Legal advice

The employee returned from a vacation that he or she spent in a country with an increased number of cases of Covid-19, in connection with which the employee is forced to observe self-isolation for 14 days. For this reason, the employee cannot go to work during this period. How can this employee’s idle time be issued and by whom should it be paid?

16.07.2020 Aleksandrs Koposovs, the member of the board

There are several scenarios. The first and easiest is to take a vacation without saving wages. However, this option requires mutual agreement of the parties and the absence of a dispute. But what if the employee refuses to go on vacation? The employer has no right to force the employee to go on vacation. This is a voluntary matter. In this case, it remains only to operate with the norms of the Labour Law of the Republic of Latvia, namely the term “idle time”, as well as the Law of the Republic of Latvia “Law on the Management of the Spread of COVID-19 Infection”.

According to part 2 of Section 74 of the Labour Law of the Republic of Latvia, employee’s obligations shall be deemed to be fulfilled, and the employer has the obligation to disburse the remuneration specified in law if the employer does not provide work to an employee or does not perform the activities necessary for the acceptance of employee’s obligations (idle time). An employee shall not receive remuneration for idle time due to the fault of the employee.

Thus, on the one hand, the employee is not to blame for the fact that he cannot fulfil his or her obligations, and there is the fact that the employer does not provide work to this employee in the enterprise, and on the other hand, the employee, visiting such a country, realized that he or she would have to self-isolate for 14 days, and there may be a composition of his guilt in idle time.

Therefore, it can be stated that idle time exists through the fault of the employee, and it is also possible not to pay for such idle time, but it is necessary to have proof of his or her guilt. Otherwise, the employer’s obligation to pay compensation may be recognized, since the employee was not provided with work in the enterprise. The law does not determine whose fault it was. Not involved – that means, pay a compensation.

But there are some concessions in the payment of compensation. According to Section 17 of the Law of the Republic of Latvia “Law on the Suppression of Consequences of the Spread of COVID-19 Infection”, until 31 December 2020, an employer who conforms to the criteria specified for the participants of the In-depth Cooperation Programme and who has been adversely affected by the crisis caused by COVID-19 may reduce the remuneration for idle time to 70 per cent of the salary to be disbursed to the employee.

Another option would be to provide the employee with unused annual leave for this period. This option is also offered by the Law of the Republic of Latvia “Law on the Management of the Spread of COVID-19 Infection” that allows in this case not to take into account the employee’s opinion on this matter. In other words, to send on such leave, even if the employee does not agree with this (part 2 of Section 17 of the aforementioned law).

Recent News