Latest update: 16 February
Support related to work environment during covid-19
16 February update:
The Swedish Work Environment Authority has collected important information for employers to provide guidance in work environment in order to reduce the risk of the spread of covid-19. See SWEA´s website.
Virus exposure must be reported
22 January update:
Employers must, without delay, report exposures of established covid-19 at the workplace as a serious incident to the Swedish Work Environment Authority.
The registration requirement applies even if others did not become infected. The requirement also applies to our students if they have been infected or are at risk of becoming infected on campus. The responsibility follows previous routines for infection tracing, ie. immediate manager reports. For students, the teacher or course coordinator informs the head of department, who then makes a report.
Notification of a serious incident must also be made retroactively. If the report is not made without delay, the Swedish Work Environment Authority and the court can impose penalties. However, the Swedish Work Environment Authority will not report people for prosecution when they have followed what was previously read on their website. In the older version, it was not clear that this applies to all workers, regardless of occupation.
In the event of a confirmed infection (where both parties tested positive) and it occurred at work (where it is assessed as a probable / possible route of infection), it must also be documented in accordance with §11 2018: 4 Infection risks.
• Report occupational injury, corinavirus / covid-19.
• Information about a report of a serious incident if an employee has been exposed to the new coronavirus.
If an employee becomes ill
6 October update:
If an employee feels symptoms of illness, even a mild cold, the employee needs to stay at home to reduce the spread of infection. The Swedish Public Health Agency has updated rules of conduct regarding infection within the family/household: When a person in a household is ill and has received a test result that shows that he or she has covid-19, everyone in the household, both sick and healthy, except children who have not started preschool should be contacted by the healthcare and given rules of conduct. Read more: If you or someone in your family has become ill
Contact tracing, what does it involve?
11 August update:
Several regions are now refining their processes with respect to contract tracing of covid19. Those who have received a positive test result are contacted by a doctor and asked to list people they have had recent contact with. Primary healthcare providers may also help with this and in some cases completely take over the contact tracing process. Contact in this context means having been within two metres of an infected person for at least 15 minutes.
Note, previous recommendations still stand: if you have the slightest of symptoms, you should stay at home, though as long as you have no symptoms, you should work as usual.
An employee needs to stay home and take care of their children because the preschool/school is closed. Do they have the right to take leave? If so, do they have the right to receive salary?
15 May update:
As of 25 April, employees can be reimbursed if the preschool or school is closed because of Covid-19, even if the child is not ill or carries the virus. The government has approved a temporary change to allow this, see Försäkringskassan´s website.
This reimbursement for those staying at home to care for a sick child will only be paid if the preschool/school decides to close. This applies in the following cases:
- on the recommendation by a disease control specialist or the Public Health Agency
- if the preschool/school is in a risk area closed off by the Public Health Agency
- if the preschool/school is closed because a large number of employees are off sick.
An employee is worried about infection and therefore does not want to come to work. What applies?
15 May update:
The employee can work from home to the extent that their line manager decides possible given their tasks and work environment. You and the employee need to agree which measures are needed to guarantee a satisfactory work environment. If they cannot work from home, you can assign them other duties similar to their current ones. If this is not possible, the employee can take holiday leave, a leave of absence without pay or, when possible, parental leave. Employees cannot choose to stay home and still receive a salary. That counts as unlawful absence.
What should managers do if some staff have too much work and others not enough because of the coronavirus?
8 April update:
The employer has noted the work environment for SLU teachers and how course budgets are affected when courses are redesigned or cancelled. Saco has also discussed the issue with SLU’s management.
Heads of department/managers responsible for the work environment have the right to redistribute work and are encouraged to re-staff from research and doctoral education to first- and second-cycle level education in order to support teaching. Allocations of funding may be adjusted at a later date. Currently, there will be no more government funds. Therefore, the message is: adapt. Do not cancel. For example, course budgets are affected by unused premises, and rents will discontinue during the spring, providing surplus for other purchases or possible ordered overtime.
Many conferences and other events have been cancelled, which provides time (increased resources) within the research field.
The Swedish Agency for Government Employers has signalled that the university may conduct tougher management during a crisis. This may even take the form of lending staff to other public authorities.
For more information, turn to your HR specialist.
An employee has been ill for a week – do they need to submit a doctor's certificate now?
6 April update
Doctor’s certificates are no longer required from day eight. If a employee is ill, they can stay home for up to 21 days without having to submit a doctor’s certificate. This includes all illnesses, not just Covid-19, and applies from 27 March 2020 until further notice. Read more: Illness or home caring for a sick child (VAB) during the coronavirus situation
An employee is currently receiving medical treatment and their immune system is weakened, but they are not 100 per cent on sick leave. How should this be handled?
6 April update:
Employees who for example are receiving cancer treatment or who have serious underlying illnesses can work from home to the extent that their immediate manager decides possible in relation to operations and work environment. If this does not work, try adjusting their duties in order to minimise social interaction, or review the organisation of their working hours. Another option is that the employee takes holiday leave or a leave of absence without salary. Immediate managers must make individual assessments.
An employee is very ill. What should I as manager do and what support is available to me?
6 April update:
SLU has guidelines for handling grief in case of death or severe illness that include practical advice. Feel free to contact your human resources officer.
Will the university cancel any big events?
1 April update
As of 29 March, all public events and general assemblies (for example lectures, markets and conventions) with more than 50 participants are forbidden in Sweden. All events and other meetings with more than 50 participants are therefore cancelled until further notice. Digital meetings are recommended for other events and assemblies.
One of our employees is infected. Should the Act on Sickness Payments (1991:1047) regulations on qualifying deductions be applied?
30 March update
If the manager, following contact with the employee, assesses that their ability to work has lessened due to infection, the regulations in the act apply fully, and the employee should take sick leave. See Försäkringskassan´s website. The government has proposed to cancel qualifying days and compulsory doctor’s certificates for the first 14 days. Read more: Illness or home caring for a sick child (VAB) during the coronavirus situation
If the infection does not affect an employee’s ability to work, they may receive a quarantine allowance in accordance with the “Villkorsavtal” documents. In order for the collective bargaining agreement regulations to apply, a responsible doctor, doctor specialising in disease control or equivalent must certify treatment.
Is it possible that the whole workplace will be quarantined? Can we close operations to avoid spreading the infection?
18 March update
There may be situations when it will be relevant to close certain operations to avoid further spreading. However, the starting point is that all operations will continue to run. SLU does not have the right to decide on quarantine, isolation and lockdown issues. Instead, they are regulated in “Smittskyddslagen” (the disease control act) as well as by the Public Health Agency of Sweden and doctors specialising in disease control.
The pandemic may affect the education of doctoral students, can it lead to an extension of the period of study?
17 April update:
As a principal supervisor you should, using the individual study plan and together with the doctoral student, assess any consequences for the planned period of study and make a short written summary of the problems that arise and any changes you make to the plan. In some cases, the necessary changes may involve extending the period of study. The Higher Education Ordinance (Chap 6 Section 29) allows for an extension of the period of study if there are special grounds for doing so, e.g. leave of absence because of illness, to take up an elected position in a trade union or student organisation, or parental leave. The Covid-19 pandemic also counts as a special ground. The period of employment for a doctoral student may be extended if there are special grounds for doing so (Higher Education Ordinance Chap 5 Section 7). How long this extension can be depends on the individual doctoral student’s thesis work.
For more information and advice, contact your HR specialist.
According to the agreement on fixed-term employment as a post-doc, a post-doc may be employed for an indefinite period – but no more than two years. If there are special reasons such as illness, parental leave or other similar circumstances, the employment may be extended. Due to the spread of covid-19, can we apply "other similar circumstances" to extend the employment?
8 April update
Extension is possible if personal research is affected negatively due to the coronavirus.
To discuss this matter further, contact your human resources officer.
In order to cover for those who have taken sick leave during the ongoing pandemic, we need to increase teaching hours from the maximum 20 per cent regulated in "Avtal om tidsbegränsad anställning som postdoktor" (agreement on fixed-term employment as a post-doc, "the post-doc agreement" – only in Swedish) as well as the part on doctoral student in the Higher Education Ordinance. Is this possible?
8 April update
Assessments concerning whether doctoral students or post-docs have worked more than the maximum 20 per cent must take the entire period of employment into consideration. This means that a doctoral student or post-doc can take on more teaching assignments during certain periods, as long as the 20 per cent is not exceeded in relation to the whole period of employment.
An employee on a business trip cannot come home due to the coronavirus. What should I do?
Salary deductions are not allowed, and the employee has the right to a subsistence allowance in accordance with current agreements. Keep in touch with the employee during the period they are stranded. If the employee gets ill during a business travel, the employee must register sick leave as well as contact 1177 within Sweden or Kammarkollegiet outside of Sweden.