During the new situation regarding the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), changes, additions and emergency measures are introduced on a daily basis for all companies.
What are the employers options in case of altered circumstances due to an epidemic?
In situations of disruption to the employer’s business activities caused by the epidemic, the employer would, in order to preserve employment and jobs and to implement virus protection measures, in accordance with Labor law could:
- introduce unequal working hours
- change the working hours of workers
- redistribute working hours
- arrange part-time contract with the worker (from full time to part-time) – annex, change of contract or through cancellation with the offer of a modified employment contract
- make an appropriate decision that would have an impact on the organization of working time (e.g. the introduction of shift work, organization of team work, etc.)
- use the opportunity in determining vacations and holidays
Within the framework of the Labor Law, the employer may adopt or adjust the schedule of use of workers annual leave to the new situation. In doing so, there is still an obligation to apply the Labor law with regard to advising and informing workers about it
Unpaid leave which implies the idle time of an employee’s employment could be determined by the employer, but at the request of the worker. Although in this case, there is no obligation to pay the compulsory insurance contributions, the employer can, without registering the worker, pay them to the lowest base in accordance with a special regulation.
Termination of work
I accordance with Article 95. paragraph 3. of the Labor Law, the worker is entitled to a salary remuneration during the termination of work caused by the fault of the employer or by other circumstances for which the worker is not responsible. Unless otherwise provided by the Labor Law, other Law, other regulation, collective agreement, rule book or employment contract, a worker is entitled to a salary remuneration equal to the average monthly salary paid to him in the previous three months. Taking into account the special circumstances, namely the decision of the Minister of Health to declare the COVID-19 in accordance with the Law on the Protection of the Population from Infectious Diseases (Narodne novine, br. 79/07, 113/08, 43/09, 130/17), and the recommendations of the headquarters of civil protection of the Republic of Croatia, and in order to prevent the spread of the epidemic, we believe that the employer could, based on these regulation and established measures, make a decision on the basis that the workers would not be obliged to work, as long as such measures are in force, but the employer would be obliged to pay salaries to these workers in full.
Can the employer determine work from home?
In the further development of such an emergency situation, the employer, acting in accordance with the provision of Article 7. paragraph 2. of the Labor Law, could more specifically determine the place and manner of performing work in a space other than the employer’s premises, but another place, but only for the duration of the indicated circumstances. In the case of work from home, the worker is entitled to his contractual wage, as opposed to the situation in which he is not working, and therefore he is entitled to wage compensation.
Occupational safety – work from home
An apartment, house or other premises where the worker performs low risk work for the employer is not an object intended for work but a dwelling or other purpose, and therefore it is not possible to require the fulfillment of all safety requirements for the place of work in terms of occupational safety and health regulations. The provisions of the occupational safety and health regulation will be applied to the extent possible, taking care not to jeopardize the safety and health of workers.
Can an employer refer a worker to another employer (“borrow” or move) due to difficulties in doing business?
According to the Labor Law, there is no possibility of an unilateral decision by an employer to transfer a worker or refer him to work with another employer. So, regardless of the fact that the COVID-19 epidemic has been declared, the transfer of workers would only be possible if it was a related employer within the meaning of the Companies Act.
Can the employer give the employee time off instead of overtime pay?
The possibility of granting a day off to a worker instead of paying an increased salary for overtime is not regulated by the Labor Law, but may also be subject to regulation by a collective agreement, a rule book or a contract of employment, as one of the above mentioned ways stipulates the amount of the salary increase for the disabled, the working conditions of section 94. of the Act. The legal right of a worker working overtime is the exclusive right to an increased salary. Therefore, the use of a day off in lieu of the payment of an increase in overtime wages, provided that such a possibility is regulated in the manner described above, can only be considered if the worker himself agrees.
Compensation for workers in (self)isolation – 100% at the expense of the HZZO(Croatian Health Department)
Worker who has been identified with (self)isolation contacts his/hers selected doctor by telephone or e-mail
- If the worker agrees to work from home with the employer – he/she cannot receive compensation from the HZZO. It informs the chosen doctor about it.
No temporary incapacity is issued and no report of temporary incapacity is issued
- Procedure for claiming HZZO compensation:
The worker submits a claim for salary compensation by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org by requesting payment of salary during temporary incapacity with information: name and surname, OIB or MBO, contact telephone number and number of the current account to which payment of the salary will be made. It is exceptionally given the opportunity to apply without a Doctor’s Report (the HZZO will take the data itself from the CEZIH, if the cause of sick leave on doctors documentation is D0), and if the worker is not able to attach even a Certificate of Salary issued by the employer, the HZZO will request the employer formally for the documentation. From the first day of isolation or self-isolation, the salary is calculated and paid by the HZZO for the entire period of sick leave for days or hours, for which he or she would be entitled to be payed according to the employment contract.
New measures have been declared (19.03.2020.) regarding to stores service activities.
All working premises should closed with exceptions of stores (retail sale and whole sales) which are selling:
food, hygienic articles, markets, specialized shops for selling medicament and product (pharmacy and veterinary and medicinal and agricultural), gas stations, kiosks, bakery, dry cleaners, shops for orthopedics and other similar goods, special shops for children equipment, special shops for animal food, distributing construction material based on retail orders, logistics and distribution centers for food, beverages and hygienic goods and whole sales), services whose activities do not include close contact with clients.
Should you need more information on the subjects mentioned above, please feel free to contact us: