Wuhan Coronavirus reached Finland on 29 January 2020. A couple of days later, the World Health Organization WHO declared that the coronavirus outbreak is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. However, the Coronavirus is not yet classified as a generally hazardous communicable disease by the Finnish Government, which means that any measures used in a Finnish workplace are currently limited to the employer’s general rights and obligations.
At a workplace environment, there is a high risk of spreading for any kind of disease. Therefore, the employer has the obligation to eliminate the hazards from work. As a result of this, the employer may order an employee who seems ill to go home. This does not remove the employer’s obligation to pay salary for that employee. It is recommended for the employer to e.g. extend the possibilities for remote work in case of wider disease spread.
The Coronavirus has also led to a situation where at least the Chinese authorities are restricting people from moving from a place to another to prevent the spread of the virus. If this will happen in Finland too, the employee is entitled to his or her pay for a maximum of 14 days in the event he or she is being prevented from working.
If the Finnish Government will classify the Coronavirus as a generally hazardous communicable disease, a qualified physician may order a person who is ill or justifiably suspected of being infected to stay away from work for an uninterrupted period of at most two months. The decision on absence from work must be revoked after the person is no longer infectious. The employee ordered to stay away from work due to a communicable disease may be entitled to receive a specific sickness allowance from the Finnish Government.
Borenius’ lawyers are available to assist in addressing any questions you may have regarding these implications.