An employee infected with coronavirus - a guide for the employer

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The development of the COVID-19 epidemic in the country contributed to an increase in employee absenteeism.The multitude of changes related to the procedures for reporting potential contact with infected persons of employees, the employee's illness itself to the employer or information to the Social Insurance Institution about the employee's right to sickness benefit contributed to organizational and information chaos. Does an employee infected with coronavirus have to report to an employer? Where does the employer obtain information about the quarantine or isolation of the employee if the employer fails to report this fact to the employer? What steps should an employer take if his employee is found to be infected? We answer in the article!

How will the employer find out about the employee's infection or quarantine?

An employee infected with the coronavirus or suspecting that he may have become infected in connection with contact with a sick person is obliged by the letter of the law to inform his employer about the situation. This is indicated by the provisions of § 2 of the ordinance of the Minister of Labor and Social Policy on the method of justifying absenteeism and granting dismissals to employees: "In the event of reasons preventing the employee from working for work, he is obliged to immediately notify the employer about the reason for his absence and the expected period of his absence. duration, but no later than on the second day of absence from work ”.

The employer also has the option of including additional provisions in internal regulations, e.g. in the regulations, in which he will indicate the obligation to inform the employer in a specific way about quarantine or isolation.

If the employee first notified the employer about the situation, the sanitary and epidemiological station should be notified by phone in the next step. Then you have to follow the instructions of the Department of Health and Safety.

What if the employee himself is not aware that he or she is subject to quarantine or isolation? Such a situation may take place in connection with the significant increase in the number of infections in our country over the last weeks, when the employees of the Sanitary and Epidemiological Station are not able to inform every patient on an ongoing basis. New legal regulations and technological solutions contributed to the solution of this situation.

From October 24, 2020, information about quarantine or isolation is placed in the IT system of the e-Health Center, and from October 31, it is also visible in PUE ZUS. Thanks to this solution, contribution payers are able to verify the status of their employees on an ongoing basis - in an online form.

An employee infected with coronavirus - can the employer inform other employees about it?

Views differ as to whether an employer has the right to inform other workers about a person's COVID-19 infection. The provisions of the Labor Code do not explicitly specify such an obligation, while the employer is responsible for the health and safety at work in the workplace, which may suggest that he has the right to disseminate information about the infection of a given employee. On the other hand, the European Personal Data Protection Board referred to this situation more specifically.

Position of the European Personal Data Protection Council of March 17, 2020
“[...] employers should inform workers about COVID-19 incidents and take protective measures, but should not provide more information than is necessary. In cases where it is necessary to disclose the name of an employee who is infected with the virus (e.g. in the context of prophylaxis) and national law permits it, the workers concerned should be informed in advance and their dignity and integrity should be protected ".

There are opinions that the employer did not have the right to disclose information about which employee infected with the coronavirus was in the workplace, while more and more often the opinion of counselors stating that it should be guided by the collective interest, not the individual. Disclosure of such data may also help to determine who has had contact with the sick person, but at the moment there are no provisions directly specifying how to proceed in such a case.

An employee infected with coronavirus under quarantine or isolation?

According to the adopted nomenclature, quarantine covers people who have had contact with an infected person but are not sick themselves. The purpose of the quarantine is to isolate and restrict communication from people who may be carriers of the virus.

Isolation, on the other hand, is used for people who have been confirmed to be infected with the virus. The purpose of isolation is to separate the sick person and guarantee conditions for recovery, which will ultimately limit the development of the epidemic.

However, from an employment law perspective, are there any differences between quarantine and isolation in the context of employers' conduct? In both of these cases, the employee is entitled to financial benefits.

Employee benefits during quarantine / isolation

Both an employee infected with the coronavirus and an employee who has only contact with a sick person for the time of justified absence from work are entitled to sickness insurance benefits. An employee is entitled to remuneration or sickness benefit for the period of quarantine or home isolation.

Sick pay is paid from the employer's funds for the period of the employee's illness lasting in total:

  • 33 days during the calendar year or
  • 14 days in a calendar year for an employee who is 50 years of age or older.

Sick pay is paid by the employer on the basis of the information provided to him at PUE ZUS about the quarantine or home isolation granted to the employee. This is also the case for benefits where the employer is the payer. [/ Alert-info

After the employee exceeds the limits on sick pay, assuming that as of November 30 last year, the employer reported fewer than 20 people to sickness insurance (i.e. he is not a benefit payer), the payment of sickness benefits is taken over by ZUS.

An employee infected with coronavirus, who is in isolation, or who has contact with a sick person and is in quarantine, will receive sickness benefit when the employer completes certain formalities. The basis for the payment of sickness benefits by ZUS is not only the information on the PUE about the status of an employee - the employer is also obliged to issue Z-3 certificates and submit them to ZUS. Start a free 30-day trial period with no strings attached!

There is no information on PUE ZUS about the quarantine / isolation of the employee

On the other hand, what should an employer who pays sick pay or sickness benefits to his employees, if one of them informs him about quarantine or isolation, but these data are not reflected in PUE ZUS?

In such a situation, the employer, as a rule, pays benefits to the employee who is obliged to submit a declaration to the contribution payer within 3 working days from the end of compulsory quarantine or isolation. The statement should be made in writing in which the employee indicates that he or she has been under compulsory quarantine or home isolation.

[alert-info] An employer who has been informed by an employee about quarantine / isolation, and who has not confirmed this data on PUE ZUS, pays benefits for the employee's incapacity for work on the basis of a declaration.

Can an employee infected with coronavirus work remotely?

The sudden and intensive development of the epidemic contributed to a sharp increase in employee absenteeism. For most companies, such a situation may, in the long run, result in a significant layoff or even bankruptcy.

In accordance with the applicable regulations, during the period of the announced epidemic state, employees subject to quarantine may, in consultation with the employer, provide remote work for which they will be entitled to regular remuneration. The legislator did not provide for the possibility of requesting a form of remote work for any of the parties. On the other hand, can an employee infected with coronavirus and under home isolation also work remotely in agreement with the employer? On December 4, the president signed a law that allows work to be performed during isolation. As we read in the information on the act amending the act on special solutions related to the prevention, prevention and combating of COVID-19, other infectious diseases and the emergencies caused by them, and some other acts: have been subject to compulsory isolation in home conditions, with the consent of the employer or the employer, providing remote work as specified in the contract and receiving remuneration on this account. As indicated in the justification to the draft act, the adopted solution will apply to cases in which people under home isolation, suffering asymptomatically or relatively mildly, will be able to work remotely and, therefore, receive remuneration. "

For the period in which the employee performed remote work during home isolation, he / she will not be entitled to sick pay or sickness benefit, only to remuneration for work.

Placing an employee in quarantine or home isolation results in a number of obligations for the employer, which he is obliged to fulfill. Therefore, it is worth following the legal changes in the discussed subject area on an ongoing basis, because failure to fulfill certain obligations may harm the employer, but also the employee infected with the coronavirus may experience painful consequences.