guidelines for the recently enforced Covid19 Alert Level system in Metro Manila.
It is stipulated under these guidelines that certain businesses may be allowed to reopen at a limited capacity, on the grounds that employees as well as customers, are fully vaccinated.
“I’ve already said you can’t dismiss an employee without legal basis. Nonvaccination is not a legal basis [for dismissal]. However, there is an IATF resolution saying that under alert level 3, restaurants can operate but the employees and customers should be vaccinated…You have that legal basis now, the IATF resolution. There is basis now to hold the pay because of violation of the IATF ruling,” Belo said during a televised interview.
However, labor groups were quick to point out that in there is no mention nor provision in the aforementioned guidelines of an unvaccinated status being grounds for termination or salary deferral.
Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) president Raymond Mendoza criticized the Labor Secretary’s statement, saying that employers must instead be encouraged to educate their workers so that they may decide to get jabbed, rather than threaten.
Numerous complaints and reports have been filed with the TUCP previously, as some private businesses owners have been enforcing a “no vaccine, no work or pay” mandate, which the national government has gone on public record to say is an illegal practice.
Furthermore, Federation of Free Workers president Sonny Matula called Belo’s announcement a misinterpretation of existing law, as well as an unreasonable power to grant employers.
Under Section 12 of Republic Act (RA) No. 11525 or the Act Establishing the Covid19 Vaccination Program Expediting the Vaccine Procurement and Administration Process, immunization cards are not allowed to be designated as an additional requirement for employment.