The best way of combating SARS-CoV-2, causing COVID-19, continues to be general preventive recommendations, in particular regular hand washing, covering the mouth when coughing, keeping tabs on the movement of employees and not underestimating symptoms. You can find a summary of our preventive recommendations HERE.
The employer must assess work-related risks and take measures to eliminate or minimise them. This includes the risk of infection with coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The measures must be adapted to the specific conditions of the employer. Coronavirus is transmitted in the same way as influenza. Preventive measures are therefore very similar in both cases. Although the illness caused by coronavirus may have a complicated course, most infected patients develop only mild symptoms.
Preventive measures for employers may include:
Employers should regularly inform their employees of the measures taken and planned, and update the contact details of the employees and persons to be contacted in case of questions regarding coronavirus.
Employees may be required to provide information on the risks associated with coronavirus, such as whether or not they were in one of the centres of the virus outbreak. On the other hand, it may be difficult to punish employees for a false or incomplete answer.
Practically we advise employees to notify their employer if they have been in a risky area and of the obligation to contact their attending physician in case of symptoms of an infectious disease, as well as the possible consequences that concealing the journey to a risky area may have, including compensation of damages, disciplinary and misdemeanour offences, and in extreme cases, criminal liability.
Likewise, the employer has the right to strongly advise employees not to travel privately to risky areas. But it cannot forbid such private trips altogether.
The employer cannot enforce coronavirus testing. At present, these tests are performed only based on a decision of a doctor and by authorized healthcare facilities. While some healthcare facilities offer unofficial tests for reimbursement, they are not considered conclusive by the Czech authorities at present.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs recommends in a press release HERE that employers may require the employees with symptoms to undergo na an extraordinary occupational medical examination by the employer’s provider of occupational health services. However, we recommend that you consult your service provider beforehand.
If the employer is worried that the employee may be infected, we recommend agreeing (by telephone) with the employee that they report their return from the risky area to their general practitioner or the relevant regional public health station. They will decide on the need to perform a coronavirus test and to possibly order quarantine.
If the employee refuses to cooperate in this respect, the employer can inform the relevant hygiene centre that the employee has recently returned from a risky area, and they will try to contact the employee directly.
If an employee has been quarantined by a public health authority (the relevant regional public health office or even an attending physician), this constitutes an obstacle to work for which the employee is entitled to wage compensation as in the case of normal incapacity for work. This means that the employee is entitled to wage compensation of 60% of the average earnings (calculated from the reduced basis under the Labour Code) for the first 14 days of quarantine and from the 15th day will receive sickness benefit from the sickness insurance system.
The employee is obliged to inform the employer of the quarantine order without undue delay and to document the obstacle to work.
If a doctor has not found it necessary to quarantine the employee (his free movement is not a threat to the public) and the employee is not incapable of working, the employer must respect this conclusion.
If the employer nevertheless decides to try to prevent the employee from coming to the workplace, there are several possibilities:
The Labour Code gives the employee the right to refuse to perform dangerous work. However, the refused work must directly and seriously endanger the employee's life or health, or the life or health of others. The refusal test is thus very strict and will not be fulfilled by the average employee at this point in case of concern about coronavirus infection.
Generally, in such cases, we recommend hearing the employee's concerns and working together to find a solution that will meet their needs. This may include the possibility of working from home, taking leave or providing unpaid leave. Should an employee still refuse to come to work, this is an unauthorised absence for which the employee may be disciplinary penalised.
Of course, there may be more complicated cases that need to be assessed individually (immunocompromised persons, difficulty breathing, heart disease, diabetes, pregnancy, etc.).
In the event of unforeseen interruptions of public transport, an employee who could not get to the workplace on time has the right to unpaid time off.
The law also explicitly provides for situations where an employee needs to take care of a child under the age of 10 years instead of working. It explicitly regulates, for example:
In such a case, the employer must excuse the employee (parent or person living with the child in a common household) from work and the employee has the right to a caregiving allowance (sickness insurance benefit). The amount of the caregiving allowance per calendar day is 60% of the daily assessment base.
Only one of the beneficiaries is entitled to the caregiving allowance, or two beneficiaries successively if they share care of the same child. The period for which employees are entitled to the caregiving allowance is no more than nine calendar days, or 16 calendar days in the case of an employee who is a single parent with at least one child under the age of 16 under permanent care who has not completed compulsory education.
The employee applies for the entitlement to the caregiving allowance due to the closure of the school by means of the application form Application for caregiving allowance for children up to 10 years of age due to the closure of an educational institution (school), which will be issued in two copies by the school that the child attends. The employee shall complete part B of the form and forward it immediately to the employer, who shall then hand over the documents for payment of the allowance to the relevant District Social Security Administration.
Employees working on the basis of an agreement to perform work or agreement to complete a job are not entitled to the caregiving allowance.
If the employer's establishment is closed due to anti-epidemiological measures, the situation is assessed as in the case of a quarantine order (i.e. the employer pays "sickness benefits" to employees for the first 14 days).
If the establishment is closed for other reasons, employees will usually be entitled to wage compensation. The employer may consider using the above options to reduce the financial impact, such as ordering holidays or rescheduling shifts.
In specific cases, employees will not be entitled to full compensation. In the event of a shortage of supply of raw materials, power or similar operational cause, there will be a downtime with compensation of 80% of the average earnings. If the reason for this is a reduction in demand for the employers' products and services, the compensation may even fall to 60% of average earnings.
In connection with the unfavourable development of the epidemiological situation in the occurrence of coronavirus in Europe, the Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic has issued several emergency measures:
Nevertheless, the epidemiological situation may develop rapidly. Employers are advised to keep a cool head and follow the websites of Czech state authorities such as the Ministry of Health (http://www.mzcr.cz/dokumenty/covid-19materialy-ke-stazeni_18600_4122_1.html), State Health Institute and ECDC.
In the event of an emergency situation related to coronavirus, we recommend that further steps and measures be resolved promptly in accordance with our recommendations, and in particular in cooperation with the employee concerned, his/her attending physician and the competent hygiene authority. Only with the participation of these actors will it be possible to effectively prevent the further spread of the epidemic while ensuring the operation of the company.
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full terms and conditions on our website.
21st December 2020
30th March 2021