How shall companies comply with Labor and Employment Laws?
- How the company can prevent its employees from being infected with COVID-19?
- The company must consider whether the company’s employees are unnecessarily exposed to the risk of being infected with COVID-19.
- The company can, e.g. introduce guidelines or take measures that minimize the potential risk of infection from colleagues, customers, partners or the general public.
- Relevant measures could include introducing home office, flexible working hours, stricter hygiene measures, control of travel activities and determining that all meetings should be virtual/via telephone, etc.
The Employee’s working conditions:
- Can the employee refuse to attend work due to fear of being infected?
- In principle, it would be unlawful absence (with the risk of being expelled), if an employee does not attend work due to fear of being infected.
- It is the employer who decides whether an employee should be sent home or meet at work. Thus, it is not the employee’s decision. However, the situation will be different if the health authorities have issued a quarantine order to the employee concerned. The employer cannot choose to defy such an injunction. In other situations, it is the company’s sole decision as to who should be sent home or attend work.
- To the extent that the employee can work from at home and this is requested by the employer, the employee is obliged to work from home.
- Will the employee be entitled to payed wages if the employer decides to send the employee home?
- In principle the employee is entitled to pay, if the employer decides that the employee must stay at home.
- If the authorities demand the company to send employees home, the obligation to pay wages may end.
- What is the situation for the employee, if childcare and other institutions close and the employee in turn must take care of a child?
- If an employee’s child is sick, he or she is entitled to absence with pay to the extent that he or she is otherwise entitled to pay during a child’s illness. If the child is not ill, the employee must provide someone else to care for the child. If the employee cannot find anyone to provide care for the child, it can be agreed with the employer that the employee works at home, or exercises other freedoms such as holidays, care days or other.
- Is the company able to notify holiday without notice?
- As a starting point, the holiday must be notified with 3 months’ notice for the main holiday, while other holidays must be notified with 1 months’ notice. But ever since March 11, 2020 the outbreak of COVID-19 has been classified as an extraordinary situation, the company must therefore be presumed to fulfill the conditions for being able to derogate from the normal notification rules in the Danish Holiday Act, and instead notify holidays with very short or no notice.
- Is the employee entitled to pay if he or she is sick and infected with COVID-19?
- In principle, the employee is entitled to pay during sickness or sickness benefits in accordance with the general rules applicable to employment.
- Can the company require an employee whose immediate family has recently traveled in a risk area to go on a “voluntary” home quarantine?
- The recommendation from the authorities regarding home stay for 14 days only concerns persons who have traveled to risk areas themselves. However, the company may choose to send an employee home for 14 days for security reasons, even if they are not targeted by the authority’s recommendation. In this case, the employee is entitled to ordinary pay during the stay at home.
Business travels abroad
- Can the company advice against its employees travelling to specific countries/regions?
- An employer does not have the right to deny an employee going on vacation to an exposed country or territory.
- If the employee has traveled to one of the special risk areas contrary to the recommendations of the health authorities, the obligation to pay wages during illness may cease, as this may cause self-inflicted illness.
- An employer may decide that an employee must stay at home due to the risk of COVID-19, e.g. if the employee has stayed in one of the special risk areas.
The examples above are general guidelines. So, if you as a company, are unsure about how to handle the specific situation in relation to COVID-19, you should instead seek exact legal advice to make sure the specific case is handled properly. Please note that this situation is a first-time occurrence in Denmark, hence the situation is constantly evolving.