The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Palawan has urged employers in the province to provide free COVID tests to workers, but clarified that it is not mandatory.

Local chief labor and employment officer Luis Evangelista said Monday that workers in the hospitality and tourism sectors, manufacturing, including frontline and economic priority employees may undergo real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction or RT-PCR test as provided by their employers for free.

“Ini-encourage pa rin natin lalo na ‘yong may nakikitang symptoms. Kung kaya ni employer kahit hindi once every four weeks o once a month, kahit once lang lalo na ‘yong first na magre-report sa work,” he said.

According to the joint advisory of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and DOLE no. 20-04 series of 2020, the RT-PCR shall be the recognized test for the identified priority workers.

It stated that all workers and employees in the hospitality and tourism sectors in El Nido, Boracay, Coron, Panglao, Siargao and other tourist zones, as identified and declared by the Department of Tourism (DOT) may be tested once every four weeks.

All workers and employees of manufacturing companies and publc service providers registered in economic zones located in Special Concerns Areas may be tested every three months.

While frontline and economic priority workers, defined as those who work in high priority sectors, both public and private; have high interaction with and exposure to the public; and who live or work in Special Concern Areas, may be tested every three months.

Evangelista said that this took effect on August 15.

“Sa tingin ko naman, kung sa tingin ng mga employer na ganon kaimportante, alam naman nila na ito ay kakailanganin talaga to check the status of their workers before sila mag-operate, they will not hesitate sa tingin ko,” he said.

“Provided nga lang, alam natin ang amount ng expenses for RT-PCR test so I think basta kaya naman ng financial capacity ng employer and may ilan din naman lalo na yong malalaking establishment naman dito sa Palawan, siguro they will not hesitate na makapag-provide kahit once man lang,” he said.