COVID-19 legal issues: what business need to know

18/03/2020

Employment relationships. How work can be organized and work functions performed to ensure the safety of both employees and employers.

On their own initiative employees may:

  • agree on remote work;
  • use annual leave;
  • use unpaid leave;
  • use a certificate of temporary incapacity for work when issued to one of the parents – an employee, if his or her child’s education institution has established a restrictive regime to prevent the spread of infection.

Employers for employees may:

  • organize remote work;
  • declare idle time or partial idle time;
  • organize short time work;
  • use a radical measure – terminate the employment relationship.

Data protection. What personal data can be processed by the Employer?

In assessing the need for additional safeguards –  to oblige employees who have worked together or who have been in contact with a sick (symptomatic) person to undergo quarantine, create conditions for remote work or medical examination, the Employer has the right to process information:

  • whether the person has traveled to a “state of risk”;
  • whether the person was in contact with a person that has traveled to a “state of risk” or sick with COVID-19;
  • whether the person is at home due to a quarantine (without giving a reason) and the period of quarantine;
  • whether the person is sick (without specifying a specific disease or other cause);
  • the fact of remote work and other restrictions on the employee’s work;
  • other necessary data.

 Exemption from contractual liability and contract amendments

Can decisions of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania imposing prohibitions be used as a basis for requesting the party unable to perform the contract to be released from liability or to amend the contract until such decisions are revoked?

The obligation ends when it cannot be fulfilled because of force majeure for which the debtor is not responsible. Force majeure – circumstances that are unavoidable and beyond control of the debtor that could not be foreseen. Force majeure conditions must be determined on a case-by-case basis. The first step is to evaluate when the contract was concluded – whether the contract was concluded after the prohibitions entered into force and whether the parties were unaware of this fact. Furthermore, it must be assessed whether the party could had reasonably foreseen the possible prohibitions:

  • in all cases it is necessary to pay attention to how the force majeure and other conditions are described in the contract;
  • it must be assessed whether the party has taken all the necessary measures to fulfill his contractual obligations;
  • the reason why the contract cannot be fulfilled must be the above-mentioned prohibitions, others would not often be considered as circumstances of force majeure;
  • it must be obvious that the party could not have controlled or prevented the imposed prohibitions.

In the event of imposition of prohibitions or restrictions which make it more difficult for one party to perform the contract, that party has the right to request the other party to amend the contract.

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