Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez has clarified that the government does not require private sector employees to undergo a diagnostic test for the novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, before returning to work.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) issued the clarification as most of the country shifted to general community quarantine (GCQ), which allows several business establishments and manufacturing plants to resume operations on the condition that minimum health standards are complied with.
The DTI said the Interim Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID-19, which it released together with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), are aligned with those of the Department of Health (DOH) and their Memorandum No. 2020-0220 which state that the “national government does not require testing of all employees before they return to work”.
Section 8.4 of the Omnibus Guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases dated May 15, 2020 also states that in no case shall the testing of all returning workers be construed as a condition precedent for his/her return.
The corporate sector is, however, required to screen all employees in terms of temperature scanning and check if they are symptomatic or have had exposure to COVID-19 patients.
Employers also have the option to conduct testing for all their employees.
Employees who develop symptoms and are suspected of having COVID-19 are required to undergo the RT-PCR (reverse transcription - polymerase chain reaction) test to detect the virus that causes the respiratory infection.
The cost of testing not covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) shall be borne by the employer.
But this also means the employer can reimburse the cost from PhilHealth up to the amount allowed and under such conditions sanctioned by PhilHealth, the DTI said.
One of these conditions is that testing must be in accordance with DOH protocols.
DTI said the private sector “must accept the cost of testing as an indispensable expense of companies under the new normal”. (Ventures Cebu)