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FAQs for domestic staff / Covid-19 health crisis

Important note: the information below is given for information purposes based on our current knowledge.

Status as of March 30, 2020

The employee is afraid to come to work because he/she is a person at risk

The people “particularly at risk” within the meaning of the COVID-19 Ordinance must stay at home and avoid groups of people:

  • people aged 65 and over

  • people who suffer in particular from the following pathologies: hypertension,diabetes, cardiovascular disease, immune weakness due to disease or therapy, cancer.

Vulnerable employees have to fulfil their professional obligations at home.

If this is not possible, as is most cases for domestic workers, the employer will grant them leave while continuing to pay their wages.

Employees must communicate their situation as a vulnerable person to their employer.

The employer can request a medical certificate.

The employee wishes to work but the employer does not need him/her and asks her not to come

The employer can ask the employee to stay at home by temporarily relieving him of his obligation to work. In this case, the employer must continue to pay the salary in full.

The employee made overtime in the past and now the employer wants him/her to take these hours

The employer cannot compel the employee to compensate for overtime, this must be the subject of an agreement (article 321c al. 2 CO). The employee can therefore refuse this and offer to work.

Can a permanent contract (CDI) be terminated immediately in connection with covid-19?

The indefinite contract may be terminated by each of the parties, except during the so-called protection periods (illness, accident, pregnancy). During the trial time, each of the parties may terminate the employment contract at any time subject to a notice period of seven days. After the trial time, the notice period to employee is one month during the first year of service, two months from the second to the ninth year of service, three months after nine year- Notice period is always at the end of a month.

Dismissal with immediate effect is only possible for just reasons (serious misconduct): therefore, the epidemic and its health and/or financial impact cannot in any case be a reason for dismissal with immediate effect.

Can a CDD (fixed-term contract) be terminated in connection with covid-19?

The fixed-term contract ends automatically on the agreed date. Prior to its expiration, the contract cannot be terminated by ordinary termination.

The exception is, if the written contract has a clause that the parties can terminate the contract before the end date (subject to the deadlines of a CDI).

What if the employee is sick (covid-19 or any other illness)?

Provided that the employment relationship has lasted for more than three months, the normal salary is paid to the employee, and this for a limited time ( cf. Berne scale).

Compensation for lost benefits in kind must also be paid (e.g. food, accommodation - according to AVS standards). It is the employee's responsibility to provide proof of a work incapacity by providing the employer with a medical certificate of incapacity for work.

Since March 20, 2020, due to the covid-19 health crisis, an absence for health reasons need not be justified by the employee with a medical certificate before the 10th day of absence.

What if the employee is ordered to be quarantined by a doctor?

An extraordinary benefit during the Covid-19 health crisis is allocated to people under quarantine ordered by a doctor, namely a loss of earnings allowance in case. The number of daily allowances is limited to 10 days for these people.

In order to avoid any health risks, the employer must take all the necessary measures to ensure that the employee is sufficiently protected from contamination in the workplace, in accordance with the guidelines of the Federal Office for Public Health. If adequate and proportionate measures have been taken and there is still too high a risk (a risk which must be objective), it could be considered that the employee does not go to her place of work and is nevertheless paid.

What if the employee refuses to go to work by public transport?

Avoiding public transport is a simple recommendation from the authorities and is therefore not binding on the employer.

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