Information for VR members due to COVID-19

The reception of VR union will is closed except for receiving data. VR will only offer members services on-line. This is done in the interest of members‘ wellbeing.

All information on VR‘s services can be found on the union’s website. All inquiries by phone (phone number 510 1700) will be answered as soon as possible during office hours between 8:30 am and 4:00 pm as well as inquiries sent to our email address, vr@vr.is, or VR‘s Facebook page.

Below you will find FAQs on members rights due to COVID-19 and information on VR´s services.

Please note that work on the site is in progress.

FAQ´s on members rights due to COVID-19

  • These unheard-of circumstances that are the result of the effects of COVID-19 on society do not affect your legal position. You have a period of notice according the collective wage agreement.
    The parties may agree on a change in terms, but because of our current situation, it is right to evaluate the overall situation which might include agreeing to a temporary change in the employment rate, provided payments from the Unemployment Insurance Fund are offset.

    Some points to we want to emphasize:

    • Should a company ask its employees to reduce the employment rate with the associated reduction in wages without a notice period, an employee may refuse and demand that the notice period be upheld.
    • An employer is not allowed to demand a work contribution from an employee in excess of the agreed employment rate.
    • The right to these unemployment benefits due to a reduced employment rate applies to all employees, e.g. students regardless of their rights in other respects.
    • During a notice period it is not permitted to receive benefits according to the special partial benefits route, as that is only available to those who still have a working relationship. If it turns out that an employee has been on the partial benefits route during a notice period, the company will be required to pay for the reduction that the employee may have suffered, as well as a claim for payment from the Unemployment Insurance Fund that had been paid to the employee by the employer.
    • If you are applying for the partial benefits route, take note that the membership dues to VR will be deducted from the Unemployment Insurance Fund's payment.If you are applying for the partial benefits route, take note that the membership dues to VR will be deducted from the Unemployment Insurance Fund's payment.

    Further information and application forms can be found on the Directorate of Labour's website, see here.

    VR would like to emphasize that you read carefully the agreement contract that is placed before you and if there is any doubt about your legal position to contact us at VR. If you are terminated during the period of such a contract, you should terminate the agreement and get paid according to the original employment rate during the period of notice of termination.

  • No he can´t. Your employment ratio is now the one stated in the agreement with your employer. If your employment ratio is 25% you are only supposed to work 25%. Employers do not have the right to ask employees to work longer hours/period of time than stated in the agreement on part-time work. This is in accordance with the temporary law passed by the Parliament on reduction in employment ratio.

  • If an employer decides to temporarily close down the workplace due to special conditions in society, payroll payments will not stop. You are entitled to your wages while your workplace is closed. The parties may be able to negotiate work from home, but you must be in a position to do so and the employer must give you the relevant tools.

  • The employer cannot change the employment relationship without a contractual notice of termination. Change in opening hours should not lead to reduction in your employment rate/employment terms. If you are not entitled to the resources of the Directorate of Labour, your employer must pay you full wages.

  • If you become ill, you are entitled to sickness leave in accordance with collective wage agreements. Once this right expires, you may be entitled to payments from a Sick Pay Fund.

  • No – however, you may not be placed in a position of working with a person who has been diagnosed with an infection or who the authorities have ordered into quarantine. Your employer is under obligation to ensure a safe and healthy environment for his/her employees.

  • According to the decisions of the authorities, the instructions of the Chief Epidemiologist for a person to be quarantined are the equivalent of a medical certificate for absence from work. A certificate of work capability contravening such instructions cannot be issued.

  • You are not entitled to wages. If other care is not available, you can send notification of legitimate absence on the basis of the Act on Family Responsibilities No. 27/2000 (Icelandic only). In some cases, it could be possible to apply for parental leave according to Section 7 of Act No. 95/2000 on Maternity/Paternity Leave and Parenting Leave (Icelandic only). According to the Act, parents may be absent from work to take care of their children for up to 4 months until the child reaches the age of 8. Keep in mind that this is not paid leave.

    A parent with a child under 13 years of age has the right to payments if a kindergarten has to close on the orders of the health authorities and quarantine so the parent must stay at home.
    There must be an agreement on this payment between the employer and the employee.
    If the employer pays wages during this time, he is entitled to payments from the Directorate of Labour. If the employer does not pay, the employee can apply for a payment for quarantine to the Directorate of Labor. The conditions for payment in quarantine must be met and further information can be found on the website of the Directorate of Labor.

    A parent with a child under 13 years of age has the right to payments if a kindergarten has to close on the orders of the health authorities and quarantine so the parent must stay at home.
    There must be an agreement on this payment between the employer and the employee.
    If the employer pays wages during this time, he is entitled to payments from the Directorate of Labour. If the employer does not pay, the employee can apply for a payment for quarantine to the Directorate of Labor. The conditions for payment in quarantine must be met and further information can be found on the website of the Directorate of Labor.

  • You are not entitled to payments from your employer, except in the case of a child under the age of 13 who is ill, as provided for in collective wage agreements. Or in the case of a child under the age of 16 who is in hospital for at least one day. If the relative in question is other than stated above, the employer is not obliged to pay wages. An absence could, however, be considered necessary on the basis of Act No. 27/2000 on Family Responsibilities. Such absence is without pay and is considered to be a legitimate absence. In this case, the employee must notify the employer / immediate superior of the circumstances.

  • Employees are responsible for transporting themselves to the workplace. Article 3.4 of the collective wage agreement states that during such time as public transport is not running, travel to and from the workplace must be paid by the employer. This article is based on normal schedules and not when external circumstances cause routes to be cancelled, such as due to risk of infection or the weather. If public transport is not running, you will need to find another way to get to work. You should, however, notify your employer of the circumstances as soon as possible.

  • The employee’s duty to work and entitlement to wages remains in effect if the company decides to close. The company still has duties regarding the employees' wages and must there for still pay the wages even if the company decides to close the workplace.

  • The company cannot order you to undertake work for which you were not recruited and which is subject to the terms of your employment contract. In some cases, the working environment of employees may change due to COVID-19. In such cases, the parties must reach an agreement for changed work arrangements.

  • If you are supposed to be working at home, it is probably not a good idea for you to go to the workplace to eat in the company’s cafeteria. On the days in which you are at home working, no deductions should be made from your pay for the costs you would normally incur in the workplace.

  • If you are on vacation, you are there at your own risk and must notify your employer as soon as possible that your homecoming will be delayed. Your absence will not be regarded as a violation of your employment relationship, as such circumstances are beyond your control.

    If you are travelling on behalf of your employer, your employer bears the cost and you should not suffer any wage reduction.

  • An employer is not allowed to send you unilaterally on holiday, it has never been allowed, and it is no different today, despite this current situation our society faces today. The only possibility is in the case of vacation that must be taken before May 1st. and in such a case, however, the time limits must be observed as stated here below.

    Regarding the decision to take holiday leave, consultations on that shall be made in accordance with Act. no. 30/1987 of the Law. (Icelandic only) A decision on holiday leave shall then be made no later than one month before the holiday shall commence according to para. 5. of the Law on holiday leave.

    Holiday rights are earned between 1. May and 30. April each year. The holiday in the summer of 2020 ie. to be taken after May 2nd. is the holiday you are then earning from May 1., 2019 to April 30., 2020 and is not available for that time period.

    We would like to point out that the accrual of holiday pay only takes place from wages paid by the employer. On the other hand, the employee earns holiday entitlement and therefore has a minimum of 24 days of holiday entitlement next summer, but not payment except for wages paid by the employer.

  • The answer is no, he must not send you without notice on winter leave. In the case of a winter holiday there must be an agreement and some reservation. In light of the circumstances, how ever, it is appropriate that you consider the situation and assess whether the company can be accommodated.

  • I was laid off, what are my legal rights?

    If you received a notice of termination after you agreed on a reduction in the employment ratio, in accordance with the resources of the Directorate of Labour, you have the right to withdraw that agreement and are entitled to a notice period for termination according to your previous employment ratio. The purpose of the resources of the Directorate of Labour is to maintain jobs, but if you have been laid off then that prerequisite no longer exists. You must inform the employer in writing how you consider the situation now that you have been laid off. If you have any questions about this, please contact VR by email, kjaramal@vr.is or by phone, 510 1700.

    I have already received a notice of termination from my employer and I am currently working my notice period for termination. Do I have to agree to the reduction of employment ratio?

    The reduction of employment ratio is an agreement between the employer and the employee and cannot be made without the consent from both partners. As stated above, the purpose of this resource is to maintain jobs. In your case, you have already been laid off and therefore this resource does not apply to you.

    Can my employer withdraw the notice of my termination and offer me an agreement on a reduced employment ratio instead?

    Yes, the employer can withdraw the notice of termination and offer an agreement on a reduced employment ratio instead. However, this can only be done with the consent from the employer.

    See all relevant information about termination of employment and termination terms here on the VR web.

  • It is important to get in touch with VR immediately. See all information here on the VR web.

  • Employers do not have the right to ask employees to work longer hours/period of time than stated in the agreement on part-time work - unless there is a pay rise to match the increase in working time. This is in accordance with the temporary law passed by the Parliament on the entitlement to the payment of unemployment benefits alongside reduced employment ratio due to temporary company recessions. The legal provisions are available on the Parliament’s website here (Icelandic only):

    The Disbursement (Payment) office of the Directorate of Labour/ The Unemployment Insurance Fund (?) does not pay for hours worked. That is in contradiction of the law, Act no. 55/1980 (Icelandic only) and the collective agreement.

    More information on the reduced employment ratio and the resources can also be found on the website of The Icelandic Confederation of Labour (ASI) here.

Quarantine/Isolation

  • I am put in quarantine/isolation by my employer: you are entitled to full wages.

    I am put in quarantine/isolation by the Medical Director of Health:
    The employer pays you salary. The employer can then apply for payments from the Directorate of Labor, which will handle administration and payment to the employer. This applies in cases where other rights according to a collective agreement do not apply. That is, if you have had to be quarantined in accordance with the instructions from the health authorities and have not been able to work partly or in full.

    If the employer does not pay you salary, you can apply for these payments on the Directorate of Labour's website, vmst.is.

    If you decide to go on a holiday abroad, in an area which requires that you go in quarantene once you return back home, you are not entitled to be paid by your employer while you are in quarantine.

    If you have been self-employed, similar conditions apply. Contact the Directorate of Labor.

    I quarantine/isolate myself: You cannot make a unilateral decision to quarantine/isolate yourself. If you believe yourself to be at particular risk, you must inform your employer and you should be able to reach an agreement on what is the best course of action. In all cases, you must discuss the matter with your immediate superior. In some instances, it is possible to work from home. See question on if I work from home. If no agreement can be reached with regard to working from home and you have placed yourself in quarantine/isolation, you do so at your own risk and expense, as you cannot make a unilateral decision regarding your employment relationship. We recommend, therefore, that you discuss the matter with your immediate superior.

    If I am in quarantine and I am ill: you are entitled to sick leave according to collective wage agreements. Once this entitlement expires, you may be entitled to payments from a Sick Pay Fund.

  • You cannot unilaterally be ordered to work from home. VR, however, wishes to point out that we should all do our best against this danger if we are to keep society and the economic sector working. Such decision, in the opinion of VR, is always a matter of negotiation between you and your supervisor.

    In such cases, your employer shall supply the equipment and connections necessary.

     

  • If you decide on your own to enter into quarantine, you do so at your own risk and expense.

    Anxiety can also be an “illness” within the meaning of collective wage agreements and may activate the entitlement to sick pay. A medical assessment, however, must be obtained, i.e. a certificate.
    In the event of no contributing illness that causes anxiety, you will have to contact your employer and reach an agreement with him/her as regards absences in order to ensure that such absence will not be regarded as illegitimate.

  • The rules of collective wage agreements apply to the absence of a parent due to ill children, provided the child is ill. Once the sickness rights of the child expire, the Sick Pay Fund takes over.

    As regards children who are not ill but are quarantined by the order of the Medical Director of Health, employees are entitled to payments, if the child is under the age of 13. All information is available at the Directorate of labour web site here.

    If a child has to go to quarantine/isolation on the orders of the health authourities the parents will have the right to payments if they suffer wage losses as a consequence as they must stay at home because of a child under 13 years of age. There must be an agreement on this payment between the employer and the employee. If the employer pays wages during this time, the employee is entitled to payments from the Directorate of Labour. If the employer does not pay, the employee can apply for a payment for quarantine to the Directorate of Labour. The conditions for payment in quarantine must be met and further information can be found on the website of the Directorate of Labour.

  • If, due to family circumstances, you do not feel able to attend work due to fear of infection, you must discuss this with your immediate superior. This decision is then in fact regarded as a self-decided quarantine/isolation.

    You cannot make a unilateral decision to quarantine/isolate yourself. If you believe yourself to be at particular risk, you must inform your employer and you should be able to reach an agreement on what is the best course of action. In all cases, you must discuss the matter with your immediate superior. In some instances, it is possible to work from home. See question on if I work from home. If no agreement can be reached with regard to working from home and you have placed yourself in quarantine/isolation, you do so at your own risk and expense, as you cannot make a unilateral decision regarding your employment relationship. We wish to emphasise that you must negotiate such matters with your immediate superior.

     

VR Sick Pay Fund

Members can apply for sickness payments via My Pages on VR´s website. Please send all necessary documents along with your application.

In order to apply for death benefits, you can access an application form here. Please scan the form and the necessary documents and send to sjukrasjodur@vr.is. Please apply for benefits due to the death of a members’ child/children via My PagesMore on benefits here.

Members can scan and send applications, documents, certificates and other necessary information to sjukrasjodur@vr.is.

VR Contingency Fund and vocational training funds

You can apply for grants from the VR Contingency Fund and the vocational training funds via My Pages.

Assistance by VR‘s specialists

You can contact VR´s advisors for assistance regarding employment terms and collective wage agreements by phone, 510 1700, or email kjaramal@vr.is

Holiday cottages

You can book and pay for holiday cottages on My Pages or send inquiries to orlofshus@vr.is

VIRK

Individuals receiving services provided by a VIRK counsellor will continue to do so. Counsellors will be in touch to coordinate interviews.