No doubt that the spread of Covid-19 affected the labor relations between the employer and the employee, and therefore both the employer and the employee have a lot of questions. SIA Law Office “INLAT PLUS international” answers the main questions that employers and employees have regarding labor law in connection with the development of COVID-19 situation.
Question: Can employer force the employee to take a leave without retention of remuneration?
Answer: The employer is not entitled to forcibly send the employee on a leave without retention of remuneration because it is the employee’s free will to use unpaid leave or not. But if the employer has reasonable suspicions that employee is ill and it causes or it may cause risks to the safety and health of the employee or other persons, the employer in accordance with section 82 of the Labor law has the right to give relevant order to the employee to undergo a health examination. If the employee refuses to undergo a health examination the employer in accordance with section 58 paragraph 3 of Labor law, has the right to suspend an employee from work.
Question: What can an employee do, if the employer forcibly sends the employee on an unpaid leave?
Answer: If employer sends the employee on an unpaid leave, without request from the employee, the employee in accordance with section 94 of Labor law has the right to submit a complaint to the employer in order to protect his rights and interests. The complaint must be examined and a decision must be made immediately, but no later than seven days after receiving the complaint. If the employer does not consider the complaint or after the employer has considered the complaint, but the employee is not satisfied with the result, the employee has the right to go to court in order to protect his rights and interests.
Question: What should an employee do if the employer sends him on a business trip to a country affected by the disease?
Answer: The instructions of the employer are obligatory to fulfillment, but if the employee has reasonable suspicions, that the performance of the work causes or may cause a risk to the safety and health of the employee or other person and these risks cannot be prevented in another way, in accordance with section 18 paragraph 1 clause 1 of the Labor Protection Law the employee has the right to refuse to perform work. In this situation, the employer is forbidden to punish the employee or otherwise directly or indirectly create adverse consequences for him, since the employee exercised his rights in labor relations.
Question: Who shall cover the expenses, if the employer in accordance with section 82 of Labor law gives order to the employee to undergo a health examination?
Answer: If the employer in accordance with Section 82 of Labor law gives order to the employee to undergo a health examination, the expenses that are associated with the performance of health examination shall be covered by the employer.
Question: Can the employee request the employer to allow to work from home?
Answer: The work can be done from home, if such mode is foreseen in the employment contract or by joint agreement with employer.
Question: Does the employer have the right to reduce employee’s remuneration due to emergency situation?
Answer: The Labor law has regulation about situations, when the employer must provide remuneration also when the employee does not perform work due to justifiable reasons. Although the law does not contain an exhaustive list, some measures related to COVID-19 may be considered justifiable reasons when an employer is required to pay remuneration when employee does not perform the work.
One of the cases, when the employer has the obligation to disburse the remuneration to the employee when the employee does not perform work is specified in section 74 paragraph 2 of Labor law – idle time. The idle time – is the situation when the employer does not provide work to an employee or does not perform the activities necessary for the acceptance of employee’s obligations. Since the law does not provide the reasons for idle time, all situations, when employer does not provide work to an employee or does not perform the activities necessary for the acceptance of employee’s obligations, can be considered as the idle time.
The Labor law also provides regulation for a situation where idle time arises due to the fault of the employee. In such a situation, an employee shall not receive remuneration for idle time.