Government to fight the second wave of coronavirus: the fourth aid package adopted, mandatory mobile application for those infected and quarantined

Foto: Vlada RS

Late Sunday evening, the government adopted a proposal for the fourth anti-corona legislative package, which includes measures to prepare for the second wave of the coronavirus. Among other things, the temporary measures to mitigate and eliminate the consequences of the epidemic in the fields of labour, employment, scholarships, and social protection, are being amended and supplemented. The main points relate to the extension of the measure of waiting for work, compensation for the ordered quarantine, measures in the field of institutional protection under the Social Protection Act, and a mobile application, for informing the contacts of those infected, the Government Communication Office (Vladni urad za komuniciranje – hereinafter referred to as UKOM) announced.

At Sunday’s session, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia confirmed the draft of the Act Determining the Intervention Measures to Contain the COVID-19 Epidemic and Mitigate its Consequences for Citizens and the Economy (PKP4), which will now be submitted to the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, for consideration and adoption by urgent procedure. The draft will replace the amendment to the PKP3, adopted by the government on Wednesday.

The adoption of the Act extends the duration of the measure of partial reimbursement of compensation to workers who are temporarily waiting for work, until July 31st, 2020. The government may extend the measure by a maximum of two months before its expiry, for a period of one month, but no longer than until September 30th, 2020, as was written in a press release.

Quarantined workers who are unable to work from home are entitled to salary compensation
Some of the amendments in the Act should ensure better and more effective control over the measure of part-time work and waiting for work. In addition, the purpose of the bill is to mitigate the effects of imposed quarantine of an employee, at the expense of the employer, when the employer cannot avoid the absence of a worker who cannot perform work and cannot be ordered to work from home, and the employer must provide compensation under labour law salaries, for the duration of the employee’s absence. The Act thus enables employers to claim a refund of wage compensation in such cases as well.

An employee who has been ordered to quarantine when crossing the border, and is therefore unable to perform work in accordance with the employment contract, and for which the employer cannot organize work at home, is entitled to salary compensation in the amount, specified by the law governing employment relationships, in case of force majeure. An employee who has been quarantined due to contact with an infected person and is therefore unable to perform work in accordance with the employment contract, and for which the employer cannot organize work at home, is entitled to salary compensation in the amount determined by the law, in the event of temporary inability to provide work for business reasons. In the case of an ordered quarantine, the salary compensation shall be fully borne by the Republic of Slovenia.

Mandatory mobile application for anyone infected – the anonymity of the individual will be ensured
According to the press release, the new legislative package also establishes the meaning of a mobile application, the main goal of which is to prevent the spread of the infectious disease COVID-19, in order to protect human health and life. The purpose of the application is to inform people about contacts with infected people and people who have been ordered to be quarantined. The Ministry of Public Administration is responsible for the establishment and operability of the mobile application. Installation and use of the mobile application are voluntary and free of charge, except in cases where the person tests positive for the virus or has been ordered to quarantine – in these cases, this person must install the mobile application so that a random code can be entered.

The application is designed to anonymously record data on relevant contacts among users of the mobile application in the case of a positive test for SARS-CoV-2 virus or mandatory quarantine, as well as informing users about such contacts with other users of the mobile application. However, the mobile application must not make it possible for the user to be identified, and it must not collect information about his location and other personal data. In view of the above, the use of the application does not involve the processing of any personal data. Additional anonymity is also provided by a solution that provides for the user to be assigned a random identification code at installation, the government assures.

Money will also be provided for additional staff in social welfare
Based on the professional principles of the National Institute of Public Health, Minister of Health, dr. Tomaž Gantar, will prescribe the distance and duration of contact between users, which the application will record. This means that the application will not record contacts with randomly passing users of the mobile application and users who will be, for example,100 meters away. According to the professionals, it will only record contacts that are considered to pose a risk of infection.

The draft also provides for temporary measures to mitigate the consequences of the epidemic by providing funds for financing additional staff in social welfare institutions (nursing homes, and others), that provide institutional care in the public network.

T. F.