Czech Republic: Coronavirus from the employer's perspective
With regard to the current situation related to coronavirus, below we provide information on (i) the latest measures adopted by the Czech authorities, (ii) recommended prevention, (iii) possible measures to be taken by employers, and (iv) where to find relevant information provided by public authorities.
Recent measures adopted by Czech authorities
- All citizens, either Czech or foreign nationals (apart from specific exceptions), with permanent or temporary residence in the Czech Republic who stay more than 90 days in the Czech Republic or who are employed in the Czech Republic, and who are returning from Italy as of 7 March 2020, are obliged to inform their personal physician (or any other physician, if they do not have a personal physician) about this fact without undue delay and the physician shall order them to undergo 14 days of quarantine (at home).
- All people who were in contact with a person with verified contagion will be ordered to undergo 14 days of quarantine (at home).
- Starting from 14 March 2020, the mandatory quarantine is extended to people returning from the following countries: China, South Korea, Iran, Spain, Austria, Germany, Norway, Sweden, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Great Britain and Switzerland.
- A breach of this duty may be punished by a penalty of up to CZK 3,000,000 (approx. EUR 120,000).
- All schools (i.e. primary, secondary, tertiary and professional schools and universities) except for kindergartens are closed as of 11 March 2020 until further notice.
- Kindergartens remain open (however some of them may have further restrictions, e.g. they accept only children from parents that are both working (not from home).
State of emergency for 30 days
- The Czech Government has declared a state of emergency as of 12 March 2020 for 30 days. The reason for the state of emergency is the endangerment of public health.
- As of 13 March 2020, all gatherings of 30 people or more are forbidden.
- As of 13 March 2020, gyms, swimming pools and other sports facilities, clubs, galleries and libraries will also be closed to the public entirely.
- On 14 March 2020, the Government of the Czech Republic issued a resolution on the adoption of emergency measures No. 211, based on which starting from 14 March 2020 (6:00 a.m.) to 24 March 2020 (6:00 a.m.) retail sales and provision of services in commercial premises are prohibited, with some exceptions (e.g. grocery stores, pharmacies, sale of computing and telecommunication technology, filling stations, newspapers and tobacco, laundry services and several others). Furthermore, during the period there is a ban on the presence of the public in restaurants, with a few exceptions, such as canteens for employees and fast-food restaurants with drive-thru windows.
- As of 14 March 2020 (from Friday 13 March 2020 at 23:59), there are restrictions on travelling in the Czech Republic and out of the Czech Republic. The government has banned foreign nationals from high-risk countries from entering the Czech Republic (except from foreigners with a permanent or temporary stay over 90 days), and all citizens, either Czech or foreign nationals, with permanent or temporary residence in the Czech Republic who stay more than 90 days in the Czech Republic, are prohibited to travel to high-risk countries – Italy, China, South Korea, Iran, Spain, Austria, Germany, Norway, Sweden, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Great Britain, and Switzerland.
- As of 16 March 2020, Czech citizens and foreigners with a permanent or temporary stay over 90 days may not leave the Czech Republic. To this date, foreigners (with the exception of foreigners with permanent or temporary residence over 90 days in the Czech Republic) are prohibited from entering the Czech Republic.
- From 16 March 2020 (from 0:00) to 24 March 2020 (6:00 a.m.) the free movement of people in the territory of the Czech Republic is prohibited, with some exceptions (e.g. travel to work and back, necessary travel to visit family and close persons, travel to secure basic life necessities, such as shopping for groceries, pharmaceutical products, etc.).
- All people and legal entities are required to comply with any measures or requests made by the government during this time.
- The government may also oblige people to carry out certain work connected to the cause of the state of emergency.
- Increased hygiene in the workplace – more frequent housekeeping, provision of disinfectants (gels, soaps), computer wipes, awareness among employees (regular washing of hands with soap and warm water, covering the mouth when coughing, etc.), provision of respirators to employees at risk of infection.
- Restriction/cancellation of business trips within the country and abroad, recall of employees who are posted abroad.
- Recommendation to employees not to travel (however, the employer may not prohibit private trips).
- Cancellation of events with higher concentration of people (conferences, team building, etc.).
- Implementation of flexible working hours, home office, limitation of personal contacts (give preference to communication by phone/email/teleconference/Skype and similar).
- It is important to keep in mind that the situation is more severe with people affected by certain conditions, such as auto-immune diseases or respiratory conditions.
- Employers should regularly inform their employees about the measures taken and planned.
Possible measures to be adopted by employers and other related information
- The employer may ask employees to work from home (home office); if home office is possible with regard to the nature of the work, and if this possibility is set out in the employment contract and internal regulations, or based on an ad hoc agreement with the employee (basically the employer may not ask the employee to work from home if it is not agreed).
- The employer may ask employees to take days off (unpaid), but only if the employee agrees to that.
- The employer may request the employee to stay at home (for example for two weeks after returning from abroad), whereas the employee will be entitled to 100% of their average earnings (according to Section 208 of the Labour Code).
- The employer may also ask the employees to take vacation leave, although this request must be communicated to the employees at least 14 days in advance, unless a shorter period of time is agreed with the employee (for breach of this duty, the employer may face a penalty up to CZK 200,000. i.e. approx. EUR 8,000); or to take compensatory time off for overtime work (if applicable). On 15 March 2020, the Government banned all workers employed in health care professions (as of 16 March 2020) from taking vacation leave during the state of emergency.
- If the workplace is closed or its operation is limited for a certain period due to an emergency measure issued by the government (e.g. Resolution of the Government of the Czech Republic No. 211 dated 14 March 2020), and the employer will not be able to assign work to the employees, such a situation is deemed an "other obstacle" to work on the part of the employer pursuant to Section 208 of the Labour Code and, therefore, the employees will be entitled to 100% of their average earnings.
- However, in case of so-called other obstacles to work on the part of the employer, i.e. a situation in which the employer is unable to assign work to the employees within the scope of weekly working hours, e.g. due to a temporary drop in sales of the employer's products or services provided by the employer (partial unemployment); the compensatory wage may be decreased up to the minimum level of 60% of the employee's average earnings, based on an agreement on compensatory wage concluded with a trade union operating at the employer or based on internal rules issued by the employer if there is no trade union.
- If the employees cannot work due to a temporary shortage of supplies of raw materials or power or due to some other operational causes, it is "idle time" (in Czech "prostoj"), they will be entitled to at least 80% of their average earnings.
NOTE: We are currently preparing more detailed information regarding possibilities to decrease compensatory wage in case of so-called other obstacles to work on the part of the employer or idle time. We will keep you updated.
- If the employer is forced to close down its premises due to anti-epidemic measures (not emergency measures adopted by the Government of the Czech Republic, such as No. 211 dated 14 March 2020), the same regime as quarantine applies, where the employees are entitled to sick pay (the employer pays compensatory wage amounting to 60% of the employee's average earnings in the first 14 days.
- If there is a public transport outage due to which an employee is unable to arrive to work on time, the employee is entitled to time off without compensation for salary.
- Employees staying home with children under 10 years of age, whose schools are closed, are entitled to a care benefit equal to 60% of the reduced daily assessment base for up to 9 days, or up to 16 days if the employee is the sole provider for the child. This benefit is paid out by the social security office. After 9 (16) days the employee is no longer entitled to receive the care benefit, but the employer must still excuse his absence from the workplace. The Government is currently discussing prolonging the period in which people are entitled o the care benefit while they stay home with their children because schools are closed
- During the state of emergency it is possible to substitute the initial medical check-up for new employees (hired after 15 March 2020) by a solemn declaration; periodical check-ups can be postponed.
- If the employees are in quarantine ordered by their doctor or the hygiene authority, they will be entitled to wage compensation as they would during sick leave (the employer pays 60% of the employee's average earnings in the first 14 days, then it is covered by insurance).
- In case of verified contagion of an employee (or any other person) in the workplace, the employer must immediately contact the respective regional hygiene station and consult the measures to be taken in each specific case.
- Bank Association of the Czech Republic has confirmed that banks will provide the option to postpone the payments of loans made by citizens and small entrepreneurs by three months.
Sources of information
Stay informed and regularly check the websites of Czech authorities, such as:
National Institute of Public Health (Státní zdravotní ústav) at www.szu.cz
Government of the Czech Republic (Vláda české republiky) at www.vlada.cz
Ministry of Health (Ministerstvo zdravotnictví) at www.mzcr.cz ,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministerstvo zahraničních věcí) at www.mzv.cz
Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Ministerstvo práce a sociálních věcí) at www.mpsv.cz
and the World Health Organization at www.who.org.
The National Institute of Public Health has a 24-hour hotline: +420 724 810 106 or +420 725 191 367.
Note: This newsletter is for information purposes only. Recipients and readers of this newsletter should not treat the content as a substitute for obtaining specific advice on the topics addressed herein.
Information current as of: 18 March 2020
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