Publication date: 11 March 2020
What do you as an employer have to take into account? More than you think! You do have the duty to use good employment practice and, in addition, you have a legal duty of care for your personnel. What measures do you have to take within the company? Can you oblige employees to get tested? When and how can you apply for a reduction in working hours?
On 11 March 2020 at 2:00 p.m.: there are 503 confirmed cases of infection and 5 deaths in the Netherlands. The virus is advancing. In North Brabant people with cold-like symptoms must stay at home. Since 9 March, the advice has been to stop shaking hands. What do you, as an employer, have to take into account? More than you think!
As an employer, do you have to provide handkerchiefs and disinfectant gel? Extra fruit for lunch? You do have the duty to use good employment practice. Can you tell coughing employees to go home? Is it necessary to distribute information about protective measures to the personnel so that you comply with your legal duty of care? Are you liable if one of your employees has the virus and infects other colleagues or customers?
Do you know how to limit the impact on your business? When are you entitled, for example, to a reduction in working hours and how do you apply for this?
Can you check (or have checked) if an employee is really ill? Or can you oblige an employee to get tested for the coronavirus? Can you prohibit employees from travelling to risk areas? And at whose expense are the consequences if the employee goes and gets infected anyway? As an employer, you are obliged to continue to pay the wages of a sick employee.
Will you be liable for the cost of accommodation if your employee is under quarantine during a business trip? And what if an employee has to take care of infected family members? Is he or she entitled to claim emergency leave? Do you have to accept that an employee refuses to work for fear that he or she will be infected by a colleague who has been on ski holiday in Trentino?
In many cases the answer will depend on the situation of your company and your employees. We will be happy to answer your specific questions about the coronavirus and your company. Please contact our employment law specialist Jan Dop, LL.M. (firstname.lastname@example.org and 020-301 55 55) and Priscilla de Leede, LL.M. (email@example.com and 020-301 55 55):
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