MANILA, Oct 22 (Mabuhay) — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Friday clarified that employers cannot fire workers who refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but they can tell them not to report for work.

Bello pointed out that generally, people, including workers, cannot be forced to have COVID-19 vaccine.

“That (not being vaccinated) is no basis to dismiss. Pero puwede mong sabihin sa empleyado, ‘Kung ayaw mong magpabakuna, huwag ka munang pumasok’,” he said.

Bello noted that employers may apply a “no work, no pay” policy if the employees do not report for work.

Alert level 3

While acknowledging that people cannot be forced to get vaccinated, he said there is an exemption under the resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases regarding areas under Alert Level 3.

Under Alert Level 3, establishments are allowed to operate at 30% indoor venue capacity only for fully vaccinated individuals and 50% outdoor venue capacity, provided that all employees are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Businesses allowed to operate with this requirement under Alert Level 3 include:

indoor dine-in services of food preparation establishments such as commissaries, restaurants, and eateries;

indoor sports courts or venues, fitness studios, gyms, spas or other indoor leisure centers or facilities, and swimming pools;

Personal care services which include beauty salons, beauty parlors, medical aesthetic clinics, cosmetic or derma clinics, make-up salons, nail spas, reflexology, aesthetics, wellness, and holistic centers, and other similar establishments; acupuncture and electrocautery establishments, and massage therapy including sports therapy establishments. It also includes establishments providing tanning services, body piercings, tattooing, and similar services

Indoor visitor or tourist attractions, libraries, archives, museums, galleries, and cultural shows and exhibits;

Indoor venues for meetings, incentives, conferences, events (MICE);

Indoor entertainment venues with live performers such as karaoke bars, clubs, concert halls, theaters, and cinemas

Meanwhile, regarding job applicants, Bello said employers have the discretion whether or not to accept unvaccinated individuals, adding this is not a form of discrimination.

Bello pointed out that being vaccinated can be considered as a qualification for the job. (MNS)

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