Just when people are allowed to enter the workplace again and again, the coronavirus is flaring up again and again, also at holiday spots in Southern Europe that are popular among the Dutch. What can your employer ask of you when you return from a corona fire?
Companies struggle with that question. The government is asking people returning from areas with orange travel advice (“travel only necessary”), such as Sweden, Ireland and Croatia, to remain in quarantine for two weeks.
Take days off
“We follow government policy,” says Arjan van Dijk on behalf of U-OV, the parent company of, among others, transport company Qbuzz. In this case, this means that traveling to ‘orange countries’ is at your own risk. Van Dijk: “The moment that you cannot return to work immediately after your holiday or get stuck, the continued payment of salary will end in salary or it will cost you days off.”
This also applies to pension provider APG. Anyone who gets caught during the holidays, or if someone gets stuck because of a lockdown, will have to take unpaid leave for the days when someone should have been at work, APG spokesperson Dick Kors says by phone. Kors is on the crisis team at the pension provider, which helps to draw up internal guidelines.
No right to wages
People who have moved to an orange area have consciously taken a risk and are therefore not entitled to continued payment of wages, explains labor lawyer Pascal Besselink of legal service provider DAS.
“Unless you can work at home, then there is nothing wrong. But if you work in a shop or a factory and you cannot be physically present: your employer will not have to pay any wages in those two weeks,” says Besselink .
It is different for people who have been in a country that ‘changes color’, as Besselink calls it. After all, then you have not taken a conscious risk. “Then it is easy to defend that you are entitled to wages if you cannot work.” Although there have not been any lawsuits on these issues yet, he nuances.
The employers who spoke to RTL Z also indicate that they are pleasant in areas that change color.
Anyone who is confronted with a wage freeze due to home quarantine can choose to take two weeks’ leave, in order to receive his or her ‘normal’ salary. However, an employer cannot oblige that. “Holidays can only be taken at the request of the employee,” says Besselink.
Many companies advise their employees to take leave this year anyway. This also applies to energy company Eneco. “It is also just important to be free,” said spokesman Edwin van der Haar. “It is hard work now, with many meetings via video. At least two consecutive weeks of leave is the intention in 2020.”
Work laptop with it
Perhaps a sensible and well-meaning advice, but as an employer you can not oblige anything, according to Besselink. You also cannot prohibit destinations.
APG does ask employees to consult about the holiday destination. “If you go to a country where code orange applies, then we advise you to bring a work laptop, because then you can at least work there, if necessary,” says Marloes Sengers, director of HR at APG.
Safe and healthy workplace
Consultation is allowed. In fact, an employer is obliged to do so now. Besselink: “The moment an employee dares to travel to the orange area without consultation and he comes back and infects colleagues in the workplace. Then you could even be held liable for that, as an employer”, says he. “After all, it must ensure a safe and healthy workplace.”