CORONAVIRUS FORM THE LABOR CODE POINT OF VIEW

What about remuneration?

 

In recent weeks, the world's most discussed topic is the infectious disease officially termed as COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, which you probably know as the so-called coronavirus. The frequency of the news that indicate that coronavirus is "approaching us" is increasing at rocket speed. If you are an employer or an employee and you are worried that the measures adopted in connection with the current situation could affect your working life, the following article of our labor law specialist Mgr. Jakub Oliva from ARROWS legal is designed just for you.

 

In the case that you develop symptoms that indicate a possible coronavirus infection, you may be subject to forced isolation, the so-called quarantine. Pursuant to Section 2 (7) of Act No. 258/2000 Coll., On Public Health Protection, as amended (hereinafter referred to as "OVZ"), "quarantine" means "separation of a healthy natural person who was in contact with an infectious disease or stayed in the area of outbreak of a disease, from other natural persons, and medical examinations of such natural person, with the goal to prevent the transmission of an infectious disease at a time when the disease could spread."

 

Pursuant to Section 67 (2) of the OVZ, the quarantine is ordered by the provider of health services if it detects the occurrence or suspicion of an infectious disease.

 

In such cases, the health service provider may order anti-epidemic measures.

 

A) Natural person (the employees) may be ordered, in particular, to isolate, use anti-infectious medication and refrain from certain activities that are likely to spread the infection.

 

B) Legal person (the employers) may then be ordered to reduce production, prohibit the sale of products suspected of being contaminated, but may also be ordered to fully close the place of business in question.

 

However, the situation may also escalate so that the appropriate public health office orders a quarantine for all employees the person with or suspected of having an infectious disease encountered, who do not have enough antibodies, which in this case may even mean all employees. In the case of quarantine, two different regimes must be distinguished:

 

(A1) a person who is quarantined,

 

A2) a person who can (due to quarantine) no longer carry out his / her work.

 

Ad A1) In the case of quarantine, employees in quarantine are entitled pursuant to Section 192 of Act No. 262/2006 Coll., The Labor Code, as amended (hereinafter referred to as " ZC"), to compensatory wage or salary during the first 14 calendar days of quarantine duration in the amount of 60 % of their average earnings , however only if the employee meets to the day of the quarantine the conditions for entitlement to sickness benefits under Act No. 187/2006 Coll., on health insurance, as amended; this entitlement does not have to apply to employees working on agreement to perform work or agreement to complete job below the decisive income threshold for participation in health insurance.

 

From the 15th day the employee is entitled to sick pay paid by the state from the health insurance system. From the 15th day, the financial security of the quarantined person is taken over by the local District Social Security Administration.

 

Ad A2) Taking into account the fulfillment of the worst-case scenario, the outbreak of the so-called pandemic, it is quite possible that a significant part of the work team would fall back due to collective safety and hygiene measures. Should it be necessary to interrupt the production of the employer's business, then this situation would fall under the so-called idle time pursuant to Section 207 (a). a) of the LC, therefore, all employees fit for work (those not directly affected by quarantine) would be entitled to a compensatory wage or salary equal to at least 80 % of average income. However, this situation would have to last only temporarily, for example, until the employer recovers enough people to resume the business. If it were a long-term occurrence (e.g. closure of the establishment for several months), then it would be appropriate to consider “other obstacles to work on the employer side” according to § 208 LC. In such case the employee is entitled to Compensatory wage or salary in the amount of 100 % of average income.

 

UPDATE MARCH 17, 2020

 

The current legal opinions of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (the MoLSA) support the above-mentioned interpretation but such are also subject of frequent criticism from labor law experts. As an alternative to the above-mentioned procedure, which may be liquidating for most entrepreneurs, experts (across different law firms) generally consider partial unemployment (60 %) or a broad interpretation of the term quarantine (also 60 %), which should include all measures related to the spread of coronavirus (i.e. also government measures related to the closure of certain operations). Entrepreneurs could thus "save" significantly, since the quarantine is paid by the employer only for the first 14 days and then the state takes over the claims (Czech Social Security Administration), which also seems relatively fair (considering the distribution of impacts across multiple entities).

 

In conclusion, it can be summed up that:

 

1) employee, to whom has been ordered quarantine or other measures under the Public Health Protection Act (which prevents him / her from working, e.g. closure of a municipality) shall receive compensatory wage or salary up to 60% of the average income,

 

(2) employee, who is unable to work temporarily (lack of people to start the production, lack of material or other temporary defects) shall receive compensation of at least 80 % of the average income;

 

3) employee who is unable to work over a long periot (mandated closure of an establishment) is entitled to 60 % to 100 % of the average income, depending on the specific reasons for closure, which are always individual and crucial for determining the amount of compensation.

 

The alternative to the above-mentioned procedure is, of course, transfer to another job (if possible), home-office, unpaid leave, compensatory leave from overtime or ordered leave. However, it is always necessary to consider the specific circumstances of your particular case, as the current situation is completely unprecedented and therefore no generalization can be carried out.

 

In case of need for legal advice in this area, we are at your disposal via the enclosed contacts.

 

Please note that all information contained herein is valid as to the date of its publication and is can be subject to change and evolution over time. The current situation is absolutely unprecedented and thus it is not possible to rely on any professional publications or case law. The information contained herein provides one of the possible interpretations of the legislation, which may or may not be reflected by the authorities. Specific legal advice can only be provided on the basis of individual legal consultation, taking into account the individual situation of the client.

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