5. Managing COVID-19-Related Employee Issues
Management of quarantine, childcare and medical leave for employees affected by COVID-19.
The provisions that the Colombian government has enacted to support most common COVID-19 employee issues are by some means limited:
- as of now, Colombia’s government has not created any special leave for parents that would allow them to take care of their children during school closures, which could likely be extended until August (most schools in Colombia have the normal long break at the end of the year);
- in any case, Colombian law recognises paid leave when the employee is unable to perform work as a result of a calamity that, for the employee, should be external, unforeseeable and unpredictable;
- the government included COVID-19 as a work-related disease exclusively for workers in the health sector. This classification essentially impacts the amount of the payment that the employee may receive in case of a medical-leave, or a disability support pension, as a consequence of the disease;
- a difficult and common situation facing employees, who are neither infected nor entirely healthy, but who also present symptoms of the COVID-19 virus. In those cases, even when they do not receive an unable-to-work certificate, employers concede a paid isolation measure.
Employees who fear infection and refuse to work.
Having the severity of the General Biosecurity Protocol that every employer needs to adopt previously to call their employees back to work to their facilities, they should not have a reasonable excuse or fear of returning. Therefore, any refusal could be a reason to initiate a disciplinary procedure. However, those employees categorised as a vulnerable person to the virus, according to the Resolution 666, are legally allowed to work remotely.
Disclosure of employees who are infected.
The Colombian government requires health reports to be logged in a database and updated daily, exclusively to control and prevent the spread of COVID-19, requesting specific information concerning details about livelihood, location, health symptoms and results of any COVID-19 testing, among others. Therefore, certain mobile applications have been developed to easily track such valuable data (e.g. CORONAPP, at a national level or GABO in Bogota), which everyone should download and keep up-to-date.