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Vaccine discrimination

Labor Secretary warned companies and employers nationwide from enforcing a “no vaccination, no work” policy, stressing that they could be held liable under the law if they fire or suspend an employee who refuses inoculation against COVID-19.

“It is not legal for employers to require the employee to be vaccinated before they can enter the workplace,” Bello said at a virtual press briefing.

As vaccination cannot be mandated by employers, refusal to take a COVD-19 jab cannot be ground for termination or imposition of sanctions against workers.

The Labor Secretary was seconded by Sen. Francis Tolentino who authored the anti-discriminatory provision in Republic Act 11525, the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021, which was recently signed by President Duterte.

Section 12 of RA11525 provides that COVID-19 vaccine cards “shall not be considered as an additional mandatory requirement for education, employment and other similar government transaction purposes.”

The provision proscribes discriminatory acts that may be directed against non-inoculated persons and which could lead to possible violations of basic human rights.

While vaccination will play a key role in the near future and the country’s eventual recovery from the pandemic, there will always be those who refuse inoculation, especially in the Philippines where vaccine hesitancy has been on the rise after government allowed the politicization of the Dengvaxia vaccine. As government keeps that in mind while encouraging Filipinos to inoculate themselves from COVID-19 as soon as the doses are available, we will still have to remain considerate of those who choose the path of non-inoculation.*

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