5. Managing COVID-19-Related Employee Issues
Management of quarantine, childcare and medical leave for employees affected by COVID-19.
- Whenever an employee gets infected, his leave is considered sick leave. The employer must pay at least 70% of the salary. Whenever one person of a household gets ill, the whole household needs to stay in quarantine, until everyone is free of symptoms for 24 hours.
- If an employee takes necessary care of a sick family member, the employee is entitled to short-term care leave. This short-term care leave amounts to twice the number of working hours per week within twelve months. During this leave the employer must pay at least 70% of the salary.
- There is an ongoing discussion about whether an employer needs to pay the salary of an employee that is not sick, but is quarantined and cannot work. The main rule is that an employee has the right to his salary, even when he is not working, unless it is caused by something that the employee is accountable for (which is rarely the case). Whether it is something that the employee is accountable for, will have to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Employees who fear infection and refuse to work.
- An employee cannot refuse to go to work because he fears infection. The employer can try to minimise the fear by pointing out all measures that they have taken to prevent contamination. If the employee still refuses to come back to work, the employer can give the employee a warning and indicate the consequences if he does not appear at work, which could be to stop continuing to pay wages.
Disclosure of employees who are infected.
- The employer doesn’t have to inform the authorities in any form regarding an infected employee.
- The EU General Data Protection Regulation prohibits an employer from keeping track of employees that are infected with corona. An employer can only record the fact that an employee is ill, but not any other circumstances. This Act also prohibits the employer from informing other colleagues about the illness of the specific employee.