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Coronavirus – a practical guide for employers in the Czech Republic

  • Czech Republic

    27-10-2020

    We are continually updating this guide in response to the gradual publication of official information by public authorities. Latest update: 27 October 2020.

    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, from 5 October 2020 to 4 November 2020.

    At present, the following restrictions are in effect the Czech Republic, and we point out that as the epidemiological situation may vary in different regions of the Czech Republic, meaning even more strict restrictions might be in effect in some parts of Czech Republic.

    1. Restriction of free movement and Wearing masks

    • From 28 October until 3 November 2020, the free movement of persons is prohibited in the whole territory of the Czech Republic from 9:00 pm to 4:59 am (a certain form of exit is introduced) with the exception of:

    • journeys to employment and the performance of business activities and the performance of the duties of a public official or constitutional official and back to the place of residence;
    • performance of activities for reinsurance;
    • security, internal order and crisis management;
    • health protection, provision of health and social care;
    • public transport and other infrastructure;
    • services for the population, including supply and distribution services;
    • walking dogs up to 500 meters from the place of residence.

    • In the time period between 5:00 AM and 20:59 PM free movement of persons in the Czech Republic is also prohibited, however in a milder mode than in the night, with exceptions of:

    • travels to and out of employment and for exercising of entrepreneurial and similar activity;
    • necessary travels to family and close persons;
    • necessary travels for managing basic living needs (purchase of food, medicaments, hygienic goods, goods for animals);
    • travels to healthcare facilities and social service facilities, including necessary escort of close persons;
    • travels with the purpose of staying in nature, parks or in own recreational objects;
    • travels with the purpose of leaving the Czech Republic;
    • travels with the purpose of handling urgent official matters;
    • attending weddings and funerals and visiting graveyards;
    • travels back to the place of residence.

    • People should limit movement in public spaces only to necessary time only and in maximum number of 2 persons (with the exceptions of household members or employees) and also limit contact with other persons to necessary time only and maintain at least 2 meter distance.

    • From 21 October 2020, 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;
    • 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 the above obligation are exempted for exemple:

    • 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;
    • 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;
    • 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;

    • athletes and exercising persons during training.

    • From 9 October to 3 November 2020, 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 22 October 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 22 October to 3 November 2020, 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

    • Restriction of free movement that is in effect from 22 October 2020 applies also to foreign nationals.

    Foreign nationals can travel to the territory of Czech Republic only with purpose of:

    • travel to employment or exercise of entrepreneurial activity
    • necessary travels to family
    • travels to doctor
    • attending weddings or funerals

    • Checks of foreign nationals are random, but when asked they are required to prove the purpose of their travel.

    • Currently, the Ministry of Health keeps a list of countries with a low risk of infection (green countries). 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 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.

    • Citizens of the Czech Republic and EU citizens (including citizens of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the United Kingdom).

    • Certain obligations for these passengers will only arise if they have resided in some of the red countries for more than 12 hours in the last 14 days. These persons are obliged to contact the regional hygienic station upon entry and:
      • undergo a test and submit the test result to the regional hygienic station (test can be taken even in another member state of the EU, but must not be older than 72 hours);
      • otherwise these persons will be quarantined.
    • Other obligations fall on, for example, international transport workers. If they have stayed in any of the red countries for more than 12 hours in the last 14 days, these persons are then obliged to wear respiratory protective equipment everywhere in the Czech Republic for 14 days. At the same time, they are obliged to submit a certificate of an international transport worker when crossing the border.
    • One exception applies to citizens of France, Croatia, Malta, Romania and Luxembourg and persons traveling or returning to the Czech Republic from these countries for work or study, where employers and educational institutions are obliged to request a negative test result, which these persons have to undergo in the Czech Republic, otherwise not allow them to enter the territory of the workplace or educational institution.
      • These persons are then obliged to undergo a second test after 14 days, at their own expense.

    • Third country nationals

    • If third-country nationals (outside the EU and Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the United Kingdom) or their family members hold residence permits issued by the Czech Republic, they will be allowed to enter our territory under the same conditions as above.
    • Entry is also allowed for workers of international transport or diplomats.

    • From 21 September 2020, all persons that stayed in a red country for more than 12 hours in last 14 days must fill an electronic arrival form before their arrival to Czech Republic and present it when crossing the border.

    • These personssubsequently have an obligation to undergo a test within 5 days from entering. The test results must be presented within 7 days from entering, otherwise these persons will be subjected to quarantine.

    • 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.

    3. Mandatory quarantine

    • Quarantine is ordered for the period of 10 days.

    • From 25 September 2020, 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.

    4. Closure of schools

    • From 14 October 2020 to 1 November 2020:

    • The personal presence of students in classes while studying in all school facilities is prohibited.
    • There can be maximum of 10 people present during university exams.
    • The prohibition does not apply to the participation of students in clinical and practical teaching and practice of students of medical and health study programs).
    • Kindergartens remain open.
    • Universities are also prohibited to provide accommodation for their students that have permanent residence in Czech Republic (dormitory accomodation).

      • This does not apply to students, that have been ordered work duty form the government based on Crisis Act and practice of students of medical and health study programs.

    5. Ban on public and private events

    • Given the current restrictions of free movement for persons on the territory of Czech Republic, all public or private mass events are prohibited.

    • From 21 October 2020, a maximum of 10 people can attend the wedding.

    6. Retail and services

    • From 22 October, 6 am to 3 November 2020, retail sale and providing services in establishments is prohibited, with exceptions of:

    • grocery stores;
      • including establishments, for which grocery sales does not represent most of the activity, but this part is separated from other parts of the store
    • catering establishments operating through dispensing window between 6 am and 8 pm;
    • providing accommodation services to only to persons:
      • exercising profession or entrepreneurial activity
      • exercising work duty by Crisis Act
      • foreign nationals until leaving the country
      • in isolation or quarantine
    • fuel stores;
    • stores with hygienic, cosmetics and other drug store products;
    • pharmacies and stores with medical products;
    • pet shops;
    • stores with glasses and contact lenses;

    • stores with newspapers, magazines and tobacco products;

    • laundry and dry cleaning establishments;

    • car service, road vehicle repairs, providers of towing and elimination of defects of vehicles and stores with spare parts for vehicles and production technologies and car washes;

    • establishments allowing for collecting goods and packages form third parties purchased through distance methods;

    • flower shops and gardening shops, including sales of seed and seedlings;

    • ticket offices;

    • project activity in construction, geological work, land surveying;

    • stores with textile and haberdashery;

    • computer and telecommunication service establishments; consumer electronics;

    • real estate and accounting consultant establishments;

    • locksmiths and other home service establishments;

    • funeral homes;

    • household goods stores and hardware stores;

    • establishments for the collection and purchase of raw materials and composting plants.

    • Retail sale is forbidden during the whole Sunday and from Monday to Saturday in the time period between 20:00 and 4:59, this restriction does not apply to:

    • activities that are not qualified as trades under the Trade Licensing Act;
    • gas stations, selling fuel and oil;
    • pharmacies;
    • shops located at airports, railway and bus stations;
    • shops located in healthcare establishments.

    • However, store and service operators must still comply with the following measures:

    • encourage customers with information materials to maintain a distance of 2 meters and to make ideally a payment card payment;
    • place disinfectants and protective equipment on frequently touched objects (handles, railings, shopping carts), both for employees and customers;
    • actively prevent crowding.

    • Other rules, that operators must follow are linked to the specifications of the service, e.g.:

    • food retail operators are required to provide customers with disposable gloves or similar hand protection free of charge;
    • shopping centres with areas exceeding 5.000 m2

      • must provide at least one person to supervise compliance with hygienic rules;
      • must not provide its customers with wireless wifi internet connection;
      • must actively prevent aggregation of persons.
    • spa treatment can only be provided, when it is at least particulary covered by the public health insurance;
    • the maximum of two customers at once can be present in a flowers shop.

    Behavior 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.

    In the case of employers who have decided to employ employees who have arrived from France, Malta, Romania, Croatia or Luxembourg, they are obliged to request from the employee a negative result of the test that the employee takes in the Czech Republic, otherwise they must not allow these persons to enter the workplace.

    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, all school facilities are closed again, and again it is 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.

    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.

    At present, therefore, the general regulation of nursing allowance regulated by the Sickness Insurance Act applies again. A parent who takes care of a child under the age of 10 in the event of illness or closure of a school facility is entitled to a nursing allowance of 60% of the daily assessment basis, but only for a period of 9 days. A single parent is entitled to nursing allowance for 16 days.

    However, the parliament has currently approved a new bill that should regulate the rules of coronavirus-related nursing allowance in this school year and build on previous regulation. The senate should discuss the bill in upcoming days.

    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.

    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 - 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 receives 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.

    • It is only possible to apply for a contribution under mode A until 31 October 2020.

    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.

    Mode A (Plus) - Forced traffic restrictions and quarantine

    • In view of the unfavorable epidemiological situation, the government decided to extend Regime A with some changes.

    • Employees will be able to apply for a 100% state contribution to wages paid from 1 October, including levies, for an employee who cannot be assigned work due to the closure of an establishment on the basis of a government decree.

    • For an employee who has been ordered to quarantine, the employer will continue to receive a contribution of only 80% of the paid wage compensation, including levies.

    • The maximum amount of the contribution for one month per employee is a maximum of CZK 50,000.

    • It will be possible to apply for an allowance under mode B or mode A (Plus) 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

    The parliament has currently approved support in the form of a compensatory bonus 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 bill should be discussed in the senate 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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