The no vaccine, no work policy has no legal basis
Vaccines are one of the most effective tools for protecting people against the Covid-19. Consequently, with Covid-19 vaccination under way, some may be considering whether to make vaccination mandatory to increase vaccination rates and achieve public health goals.
With complaints that some private companies and establishments require workers to present proof of Covid-19 vaccination before they are allowed to enter their workplaces, Labor and Employment Sec. Silvestre H. Bello III has issued Labor Advisory 3, s. 2021 or guidelines on the administration of Covid-19 vaccines in the workplaces.
Bello has directed DOLE regional offices and attached agencies to monitor companies and establishments implementing the “No vaccine, no work policy” and for workers to report those that are compelling their workers to get vaccinated.
The advisory stated 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 and the Inter-Agency Task Force in accordance with 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 government agencies in the procurement, storage, transport, deployment, and administration of Covid-19 vaccines.
The advisory added establishments and employers should simply encourage their employees to get vaccinated. However, any employee who refuses or fails to be vaccinated should not be discriminated against in terms of tenure, promotion, training, pay, and other benefits, among others, or terminated from employment.
In cases that the employer refuses to let the employee report to their work place, the DOLE will issue a compliance order directing the employer to allow the employee to report or be allowed to report in the workplace. If the worker will still be not allowed to report then, as far as DOLE is concerned, they are considered present and should be paid.
The no vaccine, no work policy has no legal basis so there is no legal basis for the employers to compel their workers to be vaccinated. Doing so is a violation of the freedom of choice guaranteed by the Constitution.
One 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 is 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 Republic Act 11525 or the Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act, which states vaccine cards shall not be considered an additional requirement for employment purposes.