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COVID-19 Employer Q&A Switzerland

Situation at April 1, 2020

The following lines is an intent to help you navigate to your rights when facing the most commun issues that employers and employees are facing amid the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Are my employees obliged to disclose themselves as a risk-factor? Only if they have a confirmed infection. Otherwise no.

As an employer can I demand my employees to disclose themselves as risk-factor? Yes, only if you are implementing sanitary measures to protect employees. Questions need to be proportionate in light of the information that the employees need to disclose.

Then employees who are at risk can be asked to disclose it to the employer. It can be done by written statement from the employee or the employer may as for a medical certificate.

As an employer/manager can I request employees to report co-workers with symptoms of COVID-19?

Yes, but this measure can be seen as an obligation to report other employees and the data obtained in the case of a risk-factor person cannot be kept on the personal record of the employee and deleted within 5 weeks.

Furthermore, the type of information provided is very important: as an employee I can report that a colleague seems to suffer from a fever, tiredness, etc. But I cannot report that an employee suffers from asthma or any other disease. It would be a violation of privacy and is very sensitive.

In addition, a person which was reported has the right to know who the reporter is. It is very important to think how to address this situation.

Finally, you may inform other employees in a timely and transparent matter, with the appropriate level of information as explained here; only relevant information can be disclosed.

As an employer can I require that my employees see a doctor?

Yes, but at the employer expense. Furthermore, the doctor is not allowed to provide details to the employer. The only information the doctor can provide is if the employee is able to work or not.

One of my employees is refusing to come to work. Can he do that? At-risk employees can ask to work from home provided that it is possible from a technical and operational point of view.

If work activities can only be carried from the usual place of work, employers must be fully compliant with the federal recommendations on hygiene and social distancing for all employees.

The same applies if an important meeting is taking place and for business trips.

My company is not on the list of companies that must shut down operations, but I want to shut it down anyway. Can I do it? In the case of a voluntary shut down, the employer must pay the full salary to its employees.

Do I have to pay an employee who can’t work because kindergartens and schools are closed, and the employee must stay at home to look after his/her child(ren)?

Employees will receive their full salary for the first three days of absence. As of the fourth day the employer does not have to pay any salary.

Employees might qualify for a daily allowance equal to 80% of their salary, with a cap of maximum 196.00 CHF per day. The employee is responsible for the application with the social security fund of the company.

Generally, if an employee is prevented from working because of an act of negligence from his part (travel to prohibited areas, breach of confinement, etc.) he/she is not entitled to receive any salary pay.

The chart below summarizes your rights and obligations.

We hope this article is helpful.

Rui M. Teixeira

Photo byCDConUnsplash


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