Eateries, spas cannot sack unvaccinated staff in the Philippines

Businesses offering dine-in and in-person services cannot fire staff or withhold the salaries of those who are not vaccinated.
By: | October 25, 2021

Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III has backtracked on his statement that businesses with dine-in and in-person services could terminate or withhold the salaries of unvaccinated workers under alert level 3.

“This is to clarify that even if select establishments may refuse unvaccinated employees from working by virtue of the IATF resolution, they cannot terminate their workers even if unvaccinated. They cannot also withhold the salaries already earned,” Bello said in a text message.

Bello had earlier said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) resolution formed the “legal basis” for the “no vaccine, no work” and “no vaccine, no pay” schemes of certain restaurants and spas.

While vaccination is not mandatory for all workers, he said, the IATF resolution required all workers in those establishments to be fully inoculated. “You have that legal basis now, the IATF resolution. There is (a) basis now to hold the pay because of violation of the IATF ruling,” the labour chief had earlier said in a television interview.   

Bello’s earlier statement has prompted a backlash from labour groups and some lawmakers with the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) saying Bello had “overstretched its (the resolution’s) application” to defend the “no jab, no pay” scheme of some employers.

READ: Workers in the Philippines may receive lower 13th month pay

Separately, Bello has said employers have the right not to hire applicants unvaccinated against COVID-19. “Because before a person is employed, there is no employer-employee relationship. As to whether you can be employed, that’s the privilege of the employer,” according to the Inquirer.