MANILA – Business owners, particularly small-scale businesses, can not afford to provide rapid testing for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) among their employees every two weeks amid the challenging business environment due to the pandemic.

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) issued a statement Wednesday following Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire’s interview with ABS-CBN News Channel urging businesses to randomly test their employees every 14 days using rapid test kits (RTKs).

Vergeire said RTKs only detect the presence of antibodies that only appear between the fifth and seventh day of illness.

“The Employers Confederation of the Philippines expresses its deep concern over the statement of the Department of Health (DOH) urging business owners to conduct random Covid-19 testing for their employees through rapid tests every two weeks,” the group said.

“However, employers should not and cannot be held responsible to pay for the Covid-19 testing of its employees,” it added.

The ECOP said large companies have been voluntarily testing their employees using RTKs as part of their corporate social responsibility. However, requiring businesses to test the employees every two weeks will not be viable.

“ECOP would like to emphasize that around 99.6 percent of registered establishments in the Philippines belong to the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) which are typically faced with budget constraints,” the group said.

It cited recent data that businesses are shutting down their operations either temporarily or permanently that also leads to laying off their workers.

“For this reason, to require business owners to conduct random Covid-19 rapid tests for their employees and repeating it every two weeks will add to the cost of doing business and drive those still operating to eventual closure,” ECOP added. (PNA)