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Article:

Overview of selected legislative news - March 2021

15 March 2021

COMPULSORY TESTING IN COMPANIES

The obligation to ensure compulsory testing of employees governed by the extraordinary measures of the Ministry of Health as of 1 March 2021, 5 March 2021 and most recently of 15 March 2021. It as well imposes testing conditions for employers. Until  17 March 2021, the obligation applies only to employers with 50 or more employees.

From 17 March 2021, the obligation to test also applies to employers with 10 to 49 employees.

Important dates for employers:

Employers with 250 or more employees

  • from 3 March 2021, tests must be provided
  • at any time after 5 March 2021, but no later than 11 March 2021, invitation to employees to undergo tests
  • from 12 March 2021 no employees at the workplace without a negative test

Employers with 50 to 249 employees

  • from 5 March 2021, tests must be provided
  • at any time after 8 March 2021, but no later than 14 March 2021, invitation to employees to undergo tests
  • from 15 March 2021 no employees at the workplace without a negative test

Employers with 10 to 49 employees

  • from 17 March 2021, tests must be provided
  • at any time after 19 March 2021, but no later than 26 March 2021, invitation to employees to undergo tests
  • from 26 March 2021 no employees at the workplace without a negative test

Compulsory testing from 9 March 2021 also applies to employees assigned by an employment agency and other persons who perform work at the workplace in a relationship other than employment (typically self-employed). For the purposes of the measure, these persons are also considered to be employees - according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, it will be possible to apply for a contribution from the health insurance company on their behalf. On the other hand, testing does not apply to people who have undergone COVID-19 in the past 3 months and to vaccinated people, provided that they do not show any symptoms of the disease.

Employees who work exclusively at an employer's workplace other than where the testing is organized (with the exception of a home office employee who does not need to be tested) must allow the employer to carry out an off-site test.

If the employee refuses testing, he must not be admitted to the workplace by the employer. The consequences for employees vary among the professional community. The interpretation, which is also supported by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, prefers an unpaid obstacle to work on the part of the employee, partly due to the fact that the employee's physical integrity is interfered with during testing. At the same time, however, attention is drawn to the fact that if an employee refuses testing, he commits an offense under the Pandemic Act, for which he faces a fine of up to CZK 50,000.

What can be used for testing:

  • Network of POC antigen collection centres (available here), where examinations are fully covered by health insurance;
  • A secondary network of providers consisting of contracted and non-contracted health care providers who (i) are interested in participating in the comprehensive testing of individuals, (ii) are connected to the Smart Quarantine (ISIN) electronic tools and comply with all mandatory and uniform reports, and (iii) provide testing by means of a POC antigen test by a healthcare professional.

For full reimbursement from health insurance, secondary providers must also meet other conditions (authorization to provide health services at the test site, contact with the health insurance company, professional level, certified tests, RT-PCR test in the case of a positive antigen test, notification obligation in the case of a positive RT-PCR test (available in detail here).

An occupational health service provider based on the company's premises can perform the testing directly. If he is also a contractual provider of a health insurance company, he may automatically report the relevant performance to the health insurance company and will be reimbursed if the above conditions are met.

The provider of occupational medical services, which is not located directly on the premises of the company, must apply to the relevant regional authority for a permit to provide health services outside the medical facility. Alternatively, the employer may organize testing directly with the provider without the need for a permit, if the provider is close to the company.

The non-contractual health service provider must ask the health insurance company to assign a facility identification number and a workplace identification number.

Providers who do not provide occupational health services for the employer must meet the above conditions. The Ministry of Health recommends that any agreements on antigen testing be concluded primarily with contractual providers of health services, so that these providers can automatically report the performance of antigen testing to the health insurance company. In the vast majority of cases, it will be necessary to apply for a permit from the regional authority.

  • Self-testing by antigen tests at the employer. The basic duties of the employer are the purchase of tests from the distributor with an exemption from the Ministry of Health, enabling testing - reserving a suitable place at the workplace, selecting authorized employees, records (overview) of tests performed and handling used tests according to the Waste Department of the Ministry of the Environment.

The contribution from the health insurance company is CZK 60 per test, a total of up to CZK 240 per employee per month. In order to provide the contribution, it is necessary to report to the health insurance company an overview of the tests performed. Insurance companies will pay the contribution for the given month in arrears. The first billing will take place after the end of March. The Ministry of Industry and Trade issued a clear infographic for self-testing, together with a sample overview of the tests performed (infographic and sample available here in the Download section).

The contribution of CZK 60 per test for self-testing will be given to an employer who buys the test from a distributor on the MZdr list. Tests can only be purchased from other providers for the purpose of making a contribution if they come from a distributor on the list above (eg the original distributor sold the tests to the provider who sold them to you, and this is mentioned on the invoice, order, etc.).

Also remember to protect personal data when testing. In order for insurance companies to redeem the test, records must be kept as described above. The model from the Ministry of Industry and Trade shows the date of testing, the name and surname of the employee, the health insurance company, the number of the insured and also the result of the test. At the moment, it is the employee's health information that is his or her personal information. With regard to GDPR, the employer must inform the employee about the processing of personal data, what data they will collect, for what purpose and for how long.

 

"NEW" COMPENSATION BONUS

At the end of February, a new law came into force, which builds on the current form of this support. In addition to other minor changes, the amount of support was increased from the current CZK 500 to CZK 1,000 per day. The approved legal regulation of the new compensatory bonus is in many respects similar to the current regulation, but it is intended to be a simpler and clearer tool for a wider range of applicants.

News about the compensation bonus is described in detail in this article here.

 

EXTRAORDINARY QUARANTINE CONTRIBUTION

On  5 March 2021, a Collection of Laws announced the Act on An Extraordinary Contribution to Employees in Compulsory Quarantine (No. 121/2021 Coll.). According to the law, people in compulsory quarantine will receive a sickness allowance of up to CZK 370 per day.

Overview:

  • The contribution will also be provided retrospectively, from a quarantine ordered on 28 February 2021, no later than 30 April 2021.
  • People will receive a contribution of up to CZK 370 per day for the first 14 calendar days of the compulsory quarantine. At most, they will receive 90% of their average earnings.
  • The contribution will also apply to people with health insurance working under agreements (DPP over CZK 10,000 and DPČ over CZK 3,500). People who have been quarantined within five days of returning from abroad, eg from a holiday, will be excluded. On the other hand, the exclusion does not apply to a return from a business trip.
  • The employer shall pay the contribution together with the income compensation, but no later than the end of the second calendar month following the calendar month in which he deducted the contribution from the insurance premium.
  • The employer deducts from the amount of the premium paid for the calendar month, the amount charged to the employees for the contribution. The right to deduction can be claimed within 3 months from the end of the quarantine. The deduction is applied on the prescribed form (according to § 9 par. of the Act on Social Security Premiums and Contributions to the State Employment Policy), which also contains information on the number of employees for which this deduction is applied and the total contributions deducted from premiums.
  • The contribution will be exempt from personal income tax and it will not be possible to cover it by enforcement of a decision or execution.

The law published in the Collection of Laws is shown here.

 

NURSING

On 1 March 2021, the MLSA proposed an increase in the nursing allowance from the current 70% of the daily assessment base to 100% of the daily assessment base, which would apply to employees from 1 March 2021. However, the version submitted by the MLSA was rejected by the Government Agenda Department. We are continuously monitoring further developments.

 

Lukáš Regec, Adam Hussein

[email protected], [email protected]