COVID-19: Guidance for Employers in Slovakia

Below we answer some key questions to clarify Slovak employers' legal obligations and support you in protecting your business and people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is the current level of restrictions in the Slovak Republic?

As of 26 January 2021, the "state of urgency" (in Slovak: "núdzový stav") is in force in the Slovak Republic. The country is currently finishing the first round of voluntary mass antigen testing, lasting until 26 January 2021.The next (second) round of voluntary mass antigen testing is now planned to take place only in the 37 districts of the Slovak Republic with a higher share of positive tests. 

The current curfew due to the unfavorable epidemiological situation in the Slovak Republic has been prolonged until 7 February 2021 in all districts. 

As of 27 January 2021, the negative test result (antigen or RT-PCR) will be necessary for employees travelling to and from work (where home office is not possible), and those who want to go out into nature (including doing sports). The negative test result will also be required when going to a bank, insurance company, post office, dispensing points, bike and car repair shops, petrol stations, opticians and newsagents etc. Tests carried out abroad (antigen or RT-PCR) and certified by the EU will be also accepted. 

Children younger than 15 years and adults older than 65 years will be not required to show the negative test result (antigen or RT-PCR). The negative test result (or even any test result) will not be generally required for a visit to the closest grocery store, chemist, pharmacy, pet store, doctor or medical facility; when going to get tested, to a funeral, wedding ceremony, christening; when taking care of a relative; when walking pets within 1,000 meters from your home and when taking care of animals etc. The negative test result (antigen or RT-PCR) will also not be required from people who have a confirmation that they have recovered from COVID-19 in the past three months or people who received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine more than 14 days ago.

Between 3 February 2021 and 7 February 2021, the negative test result (antigen or RT-PCR) will be required only from those who shall attend the next (second) round of the voluntary mass antigen testing, depending on the results of the first round of testing (as specified above).

As of 8 February 2021 the Alert System for Monitoring of the Pandemic Development and Taking Measures Against SARS-CoV-2, to be known as the COVID automat, shall apply in the Slovak Republic. The COVID automat will provide information about the epidemiological situation and the risk rate at the regional level. It should also provide for efficient and timely, transparent and predictable measures to be taken.

All and any necessary information can be found at http://www.uvzsr.sk/ and https://korona.gov.sk/.

What are employers' obligations in respect of COVID-19?

In general, employers are obliged to take necessary measures to ensure occupational health and safety properly and promptly and must ensure that these measures are applicable and accessible to employees. To that end, in light of COVID-19 employers particularly must:

  • carry out the necessary checks to identify dangers or risks to the health and safety of employees;

  • eliminate or remove hazards and the resulting risks as far as possible;

  • assess risks that cannot be excluded;

  • to the extent risks cannot be excluded, take measures to eliminate or limit hazards and threats; and

  • issue instructions to ensure health and safety.

Employers are also required to comply with disease prevention measures, which may include prohibiting or restricting the work of persons suffering from (or suspected to be suffering from) COVID-19.

If an employee is infected or suspected to be infected with COVID-19, the employer should assess the risks of infection and possible spread among the workforce and take appropriate measures to minimise and/or remove that risk. Such measures may include technical, organisational, and other protective and preventative measures. However, the measures taken must be proportionate to the objective pursued and should not unduly interfere with the rights and legitimate interests of employees. These measures may include:

  • cleaning the workplace with disinfectants;

  • implementing an increased level of hygiene protection at the workplace, and carrying out regular disinfection of premises and equipment;

  • providing medical masks or respirators for employees (in accordance with the instructions and recommendations of the Central Crisis Staff); and

  • minimising employee contact with third parties.

We recommend that employers discuss all measures, as well as internal regulations, with the occupational health service that performs health surveillance for employees to ensure that they are appropriate and effective.

Please note that the Public Health Authority of the Slovak Republic has published several guidelines related to the "return of the employees to the workspace." These recommendations and guideline is summarised by us here

Please also note that in light of the current governmental resolution and curfew for the whole territory of the Slovak Republic, the home office is “almost mandatory” for all employees who can work from home. For these purposes employers have to identify the essential employees whose presence in the workplace is required, i.e. those who cannot work from home. Employers will then need to issue confirmation to such essential employees and, if checked by police, employees will be required to produce such confirmation to evidence that they are exempted from general curfew.

Moreover, as of 27 January 2021, mostly in case of employees who cannot work from home, the employers must control and have to set up the manner of controlling of certificates confirming that these employees are not COVID-19 positive (or fulfilment of another exception prescribed by the laws) obtained as a result of the above mentioned COVID-19 mass antigen testing. Employees, who did not undergo the mass antigen testing (or those who do not have any other document confirming no need to undergo such testing), must stay home/may not access the workplace. These restrictions are binding until 2 February 2021 (please note we expect further extensions).

What financial assistance is the Government providing to employers?

With respect to the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic in the Slovak Republic, the Government has specified the conditions for support to be provided to entrepreneurs and employers. The "special package" is called "First Aid Plus" (which has supplemented the original package "First Aid" and was launched in October 2020). In particular, it will be provided to the targeted subjects for the total amount of EUR 200 million per month. 

The contributions for the employers (incl. those self-employed who are employers) for the purposes of maintaining employment have been changed. For the original measures 1 and 3A, it is possible to claim 80% of the "total labor price", not of only the gross salary. The limit for monthly payments, within the original "kurzarbeit measure," will be increased from EUR 880 to EUR 1,100. In the case of original measure 3B (in the event of a decrease in sale revenues), the aid has been increased to a maximum of EUR 810. For the self-employed, the assistance under the original measure 2 has been also increased from a maximum of EUR 540 to EUR 810 and for the original measure 4A or 4B from EUR 210 to EUR 315.

Please see below the practical comparison of contributions for employers, incl. those self-employed who are employers:

MEASURE
FIRST AID
FIRST AID PLUS
MEASURE 1
EUR 1,100 (80% OF GROSS SALARY)
EUR 1,100 (80% OF "TOTAL LABOR PRICE")
MEASURE 2

DECREASE IN SALE REVENUES

FROM 20% - EUR 180

FROM 40% – EUR 300

FROM 60% – EUR 420

FROM 80% – EUR 540

DECREASE IN SALE REVENUES

FROM 20% - EUR 270

FROM 40% – EUR 450

FROM 60% – EUR 630

FROM 80% – EUR 810

MEASURE 3A
EUR 880 (80% OF GROSS SALARY)
EUR 1,100 (80% OF "TOTAL LABOR PRICE")
MEASURE 3B

DECREASE IN SALE REVENUES

FROM 20% - EUR 180

FROM 40% – EUR 300

FROM 60% – EUR 420

FROM 80% – EUR 540

DECREASE IN SALE REVENUES

FROM 20% - EUR 270

FROM 40% – EUR 450

FROM 60% – EUR 630

FROM 80% – EUR 810

MEASURE 4A AND 4B
EUR 210
EUR 315

The above framework of contributions is still valid and effective. All and any necessary information can be found at https://www.neprepustaj.sk/.

Can employers request or require information from an employee, customer or workplace visitor about potential or actual exposure to the virus?

Mostly, YES. Employers must however comply with data processing principles including minimising the processing of personal data and ensuring that any processing complies with the Slovak Labour and relevant Data Protection regulations.

In respect of employment, the employers may process personal data necessary to fulfil their legal obligations (such as obligations relating to the health and safety in the workplace or public interest). In the current circumstances, such processing can legitimately be considered necessary due to an overriding public interest in the field of public health. In these circumstances, there is no need to rely on individual consent to process personal data.

As such, employers should request that employees notify them of (i) any departure or return from a country outside the Slovak Republic, and (ii) any contact with persons who have returned from abroad or showed signs of infection. The employers may then take appropriate measures upon communication of these facts.

Given the fact that the employees cannot act contrary to the legitimate interests of their employer under the Slovak Labour Code, employees will be required to provide this information. Employees also have an obligation to undergo medical examinations and diagnostic tests concerning the prevention of contagious diseases under a special law.

Most employers will already have the relevant measures and legal basis for requiring such data from employees included in their internal policies and documents. However, we highly recommend that an internal regulation (binding on both the employee and the employer) is adopted, containing the obligations of the employer, the obligations of the employees, and a list of preventive and follow-up measures. The obligations contained in this internal regulation will be binding, and any breach may be considered a serious breach that may be subject to disciplinary process (as it could damage the health of other employees and/or prevent the employer's economic activities).

For workplaces that are open, what should employers do if an employee is absent or infected?

As mentioned above, employers are required to systematically secure the protection and security of their employees when performing work and should assess the risks of infection and possible spread among the workforce, and then take appropriate measures to minimise and/or remove that risk. An employer may prohibit an employee’s entry to the premises in order to protect the health of other employees.

If an employee is infected or suspected to be infected with COVID-19, the employer should assess the risks of infection and possible spread among the workforce and take appropriate measures to minimise and/or remove that risk. Such measures may include technical, organisational, and other protective and preventative measures, as already outlined. However, the measures taken must be proportionate to the objective pursued and should not unduly interfere with the rights and legitimate interests of employees.

The employers are also entitled to order an "extraordinary medical preventive check" to assess whether an employee is infected if there is a serious ground (e.g. reasonable suspicion of infection) and the employee can't perform his/her working duties due to their "state of health". However, the employer must consult the employee's representatives and the labour health service (if applicable) before exercising this right, and data protection principles will apply to the storage and use of any information received.

What are employers' obligations where offices are partially or fully closed?

During “the state of urgency, extraordinary situation and state of emergency declared in the Slovak Republic, as well as in the period of two months after their revocation”, employers are entitled to unilaterally order employees to work from home providing that the type of work they perform allows them to do so. Equally, employees themselves have the right to perform work from home, if their type of work allows it, and there are no serious operational reasons on the part of the employer which prevents employees from working from home.

If an employee works from home, the employer should provide the employee with the necessary equipment to fulfill their work duties remotely, or at least ensure that the employee is properly equipped to work remotely. The employer must continue to pay the employee during any period of remote working.

If working from home is not reasonably possible, employers must provide employees with all relevant protective tools and apply reasonable (mostly preventive) measures to minimise the spread of infection at the workplace. To that end, employers should consider restricting working hours, minimising personal meetings, and reducing or eliminating non-essential business travel. For more information, as outlined above, please see our summary of the recommendations on security and protection measures to be applied by the employers at workplace, published by the Public Health Authority of the Slovak Republic, here.

As an alternative, employers can exercise their right to reassign employees to another type of work (other than that agreed in the employment contract) in extraordinary circumstances. This can be done without the prior consent of the employee but can only be for as long as necessary.

If employees cannot perform work (fully or partially) due to a shutdown or reduction in operations as a consequence of a resolution from the authorities or the declaration of an extraordinary situation, state of urgency or state of emergency, the employer must provide the employees with salary compensation for at least 80% of their average earnings. As a general rule, the salary compensation must not be lower than the minimum salary applicable in the Slovak Republic. However, please note that employers have the right to agree lower salary compensation with the employee representatives (to a minimum of 60% of the average earnings of the employees).

Can employers discipline employees during the pandemic?

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic employees are under a general duty to duly fulfill their obligations under the Slovak Labor Code, employer's internal regulations and the contract with the employer (where possible). In other words, the COVID-19 pandemic does not release employees from their working duties and the employer may adopt warning and remedial measures and discipline employees in the usual way.

Where can employers and employees access local and national advice?

Further useful information can be found on the following official websites (mostly in Slovak):

Last reviewed: 26 January 2021

Latest insights

More Insights