Press Release
October 22, 2021

Drilon takes up cudgels for unvaxxed workers

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon, a former labor secretary, took up the cudgels for workers who may not be allowed to report to work or whose wages may be withheld because they are not vaccinated.

"Let us be more reasonable. Most of these workers are not yet vaccinated because there is no sufficient supply of vaccines. It is not their fault that the rollout of the COVID- 19 vaccination program is slow," Drilon said on Friday.

Drilon pointed out that even Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr. admitted that the government's vaccination program is facing logistical challenges and there are regions including Metro Manila that are still below the target vaccination rate of 70 percent of their eligible population.

"In defense of workers who are not yet vaccinated against COVID-19, it is not their fault that there is no sufficient supply of vaccines. While an employer owning restaurants and establishments offering in-person services can require vaccination of its employees to comply with IATF guidelines and protect both the workers and customers going into these privately-owned establishments, it is unreasonable to terminate employment or withhold salary when the employee remains is unvaccinated through no fault of his own," Drilon stressed.

Drilon called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to ensure that the IATF resolution will not be abused by employers owning restaurants and establishments that offer in-person services who may unreasonably terminate employees or unlawfully withhold their wages.

"Let us not pass the burden on employees. Employers should facilitate the employees' vaccination if they can. They will get vaccinated once the vaccines are available. Until such time, let us be more reasonable and understanding of their situation," Drilon said.

"The DOLE should not be rash in saying that the employer can resort to termination of employment in these cases. Termination of employment is the ultimate penalty that employers can impose. It should not be easily resorted to," he said.

Drilon also cited Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III's statement that he will not favor a mandatory vaccination for all workers until we have a sufficient supply of vaccines.

"I support Sec. Bello's statement that there should be no mandatory vaccination for all workers until we have addressed the supply side and the logistical challenges," Drilon said.

The former labor secretary said that the employee can be placed on leave without pay until he is vaccinated. For those employees who were allowed to work despite not being vaccinated, Drilon reiterated that refusal to pay wages or salaries for work or service that has been rendered is illegal.

"That is illegal. If work has been rendered, it is illegal to withhold salary regardless of the vaccination status of the worker," Drilon in response claims by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) that there are companies engaging in the so-called "now vaccine, no pay" scheme.

He cited that Section 12 of Republic Act 11525 or The Covid-19 Vaccination Program clearly emphasized that "vaccine cards shall not be considered as an additional mandatory requirement for educational, employment, and other similar government transactions and processes."

News Latest News Feed