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COVID-19 VIRUS – LABOUR LAW ASPECTS

We all are facing difficult times caused as a result of the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19). As the situation is very serious and does not seem to end anytime soon, we believe the following information might be useful to those of you who are in the position of the employer in Slovakia.

Please below find a brief summary of the consequences that the current situation regarding the spread of the COVID-19 disease might have on the employment relationships:

  • occupational health and safety

According to the Article 8 of the Slovak Labour Code, employers shall take measures to protect the life and health of their employees at work.

According to s. 145 of the Slovak Labour Code, employer is required, to the extent of its operations, to constantly provide for employees’ occupational health and safety and to take necessary measures to that end, including preventative measures, providing the necessary equipment and instituting a suitable labour protection management system.

With respect to the above, we advise all employers to get in touch with their occupational health and safety advisor/consultants and consult with them on measures that need to be taken in the face of the ongoing situation.

  • quarantine of the employee

Quarantine measures currently apply to any person that returned from any foreign country in the time from March 13, 2020, 7 a.m. as well as any persons living with them in the same household.

According to s. 141 (1) of the Slovak Labour Code, the employer shall excuse an employee’s absence from work during the time of his or her temporarily incapacity for work due to quarantine.

If the employee was ordered into mandatory quarantine, the employer must excuse his/her absence and is obliged to pay the same wage compensation as in case of the employee’s sick leave.

  • care for a family member

According to s. 141 (1) of the Slovak Labour Code, the employer shall excuse an employee’s absence from work during the time of his or her temporarily incapacity for work due to care of a child below ten years of age who for serious reasons cannot be placed into the care of school in whose care the child otherwise is, or if the person otherwise taking care of the child was sick or subject to a quarantine order (quarantine measure).

If some of your employees are in the situation where they need to take care of their children (due to the reason that their school was closed, which is currently the case for all Slovak schools), the employer has to excuse their absence from work. In this case the employee may ask Social Insurance Company for a special allowance (the so called “ošetrovné”).

  • home-office

Employer and employee may agree on home office provided the type of work allows for such agreement. With respect to the employer’s liability for occupational health and safety also towards employees working at home, we advise employers to adopt a home-office directive and duly inform their employees thereof.

  • holiday and collective holiday

According to s. 111 (5) of the Slovak Labour Code, the employer shall inform the employee of the scheduled holiday at least 14 days ahead. In exceptional circumstances, the above time limit may be reduced with the employee’s consent

Employers may order their employees to take holiday, however, they need to be informed at least 14 days ahead.

According to s. 111 (2) and (3) of the Slovak Labour Code, the employer may (subject to previous agreement with employee representatives if there are any) schedule collective holiday insofar as it is necessary for operational reasons; however, such collective holiday must not be scheduled for more than two weeks. If there are serious operational reasons, which are announced to the employees at least 6 months in advance, the collective holiday may be scheduled for three weeks.

During the holiday the employee is entitled to wage compensation in the amount of his/her average earnings.

  • extra leave for overtime work

According to s. 121 (3) of the Slovak Labour Code, the employer may agree with the employee on taking of extra leave for overtime work. The employee is entitled to extra leave to the extent to which the overtime work lasted.

In case some of the employees have worked overtime, employers may agree with them on taking of extra leave for such overtime work.

  • employment with shorter working time and/or job sharing

Employer and employee may agree on working time that is shorter than the designated weekly working time and eventually also on placement of such employees in a job-share.

  • obstacles at work on the part of the employer

If employers need to temporarily close their business and temporarily lay off their employees, since no other solution (such as home-office, job share, etc.) is available, such situation is considered to be obstacle at work on the part of the employer and the employer is obliged to pay their employees wage compensation in the amount of the employee’s average earnings (100%) (s. 142 of the Slovak Labour Code).

However, where the employer has defined in a written agreement with the employee representatives serious operational reasons for which the employer is unable to assign work to an employee, such situation shall constitute an obstacle at work on the part of the employer for which the employee shall be entitled to wage compensation in the amount determined in the agreement, which shall be no less than 60% of his or her average earnings.

  • unpaid leave

Employer and employee may also agree on employee’s unpaid leave.

As the situation is constantly changing and new government measures are being adopted almost on a daily basis, we strongly advise you to closely monitor the evolving situation.

Should you require any legal assistance or have any additional questions in this regard, please feel free to contact us anytime.