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Coronavirus – a practical guide for employers in the Czech Republic

  • Czech Republic

    17-06-2020

    We are continually updating this guide in response to the gradual publication of official information by public authorities. Latest update: 17 June 2020.

    We are bringing employers up-to-date practical recommendations and advice. Similar practical summaries in the areas of contractual and regulatory matters can be found in the Q&As to contracts and regulation.

    Česká verze k přečtění  ZDE.

    State of emergency

    On 17 May 2020, the state of emergency in the entire territory of the Czech Republic, which lasted from 12 March 2020, ended.

    Emergency measures of the Czech Republic

    In connection with the development of the epidemiological situation in the occurrence of coronavirus in Europe, the following measures are still in force at present.

    1. Wearing masks

    • Persons are only required to wear respiratory protective equipment (mouth and nose) such as a respirator, drape, mouthpiece or any scarf, shawl or other device that can help prevent the spread of droplets:

    • in all interior spaces of buildings, outside their place of residence,
    • in means of public transport,
    • in all other places where there are at least two persons closer than 2 m (if they are not members of the household)

    • The following are exempted from the above obligation:

    • children up to two years of age children up to 7 years of age during a stay in a kindergarten or in a children's group and pedagogical staff in a kindergarten and carers in a children's group;
    • children, pupils, students, participants in education and pedagogical staff of school facilities providing education within one room, if the spacing of at least 1.5 m is maintained and if there is a maximum of 15 people in the room;
    • persons with severe autism spectrum disorders intellectual disorder or cognitive or mental disorder,
    • persons in a closed vehicle if they are all members of the common household,
    • employees during their stay in the office, if they work at least 2 meters from another person.
    • public transport drivers, if they are themselves separated from the rest of the space in an enclosed cabin.

    2. Foreign travel and entry of foreign nationals

    • From 15 June 2020, the so-called Semaphore began to apply for crossing state borders (it mainly deals with cross-border travel due to holidays and other trips). Certain foreign states are assigned colours - green, orange or red, depending on the degree of risk found in the country, where the degree of risk then derives obligations that the cross-border traveler must or may not perform.
    • Low risk (green) - all persons crossing the state border are not obliged to translate the certificate of passing the health test or subsequently do not have to undergo quarantine:
      • These countries are: Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Croatia, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Cyprus, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Austria, Romania, Greece, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Spain.
    • Medium risk (orange) - Citizens of the Czech Republic and persons with a long-term residence permit in the Czech Republic can come to the Czech Republic from Belgium or the United Kingdom without the need to submit a certificate or quarantine. Residents of Belgium or the United Kingdom may cross the border only if there is an exception defined by a measure of the Ministry of Health.
    • High risk (red) - Citizens of the Czech Republic or persons with a long-term residence permit in the Czech Republic must submit a certificate of completion of a medical test or quarantine upon return from the areas marked in this way. Residents from these areas are prohibited from entering our territory, unless this is an exception stipulated by a measure of the Ministry of the Interior:
      • These countries are: Sweden, Portugal, Silesian Voivodeship in Poland
    • For all other states, it is still valid that entry into our territory is allowed only:
      • family members of Czech citizens,
      • critical infrastructure service personnel
      • if the entry of foreigners is in the interest of the Czech Republic,
      • for cross-border workers, pupils and students who regularly cross national borders in order to work or study,
      • for international transport and critical infrastructure service personnel,
      • diplomats and officials of international organizations,
      • in urgent emergency situations, visit to a doctor, office, necessary care for close relatives),
      • EU citizens entering the territory of the Czech Republic demonstrably for the purpose of performing economic activity (for a maximum period of 72 hours, the obligation to submit a certificate of completion of a health test),
      • EU citizens entering the territory of the Czech Republic for the purpose of study (obligation to submit a certificate of completion of a health test),
      • seasonal workers (third-country national).
    • The fulfilment of exceptions and the reason for departure must be properly documented in individual cases (e.g. confirmation of employer, summons to the office, medical examination).
    • Cross border workers (pendlers) are ordered to restrict movement in the Czech Republic to the necessary minimum. These persons are still not a subject to the exceptions to the prohibition of free movement of persons in the Czech Republic, such as necessary trips to family and relatives, stay in the countryside or parks or trips for the purpose of handling urgent official matters.
    • Cross-border workers, pupils and students are required to present a test certificate when crossing the border, and the health test must not be older than 4 days.
    • EU citizens who enter the Czech Republic for the purpose of economic activity or study with the intention of staying there for more than 72 hours are obliged to inform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by remote access about the date and method of entry into the Czech Republic.
    • A summary of all rules for entry into the territory of the Czech Republic and quarantine measures developed by the Ministry of the Interior can be found here for Czech citizens here and for foreigners here.
    • Although traveling abroad may seem quite problem-free in certain situations, the above applies to the situation from the point of view of the Czech Republic. Neighboring states may have different rules on the entry of foreigners into their territory, and therefore it is always necessary to find out the rules of travel of a given state.

    3. Mandatory quarantine after crossing borders

    • It is ordered that all persons who came to the Czech Republic from countries other than low or medium risk to report this fact immediately after entering the Czech Republic, by telephone or other remote access to the regional hygienic station and are subsequently obliged to undergo quarantine. Exceptions are cases where:
      • citizens of the Czech Republic and their foreign family members submit a certificate of completion of the test,
      • cross-border workers and students provide proof of passing a health test (obligation to submit the test once every 30 days),
      • persons have traveled in an emergency for less than 24 hours,
      • international transport staff, critical infrastructure service staff, diplomats or officials have traveled for less than 14 days and submit a certificate of completion of the test,
      • persons traveled for the purpose of performing economic activity for a period of less than 72 hours (Citizens of the Czech Republic can, however, avoid quarantine, even if the travel time will be longer than 72 hours if they submit a confirmation of passing the test when crossing the border),
      • seasonal staff shall submit a certificate of completion of the test, together with a certificate issued by the relevant laboratory.
    • EU citizens entering the Czech Republic do not have to complete the quarantine if they submit a certificate of passing a health test with a negative result and if their stay in the Czech Republic does not exceed the required period (see the division according to the purpose of the trip).
    • All persons who enter the territory of the Czech Republic and do not complete quarantine are obliged to restrict their free movement for a period of 14 days from entry into the Czech Republic, and only to the minimum necessary in the form of travel to work or travel for basic necessities.

    4. Reopening of schools

    • At present, school and educational establishments have been open to the majority of pupils and students, with primary and secondary school attendance only voluntary.
    • Pupils are to form study groups with a maximum of 15 people.
    • Any multi-day school events (school trips), or school competitions or shows are still prohibited.
    It is the duty of the pupil, student or his / her legal representative, before the first entry into the school facility, to sign an affidavit stating that there are no symptoms of a viral infectious disease (fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.).

    5. Ban on public and private events

    • From 8 June, cultural, sports, religious and similar events and other gatherings can take place with a maximum participation of 500 people at the same time, both public and private.
      • The prohibition do not apply to meetings and similar actions of constitutional bodies, public authorities, courts and other public or private persons (General Meeting of a public limited company) held by law, and funerals.
    • When holding mass events outdoors or indoors, it is necessary to:
      • maintain a distance of at least 2 meters between persons (except for household members);
      • that participants have a container of disinfectant available for hand disinfection;
      • after the event, the used aids and spaces will be properly disinfected.
    • The given restriction on the number of persons also applies to the organization of trainings or matches of athletes on outdoor and indoor sports grounds, a wedding ceremony or a worship service.

    6. Retail and services

    • Last wave of openings of all stores and services to public happened at 25.5.2020.
      • actively prevent crowding
      • ensure customer queue management, both inside and outside the establishment (designation of waiting area, placement of tags for the minimum spacing – 2 meters),
      • place disinfectants and protective near frequently touched objects (handles, railings, shopping trolleys), for both employees and customers,
      • ensure that employees wear gloves when in contact with goods and when receiving payments from customers
      • inform customers about the rules (by information leaflet or speaker in establishment)
    • Other rules, that operators must follow are linked to the specifications of the service, e.g.:

      • Customers must be seated in such a way, that there is at least 1,5m space between them
      • Catering facilities must be closed between 23:00 and 6:00, with exception of outdoor terraces and sales through dispensing window
      • It is allowed to try wares in clothes and shoes stores, but only after disinfecting of hands of trying person and such wares must be stored separately if returned for next 24 hours.
      • Shopping centres with areas exceeding 5.000 m2 must provide at least one person to supervise compliance with hygienic rules

    End of quarantine – Return of employees to work

    The spread of COVID-19 is in decline, so the Czech government is gradually cancelling and modifying the issued crisis measures. Shops and service providers can now reopen their premises, so people can return to work.

    However, the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease COVID-19, is still among us and it looks like it will be for some time to come. The best service in the fight against it 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 can help prevent the spread of the disease.

    Employers should first prepare a so-called business restarting plan, in which they will deal with the gradual return of employees to work and at the same time perform an analysis of all risks associated with return and save evidence that this analysis has indeed taken place.

    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;
    • Re-perform basic occupational safety and health training if employees have not been at work for a long time.

    In the case of employers who have decided to use foreigners for work longer than 72 hours, they are obliged to provide accommodation for these workers throughout their stay in the Czech Republic, medical care, transport from the border to the place of accommodation and then to work and back. (and may not use public transport or taxis), as well as any return to the country of origin.

    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 foreign countries. 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 the relevant regional public health station. They will decide on the need to perform a coronavirus test and to possibly order quarantine. However, the employer cant force coronavirus testing on his employees, at most he can inform appropriate hygienic station on employees health situation.

    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.).

    Employee does not want to return to the workplace

    Most employers, when possible, used the possibility of working from home, the so-called home office, during the largest expansion of COVID-19. But what about an employee who does not want to leave the comfort of home?

    The employee can be called back to the standard workplace at any time. The employer is entitled to inform the employee, for example, only by e-mail, to come to his usual workplace, while the employee is obliged to comply with the employer. Otherwise, it may be an unexcused absence of the employee.

    School opening - nursing and return to work

    Unfortunately, with an employee receiving nursing care who does not want to work, it is not as easy as in the case of a home office. Taking time off and receiving a childcare allowance is an employee's right. Therefore, if the employee meets the set conditions, the employer cannot in any way force him to return to work or punish him in any way.

    The employee is therefore entitled to nursing allowance (benefit from the health insurance system) in the amount of 80% of the daily assessment basis and the employer is obliged to apologize for his absence from work for the purpose of caring for a child under the age of 13.

    Even in the current situation, where schools are gradually opening up and parents can send their children back to school, the employer cannot force his employees to return to work. Attendance at schools is only voluntary and a parent who decides to keep his child at home is still entitled to nursing allowance, until 30 June 2020.

    The employee applies for the entitlement to the care benefit due to the closure of the school by means of the application form Application for care benefit for children 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.

    The government extended the right to receive the care benefit to self-employed persons. These persons will then be able to apply for a care benefit contribution at the Ministry of Industry and Trade for the care of a child for which no other person will receive a compensatory contribution. Self-employed persons are entitled to a care benefit of CZK 500 per day.

    Antivirus Employment Protection Programme

    On 31 March 2020 the Czech government approved the Antivirus Programme, which should help employers manage impacts of COVID-19 spread better and prevent possible dismissal of employees. The Labour Office will provide employers with a full employment or partial unemployment allowance.

    The program Antivirus deals with the following situations:

    Mode A - Forced operation restriction and quarantine

    • For an employee who has been quarantined, (employer pays his wage compensation of 60% of the average reduced earnings for the first 14 days) the employer receive a state contribution of 80% of the paid wage compensation, including taxes.
    • Employees who cannot be assigned work due to closure of the establishment on the basis of a government order are entitled to a 100% wage compensation, while the employer will again receive a state contribution of 80% of the paid salary, including taxes.
    • The contribution per employee in Mode A is maximum of 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.

    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.

    Support for the self-employed

    Self-employed persons also received support. These persons are particularly affected by the drop in sales, which occurred almost immediately after the introduction of crisis measures, even if they did not have a direct ban on activities.

    On 27 March 2020, a law came into force on the basis of which all self-employed are forgiven mandatory minimum payments of advances for health insurance, pension insurance premiums and contribution to the state employment policy, for a period of 6 months. Specifically, the period from March to August 2020. For self-employed persons who have already paid their advances for the period of March 2020, these payments will be treated as a prepayment for September.

    Self-employed persons, who pay more than the minimum amount on advances, still do not have to pay any advances in the period from March to August. In the annual accounts, they only pay back the difference between the minimum advance and the actual amount of premiums according to their 2020 profit.

    At the same time the self-employed can receive a compensation bonus 500 CZK per calendar day in set period (maximum of 44 500 CZK for the self-employed) for the time period from 12 March to 8 June 2020.

    Conditions for qualifying for the compensation bonus:

    • the claimant is a person who was as of 12 March 2020 pursuing the trade as his main business activity or a person who was receiving pension or parental allowance and at the same time was  pursuing the trade as his secondary business activity;
    • self-employed persons were unable to carry on their business, either directly or indirectly, in whole or in part as a result of crisis measures (e.g. closure of establishment, quarantine, duty of child care, restriction of demand for products / services, restriction or termination of supply).

    The bill regulating the compensation bonus for self-employed persons has already been approved by the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate will deal with the bill 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.

    Disclaimer

    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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