Press Release
March 4, 2021

Villanueva to DOLE: Issue clear guidelines upholding workers' rights vs "no vaccination, no work" policy

Senator Joel Villanueva warned against discriminating workers who opt out from vaccination programs implemented by their employers, saying instead of forcing workers to be inoculated, confidence building efforts should be carried out in the company, instead of threats of termination from employment.

Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee, reacted to reports on "no vaccination, no work policy" and appealed to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to immediately issue clear guidelines on the matter to ensure that both workers and employers stand on a level playing field.

"A worker can be late for work and be penalized with salary deduction. But a government guilty of vaccine tardiness faces no such reprimand, even it causes the nation P2.8 billion in economic losses daily," Villanueva said in a statement. "A worker who is not yet immune from virus shouldn't lose his immunity from being fired arbitrarily."

"The biggest challenge at the moment for the labor-employer-government tripartite is not just to give more workers better vaccines but also to increase vaccine confidence," Villanueva continued. "Sa pagbabakuna, the best pa rin po ang 'Sana All.' We cannot have a workforce divided between the 'Jabbed' and the 'Jabbed Nots.'"

The lawmaker reiterated that workers should not be faulted for refusing to be inoculated if they have concerns on the vaccine that would be used on them. A recent survey found that 47% of Filipinos would opt to refuse vaccination largely due to safety issues.

"The challenge for our government right now is to increase the level of confidence of our people on the vaccines. There has to be a concerted effort to bring up the degree of trust on vaccines because the restoration of jobs lost in the pandemic, and to a larger extent, our economic recovery, depend on the success of the vaccination program," Villanueva said.

"If it is brand even doctors are rejecting, you can understand where the hesitancy is coming from," he added.

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