COVID 19 vs Rights. How to terminate labor relations in a state of emergency

COVID 19 vs Rights. How to terminate labor relations in a state of emergency

State of emergency enters into force in Georgia by №1 decree of the President of Georgia, 21 March 2020. According to article 71 of the Constitution the number of rights is restricted, including the rights to freedom of labor and enterprise, as well as the right to strike.

From 21 March 2020 until the end of the state of emergency, the Georgian government has the right to set restrictions and prohibitions or impose other duties on business entities.

Currently, most of the businesses have already transferred their employees to work remotely. A large number of enterprises have been forced to suspend business activities.

Herewith:

  1. The Labor Code of Georgia does not provide for the concept of Force-majeure and its consequences;
  2. The Labor Code of Georgia does not consider the state of emergency, including prohibition or inability to carry out activities for the suspension or termination of labor relations;
  3. Under the Labor Code of Georgia, «Idle time»:
    • through the fault of an employer shall be remunerated*(Unless otherwise defined by a labor agreement).
    • through the fault of an employee shall not be remunerated.
  4. Additional clarifications and regulations of the Government regarding the termination of labor relations are not expected.

Possible options determined by the Labor Code:

  1. Termination of labor agreement or suspension of it by agreement of the parties.
    • A reasonable and perhaps the most honest option in the unexpected circumstances;
    • Conditions – at the discretion of the employee and employer;
    • Terms – at the discretion of the parties;
  2. Under Article 37 (1)(a) reason for terminating labor agreement – economic circumstances, technological, or organizational changes requiring downsizing;
    1. In this case, the employer is obliged to notify:
      1. employees about it in writing at least 30 calendar days in advance and pay compensation in the amount of at least one month’s salary.
      2. employees about it in writing at least three calendar days in advance and pay compensation in the amount of at least two months’ salary;
    2. The decisive and the most costly option for the Employer.
    3. Perhaps not the best option for an employee seeking to keep a job – state of emergency is temporary.
  3. Provide the employee with paid leave (the employee has the right to annual paid leave of 24 working days)
    • Costly for the Employer;
    • It is unlikely that the state of emergency will end before paid leave and the question of how to resolve relations after it;
    • Remember that to go on leave is the right of the Employees, which they may not use;
  4. Provide the employee with unpaid leave
    • Optimal for the employer;
    • Remember that to go on leave is the right of the Employees, which they may not use (including that 15 days of unpaid leave which employer has to provide to employer annually)

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