5. Managing COVID-19-Related Employee Issues
Management of quarantine, childcare and medical leave for employees affected by COVID-19.
Quarantine – Employees are entitled to compensation in the event of interruption of employment due to a quarantine ordered by a doctor or a public order. Loss of earnings is regulated in accordance with the Income Compensation Act and paid as a daily allowance. The daily allowance corresponds to 80% of the income and amounts to a maximum of CHF 196 per day. The compensation is limited to 10 daily allowances.
Child Care – Parents who had to interrupt their employment due to school closures in order to care for their children were entitled to compensation. On 11 May 2020, it became mandatory for public schools in Switzerland to have been re-opened, and since 6 June 2020, grandparents are no longer advised to stay away from their grand-children. Therefore, the special compensation for childcare is, for the moment, no longer in place.
Medical Leave – Employees suffering from COVID-19 receive paid medical leave. The length of the paid medical leave is dependent on whether the employer has a daily per diem sickness insurance in place, which normally covers 80% of the salary for a maximum of 720 days. If no such insurance is available, the length of the paid medical leave depends on the years of services. In the first year of service, the entitlement amounts to three weeks of full pay.
Employees who fear infection and refuse to work.
Healthy employees who do not belong to a risk group may not simply stay away from work for fear of infection. However, employers have a duty to protect the health of their employees and need to take the necessary appropriate measures (see section III. Health and Safety Measures, above). If home office is not an option and the employee refuses to work despite the fact that adequate protection measures have been put in place, the employer does not need to continue paying the employee’s salary. Whether or not a termination for cause may be justified depends on the specific circumstances.
Disclosure of employees who are infected.
There is no mandate for the employer to notify authorities if an employee is infected. If possible, we advise to obtain permission from the infected employee to inform members of the workforce and co-workers about the infection.
Canceling of holidays due to travel bans – In principle, the employer can insist that an employee already takes planned vacation days, as long as the vacation allows the employee to recover, even if the employee cannot pursue his/her original holiday plan due to travel bans.