With the easing of community quarantine, employers are encouraged to follow the Department Memorandum No. 2020-0220 on Interim Guidelines on Return to Work, the Department of Health (DOH) reiterates that it is not an official requirement for employees to get tested prior to working.

According to the DOH, employers are not officially required to get their employees tested for COVID-19, and neither is it expected that employers require their employees to get tested. The Department mandates the screening and monitoring of employees to promptly address those showing symptoms.

“We would like to clarify that we are not requiring employers to test their employees, but we do encourage employers to advise employees to undergo testing if they are showing symptoms.” said Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire. “Testing remains to be targeted to those who are symptomatic. In battling the pandemic and protecting against the virus, the personal preventive measures such as physical distancing, handwashing, and cough etiquette will effectively hamper the transmission of COVID-19,” she added.

As a general guideline, the DOH mandates employers to develop a work arrangement to observe physical distancing by reducing the number of people in the workplace and also reduce the need to travel, including work from home arrangements for high-risk employees and those whose tasks can be done at home.

High-risk employees include individuals aged 60 years and above, or of any age with co-morbidities, or pre-existing illness such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer, or immunocompromised health status, or with high-risk pregnancy.

Employers are also expected to ensure that the workplace is properly disinfected, ventilated, and maintained as part of infection control procedures. Strict hygiene and protection practices must also be observed in the workplace, such as wearing masks and other PPEs, regular washing of hands, and observance of physical distancing. Employees’ health must be closely monitored through daily checking of temperature.

Employers must also establish a referral network for employees who will develop symptoms and should advise their employees and workers to undergo testing if symptoms present. Appropriate policies on sick leave and medical insurance coverage must also be facilitated.

The DOH also encourages employers to look after the other aspects of their employees’ health.

“In maintaining employees’ overall well-being, employers must set up programs to provide and strengthen physical and mental resilience among employees and workers,” Singh-Vergeire concluded.