Coronavirus. What should employers do?

12.03.2020

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (Russia) LLP, formerly Goltsblat  BLP in Russia, advises that, in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) threat, on 5 March 2020,  the Mayor of Moscow  issued  Decree No. 12-UM “On the High Alert Regime” (the “Decree”). Our Legal Update looks at what this Decree requires from employers.

Under this Decree, every individual returning to Russia from China, Korea, Italy, Iran, France, Germany, Spain and other countries with an unfavourable coronavirus situation must self-isolate at home for 14 days. Medical institutions are instructed to provide such individuals with sickness certificates without them having to visit a hospital (i.e., at home), whether or not they have any particular symptoms.

The Decree also imposes a number of obligations on employers in Moscow:

  1. to have all employees’ temperatures measured at their workplaces;

  2. to suspend employees having a raised temperature from being at the workplace;

  3. to help their employees  in self-isolating  at home;

  4. to provide prompt information, when requested, to the Moscow Department of the Federal Supervisory Service for  Consumer Rights’ Protection and Human Well-being, including about all coronavirus-affected employees’ contacts;

  5. to have premises entered by a virus-impacted employee disinfected.

Even before the Decree was signed, many employers were proactively taking coronavirus prevention measures by, first of all, sending their employees home. In practice, though, the question has been what to do if an employee arrives from a virus-affected country but says they feel well, want to work at the office and do not want to lose money by going on sick leave?

Here is a brief, step-by-step procedure  for placing an employee under home quarantine:

Situation

Solution

An employee arrives from a country reporting coronavirus cases,

or

arrives from a “non-hazardous” country or has not left Russia lately but shows signs of a respiratory disease.

  • Send the employee home.

  • The employee contacts a medical institution and obtains a sickness certificate (related or unrelated to COVID-19).

  • The employee is then officially considered to be temporarily disabled (sick), so appropriate payments are to be made and relevant notes entered on the timesheet.

An employee arrives from a “non-hazardous” country or has not left Russia lately and there are no signs of disease but the employer, on its own initiative, believes the employee should be placed under home quarantine for some time, just to be on the safe side.

  • If there is no detriment  to the work performed by the employee and if the  employer makes provision for this, remote work (work from home) should be organised. In this case, the employee is paid their usual salary.  Or:

  • If the nature of the work is such that  it cannot be done at home or if the employee refuses to work remotely,  a downtime regime is introduced for them. Since the downtime regime is initiated by the   employer, it will probably be treated as downtime through  the fault of the employer and the employee will be entitled to 2/3 of their average salary.

 

The Decree has been issued by the Mayor of Moscow and is only applicable in Moscow. Similar regulations are, however, likely to be adopted both in other regions of Russia and at the federal level. 

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (Russia) LLP, formerly Goltsblat BLP in Russia, will continue monitoring the situation and keep you updated  on all  developments in this field.

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