An employee on quarantine: remote work and scope of benefits
An employee can perform remote work during the quarantine period. When is this possible and which benefits apply in such a situation?
Quarantine is home isolation of healthy people due to their exposition to the infection and individuals whose first SARS-CoV-2 test result proved positive. It lasts at least 10 days, if there are no symptoms of the disease, or at least 13 days from emergence of the first symptoms, and then the patient has to have no Covid-19 symptoms for the last three days in order to end quarantine.
Quarantine may be imposed automatically by virtue of law (e.g. on a person coming back from abroad or referred for a laboratory coronavirus test), pursuant to a decision of a sanitary inspection authority or a decision of a Primary Care Physician. According to applicable legal regulations (amendments came into effect on 3 November 2020), also individuals living together with the person subject to isolation are subject to quarantine.
Quarantine vs inability to perform work
Pursuant to the Act of 28 October 2020 on Amendments to Some Acts Due to Counteracting COVID-1 - related Crisis Situations signed by the President, inability to perform work as a result of being subject to quarantine, isolation at home or isolation due to the coronavirus epidemic will be treated in the same way as inability to work due to an illness. However, one has to bear in mind that the provisions of this act will become effective once it has been published in the “Journal of Laws”.
An employee referred for quarantine or home isolation should inform their superior about this immediately and along with becoming subject to quarantine they gain the right to sickness benefits.
The Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) takes data about quarantine or isolation of a given person directly from the IT system of Centrum e-Zdrowia and sends it to the employer.
Quarantine – certificate from the sanitary and epidemiological station for the employer no longer needed
Collection of sickness benefits is, on the other hand, conditional on being on a sick leave and having a certificate on inability to work, in this case the decision on being subject to quarantine. A person living together with the person infected with coronavirus gains the right to sickness benefits on the basis of a statement on the need of being quarantined, since the sanitary inspection authority does not issue decisions with respect to such people.
An employee getting sick pay (80% of the salary) or the sickness benefit (80% of remuneration from the last 12 months) cannot perform work during that period in any form, even as remote work.
However, if an employee referred for obligatory quarantine does not apply for the sickness benefit, then the employer and the employee can agree on performance of remote work (assuming that employee’s skills, technical and accommodation resources enable them to perform such work). Though such an employee loses the right to the sickness benefit, working remotely they retain the right to full remuneration for the period of such work.
An employee with SARS-cov-2 in the workplace
If there is an instance of SARS-CoV-2 in a given workplace, the employer does not have the right to refer employees for quarantine himself, but may order performance of remote work. Isolation may be ordered solely by a sanitary inspection authority or a Primary Care Physician.
Additionally, the employer may cover the cost of coronavirus tests for their employees.
Quarantine vs carer’s benefit
If a given employee is a parent of a child referred for quarantine, such an employee may, based on a statement on the need to take care of the quarantined child, gain the right to the carer’s benefit on general terms (max. 60 days in a year).
Individuals employed under contracts other than the employment contract
Moreover, pursuant to Article 4h clause 1 of the so-called Covid Act, namely the Act of 28 October, during the state of epidemiological threat or the state of epidemic, individuals employed under contracts other than the employment contract subject to obligatory quarantine may, with the consent of the employer or the employing entity, perform remote work to the extent specified in the contract and, thus, receive due remuneration in this respect.
In such a situation the employer may instruct the person performing remote work due to quarantine to keep a record of performed official tasks, taking into account, in particular, descriptions of such tasks and indication of the dates and time of their performance.
Quarantine vs foreign employees
If an employer employed a person from outside of the territory of Poland and such a person came to Poland specifically to take up employment and during the period of employment became subject to quarantine, then the employer or the employing entity is obliged to provide a place for quarantine purposes, if necessary.
To sum up, quarantine or home isolation of a person employed under a contract of employment or a contract of mandate, or a contract for specific work is considered as equivalent to inability to perform work and acquisition of rights to sickness benefits, unless such a person has resigned from sickness benefits and with the consent of the employer or the employing entity performs remote work during the quarantine period, retaining the right to full remuneration for this period.
Director of the Labour Law Department, Attorney-at-law,
TGC Corporate Lawyers