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Covid-19 coronavirus: impact on Luxembourg employers

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16 March 2020

Over the weekend, the measures taken by the governments of Luxembourg and the neighbouring countries have strengthened, including notably restrictions on border passing and a closure of restaurants, bars and retail shops.

The rights and obligations of companies as employers remain partially unclear. In particular, false information circulates on the internet and the government’s explanations are, in our opinion, not always 100% accurate either.

A large number of demands for leaves can now be expected, including within a same department or team of a company. In order to ensure the continuity of their activities, at this stage and until further clarification of the legal framework, we take the view that employers would be entitled to give priority to the employees in the most difficult situations (e.g. monoparental families) and to refuse it to others.

It is undoubtedly a time of crisis. However, the first experiences on the field reflect a tremendous solidarity and citizenship. It is not so much an opportunity, but a strict necessity to embrace technological solutions to uphold the running of the businesses.

By means of such solutions, companies will manage, together with the employees and staff delegates, to establish a planning that reduces health risks, allows to uphold business activities and addresses legitimate child care concerns.

We take the position that the situation can be summarised as follows:

Business not closed by the government

Can employees still come to the office?

Yes. However, it is strongly recommended that employees follow the guidelines issued by the government.

It is appropriate to invite employees to work from home. 

Can employees living in Germany still come to the office (in Luxembourg)?

Yes. The Luxembourg government issued a specific certificate – to be signed by the employer – by which the employer confirms that the employee is required to commute from Germany to their place of work in Luxembourg.

The certificate shall enable the employee to pass the German/Luxembourg border relatively quickly.

Can the employer ask employees to work from home?

Yes, this is even strongly recommended.  Depending on the contractual situation and the exact circumstances of the job, this can be agreed upon by simple email exchange.

A number of points shall be clarified between parties (e.g. working time, availability and tax consequences).

The staff delegation shall be informed and consulted under their competences for health and safety matters. Given the context, the information and consultation can be done by call or video conference.

Can the employer impose upon employees to work from home?

The government takes the position that working from home requires the employee’s consent.

Depending on the contractual situation and the exact circumstances of the job, we consider it to be possible to impose home working unilaterally, for a limited period in time. 

A number of points shall be clarified by the employer when issuing the order (e.g. working time, availability and tax consequences). 

The staff delegation shall be informed and consulted under their competences for health and safety matters. Given the context, the information and consultation can be done by call or video conference. 

Can the employer refuse a valid request for family leave?

No. However, companies may want to rely upon the good citizenship of employees to adopt a planning that reduces health risks, allows to uphold business activities and addresses legitimate child care concerns.

A number of players have rolled out planning with alternating work from the office (on a limited scale), home office and family leave.

Business closed by the government

Can employees still come to the office?

Yes. However, it is strongly recommended that employees follow the guidelines issued by the government.

It is appropriate to invite employees to work from home, if that is feasible. Please see section 'Business not closed by the government', above, for further details on home working.

Do employees whose work is not required need to be paid?

Yes, but companies may be eligible to the governmental helps such as technical unemployment benefits.

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