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Explanation from the Ministry of Social Affairs: can the employer ask the employee if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19?

23.04.2020


Can the employer ask their employees if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 (or when it was diagnosed and where they were infected)?

As a rule, the employer has no right to know the health data of their employees, including their COVID-19 diagnosis, the time of receiving the diagnosis, and other information related to being infected (incl. who they were infected by). In addition, the employer has no right to measure their employee’s body temperature to find out if they have a fever (as this also constitutes health data). The only exception to this is if an agreement on health data has been reached with employees and if it is justified in an emergency situation to prevent COVID-19 infections if the employee comes in contact with other employees or clients.

The employer has the right to ask the employee whether they have been in contact with people with the COVID-19 infection. In addition, the employer may ask the employee to confirm that their health status does not hinder the performance of their work duties or endanger other employees or clients.

In an emergency situation, asking about an employee’s health data may be justified if it is necessary to ensure the safety of other employees and/or clients. In the current emergency situation, the employer and the employee should cooperate on all fronts to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 infection. This means that if an employee stays home or goes on sick leave with symptoms of COVID-19 during the emergency situation, the employer is allowed to ask whether they have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Employees who have gone on sick leave due to COVID-19 should inform their employer of their illness so that the employer could implement the required preventative measures in the working environment to protect other employees and/or clients. Therefore, information about a COVID-19 diagnosis can be provided upon a mutual agreement between the employer and the employee. The employee should inform the employer of their illness themselves.

However, it must be mentioned that the employer is not entitled to ask all employees about their health. The employer must consider that only the necessary information should be obtained and the minimum amount of personal data should be requested.

Can the employer inform employees and clients if an employee (or several of them) has (have) been diagnosed with COVID-19?

The employer must inform their staff of COVID-19 cases and protective measures (how clients and employees are being protected at the company). When providing this information, the employer shall reveal only the strictly required information.

The name of the person who has fallen ill must not be revealed to other employees or clients without cause. The only exception to this is if it is important to prevent further infections (e.g. to inform the employees who worked closely with the person who fell ill). The person who fell ill must be informed that information about their illness will be shared with other employees. The employer shall only make available the minimum amount of information about the person and consider their dignity.

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Explanation from the Ministry of Social Affairs: can the employer ask the employee if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19?
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