Covid-19 Employer’s Guide

Coronavirus (Covidien-19) epidemic a major concern of employers in Turkey as well as all over the world
has become.

As part of the coronavirus epidemic, we would like to share with you this summary guide we have prepared for employers in order to overcome the ten most urgent problems employers may encounter. You can use this guide for information, but as the developments about the current situation are improved, there may be changes in the legislation concerning employers as well as this guide we prepared. We kindly request that the summary information in the manual not be considered as comprehensive legal advice on the subject.

  1. Do employees have an obligation to declare to their employers that they constitute a “risk factor”?

Yes. Because employees have a loyalty obligation to their employers. In addition, employees are obliged to avoid harming the safety of other employees and to cooperate with the employer in order to ensure occupational health and safety in the workplace. For this reason, employees who are confirmed to be infected or who show suspicious symptoms should report this to their employers.

However, employers are required to clearly define when employees can be considered a “risk factor” and notify employees of this definition.

  1. Can the employer request their employees to declare that they constitute a “risk factor”?

Employers are obliged to provide a safe and healthy workplace and protect their employees. Therefore, our suggestion is that employers request a statement from their employees that they are a “risk factor”.

However, employers are required to clearly define when employees can be considered a “risk factor” and notify employees of this definition.

  1. Can the employer issue an order (or policy) that requires employees to report their co-workers who have flu symptoms (eg fever, cough, difficulty breathing, muscle pain, fatigue)?

No, we do not recommend this method for data privacy reasons. However, the employer has a general obligation to provide a safe and healthy workplace.

Employees are likewise obliged to avoid harming the safety of other employees. Therefore, we think that due to the unusual conditions we are in, employees can be encouraged to express their concerns about workplace-related health and safety issues.
Employees should express their concerns confidentially, as such an application may also constitute an interference with privacy. Employees should also be reminded to take all possible measures to protect their own health and that of other employees.

  1. Can employees refuse to come to work?

As a rule, employees are required to perform their jobs as agreed with the employer. Only in very exceptional cases is it possible to avoid performing the assigned tasks.

Indeed, if a serious and imminent hazard arises in the workplace (for example, if it has been confirmed to have a Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection at the workplace), employees can ask the employer to detect and eliminate the hazard. Employees may refrain from working until the danger is eliminated; Even if the job is stopped, employers must continue to pay salaries.

  1. Can employees refuse to attend meetings or travel?

Employees may refuse to attend or travel to meetings if the meetings or travels take place in areas that are considered to be unsafe, or if there is a serious and imminent hazard in the region / destination.

  1. Can the employer send his employees to leave?

Yes, the employer can always send their employees unilaterally on leave. Employees must be paid during this period. Employees must be ready to work during the leave.

  1. In what situations should the employer stop their activities?

When a life-threatening issue is detected in the workplace, activities at the workplace must be stopped until the danger-causing issue is eliminated. Depending on the characteristics of each event, in other words, depending on the degree of danger presented to the employees and the vital risk, activities in the workplace may need to be stopped partially or completely.

  1. Does the employer have an obligation to report infections detected at the workplace to health officials?

No, only healthcare providers and doctors who detect the infection have an obligation to notify health officials. However, employers are obliged to check and evaluate whether there are any infectious diseases in the workplace and if necessary, take necessary measures. For this reason, we recommend employers who immediately suspect the possibility of an infectious disease in the workplace, even if it is not mandatory, to contact the healthcare authorities or the workplace doctor immediately.

  1. Can employers demand their employees to be examined by a doctor?

No, employers cannot force their employees to undergo a medical examination. Employers can only advise their employees to go to the doctor. If the employee refuses this situation, the employer can send her employee to paid leave.

Depending on the employee’s employment contract and the qualifications of the jobs he / she performs, remote work can be considered as another alternative.

  1. If employees are sent on leave or employees refuse to come to work or if activities in the workplace are stopped, is the employer obliged to pay the salaries of their employees?

Yes, employers are required to pay their employees’ salaries, even when employees are sent on leave or employees refuse to come to work, or when workplace activities are stopped.

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