The Coronavirus Crisis: our recommended course of action with regards to work matters

In light of the spread of the coronavirus in Hungary, the current state of emergency in effect, and the implementation of various epidemiological measures, Kapolyi Law Firm recommends the following course of action to be taken with regards to your workforce:

  1. If the Workplace is Placed Under Quarantine

If employees are unable to access their workplace, as it has been placed under quarantine and the employer is therefore unable to provide employment as contracted, then Section 146(1) of the Labor Code applies. As such, if the employer is unable to provide employment as contracted due to unavoidable external reasons (i.e.: a quarantine order issued to combat the spread of the coronavirus), then the employer is not obliged to pay the employee’s base salary. However, two conditions must be simultaneously met: the reason for the disruption was not foreseeable, and it is objectively impossible for the employer to avoid said reason.

  1. If the Employee’s Home or Place of Residence is Placed Under Quarantine

It may be the case that the employer is unable to provide employment as contracted since the majority of employees are sick or are placed under quarantine. In this case, the above-detailed scenario is triggered, and employers will not be obliged to pay their employees’ base salary. Per the Law on Compulsory Health Insurance, ill employees are entitled to sick pay. Per Government Decree 41/2020. (III. 11.) those who are potentially infected may officially be ordered to self-quarantine at home by the authorities (without admission to a hospital). Currently, people arriving from one of the following countries are subject to compulsory self-quarantine, regardless if they have symptoms or not: Italy, China, South-Korea and Iran.

  1. The Separation of Employees Capable of Work

In case of the separation or the quarantining of an employee otherwise capable of work (i.e.: when an employee is not sick but is being monitored), the employee should temporarily work remotely (e.g.: at home) if possible. If working from home is not an option (for instance because of the nature of the employee’s work, or due to other circumstances), per Section 44(g) of the Law on Compulsory Health Insurance, the employee is entitled to sick pay, as the employee is incapable of work. An employee is considered to be incapable of work if:

  • the employee is banned from doing their job due to public health concerns and he/she is not staffed in any other position;
  • the employee is segregated by authorities for public health reasons;
  • the employee is unable to reach his/her workplace due to an epidemiological or veterinary quarantine and the employee cannot be temporarily staffed in a different workplace (or in a different position).
  1. Quarantine Ordered by the Employer

It may be the case that neither the employer nor the employee are affected by restrictive measures, but for the sake of health and safety, the employer orders the employee to self-quarantine (i.e.: if the employee returns from a country not listed in the Government Decree mentioned above). An action plan may potentially consist of the following elements:

  • remote working (Home Office) based on a mutual agreement;
  • if the employee’s job permits, remote working per the instruction of the employer;
  • with the consent of the employee (by mutual agreement), the taking of unpaid leave;
  • if the employee has outstanding annual leave days and does not consent to take unpaid leave, the taking of paid leave;
  • if none of the above are appropriate, the employer may order the quarantining of the employee, for the duration of which he/she is entitled to their base salary (downtime).

An advantage of working remotely (Home Office) is that employees are not physically in each other’s vicinity while working, meaning employees are unable to infect one another (it is possible for a for an employee not to have any symptoms, but to infect their colleague regardless) and are not exposed to the virus when using public transportation. Considering the above – and to prevent the further spread of the epidemic – we recommend that you instruct your employees to work remotely.

If you decide to issue a firm-wide remote working decree, our firm will prepare your internal Home Office regulation as a matter of top priority.

If you would like more information on the above, please don’t hesitate to contact us!