There is a need to clarify with the public and the business sector on the Interim Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID-19 released by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) with regard to the testing of employees before they can return to work.

These guidelines are aligned with those of the Department of Health (DOH) and their Memorandum No. 2020-0220 in that the National Government DOES NOT require testing of all employees before they return to work.

Likewise, pursuant to Section 8.4 of the Omnibus Guidelines of the IATF dated 15 May 2020, in no case shall the testing of all returning workers be construed as a condition precedent for his/her return.

Following the DOH guidelines, companies should screen all employees in terms of temperature scanning and check if they are symptomatic or have had exposure to patients who are positive for COVID-19. As the gold standard, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing will be administered only to this group who are symptomatic and/or suspected of having COVID-19. The rest of employees can be permitted to resume work.

Further to this, companies also have the option to conduct testing for all their employees. Accordingly, 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. One of these conditions is that testing must be in accordance with DOH protocols.

Lastly, we must accept the cost of testing as an indispensable expense of companies under the new normal. But to reiterate, PCR testing is not required for all but only for those who are symptomatic and are suspected of having COVID-19 following DOH protocol.♦

Date of Release: 18 May 2020