Trilateral agreement on responses to COVID-19

News - 05.03.2020
Trilateral agreement on responses to COVID-19

The Government of Iceland, the Confederation of Icelandic Employers (SA) and Icelandic Confederation of Labour (ASÍ) have reached a trilateral agreement on actions to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Iceland by ensuring that individuals are able to comply with the instructions of the authorities to quarantine themselves without having to worry about their income.

A large number of wage earners have, at the recommendation of the authorities, quarantined themselves which means that they cannot attend work. In addition, all interaction between them and others is limited. This causes a great deal of disruption to their circumstances and daily life. There are significant social interests at stake in ensuring that quarantines work and that the spread of the virus is slowed. For this reason, it must be ensured that the wage earners undergoing quarantine do not need to worry about their earnings for the duration of the quarantine period.

The parties have agreed as follows:

  1. SA will recommend that employers pay wages to the individuals who are subject to quarantine restrictions according to the instructions of the health authorities.
  2. ASÍ will issue a recommendation to its member associations that fund members in their sickness funds who become infected enjoy full payments from the funds even after their sickness rights have been fully utilised.
  3. The authorities will endeavour to ensure that changes are made to legislation on sickness insurance so that an employer, who pays an employee who has been or will be subject to quarantine a wage, can claim from sickness insurance a refund for costs up to a specified maximum amount provided that specific circumstances prevail, such as if an employee cannot work from home. Work on the arrangements of the involvement of the authorities and term of effect will be carried out and the plan is to complete such work by 13 March.
  4. Quarantines will not affect the sickness rights of general wage earners, any more than it will affect public servants, but the sickness funds must be ready to accept those who fall ill and fully utilise their sickness rights as a result.

Drífa Snædal, President of ASÍ, says that is very pleasing that the parties have been able to resolve the uncertainties surrounding the earnings of people as a result of COVID-19. 
"This is one of the largest social issues today and we are all endeavouring to reduce any harm as much as possible, for the people who must be quarantined or who fall ill and for all of us as a society. Being in doubt about one’s income is unacceptable in these circumstances."