Guest worker employers uncertain of quarantine possibility

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Employers are concerned about how to deal with the situation if a guest worker is COVID-19 positive, Latvian Radio reported July 29.

The government has decided that COVID-19 tests will have to be carried out twice for guest workers and, if the result is positive, the employer would have to provide 14 days of quarantine. Entrepreneurs' representatives predict that the new rules can lead to additional costs for employers.

“These people have such forced downtime because they must not actually go to work waiting for the test results. If we are talking about a simple worker who comes for a small hourly rate on some rural jobs, it is one situation, and it is nothing terrible,” said Chairman of the Board of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Janis Endzins.

"Another situation is, if a highly qualified expert has come to Latvia to repair, for example, an installation, for which a high hourly rate has been determined. Well, then he needs a day, two for repairing the equipment, and he's paid for it, and if he has to sit for seven days without work, then who covers these costs?” said Endzins.

Berry farmer, head of Blueberry land, Aleksejs Fomičovs, on the one hand, welcomes the change as he considers that mandatory testing on arrival in Latvia should have been determined immediately and is relieved it is paid by the State.

But the entrepreneur is concerned about what happens when the virus is detected. He doubts employers will be able to provide 14-day quarantine.

“The employer may not have such an option, it may be wrong or unprofessional in their facilities, and there will be some kind of contact with healthy people, there may be a lot of things,” Fomičovs said.

The berry grower believes the government needs to think about a single solution. The question of who needs to bear the costs of isolation is also debatable.

“There needs to be a round table where there are employers and public administrations to think about some sort of solution, scheme, rules,” the businessman said.

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