Government approves regular testing of employees and self-employed persons and introduction of allowance for crisis care and quarantine

At an extraordinary meeting on Friday, 19 November 2021, Andrej Babiš’s outgoing government approved an extraordinary measure of the Ministry of Health introducing the regular testing of employees and self-employed persons (that does not apply to persons who have completed vaccination), as well as draft bills on the provision of a nursing allowance and an extraordinary allowance to an employee during imposed quarantine.

“We are trying to explain that what we have decided and are deciding is really the only possible solution. It’s mainly an issue of vaccination.  We want to slow down the spread of the virus through testing.  But the main solution to slow down the virus is not to avoid contact and get vaccinated,” said Andrej Babiš at the beginning.

The government has approved the regular testing of employees.  Employers must ensure regular weekly testing with rapid antigen tests from 29 November 2021 at the latest.  Weekly testing also applies to persons working as self-employed.  Testing does not apply to persons with completed vaccination, with a confirmation of past illness, a negative RT-PCR test less than 7 days old or a rapid antigen test less than 7 days old performed by a healthcare professional.  Employees who do not come into contact with any other persons during the course of their work are not required to be tested.

There is another change in the rules for retail and services and attending mass events.  Specifically, this concerns the conditions for the provision of accommodation services from 22 November 2021.  People travelling for work or receiving medical care will also be able to show a negative RT-PCR test less than 72 hours old.  Similarly, persons who are already accommodated when the measure comes into force must comply with the pre-agreed period of stay.

The last change is screening testing in schools.  Effective from 6 December 2021, testing in schools will take place every Monday or on the first day of lessons each week.

As in 2020, the government has approved guidance for authorities that includes a set of measures to reduce the risk of infection and transmission among staff.  These measures will be binding for ministries and other central state administrative authorities, and recommended for governors, mayors and their respective bodies.

At the meeting, the government also approved a draft bill on further adjustments to the provision of nursing allowances in the context of emergency measures during an epidemic, which will reintroduce the crisis treatment allowance.  Parents who remain at home with their children will thus be entitled to nursing allowance for the entire period of school or classroom closure or during an individual quarantine of the child.  The nursing allowance will also apply to a child who is unable to attend school due to a family quarantine.  The nursing allowance will be increased to 80% of the daily assessment base.  In total, parents will receive a minimum of CZK 400 per day, even so-called “contracted workers”.  The effective date is from 1 November 2021 to 28 February 2022. 

The final item on the agenda was a draft bill on an extraordinary allowance for employees under imposed quarantine.  The so-called isolation allowance will allow employees who are entitled to income compensation due to quarantine to receive an allowance of CZK 370 for each calendar day. However, the total can only be drawn during the first 14 days of quarantine. If the sum of the allowance and income compensation exceeds 90% of the employee’s average earnings, the allowance will be reduced. The employer will pay the allowance.  However, they will be able to deduct the payment from social security contributions and state employment policy contributions.  At the moment, it is envisaged that the allowance will be paid until 30 June 2022 at the latest. 

The government will submit both bills to the Chamber of Deputies with a request to discuss them within the scope of legislative emergency, in order to ensure sufficient financial security for parents as soon as possible.