11th March 2020

Important information for employers – “new coronavirus in CR” – Czech government decision to close schools

Obstacle to work for employees caring for children under 10 

An employee (parent or other person who lives in the same household as a child under 10 who attends primary school, i.e. is not educated at home full-time) has the right to stay at home with the child for the purposes of caring for a child under 10. This creates what is called an obstacle to work on the part of the employee. 

In such a case the employer must excuse the employee’s absence from the workplace. The employee must inform the employer in advance that this obstacle to work exists in his case (if the employee knows of it in advance, which under the circumstances can be assumed).

Unlike quarantine and temporary incapacity to work, if the employee stays home with a child under 10 they are not entitled to wages in the first 14 days or to sick pay afterwards. 

The employee can request a caregiver allowance, which can be collected for a maximum of nine days. Single parents have an exception and can collect it for up to 16 days. Parents or other persons living in the same household as the child can take turns during the contribution period for the caregiver allowance. 

An employee becomes entitled to the caregiver allowance starting on the first calendar day they begin caring for the child in the amount of 60% of the daily assessment base per day.

For more information on the caregiver allowance, including the request form, please see https://www.cssz.cz/documents/20143/157311/Karantena_a_osetrovne.pdf

It is not excluded that in individual cases also caring for a child older than 10 years might be considered to be an important obstacle to work on part of the employee (§ 199 Labour Code), we would in those cases recommend a generous approach by the employer.

School closures lasting longer than the caregiver allowance

Schools are expected to remain closed longer than the caregiver allowance will last. If this does occur, the employer is still required to excuse the employee’s absence from the workplace after the caregiver allowance period is over. However, the employee will not be entitled to payments after this point. 

Alternative solutions

The employer can also consider the following alternative solutions (or a combination) for upcoming absences from the workplace
a) Work from home (if the type of work can be performed from home)
b) Vacation days (as a rule ordered two weeks in advance, immediately only with employee´sconsent)
c) For unevenly distributed work hours and time accounts – change of planned shifts (ideally in agreement with the employee; unilateral decisions might be considered unequal treatment and discrimination!)

Rights of parents caring for children/Q&A

Employees can exercise the following rights with regard to their employers in connection with caring for a minor child (especially if the school closures are long-term): 
a) The employer must take the needs of employees caring for children into account when scheduling employees for shifts (Section 241(1) of the Labour Code)

Which employees can exercise this right with regard to school closures? 

Employees caring for a child of any age.

What can employees request and expect?

They can request and expect that their needs be taken into account when scheduling shifts. The employee must specify what their needs are, such as only morning shifts while schools are closed.
b) If an employee caring for a child under 15 requests shorter working hours or another appropriate modification to the stipulated weekly working hours, the employer must grant the request unless serious operational reasons make it impossible. (Section 241(2) of the Labour Code)

Which employees can exercise this right with regard to school closures? 

Employees caring for a child under 15.

What can employees request and expect?

Employees can request and expect:
i) Agreement to shorter working hours
ii) Other modifications to the stipulated weekly working hours (e.g. different beginning/ending 
times for shifts, different length of shifts) 

What does the employee have to do?

An employee entitled to claim these rights must submit a request stipulating the shorter working hours or other proposed modification to the working hours. They can request both shorter working hours and different scheduling than the employer’s standard schedule if needed.

The employer can only refuse on the basis of serious operational reasons. What are serious operational reasons?

Serious operational reasons exist only if the request would disrupt, seriously threaten or render impossible the normal operations (performance of tasks or activities) of the employer.

Important: The Labour Code currently does not require employers to reverse the change (e.g. change from shorter working hours back to full-time hours, unless the employer and employee explicitly agreed on it)

It is also possible that in some individual cases care for a child over 10 could also be assessed as another important obstacle to work on the part of the employee (see Section 199 of the Labour Code), so we recommend granting employees' requests if possible.

Czech and German translation in the attachment.

Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic