MANILA, Philippines – Government workers who will be absent due to COVID-19 vaccination may be considered excused, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) said Wednesday.
In a statement, the CSC said this is pursuant to the interim guidelines it issued through CSC Memorandum Circular No. 16, s. 2021 or the “Interim Guidelines on Absences of Government Officials and Employees Due to COVID-19 Vaccination and/or Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) of COVID-19 Vaccine.”
“The issuance provides for the treatment of absences incurred by government officials and employees during the day of the inoculation of COVID-19 vaccine and/or the required treatment or recuperation period from any AEFI of COVID-19 vaccine,” the agency said.
“The guidelines define AEFI as ‘any untoward medical occurrence which follows immunization and which does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the usage of vaccine,’” it added.
The CSC said the guidelines remind all government workers of their responsibility to adopt necessary measures to prevent COVID-19 transmission in the public sector workplaces.
“COVID-19 vaccination is considered as one of the major strategies to complement the existing measures and practices to mitigate the spread and reduce morbidity and mortality due to COVID-19,” the guidelines stated.
In relation to leave credits, the CSC said that absences due to AEFI of COVID-19 vaccine may be charged against the employee’s sick leave credits when the period of treatment/recuperation exceeds the maximum allowable period of absences for the abovementioned conditions..
If the employee has exhausted his/her sick leave credits, Section 56 of the Omnibus Rules on Leave allows for the use of vacation leave credits in lieu of sick leave credits.
“In case the vacation leave credits have been exhausted, the employee may apply for sick leave of absence without pay,” the agency said.
“Government workers who have incurred absences due to COVID-19 vaccination and/or have undergone treatment from AEFI prior to the issuance of CSC MC No. 16, s. 2021 may request for the restoration of the deducted leave credits through their agency’s Human Resource unit.” It added.
The guidelines provides the following conditions where excused absence may be considered:
- Absence from work during the day of inoculation of the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine, including future booster shots. Required documents include proof of vaccination schedule (e.g. vaccination card) and the application of leave of absence; and
- Absence from work due to the required treatment/recuperation period from AEFI of the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine, including future booster shots.
The CSC said a maximum of 15 calendar days may be allowed for cases of serious AEFIs which may include hospitalization, persistent or significant disability or incapacity, and life threatening or medically important event or reaction.
“In addition to the application of leave of absence and copy of vaccination card, the employee must also submit a medical certificate and/or clinical abstract indicating the diagnosis, management done, and number of days of recuperation needed, signed by the attending physician,” it said.
On the other hand, a maximum of three calendar days may be allowed for non-serious AEFIs which may include tenderness, pain, warmth, redness, itching or swelling on the arm where one got the injection; generally feeling unwell; feeling tired (fatigue); chills or feeling feverish; headache; and joint pain or muscle ache.
“The employee must submit a medical certificate signed by an attending physician at the vaccination center or medical facility where s/he underwent observation due to AEFI,” the CSC said.
The agency said these guidelines shall apply to all government officials and employees regardless of status of appointment (permanent, temporary, provisional, substitute, coterminous, casual, contractual or fixed term) including local elective officials.
It shall take effect retroactively on March 1, 2021, the official rollout of the vaccination drive in the Philippines.
It shall remain in full effect during the period of state of calamity as declared under Proclamation No. 1218 issued by the President of the Philippines, or one year after the government has declared the completion of the COVID-19 Vaccination Program, the CSC said.