Czech Republic: A Guide to Prevent Collapse During Coronavirus

Emily Kuhnert October 28, 2020
River in Prague
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    We have gathered information on what measures you can take as an employer in the Czech Republic to help preserve your employees while keeping your business intact. As more information comes in, we will update this post.

    December 24, 2020

    Starting Sunday, December 27, 2020, the Czech Republic will impose a stricter curfew that will begin at 9 pm.  All non-essential shops will be forced to close.  Bars and restaurants are to remain closed.

    October 28, 2020

    The Czech government has announced that children will not be returning to the classroom on November 2, as expected.  In addition, the government has requested that Parliament extend the state of emergency until December 3, 2020.

    October 13, 2020

    The Czech Republic is experiencing one of the highest infection rates of COVID-19 in Europe. Starting Wednesday, October 14, new restrictions in the Czech Republic will be enforced.

    • Masks in public places will now be mandatory
    • Gatherings will be limited to 6 people
    • Bars and restaurants will be forced to close
    • Office hours for public places will be limited to 5 hours a day, two days a week

    March 31, 2020 

    Antivirus Program-  The Czech government has decided to offer salary relief to employers that will go in to effect on April 1, 2020 and will end June 30, 2020.

    There are 5 different aid packages:

    • For employee who are in mandatory quarantine- The employer will pay 60% of wages to the employee for the first 14 days. After the 14 days, the employee can receive regular sick pay. The employer will be entitled to receive 100% of the wages back from the government.
    • For employers who need to suspend their operations- The employer must continue to pay 100% of the employee wages.  The government will reimburse 80% back to the employer.
    • 30% of an employer’s work force is not working due to illness or the need to care for a child- The employer must continue to pay 100% of the employee’s wages.  The government will reimburse 80% back to the employee.
    • Decrease in material, products, or services- The employer must continue to pay 80%-100% of the employee’s wages.  The government will reimburse 80% back to the employer.
    • Partial unemployment- The employee must continue to pay 60%-100% of the employee’s wages.  The government will reimburse 50% back to the employee.

    It is possible for an employer to request relief on a combination of the above mentioned.  The employer will need to fill out an application with the Czech Labor Office and the reimbursement will be applied retroactively.

    Employer and Employee Rights & Obligations Q&A

    Source: Baker McKenzie

    1. Are employees obliged to disclose themselves as a “risk-factor” to the employer? 

    • Generally, all employees have the obligation to take care of the safety and health of individuals who are directly affected by their actions or omissions at work.
    • This could imply that employees are obliged to disclose themselves as a “risk-factor”. However, to provide the employees with clarity as to when they are considered to be a “risk-factor”, a clear definition should be communicated to employees first.
    • Furthermore, with effect as of 12:00 on 13 March 2020, all Czech citizens and foreigners with a permanent residence or a long-term residence (over 90 days) in the Czech Republic returning from any risk country (i.e., China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Austria, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, UK and France) are obliged to inform their medical provider by telephone without undue delay after their return. The medical provider is obliged to order those individuals into quarantine for 14 days. A fine of up to CZK 3,000,000 can be imposed in case of breach.

    2. Can the employer demand employees to disclose themselves as being a “risk-factor”?

    • Yes, since the employer has a general responsibility to ensure a healthy and safe workplace.

    3. Can the employer issue an instruction (or a policy) requiring employees to report co-workers with flu symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, difficulty breathing, pain in the muscles, tiredness) to the employer?

    • No, this would not be recommended.

    4. Can employees refuse to come to work?

    • Generally, an employee can refuse to perform work which the employee reasonably regards as imposing a direct and serious threat to his/her health or life or the health or life of other individuals. We are of the view that the employee’s refusal to come to work would be unjustified, provided that the employer implements protective measures at the workplace (e.g., placing hand sanitizers at the workplace, ask employees to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or a piece of textile).

    5. Can employees refuse to attend meetings or to travel?

    • An employee can refuse to perform work which the employee reasonably regards as imposing a direct and serious threat to his/her health or life or the health or life of other individuals. Such refusal must not be considered a breach of obligations. With respect to travels and meetings outside the Czech Republic, please note that as of 16 March 2020, the Czech borders are closed subject to certain exceptions. However, these exceptions do not apply to business travels/meetings.

    6. Can the employer send employees on suspension from work?

    • Yes, the employer can send an employee on garden leave. In such case, the employee would be entitled to a salary reimbursement in the amount of the employee’s average earnings. The Czech Government recommends that employers allow home office, vacation and paid leave to the most possible extent, and to cease activities that are not crucial for the employer’s operations

    7. When is the employer forced to shut down its operations?

    • The employer is obliged to impose business restrictions or to close down the business premises in case of a respective instruction by authorities. Please note that from 6:00 on 14 March 2020, until 6:00 on 24 March 2020, retail businesses and businesses providing services are closed with the exception of certain businesses (e.g., groceries, healthcare & pharmacies, drugstores, petrol stations, news agents, pets, public catering services and fast foods (take-away), post offices, banks, insurance agencies, e-shops and delivery services).

    8. Does the employer have the obligation to report infections occurring in the business to the health authorities?

    • No, the employer is not obliged to report to the authorities.

    9. Can the employer require an employee to see a doctor? 

    • The employer cannot require the employee to undergo a special test for the Coronavirus.
    • If the employer has doubts whether the employee is fit to work, the employer can send the employee for an extraordinary medical check. However, in the current circumstances, the employer should verify the planned approach with the occupational health facility first.

    10. If employees are sent on suspension from work, or refuse to come to work or if an operation is being shut down, do the employees still need to be paid? 

    • An employee on garden leave is entitled to a salary reimbursement in the amount of the employee’s average earnings.
    • If an employee refuses to come to work without reason, such absence would be classified as unexcused absence and the employee will not be entitled to any remuneration.
    • Temporary closure of operations would be classified as another obstacle to work on the employer’s side, i.e., a situation in which an employee is entitled to time off since he/she cannot perform work due to reasons on the employer’s side. During this period employees would be entitled to a salary reimbursement in the amount of the employee’s average earnings.

    11. If kindergartens and schools are being closed and employees need to stay home and cannot work, does the employer need to pay them and – if so – for how long?

    • Although the employer will have the obligation to excuse the absence of such employees, the employer will not have to pay them. The employees will be paid by the Social Security.

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