A new regulation on 17 April 2020 has introduced a series of health and safety measures in the workplace, within the context of the fight against COVID-19. Employers are required to take new measures to protect the health and safety of employees and help improve existing conditions to tackle the epidemic.
First, of course, employers must follow all existing measures as detailed in the labour code, making sure these are adapted to take into account the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 epidemic. Employers must avoid COVID-19-related risks to the health and safety of employees, and assess any risks that cannot be avoided. Based on these assessments, employers should determine what measures they can take to reduce risk to employees. Employers should also regularly review the assessments, both during and after the COVID-19 epidemic. Where necessary, employers must limit the number of employees who are or who might be exposed to risks in relation to COVID-19.
Employers must also inform and train employees, in collaboration with the staff representatives, about health and safety risks, precautions, protective equipment and clothing, and hygiene. Signs must be posted, pointing out risks and preventive measures during the epidemic.
Workstations and other areas in which employees might be working should be arranged to minimize risk, and protective equipment must be provided to ensure the protection of employees. An employer must make sure that the personal protective equipment it provides, including appropriate protective clothing, is:
Employees must be provided with appropriate bathroom facilities, with access to running water, soap, and disposable paper towels, or disinfectants. Employers should also make sure that premises and floors are cleaned regularly, and that work surfaces are cleaned and disinfected.
Employers must ensure that employees respect appropriate physical distances; or failing this, ensure that employees wear masks or any other devices that cover their nose and mouth and, if necessary, other personal protective equipment.
Employee obligations have also been spelled out, to take into account the COVID-19 epidemic. The following obligations are in addition to existing labour code:
These specific obligations apply throughout the crisis. Any breach by employers will be punished with between eight days and six months in prison or a fine of between EUR 251 and EUR 25,000, or both. The same penalties apply to legal persons, but with a maximum fine of EUR 50,000.
Any breach by employees will be punished by a fine of between EUR 251 and 3,000.