CEBU CITY – The Cebu provincial board (PB) has reminded businessmen not to force their employees to get vaccinated for a fee, or make vaccination as a requirement in hiring workers.
PB member Glenn Anthony Soco, representing Cebu’s 6th District, on Tuesday said it is illegal for the private business and organizations to impose paid vaccination at an upfront cost, or through salary deduction to their employees.
“The current vaccination rollout, as a national policy, is free-of-charge for all,” Soco said in a resolution he authored and passed late Monday.
With the national effort to reach communal immunity through mass vaccination against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Soco said compulsory imposition is not allowed, viewing it as every citizen’s personal choice.
Should private businesses and organizations prefer to have their workforce fully-vaccinated, “they must pay for and shoulder said expenses instead of charging” the cost of the vaccine to their employees, he said.
“The general public is strongly reminded that the sale, distribution and administration of anti-Covid-19 vaccines other than by the government at present time is considered illegal and is thus punishable by law,” Soco added. “Since the vaccines have not yet been approved for commercial distribution, its trade constitutes a criminal offense.”
He reminded employers and the management sector on a provision of Republic Act 11525, or the Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021, which exempts government or any private entities from taxes and duties in purchasing vaccines for as long they are not for resale or other commercial use and such should be administered without cost.
Soco, who is also a businessman, said he authored the resolution after the PB was alarmed by reports that some companies and organizations have been requiring workers to undergo inoculation for a fee, despite government pronouncement that the vaccines for A1 to A4 priority sectors are free of charge.
“Aside from violating the national guidelines on the vaccination program, the illegal imposition is an additional burden upon the workers and those who are still looking for employment. Such imposition may even be considered oppressive considering the difficulties of the general public amid loss of jobs and in their desperation to land new ones, to at least recover, if not, survive, from the ill-effects of the pandemic,” he added. (PNA)