Companies that will reject applicants who are not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 cannot be accused of discrimination, National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Wednesday.
“It is the prerogative of companies to hire, train, promote and fire employees,” Galvez said.
His statement ran counter to that of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra who said yesterday that business owners cannot turn down the employment of persons who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Guevarra warned that doing so will violate Section 12 of Republic Act No. 115251 or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021, which states that “vaccine cards shall not be considered as an additional mandatory requirement for educational, employment, and other similar government transaction purposes.”
“Note also that the DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) has already issued its policy guidelines on some of these matters,” Guevarra added.
DOLE on Tuesday said it would sue employers who will impose the policy of withholding the salary of unvaccinated employees.
“If we receive any report, we will immediately respond,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.
Galvez, however, insisted that the next round of the pandemic battle will involve those who are unvaccinated, who he said “will become the state’s liability and weakness in our fight against COVID-19.”
“They are the burden that we have to carry on this long battle,” he said.
“Why hire people who do not accept moral responsibility with the company? The private sector has its own rules. If the applicant does not follow rules, he or she will be automatically disqualified,” Galvez said.
Representatives from the private sector have urged the Inter-Agency Task Force Against Emerging Infectious Diseases to give incentives to vaccinated individuals.
These include giving companies the right to hire only those who have been inoculated while employees who have yet to get the jab could be tested weekly at their own expense.
“It is not discrimination but the moral and corporate responsibility of the company to protect its people, clients, consumers and business interest. Public interest is higher than personal interest,” Galvez said.
“The principle of recruitment is to get the best among the qualified. The company has the right to choose and reject applications. Why will you choose [someone] who will become a threat to your existence?” he added.