1. Compulsory testing of employees
Which employers are required to provide testing?
A. Employers with 250 and more employees:
From 3 March 2021 employers are required to provide employees with POC antigen tests carried out by a healthcare provider or tests to determine the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virus antigen that can be used by a layperson at a frequency of at least once a week.
Employers are obliged to invite their employees to undergo a preventive test, no later than 5 March 2021, so as to allow their presence at the employer's workplace by 12 March 2021 at the latest.
From 12 March 2021, the employer may permit only those employees who have passed the RT-PCR test, POC antigen test or other test provided by the employer directly at the workplace with a negative result in the last seven days to enter the workplace.
B. Employers with at least 50 (and less than 250) employees:
These employers have the same obligations as employers with 250 or more employees, with the difference that the deadlines for fulfilling the obligations were:
- The obligation to provide POC antigen tests from 5 March 2021;
- The obligation to require their employees to undergo tests from 8 March 2021;
- The obligation to allow employees with a negative result to enter the workplace from 15 March 2021.
C. Employers with at least 10 (and less than 50) employees:
These employers have the same obligations as the employers above, with the difference that the deadlines for fulfilling the obligations are:
- The obligation to provide POC antigen tests from 17 March 2021;
- The obligation to require their employees to undergo tests from 19 March 2021;
- The obligation to allow employees with a negative result to enter the work place from 26 March 2021.
In what form can testing be provided?
At an occupational health service provider or other external healthcare service provider (testing centres).
The employer may also arrange for antigen tests to be performed by a layperson, i.e. for self-testing. Instructions may be found here (in Czech only).
The list of antigen tests for lay testing can be found (in Czech) at this link. The list will be continuously updated.
Are employers reimbursed the costs of the tests?
The employer will be entitled to a contribution from VZP in the amount of CZK 60 per one test (maximum four tests per employee and month, i.e. CZK 240/employee/month).
Once a month, the employer will report the number of performed tests to the health insurance company of the tested employees by completing a form. A sample of the form is here: overview of performed tests (in Czech).
Is the employee obliged to take the test?
Yes, employees are obliged to undergo testing at the request of the employer (at the latest upon arrival at the workplace), unless:
- the employee works from home and does not come to the workplace (they must be tested if there is a need for them to come to the workplace);
- the employee has already recovered from a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19 with a positive COVID-19 test less than 90 days ago and does not show symptoms of COVID-19; or
- the employee presents a certificate of vaccination against COVID-19 from the Ministry of Health, at least 14 days have elapsed since the second dose (or for single-dose vaccines since the first dose) and does not show symptoms of COVID-19.
What if an employee refuses to take the test for no reason?
The employer will be obliged not to allow such an employee to enter the workplace. It will be regarded as an obstacle on the employee’s part without the right to salary compensation.
According to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, in such a case it will most likely be regarded as an excused absence (however, the opinions of professionals differ on this issue).
Should the employer keep information about test results?
Yes, the employer is obliged to keep the results of the tests so that it can prove compliance with its obligation to ensure the testing of employees during a possible inspection.
It is also recommendable that all documents on purchased and carried out tests be kept so that the employer can present them for reimbursement (together with the completed form, see above).
Which employers are not subject to the testing obligation?
Employers with less than 10 employees are not required to provide employee testing, but are advised to do so.
2. Obligation to provide staff with respirators
Do employers have an obligation to provide respirators for their employees?
Yes, employers are obliged from 1 March 2021 to provide respiratory protective equipment (nose, mouth), which is:
- a respirator or a similar device (always without an exhalation valve) meeting at least all technical conditions and requirements (for the product), including a filtration efficiency of at least 94% according to the relevant standards (e.g. FFP2, KN 95);
- a medical face mas; or
- a similar device fulfilling at least all technical conditions and requirements (for the product) of the ČSN EN 14683+AC standard, which prevents the spread of droplets, in sufficient quantity for each shift.
The obligation does not apply if the employee does not come into physical contact with other persons during work and in connection with work (e.g. teleworking outside the employer's workplace).
3. Antivirus programme and extraordinary quarantine contribution
What contributions are currently available under the Antivirus Programme?
Scheme A: Compensation for expenses of employers whose employees have been ordered to quarantine. A contribution of max. 80 % of the paid salary, including levies, is provided, at a maximum of CZK 39,000 / employee / month.
However, Scheme A may continue to be drawn by employers even if employees are unable to perform work on the grounds of the closure of operation of the employer (or its significant limitation), if it occurred directly as a result of government measures (government crisis measures, emergency measures of the Ministry of Health or public health authorities). In this case, however, the employer can take advantage of the increased contribution in the Antivirus Plus Scheme (below).
Scheme A Plus: Compensation for expenses of employers whose operation has been closed / significantly limited by government measures / the Ministry of Health / public health authorities. It is provided only for the duration of this restriction, in the amount of 100 % of the paid salary, including levies, with a maximum of CZK 50,000 / employee / month.
Scheme B: Compensation for salaries paid out due to work obstacles on the employer's part in accordance with Sections 207 to 209 of the Labour Code. A contribution of max. 60 % of the paid salary, including levies, is provided, max. CZK 29,000 / employee / month
All programmes can now be drawn (as of 1 March 2021) only for employees whose employment will have lasted for at least three months as of the date of submission of the monthly statement.
Currently, the Antivirus Programme has been extended until the end of April 2021.
What is Izolačka?
This is an extraordinary contribution of up to CZK 370 per day in addition to reimbursing the income of employees in quarantine or isolation.
Since when can it be drawn?
Retroactively from 1 March 2021 to 30 April 2021.
How will it be paid out to employees?
The employer will pay it out to the employee in addition to the normal sickness benefit for each calendar day for a period of 14 days.
The condition is that the employee has been ordered to quarantine or isolate due to an infectious disease (Covid-19 or other). Employees working on the basis of agreements outside of employment will also be entitled to the allowance if they pay for health insurance (for income over CZK 3,500 from an agreement to perform work, or over CZK 10,000 from an agreement to complete a job).
Employees who have been ordered to quarantine or isolate within five days of returning from a trip abroad will not be entitled to the contribution, unless it was a business trip.
How will the employer claim reimbursement for the contribution paid?
The employer deducts the provided contribution to the compensation for salary from the compulsory payment of social security premiums and the contribution to the state employment policy.
The employer can make the deduction within three calendar months from the end of the employee's quarantine.
Important: The information contained in this newsletter is of a general nature and should not be regarded as a substitute for legal advice on the specific question.
Please find the Czech version here.
Author: Marie Gremillot