Under Luxembourg law, employers are obliged to safeguard the health and safety of their employees in respect of all aspects related to work.
It follows that employers are required inter alia to:
- assess, mitigate and prevent risks;
- adapt work to their employees;
- eliminate or mitigate hazards;
- plan preventive measures; and
- instruct employees appropriately.
In light of the recent outbreak of COVID-19, it is key for all Luxembourg employers to comply at all times with their health and safety obligations by taking (i) preventive measures and (ii) other actions. In order to limit exposure and avoid liability, it is important to keep records of these measures and actions.
Be informed and inform your employees accordingly
It is essential for Luxembourg employers to keep up-to-date at all times with the latest developments and official recommendations provided by local and international health authorities in relation to COVID-19. Useful information can be found on the website of the Luxembourg Ministry of Health.
Luxembourg employers should regularly convey relevant information and recommendations to their employees (e.g. precautionary measures, list of high-risk countries, etc.).
Provide clear hygiene instructions in order to prevent the spread of infection
Luxembourg employers should remind their employees to act in accordance with official health and safety recommendations and ensure that their employees are aware of these recommendations, inter alia:
- Wash hands regularly and thoroughly.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the crook of the elbow. Tissues should be used only once and properly disposed of, in a closed bin.
- Avoid shaking hands or kissing.
- Avoid close contact with sick people (maintain a distance of at least two meters).
- Stay at home if feeling ill or when sick.
- Avoid touching your face insofar as possible.
Luxembourg employers should ensure that their employees are able to follow the abovementioned recommendations and should provide hand sanitizer at work.
Discourage unnecessary travel and participation in mass gatherings
It is important to restrict business travel insofar as possible, by preferring, where feasible, conference calls, videoconferencing, email, etc. Business travel to affected areas or countries should be avoided (a list can be found here .
If employees need to travel, they should be informed of the risks and provided with official recommendations relating to health precautions while traveling. They should also be urged to disclose their intention to travel to an affected area or country, for professional or personal reasons.
It is important to stress that employees may only legitimately refuse to travel to affected areas or countries. In other words, employees who refuse to travel to an area or country that is not classified as at-risk or to have contact with an individual based on mere suspicions of COVID-19 may be subject to sanctions.
Luxembourg employers should also, where feasible, cancel or postpone events or employee participation in events that could qualify as mass gatherings. Furthermore, they shall advise their employees to stay away from such gatherings, and, where impossible, to disclose their attendance.
If there is the slightest risk that an employee could be infected with COVID-19 (e.g. the employee travelled to an affected area or country and shows symptoms of COVID-19) and, therefore, could spread the disease, the employer needs to take measures to protect other employees. Common signs of infection are shortness of breath and other respiratory difficulties, fever, cough and even pneumonia.
As a general rule, Luxembourg employers should not hesitate to contact the occupational health physician, who may (i) examine potentially affected employees and/or (ii) recommend measures to be taken.
Where feasible, teleworking should be promoted. It should be noted, however, that notwithstanding the current extraordinary circumstances surrounding COVID-19, the usual employer obligations in Luxembourg remain fully applicable, in particular in terms of social security, direct income tax and professional secrecy. Furthermore, the strict rules applicable to teleworking (as laid down, notably, in the Luxembourg Labour Code) must be observed (e.g. schedule, provision of equipment, logistics, insurance, etc.).
If employees have been placed in quarantine by the Luxembourg or European health authorities, their Luxembourg employers may not grant them access to the workplace. The employee's remuneration should, in principle, be covered by the Luxembourg National Health Fund.
If there is a substantial risk that a certain employee could be infected with COVID-19, his/her employer shall impose teleworking or, where impossible, grant special leave with continued pay to the employee.
Finally, in any case and regardless of COVID-19, ordinary rules with respect to sick leave apply. Employees may call in sick and, if they do so, must comply with their information obligations to the employer.
Would you like to stay up to date of our publications regarding COVID-19? Register here. We will send you a weekly update with the latest publications.