DILG to LGUs: No mandatory COVID-19 testing needed for returning workers

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) reminded all local government units (LGUs) that COVID-19 testing of personnel is not mandatory or a requisite before allowing the workforce to go back to their jobs.

DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año says that employees who have not undergone coronavirus testing can be permitted to go back to work as the IATF, the DILG and other agencies such as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) have not issued any order requiring LGUs to demand testing for returning employees.

“A COVID-19 test is not mandatory to allow personnel to return to work. Wala pong ganyang kautusan na nanggaling sa pamahalaan at maging sa DILG, DOLE at DTI. We want to restart the economy, and get employees back on their feet and provide for their families,” said Año.

According to the DILG Chief, companies may require their employees to undergo rapid anti-body tests but the cost shall be covered by the company and not by the employee.

“Wala po tayong ipinag-uutos na ganyan, nilinaw na ‘yan DOLE at DTI. Kaya sa mga LGU na nag-iissue ng executive order na nire-require ang mga kompanya, opisina na dapat ay itest, hindi dapat ganoon, wala tayong ganoon ipinag-uutos,” he says.

DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello said recently that employers are not obliged to have their employees tested for COVID-19, more so, shoulder the expenses of the tests. He said that “only those showing symptoms must be tested.”

The DILG, meanwhile, says that instead of a mandatory testing for returning employees, a screening or diagnostic test must be conducted by companies and even by government agencies and LGUs.

He says hasty testing is not encouraged nor is it practical on the part of employers as there are limited test kits as of the moment. He says that tests would only be necessary if an individual has a travel history to coronavirus-hit country, has COVID symptoms, or has exposure to a confirmed positive case, among others.

The DILG Chief also encourages companies to ask returning employees to fill-out  disclosure forms indicating their activities for the last 14 days emphasizing that a truthful response from the personnel is expected as this is the first step in stopping transmission in the workplace.

“Yung mga bumabalik na empleyado ay kailangang magfill-out ng disclosure form for the last 14 days, kung saan sila nanggaling, mayroon ba silang nakausap na kamag-anak na nag-positive, gaano sila kalapit sa isang kapitbahay na nag-positive para mailagay sila sa PUMs,” he explains.

He urges companies and LGUs and their employees to practice minimum health standards to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the workplace.

“Ang panglaban naman natin diyan ay yung minimum health standards na dapat magsuot ka ng face mask, you practice physical distancing na dalawang metro at saka dapat sa mga pinagtatrabahuhan natin ay may mga engineering barriers para hindi magkakalapit yung mga manggagawa,” he said.