Coronavirus in the workplace

An outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Denmark has now prompted private employers to ensure that as many people as possible work from home, take time off in lieu or take a vacation. Furthermore, it is urged that only physical meetings, etc., are held when absolutely necessary and that other relevant measures are taken to ensure appropriate behavior in the workplace.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced at a press conference on March 11, 2020, that employees in private workplaces should as far as possible work from home for at least 14 days from Friday, March 13, 2020.

All public servants who do not perform critical functions will be sent home from Friday, March 13, 2020 for a fortnight. As far as possible, they must work from home. If this is not possible, they will be sent home with pay.

So far, it has been the common belief that salaried employees who could not attend work due to the virus and whom did not have the opportunity to work from home should be treated as if they were ill. However, in light of the latest measures taken by the government and the consequences it may have for each company, it may be necessary to look at other solutions.

It follows from section 15 (1) of the Holiday Act. 2, that “The employer must notify the employee as early as possible when the holiday is to be held. The employer must give the notice no later than 3 months before the main holiday begins and no later than 1 month before the holiday begins for other holiday days, unless special circumstances prevent this ”.

According to the comments and remarks during the consultation on the provisions of the Holiday Act, the term “very special circumstances” is to be given a less strict interpretation than the concept of a force majeure clause. Thus, in the current situation, it may be possible to notify holiday arrangements to employees with immediate effect. However, as a starting point, you should ensure that there is nothing to do at the workplace or that the employee cannot work from home. Of course, the alternative is that you agree with the employee that they take a period of holiday rather than serve notice under the Holiday Act.

We have been asked whether employees are entitled to pay if they cannot get childcare due to the closure of schools and day care centers. If the employee does not have family or others who can help, the employee will in many situations be able to agree that they work at home or that they are on vacation, including self-paid vacation. If this is not possible, the employee will, as a rule, not be entitled to pay unless otherwise agreed with the employer.

We have also received inquiries from companies about the possibility of laying off employees if the measures taken are to continue for an extended period. It is possible to dismiss employees on grounds of the company’s circumstances, and such redundancies will in principle be just if it can be documented that the company’s situation necessitates redundancies. If it becomes necessary to lay off a number of employees, it should be noted that the rules of the Mass Reduction Act may apply if the numbers to be laid off ​​exceed the statutory cap.

The government’s guidelines can be found via the link.