Mandatory testing on employees and other anti-covid measures
From 29 November 2021, due to the worsening epidemiological situation, employers will be obliged to test their employees again. The frequency of testing is at least once a week and if the employee is not present at the workplace on the day of testing, they must be tested on the day of their arrival at the workplace.
The exemption from testing applies to:
- employees and self-employed persons who do not meet third parties at the workplace, except persons in the same household;
- persons vaccinated against Covid-19 if at least 14 days have elapsed since the completion of the vaccination schedule (proof of vaccination is provided by a vaccination certificate);
- employees and self-employed persons who have contracted Covid-19 in the last 180 days (evidenced by a record in the Infectious Disease Information System);
- employees and self-employed persons who have undergone a PCR test for Covid-19 in the last 7 days with a negative result (evidenced by a certificate from the health service provider);
- employees and self-employed persons who have undergone a rapid antigen test for SARS-CoV-2 antigen by a healthcare professional within the last 7 days with negative results (to be evidenced by confirmation from the healthcare provider);
- employees and self-employed persons working from home.
If an employee refuses the test, the employer has the following obligations:
- report this fact to the locally competent hygiene station;
- allow the employee to enter the workplace only with respiratory protection of at least 94% effectiveness;
- ensure that the employee maintains a distance of at least 1.5 m from others;
- ensure that the untested employee eats their meals separately from other persons;
- take such organisational measures to limit as far as possible the untested employee‘s contact with other persons in the workplace.
Asking employees about vaccinations / illnesses / previous testing
The employer does not have to ask employees if they have been vaccinated, had Covid-19 or have been tested by a healthcare provider. It is sufficient if it instructs the employee to take the test, with the understanding that this instruction does not apply to those employees listed in the exceptions above. It is then up to each employee whether to voluntarily submit any of the documents demonstrating that they are covered by the testing exemption or whether they do not want to disclose this information and take the test.
If the employee tests positive, the employer must:
- ensure that the employee who tests positive leaves the workplace immediately;
- pay the employee wage compensation in the amount of the average earnings due to an impediment on the part of the employer for the period between the positive result of the self-test and the result of the confirmatory PCR test, when the employee is not admitted to the workplace and when no work is performed (i.e. provided that the employer does not agree with the employee on work from home or on the taking of leave).
An employee who tests positive is instructed to:
- leave the workplace immediately and notify the employer of the planned absence;
- immediately notify either the company doctor (if so instructed by the employer) or the employee‘s GP; if this is not possible (e.g. due to the doctor‘s illness), then any other doctor or hygienist;
- immediately undergo a confirmatory examination based on a doctor‘s request.
Employers who test their employees and self-employed persons are also ordered to keep a record of the tests carried out for control purposes, including information on the date of testing and the name of the person tested.
Employers and self-employed persons can receive financial compensation for the tests, similar to the spring, in the amount of CZK 60 per self-test. The allowance will be paid by health insurance companies up to a maximum of CZK 240 incl. VAT per month (maximum of four tests per calendar month) for the purchase of tests listed either in the list of antigen tests permitted by the State Institute for Drug Control purchased after 1 January 2021 or for tests listed in the list of antigen tests for which the Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic has issued an exemption for lay use and which were purchased between 1 January 2021 and 31 July 2021. It will be possible to apply for the allowance retroactively for the previous month, except for the tests from November 2021. For these, it will also be possible to apply in January 2022 after the launch of the application on the above-mentioned website.
The employer has the option to require testing of vaccinated employees, for example, by including this obligation in an internal regulation. Given current scientific knowledge, this is a reasonable approach. However, in this case the employer is not entitled to a contribution for the test carried out, as this procedure is not included among the obligations laid down by the emergency measure.
In addition to the aforementioned allowance for self-testing and the ongoing Antivirus subsidy programme, the members of parliament approved further compensation to support those affected by Covid-19. On 1 December 2021, the government passed a proposal for a crisis care allowance, a wage replacement allowance during the quarantine period (the so-called isolation allowance) and a compensation bonus. These three proposals still have to pass the Senate and be signed by the President, so we can expect their publication in the Collection of Laws in the second half of December.
Exceptional allowance for an employee in the event of quarantine: the „isolation allowance“
The government‘s original proposal for the so-called isolation allowance, which employees receive in addition to wage compensation for the period of ordered quarantine, has been limited by parliament to 28 February 2022 (instead of the original validity until 30 June 2022) and the range of employees who are entitled to it has been narrowed. The isolation allowance will be paid only to those employees for whom quarantine was ordered after 30 November 2021 (instead of 30 October 2021) and for whom the quarantine will last until the effective date of the law, i.e. the date of its publication in the Official Gazette (probably the second half of December 2021). As in the past, the isolation allowance will be paid by the employer, who will then reduce the social security contributions by the relevant amount. This allowance is intended to motivate employees not to avoid quarantine after an encounter with an infected person due to concerns about loss of earnings. Up to a gross salary of approximately CZK 35,000 per month, the employee will retain a net income during the quarantine period, while employees with higher incomes will receive an allowance of CZK 370 per day.
The parliament also approved the restoration of the so-called crisis allowance of 80% of the daily assessment base (instead of the normal 60%) for the entire period of school or class closure or when an individual quarantine is ordered for a child. The new crisis allowance will amount to at least CZK 400 per day and can be paid retroactively from 1 November 2021. As with the so-called isolation allowance, the crisis allowance is limited in time until the end of February 2022. The amendment extends the range of persons who can benefit from the crisis allowance. Other relatives of a child up to the age of 10 years will be able to care for the child, even if they do not live in the same household, provided they are properly insured employees.
The last of the approved proposals is the 2022 compensation bonus. This is covered in more detail in the article at the end of the newsletter.
You can follow further developments in Covid-19 measures and government support on our website, where the information is regularly updated.