On 28 August 2020 the Public Health Authority of the Slovak Republic (“PHA”) issued Decree No. OLP/6911/2020 (the “Decree”), which is addressed to employers. Since the number those tested positive for COVID-19 in Slovakia is surging, not least because of the ending holiday season and the related cross-border travel, the PHA – in follow up to another decree issued on the same day (No. OLP/6850/2020) – established a new obligation for the ‘operators of workplaces and employer’s premises’, in other words, for employers.
The new Decree is linked to the above Decree No. OLP/6850/2020 which concerns those who have returned to Slovakia from the so-called ‘Covid-19 risky countries’ (who are, as such, subject to the duty of home self-confinement) and who will subsequently return to work.
Effective as of 1 September 2020, the Decree imposes an obligation on employers to request from their employees (i.e., workers with employment contracts, public servants and individuals working under similar arrangements, such as the self-employed) on entry to the workplace or other employer’s premises:
- a proof of compliance with the duty to remain in home self-confinement and a negative RT-PCR test result for COVID-19 carried out by a laboratory in the Slovak Republic (mandatory COVID-19 tests, i. e., tests following the return from Covid-19 risky countries, are for free), OR
- a proof confirming the [inward] crossing of the state border of the Slovak Republic more than 10 days ago.
If an employee, on entry to his/her workplace or other employer’s premises, is unable to provide the employer with one of the two proofs mentioned above, the employer must report this fact to the respective PHA regional office and deny the employee access to his/her workplace and other employer’s premises.
The PHA has also ruled that employers are not obliged to request that proof from everyone, only from those who, based on the employer’s knowledge and/or reasonable suspicion, are likely to be or have likely been subject to the duty (of home self-confinement). Under the Decree, the term ‘reasonable suspicion’ covers various situations, such as the newly admitted employees, or employees on days-off or business trips. The employer is required to execute all due effort to establish whether an employee is subject to the duties imposed by the Decree.
Although the PHA Decree is quite clear in theoretical terms, what remains very unclear in our view is how the employer can actually control and determine the recent movements and whereabouts of an employee and how can the employer justify its “knowledge and/or reasonable suspicion” that a particular employee has been subject to the duty of home self-confinement.
We are at the opinion that the employer’s approach to each and every employee will have to be individual and only the future will show how the new obligation of the employers will actually be implemented in practice.
Please also note that a failure to comply with the Decree will be classified as an administrative offence for which the respective regional office of the PHA may impose a fine of up to € 20,000.
We hope you will find this information useful. We are monitoring the situation closely and we will keep you updated. Do not hesitate to contact us should you need detailed information about the new obligation imposed on employers under the new Decree.