Private Companies to Provide COVID-19 Testing for Returning Employees
“We cannot force , but if they want their employees to be tested before they will be allowed to report to work, they have to pay for their testing.” This is the statement released by DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III last May 23, 2020.
As Metro Manila begins moving towards the “new normal,” our government agencies were tasked by the IATF to create their guidelines in ensuring that public health will not be compromised in this transition. DOLE have published their own detailed list of guidelines for resuming companies last April 30. In it, the department stated that COVID-19 testing is not mandatory. This was reiterated again last week during the DOH-hosted media forum by both DOLE and DTI.
“We understand the difficulty that will be faced by our businesses… yung mga hindi naman masyadong malalaki ang capitalization.” DTI Usec. Ruth Castelo said. She further implored for the private sector’s consideration by saying, “Ang gusto lang po natin ay umandar ang ekonomiya, at the same time ay tignan yung kapakanan ng mga manggagawa. Ibalanse po natin and please take care of the workers. We’re in a difficult situation. Wala po sanang mga disciplinary actions na kaagad-agad gagawin, but take a look at it on a case-to-case basis.”
This decision follows what seems to be the trend of the government’s recent responses to the pandemic: transfer the responsibility to the private sector. In Metro Manila’s delicate transitory state towards normalcy, the need for the government’s firm hand is at its most crucial. The surge of Filipinos returning back to the workforce must be handled with state-wide compliance and consistency. By shifting the authority to the private sector, these agencies make way for vagueness and contradiction into this decisive turning point in our country’s fight against the COVID-19.
It is not enough to hope for the generosity of private companies. These agencies have now given the businesses the option to not have their employees screened and to have them directly integrate back into the workforce. This now-inevitable scenario could further widen the possibility of carriers in public spaces, effectively negating the months-long quarantine that us Filipinos had to endure.
By now, various initiatives have been put in place to support resuming businesses. Corporate testing is already made more accessible by projects like MEDTEK’s mobile lab program. In partnership with multiple medical institutions, our initiative allows us to conduct on-site corporate screening for their employees. This would further minimize the need to mobilize employees and allow for a more concentrated and immediate testing program.
Now that our government agencies have essentially given the task of managing our welfare to the private sector, it is up to the companies to protect their employees and workspaces from the disease. We hope that with projects such as the mobile lab, companies could view corporate COVID-19 screenings not as additional costs, but as a vital step in bringing back their operations.
If your company is interested in availing our mobile lab service, please feel free to fill out the form below.
Employers to shoulder testing of workers: DOLE – Philippine News Agency
DOLE, DTI issue workplace quarantine guidelines – Manila Bulletin
DTI, DOLE: Testing Not Required For Workers To Return To Work – DOH
DTI and DOLE Interim Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID-19
Gov‘t gives private sector burden of paying for COVID-19 testing of workers – Inquirer