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Coronavirus – a practical guide for employers in the Czech Republic

  • Czech Republic

    29-12-2020

    We are continually updating this guide in response to the gradual publication of official information by public authorities. Latest update: 29 December 2020 (Restrictions on movement, the requirement to wear masks, Retail sales and services, Closure of schools).

    We are bringing employers up-to-date practical recommendations and advice.

    Česká verze k přečtění  ZDE.

    Emergency measures in the Czech Republic

    In connection with the development of the unfavourable epidemiological situation in the occurrence of coronavirus in Europe and in the Czech Republic, the Government of the Czech Republic decided to re-declare a state of emergency, which is now extended until 22 January 2021.

    At present, the following restrictions are in effect the Czech Republic.

    1. Restriction of free movement and Wearing masks

    • From 27 December 2020, the free movement of persons throughout the territory of the Czech Republic is restricted, so that in the period from 5:00 and 20:59 only:

    • travel to and from business;
    • necessary trips for family or close relatives;
    • travel essential for the provision of basic necessities (purchase of food, medicine, pet supplies), including necessities for relatives and close relatives;
    • trips to medical facilities;
    • travel for urgent official matters;
    • stay in nature or in own recreational facilities;
    • travel for the purpose of purchasing goods or services;
    • travel back to place of residence.

    • Between 21:00 and 04:59, however, the free movement of a person is more strictly prohibited, with the following exceptions:

    • travel to and from work;
    • essential ways to protect life, health or property;
    • walking dogs up to 500 meters from the place of residence;
    • travel back to place of residence.

    • All persons should at the same time from 18 December 2020:

    • stay in public places only for the time strictly necessary;
    • limit contacts with other persons to what is strictly necessary;
    • stay in publicly accessible places for a maximum of 2 people (excluding household members, employees, pupils and students).

    • Employers are advised to use work from home as much as possible.

    • Currently it is obligatory in the Czech Republic to wear respiratory protective equipment (mouth and nose) such as a respirator, face mask, mouthpiece or any scarf, shawl or other means that can help prevent the spread of droplets, namely:

    • in all interior spaces of buildings, outside their place of residence, or place of accommodation;
    • in means of public transport;
    • at stops and waiting areas of public transport;
    • in motor vehicles, unless there are persons from the same household in the vehicle;
    • in all other publicly accessible places in the built-up area of the municipality, where at least 2 persons are present at the same place and at the same time, less than 2 meters apart (except for household members).

    • From obligation to wear respiratory protective equipment is exempted e.g.

    • children up to two years of age;
    • children and teaching staff in kindergartens;
    • pupils and teachers in the first stage of primary schools in school buildings;
    • accommodated children, pupils or students during stays in boarding schools and youth home;

    • school facilities for constitutional or protective upbringing;

    • schools established by Ministry of Justice;

    • persons with intellectual disorders, autism spectrum disorder or cognitive or mental disorder;
    • patients if they are hospitalized in inpatient health care facilities and if this is necessary for the provision of health services;
    • employees and persons in a similar position performing work in one place, if these persons are at least 2 meters apart;
    • the parties to the court proceedings, at the place and time of the court proceedings;
    • moderators, actors, or other persons when performing an author's work (e.g. a theater or dance performance);
    • persons performing work classified in the third or fourth category of the risk conditions;
    • customers during food consumption;
    • athletes during training or competitions or exercising persons;
    • persons in the interiors of swimming pools, aquaparks or saunas;
    • public transport drivers, if they are separated by themselves from the rest of the space in an enclosed cabin;
    • fiancés and others during the marriage ceremony and when declaring to join a registered partnership;

    • athletes or persons performing physical activity during their training and competition outdoors, as well as during a competition indoors, or persons in indoor artificial swimming pools.

    • From 5 December 2020 for the duration of the state of emergency, visits to patients in health care facilities where inpatient care is provided are prohibited.

    • The exception applies to the presence of a third party during childbirth; visits by minors; visits of patients with limited legal capacity and visits of hospice patients and patients in the terminal stage of an incurable disease.
      • Persons present at the birth must meet these conditions:
        • the third person is the child's second parent or a person living in the same household;
        • the birth will take place in a separate room or box with its own bathroom;
        • third person contact with other women giving birth will be avoided.
    • From 23 October 2020 until the duration of the state of emergency, visits of accused and convicted persons in remand prisons and visits of inmates of security detention facilities are also prohibited.
    • From 3 December 2020, the right to gather peacefully is restricted, so that a maximum of 100 people can attend the meeting, in groups of 20 participants.
    • From 9 December the consumption of alcoholic beverages in public premises is prohibited.
    • From 23 November to 22 January 2021, public authorities and administrative bodies are obliged to limit the scope of their office hours to only two days a week within five hours of a given day.

    2. Foreign travel and entry of foreign nationals

    • With regard to the reintroduction of restrictions on free movement from 18 December 2020, foreigners may also come to the Czech Republic only in strictly necessary cases, such as:

    • trip to work or for the purpose of pursuing a profession;
    • necessary trip to a family or close person;
    • doctor visit.

    • Currently, the Ministry of Health keeps a list of countries with a low risk of infection. Countries are divided into three categories: green, orange and red.

    • The list of countries includes green countries and orange countries (marked with an asterisk in the list). All other countries not on the list are considered to be at high risk of infection (red countries).

    • With regard to whether the countries are green, orange or red, persons (both citizens of the Czech Republic and foreigners) entering the territory of the Czech Republic from these countries have different obligations and also the possibilities of entering the Czech Republic.
    • Persons with a long-term or permanent residence in an EU member state may also fulfil the obligation to take a test in the Czech Republic (above) by submitting a negative test result performed in another EU member state, which will not be older than 72 hours after sending the results.

    • Certain obligations will occur to passengers in the Czech Republic if they have resided in some of the red countries for more than 12 hours in the last 14 days. Even before their arrival in the Czech Republic, they are obliged to fill in an electronic arrival form and submit it when crossing the border.

    • These persons are then obliged to take a test on the territory of the Czech Republic within 5 days of entry. The test result must be submitted to the Regional hygienic station (KHS) within 7 days of arrival, otherwise these persons will be quarantined.
      • The test result should be provided (via e-mail or telephone) to the locally competent KHS, depending on the place of stay in the Czech Republic. In the case of relocation within the Czech Republic, the test result can be submitted to the first locally relevant KHS or central KHS in Prague.
    • Only the following are exempted from the obligation to fill out the arrival form and take a test:
      • international transport workers;
      • EU citizens or foreigners with a long-term stay in the EU who transit within 12 hours through the Czech Republic;
      • members of diplomatic missions;
      • persons under 5 years of age;
      • citizens of the Czech Republic, the EU and their family members with a residence permit for more than 90 days who stayed only in a region with a low risk of infection during a trip with a travel agency or agency;
      • passengers to or from the Czech Republic for a period of less than 24 hours for urgent medical, family or business reasons;
      • cross-border workers, pupils and students.

    • Persons traveling or returning to the Czech Republic from red or orange countries for the purpose of work or teaching are subsequently obliged to submit to their employer or educational institution a negative test result, which these persons take in the Czech Republic, otherwise they will not be allowed to enter the workplace or educational institution.

    • Third country nationals outside the EU and Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the United Kingdom) or their family members, if they hold residence permits issued by the Czech Republic, will be allowed to enter our territory under the same conditions as above.

    • Other third-country nationals traveling from "red" countries, if they do not fall under one of the above conditions, will be allowed to enter the territory of the Czech Republic only:

    • if the entry of a foreigner is in the interest of the Czech Republic;
    • to international transport workers;
    • members of diplomatic missions;
    • in urgent emergency situations (provision of health services, fulfilment of obligations imposed by a state authority, necessary care for family members, humanitarian aid).

    • The possibilities of entry of Czech citizens into the territory of foreign states always depends on the specific conditions of the given country.

    • Slovakia, for example, has included the Czech Republic among the high-risk countries, Czech citizens (Slovaks as well) must therefore submit a negative COVID-19 test result on their way to Slovakia or undergo quarantine (and be tested during the quarantine).
    • Other countries that somehow limit the entry of persons from the Czech Republic into their territory are, for example, Germany, Belgium, Greece, Slovenia, Ireland, Norway, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Switzerland, Serbia or the United Kingdom.
    • Controls of foreign countries citizens are randomised, but when asked those persons are obligated to prove the purpose of their travel.

    3. Mandatory quarantine

    • Quarantine is ordered for the period of 10 days.

    • all providers of health services in the field of general practice are required to order quarantine

    • to all persons with a positive result of the RT-PCR test and, the quarantine will be terminated only in case of persons who do not show clinical signs of the COVID-19 disease, even without performing an RT-PCR test;
      • only in case of health and social care workers, the quarantine will be terminated on the basis of a negative test result;
      • in case of persons showing clinical symptoms, the quarantine will last for the entire period of occurrence of these symptoms and will end in 3 days, the person will not show symptoms and will be terminated even without performing an RT-PCR test.
    • to all persons who, on the basis of the epidemiological inquiry, have been identified as having been in close contact with a positively tested person, for a period of 10 days from the date of the last contact with the positive person;
    • to all persons which did not present an RT-PCR test result to the regional hygienic station within 7 days of entering Czech Republic.

    • In the event that a person who has been "only" ordered to quarantine (this person does not exhibit symptoms) occurs in a common household, the quarantine is not automatically ordered for the whole household and all its members. In this case, it is recommended:

    • to limit as much as possible both contact with the quarantined person and contact with the public;
    • the quarantined person should use their own towels and other personal items;
    • disinfect common areas.

    • A different situation occurs when there is a person with a positive test result in the household. In this case, all members of the household are persons who have been in close contact with a positively tested person and everyone will be quarantined.

    • Persons who are forced to undergo quarantine as a result of travel are restricted on free movement within the territory of the Czech Republic, with the exception of providing basic necessities of life, providing care for children and animals, trips to medical facilities and trips to work.

    • Third-country nationals (outside the EU and Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the United Kingdom) are also limited in their opportunities to travel to work when quarantined.
    • From 18 December 2020, comprehensive testing of all inhabitants will be launched in the Czech Republic. Testing is voluntary and will be covered by the public health insurance system.

    4. Closure of schools

    • From 27 December 2020, the personal presence of students and pupils at classes in all school and teaching facilities is prohibited with the following exceptions:

    • first and second year elementary school students
    • university exams up to ten persons
    • students of medical and health study programs

    • The operation of kindergartens is not restricted in any way by government measures.

    5. Ban on public and private events

    • Mass events of important state interest or important sport events may take place according to hygienic and epidemiologic conditions set by Ministry of Health for each separate event.

    • Concerts and other musical, theatrical, film and other artistic performances can take place only without the presence of spectators.

    • Once again, from 27 December 2020, a maximum of 15 people can attend weddings and funerals.

    • From 27 December 2020 the assembly of churches or religious society can be held only in the number of participants equal to 30% occupancy of seats.

    6. Retail and services

    • From 27 December 2020 all the retail and service establishments are once again closed, with the following exceptions:

    • grocery shops,
    • petrol stations,
    • shops selling hygienic goods and cosmetics,
    • pharmacies and shops selling medical goods,
    • shops selling small pets and animal supplies,
    • shops selling glasses and related goods,
    • shops selling news, magazines, tobacco products and tickets,
    • laundries and dry cleaners,
    • road vehicle and car wash service and repair shops,
    • establishments enabling the collection of goods and consignments purchased remotely,
    • flower shops,
    • establishments for arranging execution and removal of constructions and for project activities,
    • shops selling textile material,
    • computer and telecommunication service establishments,
    • real estate brokerage establishments and the activities of accounting consultants,
    • locksmithing and household product service establishments,
    • household goods stores and hardware stores,
    • facilities for the collection and purchase of raw materials and composting plants,
    • establishments with the sale of reverent goods,
    • establishments providing the service of grooming dogs and cats,
    • arms and ammunition stores,

    whereas in these open establishments it is not possible to sell goods other than those which can be purchased in other open establishments (ie clothing or footwear cannot be sold in supermarkets).

    • Accommodation services can be provided from 27 December 2020 only to

    • persons for the purpose of pursuing a profession or business,
    • foreigners until leaving the territory of the Czech Republic,
    • persons who have been quarantined.

    • Public catering establishments can provide their services only through the so-called dispensing windows, and only between 05:00 and 20:59.

    • In all retail outlets and the provision of services that may be opened, the operator is obliged to comply with the following rules:

    • not allow more customers than 1 customer per 15 m2 in the establishment;
    • actively prevent customer aggregation and ensure queue management;
    • place disinfectants near frequently touched objects (handles, railings, shopping carts);
    • close their establishments between 21:00 and 04:59, provided that this obligation does not only apply to petrol stations, pharmacies, shops in medical facilities or at airports or train or bus stations.

    • Shopping centers with a sales area exceeding 5000 m2 are required to:

    • not to provide wireless internet connection to the public;
    • not operate children's corners;
    • visibly mark spacing instructions.

    • Farmers' markets can only take place if:

    • the distances between individual points of sale will be at least 4 meters;
    • the sale of food and meals intended for direct consumption will not be allowed.

    Behaviour of employees in the workplace and obligations of the employer

    It seems that the second COVID-19 wave has arrived and is worse in terms of infectivity than the one in spring. Some stores and services are once again forced to close, and other employers are obliged to ensure homeoffice for their employees, if the conditions of service and the nature of their work allow so. It is still necessary for people in the workplace to be considerate of each other and to comply with following rules.

    The best service in the fight against the coronavirus will still be given by general preventive recommendations, i.e. especially hand washing, covering the mouth with a cough and not underestimating the symptoms. In particular, regular wearing of mouth and nose covers in the form of drapes, respirators or scarves, especially indoors, can help prevent the spread of the disease.

    Employers should constantly monitor the situation regarding the development of the coronavirus epidemic and adapt their work activities accordingly.

    The employer is still generally obliged to comply with the requirements relating to safety and health at work. It should therefore assess all the risks associated with the performance of the work in question and take appropriate measures to that end, in particular in the form of:

    • informing employees (and possibly trade unions) about the current situation, the need for prevention against infection (e.g. increased compliance with hand hygiene) and about newly adopted measures;

    • consider the need to travel abroad and meet in person with business partners, and to make maximum use of distance communication;

    • prevent the gathering of customers and employees (e.g. in the elevator, when boarding shifts, in changing rooms);

    • require customer spacing of at least 2 meters (compliance with staff spacing can also be recommended);

    • place disinfectants for employees and customers close to busy places (handles, railings) and often ventilate;

    • order employees to wear gloves when contacting goods or receiving payments from customers, and provide them with them;

    • instruct employees with COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, loss of taste and smell, etc.) not to come to the workplace;

    • check the safety of the machines used and the possible expiry of the inspection certificates;

    • if possible, allow employees to work from home.

    Employers who have decided to employ employees who have arrived from red or orange countries, they are obliged to request from the employee a negative result of the test, otherwise they must not allow these persons to enter the workplace.

    Employees must provide a test result not older than 72 hours, undertaken on their own expense in Czech Republic or other EU member state. If employers fail to comply with above stated obligation, they are under a risk of fine up to CZK 1.000.000 according to the Public Health Protection Act or risk of criminal liability for spreading of contagious disease, even from negligence.

    Employees working for providers of long-term inpatient care, care services or social services or in a home for the elderly who come into direct contact with patients or service users are required to undergo a test for the presence of the SARS virus once every 5 days from 21 November 2020. CoV-2.

    Monitoring the private lives of employees

    Employees may be required to provide information on the risks associated with coronavirus, such as whether they have not been abroad or have met an infected person. 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 abroad 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 abroad may have, including compensation of damages, labour law and misdemeanour offences, and in extreme cases, criminal liability.

    Likewise, the employer has the right to strongly advise employees not to travel privately to countries with a high risk of infection. But it cannot forbid private trips altogether.

    What to do with an employee suspected of being infected?

    If the employer is worried that the employee may be infected, we recommend agreeing (by telephone) with the employee that they report their health condition to their personal doctor or the relevant regional public health station. They will decide on the need to perform a coronavirus test and to possibly order quarantine.

    In the event that it is decided that there is no need to test the employee, the employee can come to one of the collection points himself and have himself tested at his own expense. However, the employer cannot compel the employee to do so.There may be a case where the symptoms of COVID-19 can be seen in the employee, but the disease has not been confirmed by a doctor. However, as a precautionary measure and as a result of compliance with the precautionary obligation, the employer may endeavour not to keep the employee in the workplace, even if the employee insists on performing the work.

    The conclusion as to whether this is an obstacle on the part of the employer or the employee is not clear, however, we are of the opinion that in most cases it will be an obstacle in the performance of work on the part of the employee, for which he will not be entitled to compensation. the employee is not fully capable of performing work.

    In this situation, we recommend that you agree with the employee on another, alternative performance of work, e.g.:

    Work agreement from home - an option conditional on the employee's consent, if the nature of the work allows it.

    Send employees "for obstacles" - the possibility even without the employee's consent, the employer must pay compensation of wages in the amount of average earnings.

    Compensatory leave - if the employee has worked overtime, the employer may order him to take it.

    Unpaid leave - based on the employee's request, the employer can allow him to take unpaid leave.

    Leave - the possibility to order an employee a leave, even without his consent; however, leave must be ordered 14 days in advance, unless a shorter period has been agreed.

    Cancellation of planned shifts - the possibility for employees to modify the shift schedule, even without their consent; however, the shift schedule must be set 14 days in advance, unless a shorter period has been agreed.

    Employee has been quarantined

    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 the employee was diagnosed with COVID-19, the employer must inform all other employees by suitable means. Details about specific person are provided only in scope necessary for protection of health and in such way, that causes no harm to dignity and integrity of such person. Specific details should only be provided to affected colleagues.

    The employee is afraid to come to work

    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 unexcused absence for which the employee may be penalised.

    Of course, there may be more complicated cases that need to be assessed individually (persons with compromised immune system, difficulty breathing, heart disease, diabetes, pregnancy, etc.).

    Closure of schools - nursing and return to work

    At present, pupils and students of certain grades can visit school facilities again. However, there constantly situations, where whole groups of children are isolated due to contact with the infected person it is therefore necessary to deal with the problem of nursing and the need for parents to look after their children. At the same time, it is necessary to think about the situation when the child himself will be infected and the parent will have to stay at home with him.

    At present, a new las has come to force that regulates nursing requirements during the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and closure of school facilities.

    Legislation that addressed this issue in last year's school year can no longer be applied, as it was applicable only until 30 June 2020.

    By its wording, employees should have claim to compensation, if they are taking care of:

    • child younger than 10;

    • dependent children attending school, relying on the care of another person (from grade I onwards) without age restrictions;

    • persons older than 10 relying on the care of another person using the services of daily, weekly hospitals and similar facilities;

    • children that can’t attend school due to mandatory quarantine imposed on the family.

    Support period will last for the whole duration of emergency measures and the amount of nursing allowance is 60% from daily assessment basis.

    This bill extends the right to nursing allowance to persons working on the basis of an agreement to perform work or an agreement to complete a job.

    Parents will not be entitled to nursing allowance for the period of any school holidays and days off announced by the school principal during the school year or in case when the parents themselves decide not to send their child into school, even though that current epidemical situation permits its opening.

    The confirmation of school closing is no longer required. An affidavit from insured (parent) that he or she must take care of the child due to school closing.

    Antivirus Employment Protection Programme

    At present, employers still have the opportunity to apply for a full or partial employment allowance from the Antivirus program:

    Mode A (Plus) – Forced operation restriction

    • In case of closing of operation due to government order, employees are eligible to 100% wage compensation

    • For employee that cannot be assigned work due to government order, employers are eligible to request 100% of wages paid from 1 October including taxes.

    • Maximum amount of compensation for one month per worker is CZK 50.000.

    • Maximum amount of total compensation for employer for all his employees is EUR 800.000 (if employer exceeds this limit, he is still eligible for compensation through Mode A)

    Mode A – Forced operation restriction and quarantine

    • In case of closing of operation due to government order, employees are eligible to 100% wage compensation

    • In case of quarantine, employee is eligible for compensation of 60% from daily calculating basis.

    • Compensation for employer will be in this case 80% from paid wage compensation, including taxes.

    • Maximum amount of compensation for one month per one employee is CZK 39.000.

    Mode B - Related economic difficulties (obstacles on the part of the employer due to the spread of coronavirus)

    • If the employer is unable to allocate work to a larger number of employees due to quarantine or childcare, the wage compensation paid to the employees will be 100%.

    • If the employer is unable to allocate work due to unavailability of raw materials, products or services that are necessary for its activity, it is obliged to pay compensation of min. 80% of wages.

    • If the employer is unable to allocate work due to a reduction in demand for services, manufactured goods or other products, employees will still be entitled to a wage compensation of at least 60%.

    • In these cases, the employer will be able to apply for a contribution of 60% of the paid wage compensation, including taxes, while the amount of the contribution per employee is limited to the amount of CZK 29,000.

    It is possible to apply for compensation until 31 December 2020.

    The employer will only be eligible for Antivirus Programme contributions if the following conditions are met:

    • it is an employer who strictly adheres to the Labour Code;

    • the employee for whom the employer wishes to draw the contribution must not be in a notice period and must not be given a dismissal notice at the time of the wage billing (exceptions to the notice given under Section 52 (g) and (h) of the Labour Code);

    • the employer is a company in the business sphere and the employees are in a main employment relationship and participate in sickness and pension insurance (the contribution cannot be drawn for DPP and DPČ employees);

    • the employer is not in liquidation or bankruptcy;

    • the decision to impose a fine on employers for enabling illegal work has not become final in the previous 3 years;

    • the employer will not for the same purpose, i.e. the part of wage compensation that will be paid from the contribution of the Labor Office of the Czech Republic, claim coverage from funds provided from the state budget, EU programs and projects, or other public sources;

    • the employer duly pays the salary and taxes.

    Compensation bonus

    At present, a new law on support in the form of a compensatory bonus is in force for:

    • self-employed persons;
    • natural persons who are partners of a limited liability company which has only 2 partners or partners are formed only by members of one family;
    • persons working on the basis of Activity agreement or Employment agreement.

    The amount of the bonus should be CZK 500 for each day in the period from 5 October to 4 November 2020.

    The decisive factor will no longer be concurrence with employment, but only the main source of livelihood for the period from 1 June to 30 September 2020.

    • The bill should be discussed again in the parliament in the coming days.

    Damages

    According to the Crisis Act, the State is responsible for damages caused by crisis measures. More information concerning this topic can be found HERE.

    In conclusion

    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 Government of the Czech Republic,  the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of the Interior, the State Health Institute and the 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.

    The same applies if the employee cannot come to work because there is a quarantine at the municipality in which the place of work is located.

    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.

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