Coronavirus and labour law
- What options do employers have under labour law in connection with the coronavirus epidemic, and what are employees entitled to?
- Are employers obliged to ensure the health and safety of employees and implement measures at the workplace to prevent risks (e.g. of contamination)?
- What options do employers have when an employee, for example, returns from a holiday in an area affected by coronavirus?
- If an employee feels ill, has coronavirus symptoms and has been hospitalized, or his general practitioner in cooperation with the Regional Public Health Authority has placed the employee in quarantine, this constitutes a personal obstacle on the part of the employee. In such case, the employee is entitled to wages or salary compensation in the amount of 60 percent of his average earnings for the first 14 calendar days of such quarantine period. The employer will pay this compensation to the employee. If the employee's quarantine or illness lasts longer, he will be paid a sickness benefit by the Czech Social Security Administration, starting on the corresponding 15th calendar day.
Home office and obstacles on the employer’s side
- What options are available to employers if an employee returning from a coronavirus-affected area feels healthy and shows no symptoms, but the employer would still prefer he remain at home during a potential incubation period? As a rather elegant solution, the employer can offer the employee an agreement to work from home. The employee would then do the work from home and receive his wages or salary in full, and the employer would not have to worry about any panic among or infection of other employees.
- In a situation where, due to the nature of the work, the performance thereof from the employee’s home is not possible, or if the employee does not agree to work from home, the employer can temporarily not assign him work (for the duration of the incubation period). In such case, however, the employee would still be entitled to wages or salary compensation equal to their average earnings.
Closure (partial) of a city
- From a labour law perspective, what would happen if mandatory anti-epidemic safety measures were ordered that result in the closure (partial) of a city where the employer has a factory or office (instead of the employee's workplace)? Given the principle of special legal protection of the status of the employee, which is based on the assumption that the employee is the weaker party to the legal relationship, in such case we believe this situation would probably be considered as other obstacles on the employer’s side, and thus employees would be entitled to wages or salary compensation equal to their average earnings .
- From the labour law perspective, can the employer respond to a situation in which sales or demand for its products decrease significantly, e.g. due to the closure of the part of the city where its largest customer is located? Yes, labour law in such a situation allows the employer the possibility to apply the so-called partial unemployment regime to his employees. The employer is obliged to agree on such regime with the employees’ trade union at the workplace. If there is no such trade union, the employer shall regulate such regime according to an internal regulation. In both such cases, to the extent that the employer does not allocate work to employees, employees are entitled to at least 60 percent of their average earnings.