Czech bill would make it possible to apply for unemployment benefits electronically in order to prevent COVID-19 spread
In future, people in the Czech Republic planning to apply to the job-seekers' registry will most likely no longer have to visit the Labor Office in person, and some duties associated with being unemployed as well as obligations for firms to receive benefits for employing disabled persons could also be relaxed. A bill amending the law regulating employment was approved by the Government yesterday.
Czech Labor and Social Affairs Minister Jana Maláčová (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) tweeted the news of the Government approving the wording. Her ministry justified the amendments by referencing the state of emergency that has been declared because of COVID-19, the limited operations of the offices involved, and the difficult processing of some currently legally-required documents.
Parliament has to adopt the changes and the President would have to sign them into law. Labor and Social Affairs is seeking to have the bill discussed as part of the state of legislative emergency.
The law could be approved in the Chamber of Deputies and Senate through an accelerated procedure immediately after the first reading. The bill counts on people no longer being required to register for unemployment in person.
Applications for unemployment would be delivered either electronically or through the post. The ministry also said it was outdated to require people to register for jobs at their permanent address.
The place where a person currently lives would considered their domicile if the law passes. Labor Offices have already called on their clients to communicate with them remotely.
Clients are only allowed to visit an office in person after making an appointment in advance. Because of the limitations and protections enacted to prevent the spread of COVID-19, there are currently just three office hour slots open to the public twice a week.
The bill would also relax the duty of unemployed persons to immediately report any illness to the Labor Office. Currently, persons who are ill and out of work must be given confirmation of disability and must adhere to a treatment regimen just like employed persons who fall sick.
The same applies to quarantine and documenting its confirmation. Under current law, that confirmation must be delivered to the Labor Office on the same day that a doctor issues it.
Those who fail to do so are subsequently de-listed from the unemployment rolls. De-listing means the state stops paying the unemployed person's contributions to health and social insurance, and the person would also lose his or her welfare benefits, including aid to those in material distress, for anywhere between three and six months.
If the bill is adopted, those who fall ill would have three days to announce that fact to the Labor Office. The authors of the bill pointed out that people frequently obtain a doctor's confirmation of disability in the afternoon or evening.
Those who are ill then have limited opportunities for delivering the confirmation to a Labor Office during opening hours. According to the ministry, the current law is too rigid and is having a disproportionate impact on those unable to visit doctors first thing in the morning.
If the bill passes, firms who employ disabled staff and receive contributions from the state for doing so would not have to document their solvency to the Labor Office during the state of emergency. Because the authorities are currently overburdened, firms may not receive the necessary documentation in time and could lose their financial support from the state.
Disabled persons could then lose their jobs. The bill is not abolishing anybody's duties to pay debts, levies, penalties or taxes.
If the bill passes, employers would be able to draw on the contribution for employing disabled staff even if they have to limit production or services because of the state of emergency. "The contribution to firms for employing disabled persons will not be cut," said Maláčová.
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