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The coronavirus: Your rights in connection with quarantine and layoff

Some employees must stay at home because they are, or may be, infected by the coronavirus. These individuals will, as a rule, be entitled to sickness benefit. Many of them will be laid off due to lack of work. These individuals will be entitled to unemployment benefit.If an employer decides to put employees out of work without there being any grounds for sick leave or layoff, it must pay the cost of doing so and pay wages as normal.

Sickness benefit if you are placed in quarantine because you are infected by the coronavirus or are suspected of being infected

If someone is confirmed as being infected, they are entitled to sick leave and to sickness benefit in the same way as other types of sickness absence. Individuals who are infected will be placed in quarantine for as long as the health service deems necessary.

Even if you show no symptoms or do not feel ill, you will be granted sick leave and sickness benefit for that period.

Self-isolation for 14 days is a measure that is being implemented for individuals who may be infected. If your doctor's assessment is that you should self-isolate because you may be infected by the coronavirus, you can be issued with a medical certificate and be entitled to sickness benefit.

If you can work from home, this may be an alternative to taking sick leave.

Individuals who voluntary self-isolate because of the risk of infection or out of fear of being infected will not be entitled to benefits from NAV.

An employer can require employees to work from home or to go into quarantine, but this will not be covered by NAV, and the employer must cover payroll expenses. Your wages must not be reduced if your employer exercises its managerial prerogative to decide that you must not attend the workplace.

Layoffs resulting from the coronavirus situation

A condition for laying off employees is that there are objective grounds justifying a temporary lack of work. Typical examples are lack of orders, full warehouses or practical impediments to work. The conditions on which layoff is justified must be associated with the business, not with the employee.

The employees affected must normally be given 14 days' notice of layoff before taking effect. Should unforeseen events make layoffs necessary, the notice period may be reduced to two days. This must be discussed with the employee representatives. The coronavirus situation can give grounds for reducing the notice period, but this must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

More about layoffs

Amendments to the period for the employer's obligation to pay wages as a result of the coronavirus situation

The employer has been obliged to continue paying wages for the first 15 working days after layoff comes into effect. The Government first proposed that the period for the employer's obligation to pay wages be reduced to two days. The employee organisations have argued that this reduction is too drastic.

  • On 16 March the Government and the opposition agreed that employers are obliged to pay wages for two days and that NAV shall pay wages for the subsequent 18 days. This is the rule till 31 August 2020.
  • From 1 September 2020 the period for the employer's obligation to pay wages goes up from two to ten days.

The waiting period without pay before qualifying for unemployment benefit no longer applies

Under the normal regulations, you must wait three days without pay from the end of the period during which your employer is obligated to pay your wages before qualifying for unemployment benefit. Under the emergency package, however, the requirement for a three-day waiting period no longer applies.

This means that individuals who are temporarily laid off no longer have to go three days without pay. This amendment also applies to individuals who have had their employment relationship terminated and who need to apply for unemployment benefit. This amendment takes effect from 20 March 2020.

The requirement regarding reduced working hours has been amended to 40 %

The requirement of reduced working hours in order to qualify for unemployment benefit has been amended from a minimum of 50 % to a minimum of 40 %. This amendment applies from 20 March 2020.

This amendment means that, for example, a full-time employee who is temporarily laid off for only two working days will now be entitled to unemployment benefit.

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