In connection with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the competent authorities in the Slovak Republic are taking a number of measures to prevent and slow down the spread of the virus. These measures significantly affect the running of the whole country, including Slovak employers. We have prepared a brief overview of employers’ options for dealing with employees who are not in quarantine (self-isolation), who are not recognized as incapable of carrying out work (i.e., on sick leave), or who are not on sick leave to care for a family member:
Work from home (home office) – An employer and its employee can agree that the employee will work from home. The Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic encourages employers to allow employees to work from home in this extraordinary situation. Considering the current exceptional circumstances, it is sufficient that the employer and employee agree by e-mail on work from home. Where the type of work makes it possible, agreement to work from home is likely to be the most economically advantageous solution for the employer.
Mandatory leave – The Labor Code gives employers the right to instruct employees to take mandatory leave. However, under the Labor Code, employers are required to notify their employees of mandatory leave two weeks in advance. Exceptionally, this period may be shortened with the employee’s consent. The coronavirus pandemic can clearly be considered as exceptional circumstances in which a shorter time limit can be agreed.
Taking compensatory leave – An employer may, under the conditions laid down in the Labor Code, instruct its employee to take compensatory leave (as agreed, for example, in lieu of pay (wage benefits) for overtime work or work on a public holiday), unless already exhausted.
Temporary assignment of employees to another employer – An employer may, for objective (genuine) operational reasons, temporarily assign (transfer) employees, provided their employment has lasted for at least three months, to another employer to perform work. Suspending operations to prevent the spread of coronavirus, or in order to protect employees’ health, will undoubtedly fulfill the condition of objective operational reasons. In this unprecedented situation, however, it may be problematic to agree with another employer on a temporary assignment.
Obstacles on the part of the employer (“temporary lay-off”) – In order to prevent the spread of coronavirus, or to protect employees’ health, an employer may notify its employees that it will not allocate work to them for a certain period of time and may instruct the employees not to come to work. In this case, it will be an obstacle on the part of the employer pursuant to Section 142(3) of the Labor Code, and the employees will be entitled (in general, unless special rules that could be applied in the current situation are adopted) to wage compensation in the amount of their average earnings. From a practical point of view, it appears to be the easiest solution in the given situation, but it is the least economically advantageous option for the employer.
Obstacles on the part of the employee – An employer may, under Section 141(3) of the Labor Code, allow its employee, at his/her request, to take time off with or without pay (wage compensation) or, alternatively, time off with pay that they can work back at a later time.
For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.