Following the first confirmed case of Covid-19 in Cyprus many employers are struggling to understand their obligations towards their employees during this unprecedented crisis.
As we have reported in previous communication, the government of Cyprus issued a number of financial measures with the purpose of maintaining employment positions and to assist individuals and businesses through this turbulent times.
In this latest communication we highlight the main duties employers owe towards their employees in respect of health and safety.
1. Health & Safety – Employers are legally required to continuously evaluate the work environment and take all necessary action in view of possible risks. Covid-19 constitutes an obvious danger.
The government of Cyprus has has taken a series of measures in an effort to prevent the spread of the disease. The measures include the issuing of guidance and advice, which should be followed, not only from a health and safety perspective bit also to help prevent the spreading of Covid-19. These measures can be found here and relevant announcements can be found here.
The Ministry of Health has also issued useful directions for the protection of employees. The directions provide that the actions which should be taken where an employee displays symptoms of Covid-19. According to the directions, an employer should:
- isolate the employee in a place where other employees do not have access;
- call 1420 immediately;
- require all other employees who have been in close contact with the employee concerned to also remain confined at the workplace and await instructions given by the relevant authorities and
- prohibit access to places where the affected employee works or systematically attends until the surfaces/floors in these areas have been disinfected in accordance with relevant instructions.
2. Protecting vulnerable/high risk employees – Employees who are aged 60+ or have health issues or certain chronic medical conditions should be given the opportunity to work from home or, if this is not possible, all necessary protective measures must be taken at work. If considered necessary, the employer may require an employee to stay at home. Employees who are required to stay at home may claim sickness benefit from the Social Insurance department.
Given the situation caused by Covid-19, employers are encouraged to adopt flexible practices. Employers could request that employees work from home or take annual leave. With regards to leave:
- Employees who exhibit Covid-19 symptoms – Employees who exhibit Covid-19 symptoms are entitled to sickness leave in accordance with Social Insurance Law.
- Employees who request to stay home as a precautionary measure – Employees with no symptoms but who request to stay home as a precautionary measure can take annual leave or, if possible, work from home.
- “Special Leave” – Parents with children up to 15 years old who work in the private sector are entitled under certain conditions to to Special Leave for up to 4 weeks in order to take care of children. A benefit is paid to employees on special leave by the Social Insurance department for the period. The benefit applies only to employees with a salary of up to €2.500, with the benefit being at the rate of 60% of the employee’s salary for the first €1.000 and 40% for the remaining amount.
- Other Leave – Subject to mutual agreement between employers and employees, annual leave, unpaid or partially paid leave, remote working from home can be agreed. It is hoped that in light of the circumstances the necessary cooperation will be provided by both employers and employees/employee representatives.
Where can employers and employees access further advice?
Cyprus Government – https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/en/index.html
How can we help?
This is an emerging and rapidly evolving situation. We are continuing to closely monitor the information and recommendations provided by the WHO and the Government of Cyprus. As the situation evolves we will continue to provide up to date and practical advice to help our clients prepare and respond to the the COVID-19 pandemic.
Theodorou Law is a Cyprus law firm with Cyprus lawyers and other legal experts on legal matters involving Cyprus law, EU law and international law. The above should be used as a source of general information only. It is not intended to give a definitive statement of the law.
If you have a query or wish to receive further information, please contact us using [email protected]