The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Employment Compensation Commission (ECC) recently issued two separate guidelines (collectively, the “Issuances“) in connection with COVID-19, as follows:
- DOLE Labor Advisory No. 08, Series of 2021, entitled the “Promotion of COVID-19 Vaccination in the Private Sector” (“Labor Advisory No. 08-21“)
- ECC Board Resolution No 21-04-14, Series of 2021, entitled the “Conditions for the Compensability of COVID-19 under the ECC List of Occupational and Work-Related Disease or Annex A of the Amended Rules on Employees’ Compensation (EC)” (“ECC Board Resolution No. 21-04-14“)
The foregoing Issuances provide guidance to covered employers and employees regarding the promotion of COVID-19 vaccination in the private sector as well as the classification of COVID-19 as an occupational and work-related disease.
We discuss below the salient features and other details of the Issuances:
Labor Advisory No. 08-21
Labor Advisory No. 08-21 was issued as a supplemental guideline to DOLE Labor Advisory No. 03, Series of 2021, which dealt specifically with the applicable rules governing any vaccination policy that may be implemented by employers and covered establishments in the workplace. Similarly, Labor Advisory No. 08-21 shall also apply to all establishments and employees in the private sector.
COVID-19 vaccination program
All employees in the private sector, except those who are ineligible or disqualified for health reasons, are highly encouraged to get inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine. To this end, employers shall endeavor to urge their employees to avail of their own vaccination program, if there is any, or to avail of the vaccination program implemented by their local government units.
In relation to DOLE Labor Advisory No. 03, Series of 2021, however, employers must remember that any employee who refuses or fails to be vaccinated shall not be discriminated against in terms of tenure, promotion, training, pay and other benefits. More importantly, employees who refuse to be vaccinated may not be terminated from their employment. A “no vaccine, no work” policy is not allowed.
Compliance and assistance
According to Labor Advisory No. 08-21, employers shall seek appropriate assistance from the concerned government agencies in relation to the administration of COVID-19 vaccines.
Considering that the applicable guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination are only preliminarily emerging and the government’s response to the COVID-19 situation is presently flexible and fluid, it would be prudent for employers to continue monitoring new Philippine guidelines or regulations regarding this matter.
A copy of Labor Advisory No. 08-21 can be accessed here.
ECC Board Resolution No. 21-04-14
On 6 April 2021, the ECC issued Board Resolution No. 21-04-14, which specified the conditions for the compensability of COVID-19. Under ECC Board Resolution No. 21-04-14, Filipino workers who have been infected with COVID-19 shall receive appropriate compensation from the government through the ECC.
Inclusion of COVID-19 in the ECC list of occupational and work-related diseases
As per ECC Board Resolution No. 21-04-14, COVID-19 is now considered an occupational and work-related disease.
Condition for compensability of COVID-19
For purposes of filing compensation claims resulting from COVID-19, the ECC requires that COVID-19 must be clinically diagnosed and supported by diagnostic proof, including a reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test. According to ECC Board Resolution No. 21-04-14, COVID-19 is compensable in any of the following conditions:
- There must be a direct connection between the offending agent or event and the worker based on epidemiologic criteria and occupational risk (i.e., healthcare workers, screening and contact tracing teams, etc.).
- The tasks assigned to the worker would require frequent face-to-face and close proximity interactions with the public or with confirmed cases for healthcare workers.
- Transmission occurred in the workplace.
- Transmission occurred while commuting to and from work.
A copy of ECC Board Resolution No. 21-04-14 can be accessed here.
Concerned individuals and entities must take note of the various requirements and changes introduced by the above Issuances in relation to the COVID-19 vaccination program, as well as the processing of claims relating to occupational and work-related diseases from the government and how such measures can help covered establishments restart and recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Quisumbing Torres is able to advise on matters involving labor and employment issues, rules and regulations, and may assist in navigating through these new Issuances to ensure that benefits from the new DOLE and ECC procedures and mechanisms are thoroughly maximized.