The coronavirus (COVID-19) has been declared “a global emergency” by the World Health Organization.
The Luxembourg Ministry of Health has set up a hotline as from 2 March 2020 at 2 pm on the following number: 8002-8080. People coming from an area classified as a risk area or who have been in close contact with a person who had/has symptoms described by the authorities as those of the coronavirus (fever, cough and breathing difficulties), should contact the hotline made available to them.
Protection of employees
Luxembourg employers have a general obligation to guarantee the health and safety of their employees. The employer must take preventive measures against occupational risks and must provide training and provide sufficient information to employees in order to protect their health.
- Check where your employees are currently working and the planned trips and take all possible preventive measures depending on the spread of the epidemic at work/travel (information, travel instructions, etc.). Since the employer is required to take all the necessary preventive measures, it is strongly recommended to give employees based in the infected regions the opportunity to return to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
- Invite employees to follow the instructions of the Luxembourg authorities.
- Remind employees of the general health and safety measures recommended for all infectious diseases, and in particular the following recommendations:
- Washing their hands frequently with a hydro-alcoholic solution or with soap and water
- Respecting the rules of respiratory hygiene by covering the mouth and nose with the elbow or with a tissue in case of coughing and sneezing and immediately throwing the tissue into a bin with a lid
- Avoiding close contact and maintaining a distance of at least 2 meters with other people, especially if they cough, sneeze or have fever
- Avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth
- Avoiding kissing or shaking hands
- In case of fever, cough and dyspnea, wearing a mask to avoid the spread and stay at home.
- Ask employees to voluntarily declare that they were in one of the infected regions in the past 14 days to the Human Resources Manager or to any person authorized to receive this type of information. In this case, it is possible to ask these employees to remain in quarantine at home. In case of suspected exposure to the workplace or in the event that you send home an employee who has traveled to a country at risk and who presents symptoms, you must contact the Health Inspection Division at number 2478- 5650 to seek advice on how to deal with this situation. You cannot send your employees in occupational medicine to ask for an opinion on their state of health. In case of doubt, you must contact the Health Inspectorate at the number mentioned above. Medical examinations are extremely limited in a professional context, even in times of crisis. You cannot, in principle, require your employees to undergo medical examinations and must only collect strictly necessary medical information, in order to avoid a breach of the confidentiality of personal data. All existing internal regulations must be revised and updated if necessary.
Continuation of activities
In addition to these general health recommendations, employers should of course strive to continue their activities and maintain a workplace as much as possible.
- Know the location of your staff and give them the appropriate instructions/directives.
- Know that employees have the right to leave their work station or a danger zone in the event of serious danger, without suffering any prejudice if the employer has not taken all the required preventive measures and given the appropriate instructions.
- Consider postponing collective meetings and more particularly those bringing together international teams.
- Prepare to set up telework. Telework is generally voluntary, however the implementation of telework may be temporarily possible in order to guarantee the protection of employees. It is recommended that you adopt a telework policy.
- Although optional, it is recommended to consider a business continuity plan, in particular to ensure that all IT tools are made available to employees allowing them to continue working and to be supervised, in particular, in the event of an epidemic.
- Consideration should be given to the need to modify working hours, particularly in the event of increased activity.
- Employees who have been quarantined by the Health Inspection Division will be considered to be unable to work and will be paid daily allowances by the National Health Fund (the CNS).
- Employees who are quarantined by their employer due to symptoms or the fact that they may have been exposed to the virus will not be considered to be unable to work. These employees are to be considered as teleworkers, if this is the case, or in the event that these employees cannot be considered as such, they will be considered to be on special leave.
- Consider limiting professional travel to your employees, and more particularly in risk areas. It is recommended to encourage the use of video conferences, telephone meetings, etc. when possible.
In general, these emergency plans/measures must be prepared after having informed/consulted the staff representatives as far as possible.