COVID-19 TESTING OF RETURNING EMPLOYEES NOT MANDATORY

UPDATED as of 20 May 2020:

On 15 May 2020, the Inter-Agency Task Force (“IATF”) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases issued the Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines (“Omnibus Guidelines”). The Omnibus Guidelines provided for the rules to be followed per community quarantine category. It also enumerates the list of industries allowed to operate per community quarantine category and up to what capacity are these industries allowed to operate.

Section 8, paragraph 4 of the Omnibus Guidelines states that in no case shall the testing of all returning workers be construed as a condition precedent for his/her return. The same provision states that it is enough that the Joint DTI-DOLE Return-to-Work Guidelines and DOH Return-to-Work Guidelines are complied with.

Under Section 7 of the Joint DTI-DOLE Return-to-Work Guidelines, employers are not mandated to have their employees tested for COVID-19. They are, however, given the prerogative to do so. Should the employer opt to have the employees tested for COVID-19, DOH protocols should be followed.

The DOH Return-to-Work Guidelines (Department Memorandum 2020-0220) does not also mandate the testing of returning employees. However, under item III(C) of the DOH guidelines, returning employees shall be screened for COVID-19 symptoms, including travel history or exposure within the last 14 days. This screening should be done daily. Returning employees who are symptomatic and with relevant history/exposure on the date of resumption of work shall not be allowed to work and must consult with their primary care provider. Those who were symptomatic and with relevant history/exposure within the last 14 days prior to resumption of work must present Certificate of Quarantine Completion issued by the step-down care facility or local health office, whichever is applicable. Employees who are asymptomatic within the last 14 days prior to resumption of work may be allowed to work.

Moreover, paragraph 2, Item III(D) of the said DOH guidelines provides that employers who opted to test asymptomatic returning employees may do so in a representative sample of those who have returned to work and have a high risk of contracting the virus. Testing may be done either through RT-PCR or through FDA-approved rapid antibody tests up to every 14 days.

For copies of the IATF Omnibus Guidelines dated 15 May 2020, Joint DTI-DOLE Return-to-Work Guidelines, DOH Return-to-Work Guidelines and DOH Memorandum 2020-0180, please click here.

Published by dabulaw

We are a full service law firm located in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines.

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