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Student Agency to check ill employees via SMS

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Compared to last year, things are going to be different for the employees of Student Agency who fall ill this year. If they need to go, for example, to a pharmacy or do some shopping, they will have to send a text message to their boss that they are leaving their home.

Their employer is in this way reacting to this year’s changed regulation regarding sick-leave payments that orders companies to pay the payments between the fourth and 15th day of their employee’s illness from the company’s coffers. During the first three days of illness the employee gets nothing. Starting on the 15th day they receive sick-leave payments covered by state insurance. The employers’ contribution to their employees’ sick-leave payments has been decreased by one percent to 2.3%.

“There’s no point in checking everyone personally. An SMS message is therefore a very easy and reliable means of supervision,” said the Student Agency’s owner Radim Jančura, adding that he has tested out the system already last year. The entrepreneur has therefore only decided to use the right that he has been granted by law as an employer starting from the New Year – to check whether a person on sick leave is really staying at a given place.

The legitimacy of the checks is confirmed also by the attorney Miroslav Bělina from the Prague Kříž a Bělina law firm. He points out the fact that the employer has the right to check his employees only at a time when he is obliged to pay to their employees – that is between the fourth and 15th day of their illness.

Nevertheless, the heads of Czech companies know very well that it is best to prevent the illness of their employees. And they are also going to act accordingly. “If we see that any of our colleagues is not feeling well, we will provide medicine to them, so that the illness doesn’t break out in full,” Jančura said.

The project director of Z-Group, Marcela Mrázková, said another way to reduce illness at work is to pay out bigger bonuses to employees that are rarely ill. “We were using these methods in the past and since then absenteeism has declined significantly and it is still falling. However, the team will cope best with fakers. Those who would like to stay home at the expense of others, won’t simply withstand the pressure,” Mrázková said.

Some employers are resisting the checks also because of possible deterioration of relationships among employees. They put mutual trust in the first place. “If we had to check our employees significantly, we would probably have to ask ourselves the question, whether we didn’t make a mistake when accepting them,” said Michal Chour, the director of Prague’s hotel Radisson SAS Alcron.

According to the Czech Social Security Administration (ČSSZ), the new system is a whip against fakers and it motivates companies. “Not only will they keep an eye on their employees so that they really get healthy, they will also buy, for example, vitamins as prevention or arrange wellness stays for them,” Jana Buraňová from ČSSZ said.

However, her optimism is not shared by Petr Kužel, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, who thinks the change can also lead to a situation when employers will rather lay off those who are repeatedly ill to avoid high costs. Kužel also thinks that entrepreneurs do not have capacities to check if their employees really observe their treatment. “These checks represent only another pointless administrative burden for entrepreneurs,” Kužel said.

Translated with permission by the Prague Daily Monitor.

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