The coronavirus can affect your ability to work

The proliferation of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has raised concerns. We are monitoring the situation via the JRC and we are prepared for a further increase in the disease (COVID-19) caused by the virus.

The impact of infectious disease epidemics on work and livelihoods

If you have been diagnosed with, or reasonably expected to be exposed to, a major communicable disease, you may be required to be absent from work to prevent the disease from spreading. Depending on the situation, you may also be subject to quarantine or isolation.

In such cases, you have the right to receive an infectious disease allowance to cover any loss of earnings incurred by preventative measures. Similarly, you have the right to an infectious disease allowance if you are a guardian of a child under the age of 16 and the child has been ordered to be kept at home for the purpose of quarantine and, therefore, you are prevented from going to work.

The daily allowance for infectious disease is a full compensation for loss of earnings. In other words, it is determined by the salary you would have received if you had been at work.

The infectious disease allowance is sought from Kela. You can read more about the infectious disease allowance on Kela's website.

The virus and earnings-related daily allowance

If you receive earnings-related daily allowance and become unwell, you should continue applying for your allowance as usual. Short-term illness does not affect your rights to receive unemployment benefits.

The daily allowance for infectious diseases does not prevent payment of the earnings-related unemployment allowance, but it is deducted from the earnings-related daily allowance. In other words, if you have worked part-time, you can apply for an adjusted earnings-related allowance, even if you are in receipt of the infectious-disease allowance to the extent that you have incurred a loss of earnings from the part-time work in question. In circumstances such as these, payment of the unemployment allowance is based on the income from part-time work, and the infectious disease allowance may be deducted from the earnings-related allowance paid.

Earnings-related daily allowance for lay-off reasons

In certain situations, an infectious disease epidemic may cause layoffs. This may be the case if you have not been ill and could otherwise go to your place of work, but your work is being prevented by a communicable disease epidemic.

Such an epidemic can, therefore, lead to the prevention of your work, even if you are not ill. In these situations, your employer is obliged to pay you your usual salary for up to 14 days. If you are unable to work after this, you can submit a claim for earnings-related daily allowance to us.

 Everyone can help prevent the spread of disease

  1. Wash your hands with soap and warm water regularly and thoroughly. If possible, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers as appropriate. These measures will kill any viruses on your hands.
  2. Avoid touching your face. Viruses on your hands can get into your body via your eyes and the mucous membranes in the nose and mouth.
  3. Cough and sneeze into a tissue or handkerchief and discard it afterwards. In the absence of a handkerchief, you can use the crook of your elbow as a preventative barrier. If you cough when you are ill, you can spread droplets of saliva that contain the virus.
  4. Keep your distance. During an infectious disease epidemic, and even during the common flu season, it is a good idea to avoid close contact with other people. Handshakes, cheek kisses, and hugs are expressions of kindness and caring, but they also allow the virus to spread.
  5. If you feel sick, stay at home. Contact the health centre by phone.
  6. If you plan to travel abroad, you should check the situation in the destination country via the WHO webpage.
  7. Monitor the National Institute for Health and Welfare’s dedicated coronavirus website. That way you can keep track of where and how the virus is spreading. The WHO has also published a comprehensive information package on the virus.

Background information

At the turn of the year, a new coronavirus began to spread in China. The World Health Organization (WHO) has given the virus a very high risk rating. As of the beginning of March, there are almost 90,000 cases of infection globally. 

The virus causes an acute infection in the respiratory tract and spreads from person to person in droplets containing the contagion. Symptoms of the disease caused by the virus include headache, fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, and muscle aches. The incubation period for the disease is approximately 5 days. If you notice any symptoms, stay at home and contact your health centre by phone.