International Tax, Accounting and Law Firm in Hungary

Coronavirus FAQs

Coronavirus – Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Frequently asked questions concerning labour rules


Below we provide answers to some frequently asked questions raised by businesses on the current state of emergency in Hungary. We discuss also the new measures introduced by the Hungarian Government in March 2020 in order to support the economy.

What are the limitations for employers to change the working schedule of employees?

According to the new measures introduced by the Government, employers can unilaterally change the work schedule of employees and order home office and distance working, disregarding the previous limitations of the Labor Code.  Normally, employers must notify the employee at least 96 hours (4 full days) in advance before modifying the work schedule.

Also, during the present sate of emergency the employer has the right to check the health of the employee. These measures will last until 30 days after the withdrawal of the state of emergency.

Can the employee simply send the employees on holiday if it is practicable?

No. Unilateral holiday arrangements must be announced 15 days in advance. The employer and the employee may however agree on the employee taking paid or unpaid holidays during any standstill.  Otherwise, the employer can instruct the employee to stay at home, but he or she will be entitled to his or her base salary for the standstill.

What are the payment obligations of the employer if the employee becomes ill?

If the employee becomes ill, he or she is entitled to 70% of his or her salary as sick pay, to be paid entirely by the employer for 15 working days a year. From the 16th day a sick benefit will be disbursed by the state insurance, with a 1/3 contribution of the employer. 

If the employee contracts the virus at the workplace, then the state insurance will pay a 100% sick benefit to the employee that will have to be reimbursed by the employer to the state.

May a Coronavirus infection at the workplace result in liability for damages for the employer?

Yes. If the employee becomes ill, the employer may be liable for damages in Hungary if the infection is acquired in connection with the employment, i.e. at the workplace or during a secondment, at a business event, or otherwise in connection with the performance of the employee’s duties.

Can the employee refuse to appear at work for fear of being infected?

In the event of an increased risk of contamination - for example, if the employer orders a secondment to a country strongly effected by the virus like Italy, or the possibility of contamination increases at the workplace so that it can directly and seriously endanger the health of the employee, the employee may legitimately refuse to appear at the workplace.

However, the employee must remain available and wait for further instructions from the employer. In such a case, the employee will be entitled to pay despite the refusal to work and the employer may not take any adverse action against him according to Hungarian Law.

Must the employer pay a salary to the employees if the workplace is placed in quarantine?

No. If the Hungarian health authorities order an epidemiological quarantine and as a result, workers are unable to attend the workplace, then this event is beyond the employer's control and workers shall not be remunerated for this period. In such cases employees are entitled to sick benefit based on social security rules to be paid by the state insurance, even if they are not ill. This rule however does not apply in cases where the quarantine is voluntarily entered into by the employer.

How does the virus affect employees’ leisure time and personal lives?

During an epidemic, the employee as a private person must refrain from any activity that may be detrimental to the employer or to the health of other employees.  The employer may request information from the employee about facts which are relevant for the working relationship, such as the employee’s medical condition, activity outside the workplace, travel abroad, also pertaining to family members. Such personal data must be managed by the employer in accordance with the requirements of GDPR, and is to be deleted after the end of the pandemic.

If you have any questions concerning the above, please do not hesitate to contact us!
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