Summary of the Global Governmental Responses to the Coronavirus Pandemic

in relation to employees and other workers

 

Disclaimer

The information contained in this guide is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice. Additionally, given the fast-changing nature of the subject matter of this guide, you should contact an individual author or their firm for detailed advice and guidance before taking any action based upon this guide

Tony Kirwan

Executive Director

The Law Firm Network

[email protected]
Mobile: + 353 86 812 2994
Telephone:  +353 1 282 2773

 

Argentina

DECREE OF ISOLATION

In March 20, the President passed a decree establishing a social, preventive and mandatory isolation for all employees. This decree does not apply to essential workers.

 

-       Non-essential employees

  • Non-essential employees are affected by the social, preventive and mandatory isolation and must work remotely. Their remuneration is not affected.
  • Labor  risk insurance companies must  be informed  of  the  number  of  employees working remotely, along with their personal address.

 

-          Essential employees

  • Essential workers will be exempted from the stay-home provisions of the decree and must continue working at their workplace.
  • They will have to get a permit to move around.
  • Essential employees must stay at home if they:

o        a) show covid-19-related symptoms and/or have returned to Argentina from highly affected areas,

o        b) have had contact with people who might or are suspected to be infected with corona virus,

o        c) are pregnant women, and

o        d) are included in the high risk groups (heart, lung or immunological deceases.)

 

-          Exemptions for essential employees

The absent of essential employees from work is justify if:

  • Head of family in charge of school-age children.
  • Prevented from attending workplace. They should inform the employer the reasons for such exemption.

Essential employees not attending workplace will receive the basic salary. However, controversy surrounds the entitlement of the employee to full salary.

 

-          Employees with COVID-19

  • The infection of essential employees by corona virus will be considered to be a disease of labor nature. Labor risk insurance companies are under the obligation to provide the employees with health coverage.
  • The infection of non-essential employees by corona virus will not be considered to be a disease of labor nature. The employee is entitled to a 3-month sick leave with full payment of salary. If the employee is head of family, this term may be extended to 6 months. Employees with of 5 years or more are entitled to a six-month sick leave. If the employee is head of family, this term may be extended to 12 months.
  •  If an employee is dismissed during sick leave, the employee is entitled to full payment of as many wages there might be between the start and the end of the sick leave. Additionally, he is entitled to compensation for dismissal without fair cause.

 

-          Working conditions

  • The power to implement ius variandi will be used to guarantee continuity of essential services in a healthy environment.
  • Employees cannot be forced to take their vacations during the social, preventive and mandatory isolation.

 

-          Dismissals and suspensions

  • Dismissals and suspensions due to lack or reduction of work and/or force majeure are prohibited for 60 days as from March 31, 2020. This include:

o        Dismissals without fair cause.

o        Dismissals or suspensions due to lack or reduction of work.

o        Dismissals or suspensions due to force majeure.

  • When reduction of work or lack therof is not attributable to the employer, the Section 223 bis of the Labor Contract Law allows the employer to reach an agreement with the worker, the corresponding union or the Ministry of Labor establishing a non-remunerative economic compensation for the worker.

 

-          Labor and Production Emergency Assistance Program

 

The Labor and Production Emergency Assistance Program is an emergency assistance program created to provide relief for employers whose businesses have suffered due to the covid-19 pandemic in Argentina.

Benefits include:

  • Postponement of payment of contributions paid by the employer.
  • A reduction of up to 95 percent of contributions paid by the employer.
  • Complementary salaries paid by the National Social Security Administration. This supplementary salary will be equivalent to 50% of the employee’s net salary by February 2020, and cannot be less than a minimum wage (ARS 16,875) or exceed two minimum wages (ARS 33,750.)
  • Zero-interest-rate credit for the people adhering to the Simplified Scheme for Small Taxpayers and Self-Employed Personnel.
  • Unemployment benefit: from ARS 6,000 up to ARS 10,000.

To have access to these benefits, employers must show one of the following:

  • that the economic activity is one of the most negatively affected by the pandemic.
  • that a substantial decrease of sales after March 12, 2020.
  • that a significant number of employees are infected with covid-19.

 

These benefits may be extended until June 30, 2020. However, they may be extended until October 30, only for small taxpayers and self-employed individuals who are still in quarantine even when the lockdown has come to an end.

 

-       Expats

  • Hiring foreign employees will be postponed until visas and residence permits are available again.
  • Validity of temporary, transitory and precarious residences as well as registrations before the National Registry of Foreigners will be extended for 30 days as of March 17, 2020.

Content updated as of 29/04/2020

For more information, please contact: Gonzalo Oliva-Beltrán                       

Tel: +54 11 4814 1746

[email protected]

BODJN-sized.jpgBARREIRO. OLIVA. DE LUCA. JACA. NICASTRO

1309 Córdoba Avenue, 3rd floor, office A. C1055AAD, City of Buenos Aires Argentina

 

 

Belgium

1.             Tax support measures for companies

  • Businesses which are actually and demonstrably affected by the spread of the coronavirus can request support for the following types of taxes: withholding tax on salaries, VAT, income tax, company tax.
  • The support that can be requested is: deferred payment, reimbursement plan, no interest on late payment, waiver of fines for late payment.
  • All businesses are eligible, under the following conditions: demonstrate difficulties as a result of corona-crisis, and not have pre-existing structural difficulties.

 

2.             Social security

  • Businesses that are mandatorily closed by the government, or that have had to close because they are unable to ensure safe working conditions (a.o. minimum required social distancing), or that have decided to suspend all sales or production activities, can request a stay of payment of social security contributions until 15/12/2020.
  • All businesses can request payment facilities for 1st and 2nd quarter social security contributions, free of interest and fines.

 

3.             Employment

  • For non-essential businesses:

o   telework is mandatory in all functions that can be performed from home.

o   For all functions that cannot be performed at home, social distancing (1,5m minimum) is mandatory. Appropriate measures to ensure this have to be implemented.

o   If this cannot be guaranteed, the business has to temporarily close their offices and suspend operations.

  • Essential businesses (such as e.g. hospitals, retirement homes, pharmacies, food stores, transportation) are recommended to allow telework and must strive to ensure social distancing, but do not have to close if that is not possible

 

4.            Temporary unemployment (Similar to furlough.)

  • All businesses can put all or part of their workforce on a temporary corona-unemployment regime, (almost) no questions asked.
  • This system is (for now) available until 30/6/2020.
  • The unemployment must not necessarily be continuous, and can be interlaced with days of employment.
  • All employees (blue collar, white collar, regardless of how many days they have worked or not in the recent past) are eligible. Students and temps are not eligible.
  • For the duration of their temporary unemployment, employees will receive 70% of their gross salary (capped at € 2.754,76 / m)
  • On top of that, they will receive € 5,63 per day of unemployment.
  • Only full days of unemployment are eligible for unemployment benefits.
  • Employers may grant their employees a (partial or entire) compensation of any salary loss due to temporary unemployment, free of social security contributions but subject to tax (as a replacement income), and deductible for the employer.

 

5.               Reimbursement of loans

  • Both businesses and private persons can request a suspension of up to 6 months for the reimbursement of loans. This may or may not be subject to certain conditions.

 

6.              Mandatory paid vacation

  • This is not an option in Belgium. Employees cannot be forced to take their vacation days. Vacations are consensual between employer and employee, with the only restriction that they have to be exhausted before the end of each calendar year.

 

7.                Caveats

  • In the event of people teleworking from home, please confirm with your labor accident insurance provider that telework is covered under the policy. This is not always the case.
  • In the event of group insurance policies that contain coverage for death, please confirm with your insurance provider that death during a period of temporary unemployment is covered. This is also not always the case.
  •  

Content upated as of 21/04/2020

Jan Swinnen advocaat

Desguinlei 214 | B-2018 Antwerpen | T +32 (0)3 248 48 40 | F +32 (0)3 216 36 71 | [email protected] | [email protected]

 ​​​

 

Brazil

The Federal Brazilian Government issued some Provisional Measures (MP) providing specific measures applicable to labor relations when dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, whose state of public calamity was recognized by the Legislative Decree No. 06/2020, as alternatives to reduce payroll costs and adjust or even interrupt production in these times of public calamity. The two more important provisional measures are MP 927 and MP 936.

The MP 927, issued on March 22, authorized the signing of an individual written agreement with the employee (does not require the agreement of the Union, but only of the employee and in writing), to enable:

  • remote work (Home Office System);
  • anticipation of individual vacations;
  • granting of collective vacations;
  • use and anticipation of holidays;  
  • bank of hours, with an eighteen (18) months period counted as of the end date of the state of public calamity to offset the hours included in the Bank of Hours.;
  • suspension of administrative requirements related to health and safety at work (such as the obligation of performing medical examinations (admission and periodical), clinical and complementary examinations, that is suspended while the state of calamity lasts); and,
  • deferral payment of Severance Pay Fund (FGTS) (the obligation to pay FGTS amounts related to March, April and May of 2020 is suspended and may be made in up to six (6) installments with expiration date up to the 7th day of each month, starting on July 20 of this year, without any monetary adjustment, interest and fine.).

The remote work system excludes the employee from working hours control, if the employer doesn´t control the hours.

In the case of vacations, we call the attention to the fact that they may be granted even to employees who have not completed the 12-month vacation acquisition period (12-month period of work to be entitled to vacation) and it also establishes the possibility of anticipating future vacation periods. The payment of vacation may be performed up to the 5th business day of the month following the vacation starting month. The payment of the 1/3 vacation additional may be paid up to the date on which the Christmas bonus is due (13th salary).

 

On the other hand, the MP 936, of April 1, 2020, authorized the following alternatives:

 

  • proportional reduction of working hours and wages; and,
  • temporary suspension of the employment contract.
  •  

As for the proportional reduction of hours and wages, it can be agreed for up to 90 days, subject to the following requirements: i) preservation of the value of hourly wages; ii)  agreement by individual or collective agreement (that is, with the participation of the union), depending on the percentage of the reduction or the employee's compensation; and, iii) reduction in the percentages of: a) 25%; b) 50%; or, c) 70%. The applicable CCB may establish different percentages of reduced working hours and wages.

Regarding the proportional reduction of hours and wages, the following clarifications are applicable: as the reduction is 25%, it can be applied to any employee, without the need of prior Union authorization, however, it must be formalized in writing with each employees. For reductions of 50% or 70%, negotiation with the respective union is mandatory, unless the employee has a remuneration equal to or less than BRL 3,135.00 or equal to or greater than BRL 12,202.12 and has a university degree.

The temporary suspension of the employment contract may last for a maximum period of 60 days, and may be divided into up to two periods of thirty days. During the period of temporary suspension, the employee will be entitled to all benefits granted by the employer to his employees (health plan, CBA benefits, etc.).

Companies that have had, in the calendar year of 2019, gross revenue of less than BRL 4,800,000.00 will not need to make any cash payments during the suspension period; those that got higher income, however, will only be able to suspend their employees' employment contract by paying a monthly payment of 30% of the employee's salary.

Employees who have their working hours reduced or the contract suspended, will enjoy a temporary job guarantee (stability) during the period of the salary/working hours reduction and/or suspension of the employment agreement plus an equal period thereafter (e.g., reduction of salary for 2 months = 4 months of job stability).

If the company terminates the employment agreement without cause before the end of the job stability period, besides the mandatory severance package established by law, the company will have to pay an indemnification as follows: i. Reduction of salary and working hours of 25% up to 50%: indemnification of 50% of the salary to which the employee would be entitled to during the job stability period; ii. Reduction of salary and working hours of 50% up to 70%: indemnification of 75% of the salary to which the employee would be entitled to during the job stability period; and, iii. Reduction of salary and working hours higher than 70% and Suspension of employment agreement: indemnification of 100% of the salary to which the employee would be entitled to during the job stability period.

Companies must inform the Government (Ministry of Economy) and the employees’ Union in within 10 days counted as of the execution date of the agreement (individual or collective) to reduce salary and working hours or to suspend the employment agreements.

Content updates as of 21/04/2020

  Eduardo Boccuzzi

  [email protected]


T (55 11) 3039 6399  F (55 11) 3039 6398

Av. Brigadeiro Faria Lima, 2055   10o andar    CEP 01452-001    São Paulo    SP     Brasil

[email protected]  www.boccuzzi.com.br

 

Bulgaria

On 13 March 2020 the Bulgarian Parliament declared a state of emergency.  On 24 March 2020 a Law on the measures and actions during the state of emergency, declared on 13 March 2020 by decision of the National Assembly (the “Emergency Law”) was published and will remain in effect until the time the state of emergency is lifted.

In addition to a number of other measures aimed at preventing, mitigation and overcoming the effects of the spread and infection of the COVID-19 virus, the Emergency Law provides for temporary measures regarding employment relations.  These include the following possibilities for an employer:

1)   to introduce unilaterally work at home or telework where this is possible (ref. Section 1 below) – in normal circumstances, such working regime requires the consent of the employee and the employer;

2)   to suspend the operations of the enterprise, part of the enterprise or of individual employees by an order - for the whole or for part of the emergency period until the state of emergency is lifted (ref. Section 2 below);

3)   to order part-time work for employees working full-time in the enterprise or in a separate unit of the enterprise for the whole duration of the state of emergency or for part of it (ref. Section 3 below) - previously such forced cutback in working time could only happen in case of established decrease of workload (following a specific process) or with employee’s consent;

4)   to mandate the use of paid annual leave by the employee (ref. Section 4 below) – previously such forced use was allowed only in limited circumstances, otherwise the vacation is used at employee’s request and with employer’s permission to grant such request.

Certain financial supportive measures have also been introduced with the aim to facilitate the employers and the employees and to prevent termination of employment relationships (ref. Section 5 below).

More details follow below:

 

1.     Introduction of work at home and remote work by a unilateral order by the employer

Except the possibility to introduce work at home or remote work unilaterally (instead of, pursuant to the general provisions, with the consent of the employee), all other rights and obligations of the employer and the employee upon exercising of work at home/remote work and stipulated in the Labour Code, remain unaltered (including, the employer’s obligation to ensure appropriate work conditions and health and safety work conditions, which the employee is obliged to follow).

2.     Suspension of operations due to a declared state of emergency. Right to remuneration

In the event of a declared state of emergency, the operations of the enterprise or part of the enterprise may be suspended by an order by a public authority, or by the employer by an order - for the whole or part of the emergency period until the state of emergency is lifted.

In both cases, however, the employee shall continue to receive his/her gross remuneration for the duration of suspension of work.

3.       Ordering part-time work to FTEs

In the enterprise or in a separate unit of the enterprise, for the whole duration of the state of emergency or for part of the duration, the employer may order part-time work for employees working full-time. In this case, the duration of the working time may not be less than 1/2 of the statutory duration for the period of calculation of the working time (which at the moment is up to 40 hours for a 5-day working week).

In this case, the employer is not required to prove a decrease of the workload, nor does the requirement for prior coordination with the employees' representatives (and trade union organizations, if any) apply - conditions that until the entry into force of the Emergency Law were required.

According to Art. 247 of the Labour Code the amount of labour remuneration is determined in accordance with the duration of the work. To the extent that the introduction of part-time work results in reduced working hours, the amount of remuneration would also be adjusted accordingly.

4.       Mandating the use of paid annual leave in case of a declared state of emergency

During the emergency period, an employer that has not suspended operations has the right to mandate the use of ½ of the paid annual leave entitlement to an employee without his or her consent.

An employer that has suspended operations due to a declared state of emergency by its own order or by the order of a public authority has the right to mandate the use of all of the paid annual leave entitlement to an employee without his or her consent during the emergency period.

The amendments made by the Law on the Measures do not envisage an option for the employer to provide unpaid annual leave without the employee's consent.

In the normal circumstances the vacation is used at employee’s request and with employer’s permission to grant such request. However, in case of a declared state of emergency, the employer is obliged to allow the use of both paid and unpaid leave, if so requested by an employee falling into certain vulnerable categories (such as pregnant women, mothers of children under 12 years of age or of disabled children; single fathers or adoptive single fathers of children under 12 years of age or of disabled children; employees with more than 50 per cent permanent reduced capacity to work; etc.)

5.     Measures to facilitate employers in order to avoid termination of the employment relationships with the employees affected by the state of emergency (60-40 State support)

During the term of effectiveness of the Emergency Law but for a period not exceeding 3 months, the National Social Security Institute will transfer 60% of the amount of an employee’s social insurance income for January 2020, as well as 60% of the health and social security contributions payable on account of the employer, to employers who – due to the emergency state - have (i) suspended operations by an order issued on the basis of the Labour Code or on the basis of an act of a public authority, or (ii) introduced part-time work for employees working full-time in the enterprise or in a separate unit of the enterprise by an order issued on the basis of the Labour Code.  The main rules of the 60-40 State Support program are:

  • The NSSI shall compensate the employers only for employees working under labour contracts, to whom the suspension-of-work or part-time measures have been applied (contractors are not covered).
  • The following 2 categories of employers may benefit from the state support system:

(i) Employers carrying out activities in certain economic sectors (e.g. transportation; tourism; hotel services; restaurants; cinemas, theatres and other artistic and cultural venues; sport and leisure venues), irrespective of dropdown in revenues;

(ii) Employers carrying out activities in all (except for a few) other economic sectors who face revenue dropdown of not less than 20% (as compared to the respective month of 2019).

  • The state support is also conditional on certain other restrictions (e.g., the ability to effect redundancies during the compensation period).  Most notably, an employer who has received state support must retain the employment of the persons for whom they have been compensated for an additional period equal to the period for which the compensation is paid.  Additionally, during the compensation period the employer may not terminate employment contracts of employees on the grounds of closure of part of the enterprise, reduction in the number of posts, reduced workload or work suspension for more than 15 business days.
  • To be eligible, the employer must also meet certain other conditions, such as, for example, not owe outstanding taxes and other dues to the state, not have been penalized for labour-related violations, etc.
  • Employees must continue to receive their full pay as for full-time employment (albeit suspended form work or put on part-time)

The compensation process is not automatic – the eligible employers must follow an application process.

Content updated as of 25/04/2020

Youliana Naoumova

Partner

Djingov, Gouginski, Kyutchukov & Velichkov

10 Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd., 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria

T:  +359 2 932 1100; D: +359 2 932 1119

PA: +359 2 932 1183;

E: [email protected]

F: +359 2 980 3586

 

China

The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 is undoubtedly affecting the labor relationship, business operation and employee protections. During the difficult times, the Chinese government has issued various policies and measures to help both employees and employers to weather the storm:

 

1.         Policies on Labor Relationship

 

a)         The employer shall pay an employee normal salary and shall not unilaterally terminate the employment contract or lay the employee off during his/her period of isolation or medical observation, if such employee is a suspected new coronavirus patient or a close contact with infectious patients and  needs to be  placed under  isolation or medical observation.

 

b)        The employer may lower employees’ remunerations through negotiation. The employer may consult with its employees to adopt measures for securing their job positions such as remunerations adjustment, flexible shifts, working hours reduction.

 

c)         The employer may suspend business operation. If the suspension lasts within a salary payment period (for a period no longer than 30 days), the employer shall pay its employees normal salaries. If the suspension lasts for a period exceeding 30 days:

 

i.              employer shall pay its employees’ salaries not lower than the local minimum salary standard as long as they provide normal work service; and

 

ii.              if employees do not provide any work service, the employer shall pay living allowances according to detailed local polices, which varies from provinces to provinces.

 

2.         Measures to Share the Job Stabilization Costs with the Employer

 

a)         To increase the standard of the unemployment rate under the policy on unemployment insurance return which would enable small, medium and micro-sized enterprises and all types of enterprises in Hubei and other badly stricken area to enjoy unemployment insurance return more easily.

 

b)        To increase the unemployment insurance return standard, up to the unemployment insurance paid by the enterprises and its employees in the previous year small, which would benefit all medium and micro-sized enterprises (for Hubei Province, to all types of enterprises) that do not lay off employees or lay off fewer employees due to the impact of Coronavirus.

 

3.         Financial Supports to Employers and Self-employed Persons

 

a)         The enterprises focusing on epidemic prevention and control can apply for an interest subsidy for their loans newly added in 2020, calculated by 50% of the People's Bank of China's refinancing interest rate, and the term of the subsidy shall not exceed one year.

 

b)        If a self-employed person who has borrowed guaranteed loans for starting a business suffers from Coronavirus infection, he/she may apply for an extension of repayment with the loan bank and in principle, the extension shall not exceed one year.

 

c)         To encourage financial institutions to provide credit loans to key enterprises engaged in Coronavirus prevention and control as well as to small and micro enterprises that are greatly affected by the Coronavirus.

 

4.         Temporary Exemption from IIT and Social Security Contributions

 

a)         The employees are fully exempt from  individual income tax for  the drugs, medical supplies, protective equipment and so on (not including cash) distributed by entities to prevent Coronavirus.

 

b)        From February 2020 to June 2020, (1) small and medium sized enterprises are exempt from making employer-portion contributions to pension insurance, unemployment insurance, and work-related injury insurance (“three social securities”); (2) all enterprises located in the Hubei Province are fully exempt from making employer-portion contributions to three social securities. From February 2020 to April 2020, contributions payable by large enterprises to three social securities are reduced by 50%.

 

c)         Employers who face serious difficulties in their production and business operations due to the Coronavirus may apply for a deferred contribution of social securities. The deferred period shall, in principle, not exceed six months and shall be subject to each province’s policy, and overdue fine shall be waived for the deferred period.

 

5.         Preferential Policies on Medical Staff and Other Coronavirus Prevention Personnel

 

a)       Medical staff and epidemic prevention personnel participating in Coronavirus prevention and control are fully exempt from the individual income tax for temporary subsidies and bonuses obtained as per governmental rules.

 

b)       If medical staff and related working personnel suffer Coronavirus infection or die for the reason of novel coronavirus infection when performing their work responsibilities and duties, they can be certified as suffering work-related injury and, therefore, will be entitled to work-related injury insurance benefits.

 

Content updated as of 23/04/2020

Kevin Xu

Partner

mhplawyers_sized_logo.jpg

 

 

D +86 21 6113 2919 | T +86 21 6113 2988 | F +86 21 6113 2913

7/F, Wheelock Square, 1717 Nanjing West Road, Shanghai 200040, PRC [email protected] | www.mhplawyer.com

 

Czech Republic

The government of the Czech Republic has introduced various measures in order to support business and freelancers affected by consequences of the state of emergency that was declared on 13 March 2020. Please find below a brief summary of them – more detailed information can be found under the provided links.

Legal aspects of measures that might be taken by employers in reaction to coronavirus are described  here. For regular updates of the above information please visit our website.

 

(A)      Governmental Programme Antivirus (Kurzarbeit)

-          A targeted nation-wide programme in order to partially compensate entrepreneurs their personal costs has been introduced. Entitled to compensation are those employers exposed to mandatory restrictions on operations and/or mandatory quarantine or those affected by related economic problems.

-          The state provides contribution in the amount of 80 % or 60 % of the salary compensation paid by the employer to employees, including statutory levies. The maximum monthly contribution per employee is CZK 39 000 or CZK 29 000.

 

More information:

http://www.ltapartners.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/IMPLEMENTATION-OF-  GOVERNMENTAL-PROGRAMME-ANTIVIRUS.pdf

 

(B)       Tax Relieves

-          General remission of the advance due on 15 June 2020.

-          Tax payers whose statutory deadline for submission of tax returns for 2019 expires on 1 April 2020 may file a tax return and pay tax by 1 July 2020 without a penalty for late submission and a default interest.

-          If a VAT payer files the inspection statement after deadline without being called to do so by the Tax Administrator, the fine for the late submission of the inspection statements will be waived.

-          Administrative charges for submission of applications for waiver of default interest and interest on the deferred amount of tax and similar applications filed by 31 July 2020 shall be waived.

-          The duty to electronically register sales has been cancelled until the end of the state of emergency and over the next three months after the end thereof.

 

More information:

http://www.ltapartners.com/en/liberacni-balicek-pro-podnikatele-v-souvislosti-s-epidemii-  danove-ulevy/

http://www.ltapartners.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Tax-Relieves-II.pdf

 

(C)       Support of Freelancers

-           Partial remission of advances for pensions and healthcare insurance for March through August 2020.

-           Extension of the deadline for filing of the income statement to the healthcare insurance company and Social Security Administration.

-           Compensation in the amount of CZK 25 000.

 

(D)      Carer’s Benefits

-           A benefit paid by the Social Security Administration to employees who cannot work because they take care of a child up to the age of 13 because schools or other child care institutions have been closed due to the epidemic. The benefit is to be paid for the entire duration of the extraordinary measures.

-           The amount of the benefit is 60 % of the daily assessment base per calendar day.

 

More information:  http://www.ltapartners.com/en/osetrovne/

 

(E)       Guarantee Schemes and Legislation Proposals such as Freezing of Loan Payments or Moratorium on Leases of Business Premises

 

More information:

http://www.ltapartners.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/LTA_Newsletter_9.4.2020_EN.pdf

Content updated as of 20 April 2020

LTA_sized_logo.jpgLTA LEGAL S.R.O  

 

Denmark

In an attempt of reducing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Danish Government has presented large economic packages with the support of all parties in Parliament with various measures and relief packages in order to support businesses and employees affected by consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic and to mitigate the partly lock down of Denmark since 13 March 2020.

Starting from 15 April, a very slow and gradual reopening will be initiated, but if there are indications that the number of infections increases too fast, it will be reversed.

These measures can be summarized as follows:

 

1.              Temporary salary compensation

 

The Danish government has introduced a compensation scheme to benefit private companies, who see it necessary to dismiss some of their employees. The scheme applies to all private companies that are affected because of COVID- 19.

It is a temporary compensation scheme and applies from 9 March 2020 to 8 June 2020. The scheme applies to companies that are about to dismiss at least 30 % of its employees, or more than 50 employees.

If the company decides not to dismiss their employees, it may receive a salary compensation from the government:

 

  • For fulltime monthly paid employees, the compensation amounts to 75% of the salary, with a maximum of at DKK 30,000 (app. EUR 4,000) per month.
  • For hourly paid employees, the compensation amounts to 90%, with a max- imum at DKK 30,000 (app. EUR 4,000) per month.

 

The employees must not work during the compensation period and the companies must pay full salaries to the employees sent home. During the compensation pe- riod, your company must not dismiss employees for financial reasons.

 

2.              Compensation for self-employed persons

 

This compensation targets small companies and self-employed persons with no more than 10 employees (not including co-owners). The business owners must have at least 25 % ownership and have to work in the company.

The company must expect a minimum of 30% decline in revenue during the period March 9 to June 8, 2020 due to Covid-19.

The compensation is 75% of the loss of revenue - however a maximum of DKK 23,000 (app. EUR 3,000) per month. If the spouse also works in the company, the compensation can be raised up to DKK 46,000 (app. EUR 6,000) per month.

 

 

3.              Compensation for freelancers

 

Self-employed persons (freelancers) can also receive compensation if they expect a decline in income caused by COVID-19.

The scheme is limited to persons with an income of min. DKK 120,000 (app. EUR 16,000) during the last 12 months up to Marts 1 2020, which is equivalent to DKK 10,000 (app. EUR 1,300) monthly on average.

To receive compensation, the freelancer must not have a personal income of more than DKK 0.8 mill. (app. EUR 107,000) in 2020.

The compensation is 75% of the expected income loss, with a maximum of DKK 23,000 (app. EUR 3,000) per month.

 

4.              Compensation for fixed expenses

 

The government has also introduced a compensation scheme for some fixed expenses.

The fixed expenses must amount to at least DKK 25,000 (app. EUR 3,333) in the period from March 9 to June 8, 2020.

To achieve the compensation, the company must have a decline in revenue of at least 40 %.

The compensation is between 25 % and 100 % in a period of three months, and the percentage to be compensated are as follows:

 

  • 25% if the revenue has declined between 40-60%
  • 50% if the revenue has declined between 60-80%
  • 80% if the revenue has declined between 80-100%
  • 100% if the company has been forced to close

 

The total compensation for a company cannot exceed DKK 60 mill. (app. EUR 8 mill.).

 

 

5.              Compensation for canceled events

 

It is possible to apply for compensation if an event has been canceled because of the government’s decision to cancel or postpone all events with more than 1.000 participants.

 

6.              Taxes an VAT

 

The deadline for filing tax returns for all taxpayers is extended until 1 September 2020. Also, several deadlines for payment of VAT and some taxes have been postponed.

Content updates as of 22/04/2020

 

Mazanti-logo-sized.jpgPeter W. R. Krarup
Attorney-at-law
+45 3319 3710
[email protected]

 

 

Germany

Covid 19 Pandemic Implications on German Labour Law.

 

1.       New regulations on short-time work (“Kurzarbeit”

One of the first political measures in Germany after the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic were new regulations on so-called short-time work (“Kurzarbeit”. Short-time work means the temporary reduction of regular working hours in a company due to a considerable loss of working hours. Short-time work may affect all or only some of the company's employees. The affected employees work less or not at all during short-time work. Short-time work can be an instrument to avoid dismissals in the event of a temporary loss of work.

In order to partially compensate for the loss of earnings of the employees in such cases, the employees can, under certain conditions, claim a compensation payment from the unemployment insurance, the so-called short-time work allowance (“Kurzarbeitergeld”). The Federal Employment Agency (“Bundesagentur für Arbeit”) is responsible for this benefit in Germany.

In connection with the Covid 19 pandemic, the requirements for receiving short-time work benefits were loosened as follows:

  • Employees can claim short-time work allowance if at least 10 percent (previously: 30 percent) of the employees (in relation to the entire company or even only in relation to one company department) have a loss of earnings of more than 10 percent.
  • Social security contributions for lost working hours are reimbursed to employers at 100 percent.
  •  Previously, short-time work benefits were available for up to 12 months. Until the end of 2020, due to the current situation and under certain conditions, a maximum of 21 months will apply.
  • temporary workers can also go on short-time work and are entitled to short-time work allowance.
  • employees no longer have to build up minus hours before receiving short-time working allowance.
  • The amount of short-time working allowance was also adjusted due to the Covid 19 pandemic: In general, the short-time work allowance amounts to 60 percent of the last net wage or 67 percent for employees with children. Due to the current situation the amounts are increased to 70 percent (respectively 77 percent for employees with children) from the fourth month of payment. From the seventh month of payment, it will be 80 percent (or 87 percent for employees with children). This is to apply until 31 December 2020 at the latest.
  • With regard to secondary employments:

o   If the secondary employment was already carried out before the start of short-time work, there are no effects, i.e. there is no crediting against the short-time work allowance.

o   If employees took up a secondary employment while receiving short-time work allowance, the resulting remuneration was previously offset against the short-time work allowance. Due to the pandemic, right now there will be no offset against the short-time work allowance (irrespective of the sector in which the secondary employment is carried out) as long as the total income does not exceed the full amount of the previous monthly income. This is to apply until 31 December 2020.

 

2.       Continued payment of wages in case of an infection

If the employee is unable to work due to an infection with the coronavirus and is thus prevented from performing his work, he is entitled to continued remuneration in the event of illness for a period of six weeks (§ 3 EFZG). After this period, people with statutory health insurance are generally entitled to sickness benefit for up to 78 weeks.

 

3.       Compensation payments for employees who are suspects of infection

If the employee himself as the affected party is the addressee of an official measure, such as a ban on work or quarantine, there is in many constellations a claim for compensation under public law. Persons who are isolated as suspects of infection by order of the competent public health department and therefore suffer a loss of earnings will receive compensation in accordance with § 56 of the Infection Protection Act. The compensation is calculated according to the loss of earnings. For the first six weeks, it is granted in the amount of the loss of earnings. From the beginning of the seventh week, it is granted in the amount of the sickness benefit. Employees receive compensation from their employer for the duration of their isolation, for a maximum of six weeks, at the level of net wages. The amounts paid out are reimbursed to the employer on request. After six weeks, the State continues to pay sickness benefit. Sick people are not covered by this compensation scheme because they already receive sick pay and sickness benefit (see above).

 

4.       Other labour law aspects

a.       Telework

There is no legal right to work from home. However, employees can agree on telework with their employer. The option can also be based on a company agreement or a collective bargaining agreement.

b.       No compulsory leave

As a matter of principle, leave is based on the wishes of the employee, as provided for in the Federal Leave Act. This means that an order for compulsory leave by the employer is not possible in general. Due to the current exceptional situation, it is being discussed whether the Corona crisis justifies "urgent operational concerns" which could justify an order for forced leave. However, in the event of a dispute, this is likely to be a rather difficult argument to use, so that it is not certain that this will be the case.

c.       Day care centre closures

If childcare is required when the day care centre/school is closed, taking into account the age of the children, the parents must first make every reasonable effort to ensure childcare elsewhere (e.g. care of the child by another parent). If the necessary child care cannot be ensured even then, the employee should normally have a right to refuse to provide services, since it would be unreasonable to expect the employee to work (§ 275.3 of the German Civil Code). This means that in such cases the employee is released from the obligation to provide services.

However, it should be noted that if the employee has a right to refuse performance for personal reasons of prevention, a claim to continued payment of remuneration can only exist under strict conditions. Such a claim to remuneration can arise from § 616 BGB for a relatively insignificant period of time. In addition, the claim under § 616 BGB may be restricted or even completely excluded by employment or collective bargaining agreements.

If the employee takes leave, he receives holiday pay.

 

5.       Extension of unemployment benefit

The period of entitlement to unemployment benefit I (so called “Arbeitslosengeld I”) has been extended by three months and for those whose entitlement would normally have ended between 1.5. and 31.12.2020.

The amount of unemployment benefit I is 60 per cent of the last net income, and 67 per cent for unemployed persons with children.

 

6.       Exceptions of the Working Time Act

In addition, the government has allowed temporary exemptions from compliance with the Working Time Act. The exemption possibilities of the Regulation apply only to certain activities in “system-relevant occupations” such as pharmaceuticals, the energy and water supply companies, agricultural companies etc.

The new regulation permits exemptions from the working hours regulations for certain activities until 30 June 2020.

Specifically, the following exceptions are permitted:

  • The working hours of employees can be extended to up to twelve hours per working day. This only applies insofar as the extension cannot be avoided by foresighted organisational measures, including necessary scheduling of working hours, by hiring or other personnel management measures.
  • As is customary in the Working Time Act, a compensation to eight hours per working day (48 hours per week) must be made within six months.
  • The daily rest period may be reduced by up to two hours, whereby a minimum rest period of nine hours may not be fallen short of. Any reduction in the rest period must be compensated within four weeks. Where possible, compensation shall be provided in the form of days off, otherwise by extending other rest periods to at least 13 hours each.
  • Employees may also be employed on Sundays and public holidays, provided that the work cannot be carried out on working days.
  • If use is made of the derogations, the working time may not exceed 60 hours per week. Only in urgent exceptional cases may the weekly working time be extended beyond 60 hours, unless the extension can be avoided by anticipatory organisational measures, including necessary scheduling of working time, by hiring or other personnel management measures.

 

haverandMailander-sized.jpgIf you have any queries or concerns, or would like to discuss the above in further detail, please feel free to contact Markus Bettecken, Partner, on 0049 711 2274480 / [email protected] or Jörg Richardi, Partner, on 0049 711 2274445 / [email protected]

This article is for general information purposes. Legal advice must be obtained for individual circumstances. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this article, no liability is accepted by the authors for any inaccuracies.

 

 

Greece

Measures adopted for businesses issued by the Greek government and associated with the adverse effects of Covid19 outbreak

 

Employment legislation

 

1.        The employment contracts of businesses under lockdown by order of the authorities have been suspended (employees released from the obligation to provide services and employers from the obligation to pay wages). Employees are entitled to a state benefit amounting to 800,00€ for the period 15.03 to 30.04.2020, with full social security coverage.

 

2.       Same applies for companies severely impacted by the crisis (specific impacted categories have been announced by the Finance Ministry). The impacted companies may suspend their employment contracts for an uninterrupted period of 45 days and their employees will receive the above mentioned state benefit.

 

3.       Employers are also entitled to unilaterally impose a remote working policy (teleworking) for as long as the special circumstances apply.

 

4.      Working parents are entitled to a special leave of absence during the period that schools are under lockdown. ¼ of the leave days is covered by the state.

 

5.       During the suspension period and for an extra period of 45 days employers are not entitled to dismiss any employees and such dismissals will be considered invalid.  Furthermore, employers are obliged to maintain the same employment terms.

 

6.      Special measures have been introduced for the benefit of the employers:

 

·        Easter benefit can be paid to their employees until the end of June and may be paid partly by the state if the employment contract is suspended.

·        50% of the employees can work as “safety operation personnel” for a minimum of 2 weeks per month for a period of up to six months (prohibition of dismissals applies).

·        Possibility to combine the “safety operation personnel” scheme or the suspension of the employment with teleworking.

 

·        Possibility of provisional (up to six months) transfer of personnel to other companies of the same group (prohibition of dismissals applies).

·        Suspension of the employers’ obligation to promptly declare changes in the Labour Ministry’s e-platform (Ergani) regarding working hours and overtime.

 

Tax and Miscellaneous

 

1.        The deadline for tax payment and social security obligations of employees and employers has been extended.

 

2.       Businesses whose operations have been suspended benefit from a 40% reduction in the rent of their premises for March and April 2020 (commercial leases). Same applies for employees with suspended employment contracts in regards to their residences (residential leases).

 

Content upodates as of 22/04/2020

 

George Chatzigiannakis

Partner

Email: [email protected]

NOMOS Law Firm

1 Valaoritou St. 546 26 Thessaloniki, Greece

T +30 2310 239 104

M+30 6940 914 342

www.nomos.gr

nomos_sized_logo.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Hong Kong

Through the joint effort of the Government and citizens, Hong Kong has managed to keep the number of confirmed cases at a relatively low level in this pandemic, and prevent large scale community outbreak.  Like all other countries, Hong Kong is facing unprecedented challenges.  Wide range of economic activities have been severely disrupted, some come to a complete halt, like aviation and tourism.  Besides, massive staff layoffs is anticipated if no timely assistance is provided by the Government, causing hardship to families and individuals.

Since the beginning of 2020, Hong Kong Government has launched three rounds of measures totalling HK$287.5 billion (US$36.8 billion), accounting for 10% of Hong Kong’s Gross Domestic Product, to help business stay afloat, to keep workers in employment, to relieve financial burdens of individual and businesses and to assist the economy to recover once the epidemic is contained. 

The first round relief measures is to set up an Anti-epidemic Fund worth HK$30 billion on 21st February 2020 to enhance the Government capability in combating the novel coronavirus epidemic, and to provide assistance or relief to enterprises and members of the public hard hit by the epidemic or affected by anti-epidemic measures.  The Fund had launched 24 measures largely focused on providing one-off cash injections to individuals/organisations in affected sectors.  These include providing additional resources to Hospital Authority for tackling the epidemic, financial support to frontline property management workers, subsidy to facilitate the establishment of mask production facilities in Hong Kong, subsidy to operators of retail business, food business licence holders, travel agents and licensed hawkers.

On 26th February 2020, the Government announced further measures in the 2020-21 Budget to support enterprises, safeguard jobs and relieve people’s burden, involving about HK$120 billion. These include a HK$10,000 cash payout scheme to all Hong Kong permanent residents aged over 18, reduction of profits and salaries tax by up to 100% (subject to a ceiling of HK$20,000), extra allowances for low-income groups, and a Special 100% Guarantee Product, viz. a concessionary low-interest loan with 100% Government guarantee for small and medium enterprises (SME).

As the epidemic continued, the Government implemented the second round of HK$137.5 billion worth of relief measures on 18th April 2020.  One of the main objectives is to achieve job retention, job creation and job advancement.

(1)         Job retention

(i)          A sum of HK$80 billion has been earmarked for the Employment Support Scheme.  Under this Scheme, the Government will provide a wage subsidy to eligible employers to help retain employees, in exchange for which requires the employers not to implement redundancy. The wage subsidy is up to HK$9,000 per employees calculated based on 50% of the monthly salary, which is capped at HK$18,000, for a period of six months and to be disbursed to employers in two tranches (June & September 2020).

(ii)        Self-employed persons who have made Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) contributions in the past 15 months will be granted a one-off lump-sum subsidy of HK$7,500. 

 

(2)        Job creation

         The Government aims to create around 30,000 time-limited jobs in both the public and private sectors in the coming two years for people of different skill sets and academic qualifications. Some examples include positions for seasoned professionals (e.g. legal, accounting, financial services), positions for technicians and supporting staff to carry out various construction projects or maintenance works and positions to promote arts and culture or green lifestyle, such as jobs in museums, green ambassadors and eco-tour guides.  This will be in addition to over 10,000 civil service job openings for replacing retirees and filling new posts to be created in the 2020-21 and about 5,000 short-term interns for young people.

 

(3)        Job advancement

         To prepare Hong Kong’s economy for recovery and to instill hope for better jobs and higher pay, the Government will support a range of job advancement projects in various professions for staff to learn new skills or for businesses to apply more technology.

The Government will also provide one-off relief grants to various hard-hit sectors which include the following:

(1)        HK$7,500 to each eligible registered construction worker.

(2)        Ranging from HK$250,000 (with licensed area not exceeding 100 m²) to HK$2.2 million (with licensed area over 700 m²) to catering outlets based on the size of their premises and not less than 80% of such subsidy has to be used to pay employees’ salaries.

(3)        HK$6,000 for a period of 6 months from 1st April 2020 to each eligible active taxi and red minibus driver and HK$7,500 for taxi and red minibus drivers who are not active driver but can fulfill certain conditions.

(4)        HK$5,000 for a period of six months to each travel agents’ staff and active freelance tourist guides and tour escorts holding a valid pass.

(5)        HK$10,000 to each coach driver who mainly provides transport services for tourists.

(6)        HK$7,500 to each registered coach and eligible instructor.

(7)        Ranging from HK$20,000 (with less than 5 employees) to HK$200,000 (with 50 or more employees) to each licensed travel agent.

(8)        HK$300,000 (with 100 or less licensed guestrooms) or HK$400,000 (with 101 or more guestrooms) to each licensed hotel.

(9)        HK$1 million for each large aircraft and HK$200,000 for each small aircraft registered in Hong Kong.

There are also other measures to ease the cash flow and burden of businesses and individuals to tide them over during this difficult period of time.  These include:

(1)        The asset limits of the Comprehensive Society Security Assistance Scheme is relaxed by 100% for six months to assist unemployed persons.

(2)        Airport Authority Hong Kong will directly purchasing an estimate 500,000 air tickets (HK$2 billion) from four local airlines for giving away for free when the pandemic is over as part of the aviation sector’s market recovery programme.  This is the most straightforward way to inject the much needed liquidity for the airlines.

(3)       Hong Kong Monetary Authority has facilitated the introduction of various relief measures by retail banks, including a “principal moratorium” for SME loans and residential mortgages, extension of repayment schedules, provision of short-term cash and overdraft facilities.

Experts around the world generally believe that the pandemic will last 18 months or longer. Consequently, Hong Kong may introduce the third or even fourth round of the Anti-epidemic Fund.

Content updated as of 29/04/2020

Dr. Lily Fenn

LilyFenn_sized_logo.jpg

 

 

(Hong Kong)

Email: [email protected]

Tel : +852 3655 9898; Fax : 2522 3367

 

Hungary

In Hungary, the Government has introduced multiple measures – besides the ongoing curfew restrictions – aimed at helping companies navigate through these hard times. 

 

  1. General employment law related measures

 

a.  The employer has more flexibility in modifying the work schedule even after it was communicated with the employees;

b. The employer can unilaterally order the employee to work from home;

c. The maximum length of the working time frame has been extended to 24 months for all employers, which allows the employer to schedule less (or no) work for the employees during the state of emergency, and more work than usual during the remainder of the working time frame. Although this means that the employer must pay the whole base salaries of the employees even during the times when the employees work less, it also means that the employer will not have to pay overtime wages for the remainder of the working time frame; and

d. The employer may carry out reasonable and necessary measures in order to safeguard the health of employees.

 

Even if collective bargaining agreements regulated the above issues differently, such collective bargaining agreement provisions shall not be applied during the term of the government regulation.

 

In addition to the above, during the term of the government regulation employers and employees can agree to deviate from the rules of the Labour Code in a separate agreement.

 

  1. Short-time work (Kurzarbeit) subsidy

 

a. The wage subsidy is to be provided by the state for the employee upon a joint request made by the employer and the employee;

b. The subsidy is payable for a maximum duration of three months;

c. The rate of the subsidy is 70% of the wage for periods of absence proportionate to the lost working time. The working time may be reduced by at least 15% and 75% at the most. This means that when the employee only works 4 hours instead of the original 8 hours, 70% of his wages applicable to the lost 4 hours will be paid by the state. However, the wage to be considered is maximized at double the minimum wage in effect at the time of the application (i.e. the maximum amount of the subsidy that a worker could receive is around EUR 250); and

d. If the working time is reduced by more than 50%, the employer is also required to allocate 30% of the lost working time for the ‘personal development’ of the employee, during which period the employer is required to pay the basic salary of the employee.

 

During the subsidized period and for another month, the employer must maintain the employment relationship of the subsidized employee. When not meeting this obligation, the subsidy must be repaid.  

 

  1. Research and Development (R+D) subsidy

 

a. Employers can receive government support after researcher-developers (engineers, researchers, IT specialists) for a maximum of 3 months.

b. The support covers all non-state-budgetary employers where research and development is carried out.

c. The employee must qualify as a researcher-developer as per Act LXXVI. of 2014 on Innovation: a natural person who is engaged in the creation or development of new knowledge, intellectual property, a product, service, procedure, method or system, or who is engaged in the management of the implementation of projects aimed at those things.

d. The support is for a period of three months and its amount may not exceed approx. EUR 900 per month per person. Below a certain amount of gross salary, the support decreases proportionally. The amount is paid to the employer, who must guarantee - in return for the aid - that the subsidised employee will remain employed for at least 3 additional months on a salary not lower than that which they received on the day the emergency situation was declared (March 11, 2020).

 

Hedi Bozsonyik

Partner

Content updated as of 22 April 2020

 

Szecskay_slogo_sized.jpg

 

http://www.szecskay.hu/

S Z E C S K A Y
Ü g y v é d i   I r o d a   -   A t t o r n e y s   a t   L a w

H‑1055 BUDAPEST, KOSSUTH TÉR 16‑17

(MAIL: H‑1245 BUDAPEST PF/POB 1228)

HUNGARY

Tel: +36 (1) 472 3000  •  Fax +36 (1) 472 3001  •  [email protected]  •  www.szecskay.com

 

 

 

India

At the very outset, as labour legislations can be enacted by both the Central (Federal) and individual State Governments in India, this summary is necessarily an abstraction, given the variance in actions taken by the Central Government and various State Governments.

 

Payment of Wages and Termination

The Central Government and some State Governments have issued advisories to employers of public/private establishments to neither reduce wages, nor terminate employment, particularly in respect of casual or contractual workers during this time. It is widely understood that the Central and State Government advisory is primarily targeted at “workmen” employees (i.e. persons employed in an industry to do work that is primarily not of administrative or managerial capacity) and not any other class of employees.

On March 29, 2020, in order to combat the mass exodus of migrant labour from urban centers, the Central Government issued orders under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (the “DMA Order”), directing local authorities to ensure that all employers in industries, shops and commercial establishments pay wages to their workers without deduction for the period of the national lockdown (i.e. May 3, 2020, presently). The DMA Order is widely seen as an over-reach by the Central Government of its authority under the parent legislation and has been challenged before the Supreme Court of India. In the interim, as a matter of abundant caution most employers have paid wages for the month of March.

Most State Governments are in active talks with industry bodies and employers regarding potential steps to mitigate the possible widespread retrenchment of employees during this period, including the potential reduction of wages or temporary furlough of employees.

 

Statutory Sick Pay 

Certain State Governments have issued notifications mandating employers to provide twenty eight (28) days' paid leave for the employees who are infected by COVID-19.

 

Redundancy Principles and Rules

While no new measures have been introduced by the Central and State Government, existing legislations provide for the framework for laying-off and retrenchment.

With respect to employees who can be categorised as ‘workmen’, prior notice is mandated, along with compensation calculated as a percentage of their last drawn wages and the number of years worked. The principle of last in first out is followed. Employees who are employed mainly in managerial or administrative capacity, and persons employed in a supervisory capacity drawing a salary of more than INR 10,000 (approx. USD 130) per month, or a person exercising functions mainly of a managerial nature, are categorically excluded from the ambit of ‘workmen’.

With respect to non-workmen employees, the notice requirement would depend largely on the relevant 'shops and commercial establishments’ law applicable in the State where such non-workmen employees are being employed read with their contract of employment. Subject to certain statutory minimums, any changes to their terms of service would be as per the mechanism stated in their contract of employment, or if no mechanism is stated, with their consent.

 

Self-Employed  

There have been no relief measures announced for self-employed persons at this time.

 

Economic Support

The Central Government has committed to paying both employers' and employees' share of their employee provident fund contribution (a government mandated social welfare scheme) for a period of three (3) months. However, this is only restricted to employers engaging up to one hundred (100) employees, where ninety percent (90%) of such employees are drawing less than INR 15,000 (approx. USD 200) per month as wages.

Although there has been some amount of discussion of economic relief measures for employers by the Central Government, nothing concrete has been announced as of this date.

Content updated as 21/04.2020

 

Varnika Sharma | Principal Associate

+ 91 98103 74851 | [email protected] |

Poovayya_sized_logo.jpg

 

 

The Estate, Level Four 121 Dickenson Road Bangalore 560 042 Tel: +91 80 4656 3000

 

Ireland

Social Welfare and Sick Pay

 

  • The Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act 2020, brought into force by the Irish Government on Friday 20 March 2020, amended and extended social welfare legislation to provide additional income supports to people diagnosed with COVID-19 or required to self-isolate as a result of potential infection.
  • In the above circumstances, employees can claim the COVID-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit payment of €350 per week for a maximum period of two weeks where required to self-isolate and a maximum period of ten weeks where they have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • An employee making a claim for the COVID-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit payment will not be required to wait six days to apply, as is required in an application for normal Illness Benefit.
  • The usual PRSI thresholds for illness benefit and means test for supplementary welfare allowance are waived in the event of a medical direction to self-isolate or a COVID-19 diagnosis.

 

Employees

 

  • The Health Act 1947 (Section 31a – Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) Regulations 2020 provide that only workers deemed “essential” are permitted to physically attend the workplace until 5 May 2020.
  • An employee whose normal working week has decreased from five days to three days or less can apply to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection for Short Time Work Support. This income payment support can be made for up to a maximum period of 234 days, and, in order to qualify the employee must be working three days or less from a full-time position, be under 66 years of age and have the necessary PRSI contributions.
  • Employees and self-employed persons who have been temporarily laid off from work can avail of the “COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment” which was introduced by the Irish Government on 13 March 2020. The rate of this payment was increased by the State from €203 per week to €350 per week on 24 March 2020.

 

Employers

 

  • The Irish Government has requested that employers continue paying their  staff where possible and a “Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme” (“the Scheme”) has been introduced to assist them in this regard.
  • The Scheme replaces the previous “COVID-19 Employer Refund Scheme” that was implemented on 15 March 2020 and there is no requirement for employers to re-apply for the Scheme as they will be automatically moved to it.
  • The Scheme is available to employers who keep employees on payroll.
  • The Scheme makes provision for an employer to be refunded by the Revenue Commissioners up to 70 percent on the amount paid to each qualifying employee, capped at €410 per week. In order to qualify for the Scheme, employers must have experienced a 25 percent fall in turnover as a result of COVID-19.

 

Health & Safety

 

  • The Irish Health and Safety Authority has urged employers to ensure they are complying with their statutory obligations under the Safety, Health & Welfare Act 2005 (as amended) by monitoring the workplace in order to identify any potential sources of COVID-19 infection and to minimise further spread of the virus amongst personnel during the health crisis

 

Maternity Benefits

 

  • The Irish Government has advised pregnant employees who have lost work as a result of COVID-19 to apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment if their due date is within sixteen weeks or alternatively if it is more than sixteen weeks from the last day of work.
  • Pregnant women applying for Maternity Benefit should do so in the usual manner, which should ultimately replace the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment when maternity leave commences.
  • Conversely, if maternity leave has concluded and there is no employment to return as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, an employee can avail of the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

 

Redundancy

 

  • In the normal circumstances, the Redundancy Payments Act 1967 (as amended), permits an employee, who meets certain qualifying criteria and has been laid off or placed on short-time work for four or more consecutive weeks or for six weeks in a thirteen week period, to serve a notice claiming redundancy on the employer. An employer can then serve a counter notice against the claim for redundancy, if it can provide the employee with thirteen weeks work without lay-off/short-time within four weeks of the employee’s notice.
  • The above statutory framework that permits an employee to claim a redundancy payment will not apply for the duration of the ‘emergency period’ (13 March 2020 – 31 May 2020), as outlined in the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (COVID-19) Act 2020.

 

How we can help

 If you have any queries or concerns, or would like to discuss the above in further detail, please feel free to contact Richard Lee, Partner, BHSM on 01 440 8300 / [email protected].

This article is for general information purposes. Legal advice must be obtained for individual circumstances. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this article, no liability is accepted by the author for any inaccuracies.

Content updated as of 24/04/2020

Richard Lee

Partner

BHSM-sized.jpgT +353 1 440 8300 | D +353 1 440 8309 | M +353 87 905 8358

A 6 – 7 Harcourt Terrace, Dublin 2, Ireland, D02 P210

bhsm.ie 

 

Israel

The Israeli Government by the Ministry of Finance published on 16.3.2020 measures to maintain the stability of the economy. The measures have been expended on 30.3.2020.

  

The Treasury presented a package of measures to assist the economy in in dealing with the Coronavirus crisis, including deferred payments for and small and medium-sized businesses and self-employed, a special grant for self-employed, a special grant for people made redundant, easier conditions for receiving loans and increased credit, and more.

 

1.      Provision of access to credit for businesses

o    State guaranteed loan fund

o    Facilitation of loans and increase of access to credit

o    Relief of credit restrictions to credit limit for the real estate sector

 

2.      Expansion of social security net

o    Agreements between workers' and employers' unions on redundancies in the near future, enforced leave or on leave.

o    Significantly reducing eligibility for unemployment benefits by shortening the qualifying period.

o    Special grant for the laid off.

o    Quick and digital registration for the employment service without the need for physical attendance.

o    Program to improve vocational training for rapid integration into the labor market.

 

3.      Relief of immediate economic burdens on citizens

o    Advance of tax credit repayments

o    Facilitation of loans and increase credit

o    Postponement of mortgage payments to banks and the Ministry of Housing for those eligible

o    Expansion of direct digital banking services

o    Relief for businesses and citizens

o    Postponement of renewal of licenses and certificates for citizens.

o    Easing of requirements for response to consumers, delivery and handling times

o    Hold on new regulation and regulation in-development

o    Postponement on fixing non-life threatening deficiencies based on statement

o    Program for accelerated digitization

 

4.      Promotion of accelerated economic growth infrastructures

o    Promotion of innovation and research and development through Innovation Authority grants

o    Encouragement of investments and export through Ministry of Economy grants On 30.3.2020 the following measures have been expanded

o    Grant for those aged 67 and over whose work was discontinued following the crisis: A grant of up to NIS 4000 per eligible person in addition to the old-age allowance in March April.

o    Grant for self-employed: Two monthly grants of up to NIS 6,000 march 2020 month, and up to NIS 8,000 april, for self-employed persons aged 28 and over who meet the relevant criteria according to taxable income from the business and the household. The grant will be paid by the tax authority.

o    Training program: In order to enable people who are emigrated from the labor market to return to it quickly and qualitatively, and to increase the productivity of the Israeli economy, the number of vocational training programs will be increased with state aid.

o    Shortening the training period for unemployment benefits: The length of time it takes to receive unemployment benefits will be cut from 12 months of employment to only 6 months.

o    Extension of unemployment benefit eligibility until April 30:

o    Rejection of Government Fees and the Advancement of Work Grant

o    Payments (Income Tax Aid for Business Tax Reduction at an Annual Rate of 25%: Targeted Reduction in Affected Industries, under which Businesses Will Enjoy Three Months Free Tax (March-May).

o    Reimbursement of tax benefits: For February-March,

o    Large Business Financing Solutions: A State Business Loan Guarantee Fund that will allow businesses whose annual revenue turnover is NIS 400 million and above to apply for a loan of up to 8% of their annual turnover. (NOT APPROVED YET)

o    Establishment of joint investment funds for government and designated institutional bodies to assist Israeli companies in financing their activities.

o    Expanding Assistance through State Loan Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium Businesses - Expanding Medium Business Plus Eligibility with an annual revenue cycle of up to NIS 400 million, reducing the business owner's collateral to only 5% to alleviate the cash flow of the business, and improving interest rates.

o Postpone of reports and payments to VAT, lengthened the submission of annual reports to the IRS, easing the requirement for documents and presenting invoices.

 

Remark

Please note that Israeli government is continuously expanding means to assist the economy and that not all government decisions have passed legislative ratification procedures; There may be changes. Each matter is subject to individual counseling.

Content upadated as of 21/04/2020

 

Amos Hacmun, Adv.

Heskia – Hacmun Law Firm

Gaon House, 6 Kaufman Street, Tel Aviv 6801298, ISRAEL

Tel: +972-3-6081122

Fax: +972-3-6081123

[email protected] visit us at www.hh-law.co.il

 

 

Italy

COVID-19 Legal Kit English

Cocuzza & Associati continues to offer legal quality services even in times of emergency.
We have organized an internal task force to deal with the several requests from our clients.
The team members, each in their own area of expertise (Commercial Contracts, Retail, Real Estate, Labour, Corporate) are working on writing articles and contributions to help clarifying the various measures that have taken place in these days.
Publications in this sections are in English, one is in French and an update in Italian.

Please visit our extensives resources on thel ink below

https://www.cocuzzaeassociati.it/en/notizie/covid-19-legal-kit-en/

Content updated as of 20 April 2020

cocuzza_sized_logo.jpg

 

 

Malaysia

GENERAL OVERVIEW ON THE MALAYSIAN MOVEMENT CONTROL ORDER

 

The Government of Malaysia has first on 16 March 2020 made an unprecedent move to declare all thirteen states and three federal territories in Malaysia to be infected local areas pursuant to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Declaration of Infected Local Areas) Order 2020 made under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988.

The Government then on 18 March 2020 implemented a nationwide order known as the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures Within the Local Infected Areas) Regulations 2020, inter-alia, to restraint the movement of people. Such order is commonly known as the “Movement Control Order” (MCO). The MCO has been extended for thrice and set to be lifted on 12 May 2020.

Guidelines to tackle employment related matters during Covid-19

 

The Minister of Human Resources (MOHR) has issued in total three Frequent Ask Questions (FAQ) to address and clarify employment related issues during the MCO, as follows:

 

a.         FAQ No. 1 was issued on 19 March 2020

b.         FAQ No. 2 was issued on 23 March 2020

c.         FAQ No. 3 was issued on 1 April 2020

(collectively known as “the Guidelines”)

In a nutshell, the Guidelines apply to all employers and employees (whether part-time or full time) from all industrial and business sectors. The Guidelines provide that:

a.            During the MCO period, only sectors which are classified as “essential services” under the Industrial Relation Act 1967 are allowed to operate. Essential services include, but are not limited to, banking services, postal service, electric services, food and beverage, etc.

b.            All employees who are not part of the essential services shall not be required to attend works at their work place. However, they may work from home, if so instructed and it is feasible to do so.

c.            Employers shall pay their employees’ salary and relevant allowances in full as usual during the entire MCO period, notwithstanding that it is possible that no works will be carried out by the employees during this period.  

d.            If any employee has fallen sick during the MCO period, the employer shall direct said employee to get medical examination, where the costs shall be fully borne by the employer.

e.            If an employee is diagnosed with Covid-19, the employer must provide sick leave or hospitalization benefits to such employee during the period which the employee is recovering.

f.             Reduction of salary, the application for unpaid, full paid or half paid leave(s) is acceptable but such arrangement must be done on mutual consensus from both employer and employee.

g.            Termination or lay-off of employee is acceptable, but such measure must be the employer’s last resort and employers are advisable to adhere to the suggested procedures as stipulated in the Code of Conduct for Industrial Harmony.

 

Employees shall not be compelled to take unpaid leave during MCO

The MOHR has explicitly forbidden any employer to force an employee to take any form of unpaid leave(s) during the MCO period. Failing which, it is a violation of law.

 

Employment Retention Program (ERP)

The ERP is an immediate financial assistance provided for employees who have been instructed to take no paid leave by employers who are affected by the pandemic. The affected employees may apply for wage subsidy given under the ERP from the Social Security Organisation (SOSCO) where they will be paid a form of wage subsidy amounting to RM600 for 1 to 6 months, depending on the no-pay leave notice issued by the employers. SOSCO is an agency under the MOHR. 

 

THE ECONOMIC STIMULUS PACKAGES

 The Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has on 27 March 2020 announced the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package to preserve the people’s welfare that has been affected by the pandemic. Subsequently on 6 April 2020, the Prime Minister has further announced the Additional Prihatin SME Economic Stimulus Package, catering for the needs of Malaysian Small Medium Enterprises (SME) and micro enterprises.

Note: “Prihatin” is a word in Malay language. It means “caring”.

 

Wage Subsidy Program

In the economic stimulus packages, the Government has implemented Wage Subsidy Program (WSP) for 3 months from April to June 2020 to encourage employers to retain their employees. Such program is subject to terms and conditions but the gist of the benefits is as follows:-

a.            For company that has 1 to 75 workers who earn salary of RM4,000 and below, the Government will pay subsidy of RM1,200 per employee to the employer.

b.            For company that has 76 to 200 workers who earn salary of RM4,000 and below, the government will pay a subsidy of RM800 per employee to the employer.

c.            For company that has 200 workers and above who earn salary of RM4,000 and below, the government will pay a subsidy of RM600 per employee to the employer.

d.            All employers that participated in the WSP are not allowed to terminate the employee, reduce salary or force the employee to take unpaid leave(s). The salary must be paid as usual.

 

Approval for limited business sectors to operate during MCO

The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) allows corporate entities within prescribed limited business sectors to apply for business operation during the 3rd phase of MCO, which is from 15 April 2020 to 28 April 2020.

These sectors are limited but include automotive industry, construction industry, hardware shops, science, certain professional and technical services.

In addition but not in derogation of the MCO and approval from the MITI, the local council or administrative body is allowed to make limited orders pertaining to the operation of business entities in respective local areas, such as to limit the business hours and further preventive measures.

Content updated as of 24 April 2020

Contributed by:

Stanley Phang Weng Lam

Partner

LL.B (Hons) Cardiff, CLP

Adjudicator (AIAC)

[email protected]

 

Marcus Tan Kian Han

Managing Partner

Dip Business Admin

LL.B (Hons) London, CLP

[email protected]

 

Marcus Tan & Co.

Advocates & Solicitors l Adjudicators l Arbitrators

W17A2, 17th Floor, West Block

Wisma Golden Eagle Realty

Jalan Ampang

50450 Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia

[email protected]

 

 

 

Portugal

The Portuguese government has introduced a mechanism of simplified lay-off to address the impact of COVID 19 pandemic. This simplified lay off is introduced with the objectives of sustaining employment contracts and mitigating the business detriment.

 

General requirements:

Applicants must have its situation with the Social Security and the Tax Authorities completely up dated.

It stands for an immediate support when the volume of activity is reduced or interrupted by reason of, inter alia:

(i)            Interruptions in the global supply chain; or

(ii)           A suspension or cancelation of product or service orders; or

(iii)          Abrupt and steep decline of at least 40% of invoicing volume, within the immediately preceding 30 days from seeking the lay-off in contrast to the last year’s volume for the same period.

The foregoing requirements are not cumulative.

 

Procedures to apply:

i. Hear the Union Delegates/Works Council, if any, followed by the unilateral decree of the employer, via a written communication to the employees identifying the measures adopted.

ii. Apply for financial support from Social Security, submitting, via email the available form (RC3056) at http://www.segsocial.pt/documents/10152/16889112/RC_3056.pdf/61b7f4b0-bf25-4913-a063-e510800a0141, with a statement outlining the business crisis  befallen upon the applicant employer accompanied by the Chartered Accountant’s  professional opinion aligning with such allegation  and  a list of the employees covered by the lay-off.

 

Duration:

May be decreed for 1 month, and can be extended, monthly, up to a maximum of 3 months.

 

Employment:

a) Employees will have the right:

  • to  the value corresponding to 2/3 of the gross normal salary, or the value of the Minimum Guaranteed Monthly Salary (635 Euros) corresponding to the normal working period, with a maximum limit of 1,905 Euros and a support to a Professional Training Program ( approved by IEFP) on a maximum of € 65,82.
  • to the normal period of vacation, holidays allowance and Christmas allowance (50% is supported by Social Security).  
  • to exercise another remunerated activity other than with the employer (who must be informed).

b) Employers:

i.                     Restrictions:

  • may not terminate the employment contracts of those subject to lay off, irrespective if either by collective dismissal, extinction of the work post, unsuitability or otherwise, except for just cause.
  • must observe a post lay off termination non dismissal period of 60 days.

 

ii.                   Financial support:

  • 70% of the 2/3 of the gross normal salary of the employee is supported by Social Security;
  • exemption of its liability to pay Social Security for each of the lay-off targeted employees during lay off;
  • support for a professional training program ( approved by IEFP) on a maximum of € 65,82 for each employee;
  • Extraordinary financial support for the normalization of the company's activity, in the amount of 635 euros per employee, paid only once and as a “one-off” support.

 

iii.                 Duties:

  • Pay the reduced salary;
  • Deliver social contribution due by the employee (11% of gross remuneration) to Social Security;

Deliver to the inspection authorities (if requested):

(i)   Accounting balance sheet for the relevant month of the financial support and for the same equivalent month (last year);

(ii)   VAT declaration for the relevant month of support and the previous 2 months.

  • Refrain from distributing profits and increasing the   compensation   of   its officers, renewing job contracts in lay-off;
  • Maintain employment contracts.

 

c) The Self-Employed: 

Financial support is available based on the amount of compensation earned as declared by the beneficiary for social security purposes , with a limit € 438.81. This support is conditional  on the existence of an abrupt and steep decline of at least 40% in invoicing, with the amount of the support to be paid by social security linked to the percentage of the decline in invoicing. There is an ultimate final limit of this support to be determined.

 

Other measures related to COVID-19:

  • Several support schemes were created for employees who had to provide assistance to children and grandchildren, through prophylactic isolation, or from covid-19 disease.
  • The Government approved a set of measures to support the agricultural sector within the scope of Covid-19 "to minimize any economic and financial impacts that may arise from the epidemiological situation", ranging from extending deadlines in the execution of ongoing programs, such as the Rural Development Program 2014-2020, extending contract execution deadlines and access to a credit line, among others. For more:: https://www.portugal.gov.pt/pt/gc22/comunicacao/noticia?i=medidas-de-apoio-ao-setor-da-agricultura-no-ambito-do-covid-19
  • Also at the contributory level, extraordinary measures were taken regarding VAT, IRS, IRC and Social Security contributions, with respect to the deferral of payments of those taxes and contributions;
  • Exception measures have been put into place, for the protection of households credits, enterprises (micro, small or medium-sized enterprises), private social solidarity institutions and other entities of the social economy, as well as a special regime of personal state guarantees namely to  support liquidity and treasury, including deferral of compliance with the beneficiaries' obligations to the financial system.
  • Support measures were established for tenants and landlords over the payment of rents due in the months in which the state of emergency is in force and in the first subsequent month, starting on the day April 1, 2020, using a line of credit, if eligible, preventing the withdrawal of the housing and non-housing leases based on non-payment. https://www.portaldahabitacao.pt/web/guest/informa%C3%A7%C3%A3o-geral

Content updated as of 27 of April, 2020

Lisbon

Carla Martins Costa

([email protected])

abreu-marques-logo-sized.jpg

 Rua Filipe Folque,
2-4° 1069-121
Lisboa, Portugal

Tel: +351 213 307 100

 

Russia

On the 25th of March 2020 President Putin addressed the country and announced the introduction of the following federal measures, which were later officially established in the Presidential Decree № 206 dated 25.03.2020 and Presidential decree № 239 dated 02.04.2020:

Countrywide «non-working days» announced from 30.03.2020 to 03.04.2020 while the salaries must be paid by the employers in full.

The following measures were implemented by the Federal and regional Governments:

1.     All social protection benefits shall be renewed automatically over the next six months, with no additional certificates or visits to the authorities needed.

2.     Increase of the statutory minimum salary amount from 8 000 rubles to 12,130 rubles per month. This amount will be paid in April and June to employees, who lost their jobs after 01.03.2020 and filed a petition to the State Employment Bureau. An additional amount of 3 000 rubles will be paid for each underage child.

3.     Medical workers involved in treatment of patients diagnosed with COVID- 19 shall be paid incentive rewards, for which the government has allocated 46 billion rubles.

4.     Small and mid-sized businesses operating in industries most affected by the COVID-19 situation shall be allowed a 6-month deferral for taxes and social insurance payments.

5.     The social insurance rate shall be decreased from 30 % to 15 % for salaries exceeding the statutory minimum salary.

6.     Migration documents, including visas, work permits, permanent residence permit etc., the validity of which expires in the time period of 15.03.2020- 15.06.2020 shall be automatically declared valid until 15.06.2020. Such measures  as  administrative  expulsion  from  the  country,  deportation, annulment of visas or work permits etc. shall not be imposed for Migration Law violations

7.     VTB and Sberbank, Russian leading banks with state participation, began giving out zero-interest loans to legal entities and individual entrepreneurs for the payment of salaries to the employees. For this The Central Bank subsidized the banks for 150 billion Rubles

8.     The Mayor of Moscow declared “self-isolation” regime as of 30.03.2020, which was further supplemented by a  permit system as of 15.04.2020. According to the Mayor of Moscow Decree No. 45-UM all residents  of Moscow shall remain at home, movement inside the city is only allowed upon receipt of electronic permits. Due to this most of the business switched to remote work (home office).

 

Russian supervisory body in the sphere of employment, ROSTRUD, confirmed, that remote work does not breach the Presidential Decree, according to which 30.03.2020-30.04.2020 are non-working. The implementation of remote regime of work should be formally introduced by the employer’s Order or by an Additional agreement with the employee.

ROSTRUD also explained, that for the purposes of the obligation of employees to pay salaries the COVID-19 situation must not be treated as a force-majeure situation and does not relieve the employers of their obligations to pay salaries, unless relevant provisions of the Labor Code apply.

 

Content updated as of 24/04/2020

 

Sergey Vodolagin

Managing partner

Tel./Fax +7(499)608 06 01

Email: [email protected] www.wslaw.ru

Westside_sized_logo.jpgWestside Law Firm “The Yard” Business Centre,

Office 303 at No.11, bld.1, 1st Magistralnyi tupik,

Moscow 123290, Russia

 

 

Singapore

Between 18 February and 4 April 2020, the Singapore government announced 3 budgets to protect jobs and to help businesses cope with the impact of COVID-19 and the supply chain disruptions from other countries’ containment measures. These measures include:

 

Jobs Support Scheme (JSS)

Under the JSS, the Singapore government will co-fund wages of local employees for 9 months in 3 payouts. The JSS is intended to help employers retain their local employees (Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents) during this period of economic uncertainty. All active employers, with the exception of government organisations (local and foreign) and representative offices, are eligible for the JSS.

Under the JSS, all active employers will receive 75% cash grant on the first S$4,600 of the gross monthly wages of each local employee on their payroll for the months of April and May 2020. For the remaining qualifying months, employers in different industry sectors will get varying levels of wage support.

 

Foreign Worker Levy Waiver and Rebate

To enable companies to support foreign workers, the government will temporarily redirect resources back to companies by: (a) waiving monthly foreign worker levies in April and May 2020 to reduce costs and ease cash flow; and (b) granting a foreign worker levy rebate of S$750 for each Work Permit or S-Pass Holder from levies paid in 2020. Employers will receive such rebates as early as 21 April 2020.

 

Deferment of Income Tax Payments and Tax Rebates

Corporate income tax payments due on April, May and June 2020 will be collected in July, August and September 2020, respectively.

Landlords of non-residential tax properties will also receive tax rebates and there is a requirement that these savings should be passed onto to their tenants, in the form of rental reductions.

 

Access to Financing

A number of measures have been put in place to ensure that businesses and employers have adequate access to financing with a view to minimising wage and job cuts. These include:

(1)                 Enterprise Financing Scheme – SME Working Capital Loan, which is designed to ensure that Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs)  receive greater financing support to bridge their working capital gaps.

(2)                 Enterprise Financing Scheme – Trade Loan, which has been enhanced to help enterprises with their trade financing needs. The maximum loan quantum was raised from S$5 million to S$10 million, and the government’s risk-share was also increased to 90% (from 50% and 70% for young companies) for new applications initiated from 8 April 2020 until 31 March 2021.

(3)                 Loan Insurance Scheme, designed to assist businesses to secure short-term trade financing loans from participating financial institutions (PFIs) through the provision of loan insurance by commercial insurers which co-share loan default with the PFIs in the event of enterprise insolvency. A portion of the insurance premium is supported by the government.

(4)                 The Temporary Bridging Loan Programme (previously for tourism sector only) will be expanded to all sectors from 1 April 2020. This provides financing support to alleviate cashflow needs of enterprises affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

Rental Waivers for Government-Owned / Managed Non-Residential Facilities

To further support businesses with costs, a 1-month rental waiver for industrial, office and agricultural tenants of Government agencies was announced.

 

Enhancements to Self-Employed Persons Income Relief Scheme (“SIRS”)

nhancements were made to SIRS to broaden support for Self-Employed Persons (SEPs) affected by COVID-19 and tide them through this period of economic uncertainty. More will qualify for SIRS, as the qualifying conditions for SIRS will be enhanced to: (a) automatically include SEPS who also earn a small income from employment work; and (b) increase the annual value of property criterion to S$21,000, from S$13,000 previously. Eligible SEPs will receive quarterly cash payouts of S$3,000 each in May, July and October 2020.

 

Ongoing Developments

Given that the Singapore government is continuously expanding “circuit breaker” measures to break the chain of COVID-19 transmission, it is expected that further enhanced measures will be introduced over time to prevent job losses and wage reductions.

Content updated as of 21/04/2020

Thomas Sim

ENGELIN TEH PRACTICE LLC

Singapore

+65 6411 5806

[email protected]

 

Spain

Temporary and exceptional measures adopted in the field of social security and labour on the occasion of COVID-19

 

EXTRAORDINARY BENEFIT FOR CESSATION OF ACTIVITY.

This benefit is established on an exceptional basis and is limited to 1 month, starting on 14 March 2020, or until the last day of the month in which the state of alarm ends, if it is extended for more than 1 month.

The time of receipt of this benefit will be understood to be the time of contribution and will not reduce the periods of benefit due to cessation of activity in the future.

Finally, it should be noted that the receipt of this benefit will be incompatible with any other in the social security system.

 

MEASURES RELATED TO DISTANCE WORKING: PREFERENCE AND PREVENTION OF OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS

With the priority objective of maintaining the activity, distance work is presented as an ideal organizational system, and the company must adopt it whenever it is technically and reasonably possible and when the effort to carry it out is proportionate.

 

MEASURES RELATED TO THE ADAPTATION OF THE TIMETABLE AND REDUCTION OF THE WORKING DAY

The measures adopted in this area are aimed at promoting work-life balance by ensuring that employees can be absent from work when they need to look after their dependents (children and the elderly after the closure of schools, retirement homes or day centres) without these absences being a cause for dismissal.

 

MEASURES RELATING TO PROCEDURES FOR THE SUSPENSION OF CONTRACTS AND REDUCTION OF WORKING HOURS ON GROUNDS OF FORCE MAJEURE AND FOR ECONOMIC, TECHNICAL, ORGANISATIONAL, AND PRODUCTION REASONS

Firstly, it should be noted that these measures will remain in force as long as the extraordinary situation resulting from COVID-19 continues.

 

1-TEMPORARY REGULATION OF EMPLOYMENT due to force majeure

Three aspects stand out: firstly, the concrete definition of what constitutes force majeure in these emergency circumstances; secondly, the establishment of procedural particularities that will lead to a simplification of the requirements and, thirdly, the establishment of quota exemptions for companies.

 

1.1. Definition of force majeure: This consideration, with the consequences derived from Article 47 of the ET, will be given to contract suspensions and reductions in working hours that have their direct cause in activity losses as a consequence of the COVID-19, including the declaration of the state of alarm, which they imply:

Suspension or cancellation of activities,

temporary closure of public places,

restrictions on public transport and, in general, on the mobility of persons and/or goods,

lack of supplies that seriously impede the continuation of the regular development of the activity,

infection of the staff or the adoption of preventive isolation measures dictated by the health authority,

It should be noted that the situations described above must be duly substantiated.

 

1.2 Exemption from company fees. The measure consist of the General Treasury of Social Security, during the period of suspension of contracts or reduction of working hours authorized by temporary force majeure related to the COVID-19, exempting the company from the payment of the business contribution provided for in article 273.2 of the General Law of Social Security, as well as that relating to contributions for joint collection, in a

100% if, on 29 February 2020, it has fewer than 50 employees registered with the Social Security.

75% if on the aforementioned date the company had 50 or more workers registered.

There is a change as of 13 May following Royal Decree Law 18/2020 of 12 May, in which it includes two cases of time of Files of regulation of employment due to force majeure and modifies the exemptions of the contributions, in force until 30 June.

We distinguish two situations:

-Temporary Regulation of Employment due to Total Force Majeure: the already foreseen 100% exoneration for companies with less than 50 workers and 75% for companies with more than 50 workers will continue to be maintained for the quotas of May and June 2020.

- Partial Temporary Adjustment of Employment due to Force Majeure: there are two different cases depending on the resumption of activity:

a) Resumption of activity:

- Companies with less than 50 workers: there will be an 85% exoneration in May and 70% in June 2020

Companies with more than 50 workers: there will be a 60% exemption in May and 45% in June 2020.

b) No resumption of activity (activity partially suspended):

- Companies with less than 50 workers: there will be a 60% exoneration in May and 45% in June 2020

- Companies with more than 50 workers: there will be a 45% exemption in May and 30% in June 2020.

The exonerations regulated in this article 4 of Royal Decree Law 18/2020 of 12 May will be borne by the Social Security budgets in the case of the company contribution for common contingencies; by the collaborating mutual companies in the case of the company contribution for professional contingencies of the State Public Employment Service in the case of the company contribution for unemployment and for professional training and by the Salary Guarantee Fund in the case of the contributions that finance their benefits.

 

2. Record of temporary regulation of employment for economic, technical, organizational and production reasons.

In cases where the company decides to suspend the contract or temporarily reduce the working day for these reasons, the following specialities of the procedure are noteworthy

Previsions for cases in which there is no legal representation of workers: the committee representing them for the negotiation of the consultation period will be made up of

The most representative unions of the sector to which the company belongs and with legitimacy to be part of the negotiating committee of the collective agreement of application. The committee will be made up of 1 person for each of the unions that meet these requirements, with decisions being taken by the corresponding representative majorities.

Lacking union representation, 3 workers from the company itself will be required to form the representative committee in 5 days, period which cannot be extended.

The period of consultation with the workers' representatives or the representative committee seen in the previous point must not exceed 7 days at most.

From June 30, as stated in the Royal Decree Law 18/2020 of May 12, Lacking union representation, 3 workers from the company itself will be required to form the representative committee in 7 days, period which cannot be extended.

The period of consultation with the workers' representatives or the representative committee seen in the previous point must not exceed 15 days at most.

 

POSSIBILITY OF MOVING FROM A TEMPORARY REGULATION OF EMPLOYMENT FILE DUE TO FORCE MAJEURE TO A TEMPORARY REGULATION OF EMPLOYMENT FILE DUE TO ECONOMIC, TECHNICAL, ORGANIZATIONAL OR PRODUCTION REASONS.

From May 13 it is possible to start the processing of a Temporary Regulation of Employment File for Economic, Technical, Organizational or Production causes, while the Force Majeure File remains in force.

Likewise, the change of a Temporary Regulation of Employment File due to Force Majeure to another one due to Economic, Technical, Organisational or Production causes is authorised without a solution of continuity, establishing that it will go back to the date of completion of the first one, June 30th.

 

MEASURES IN THE FIELD OF UNEMPLOYMENT PROTECTION

1. Protection from unemployment as a result of TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT REGULATIONS due to force majeure or economic, technical, organizational and production reasons

They will be granted contributory unemployment benefit, even if they do not have the minimum period of contributory employment required for it to be granted.

The time they receive the unemployment benefit at the contributory level that is the immediate cause of the aforementioned extraordinary circumstances shall not be counted for the purpose of consuming the maximum periods of receipt established.

These extraordinary unemployment benefits associated with the temporary employment regulation files, granted without the need to comply with the mandatory waiting period, will be maintained until 30 June 2020, with the exception of permanent discontinuous workers, for whom the extraordinary unemployment protection measures will be applied until 31 December 2020.

 

COMPANIES WITH REGISTERED OFFICES IN TAX HAVENS:

Companies and entities with domiciles in tax havens cannot take advantage of Temporary Regulation of Employment Files due to Force Majeure.

 

DISTRIBUTION OF DIVIDENDS.

Companies that have taken advantage of a Temporary Regulation of Employment Procedure due to Force Majeure may not distribute the dividends corresponding to the fiscal year in which the TEMPORARY REGULATION OF EMPLOYMENT FILES are applied, except

- Firstly: if they previously pay the amount of the Social Security contributions from which they have been exempted (only for companies with 50 or more workers).

 - And, secondly, an exception is also provided for companies that, on 29 February 2020, had a staff of less than 50 workers.

Commercial companies and other legal entities could, in 2020, distribute the dividends corresponding to tax year 2019, since tax year 2019 is not the tax year in which the Temporary Layoff Schemes apply. The possible limitation on the distribution of dividends would occur, with the exceptions provided for, in relation to the dividends corresponding to the current tax year 2020, the tax year in which the Temporary Layoff Proceedings are applied, which will be distributed in the tax year 2021.

 

Content updates as of 25/05/2020

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Spain

Maria Gomes Sousa.

 

Paseo de la Castellana, 116 – 9º · 28046 MADRID. T. (+34) 91 310 66 60 · F. (+34) 91 445 30 86

[email protected] / www.tc-abogados.com

 

 

Sri Lanka

Lockdowns, curfews and the virtual ‘pause’ of business activities and consequently the ‘pause’ of income generation, with the resulting prediction of a marked decrease in future income due to the hardly vibrant global and local economic order to be faced soon. Employers being faced with the daunting and unenviable task of facing the multitude of challenges before them in all aspects of business to include the sustenance of its employment workforce.

Employment Law in Sri Lanka law is considered to be pro-employee as the case in most developing countries with emerging markets.

The fundamental principles of law being that ‘no term of employment, express or implied and already contracted for can be altered or varied in any wise so as to be less favorable to the employee, without the consent of the employee or the Commissioner of Labor’ and that ‘termination of employment is permissible only on disciplinary grounds as a ‘punishment’ unless otherwise with the express consent of the employee or Commissioner of Labor, on the payment of the legally prescribed compensation for loss of employment; similarly the situation of redundancy, retrenchment and closure ’

Thus, with no other law or provision of law allowing for furloughs, pay cuts and termination of employment due to extraordinary or unforeseen circumstances such as the predicament faced with COVID-19 pandemic, employers would necessarily be compelled to work within the parameters of the mentioned legal provisions, albeit seemingly restrictive in the current context.

The policies of the Government thus far being implemented through the many different COVID-19 task forces appear to recognise the need to afford support to employers in the continuation of business. In this context it is expected that the administration of the law by the Commissioner of Labour would be on ‘just and equitable’ principles having regards to the exceptional and compelling circumstances vis-a –vis an employer. In this context the strict enforcement of the law against an employer on the basis of a unilateral reduction of terms of employment, on account of pay cuts sought to be implemented we hope would be unlikely to be ordered by the Commissioner of Labour, provided that such action is not apparently mala-fide; a more conciliatory approach being more suitable notwithstanding that the law per se is not thus enabling.

The general law, as outlined above, mandates that the termination of employment on the basis of a ‘retrenchment, redundancy or closure situation’ will warrant prior consent of the employee or approval of the Commissioner of Labour and the payment of the requisite compensation. The Commissioner of Labour having no discretion or authority to waive or vary the compensation payable, with the discretion to apply the law on ‘just and equitable’ principles in allowing the termination sought for by the employer. In the premises, employers may consider in the short term adopting a ‘mixed model’ with terminations and pay cuts on a structured basis.

Sri Lankan law is silent on the concept of having employees on furlough and is a practice not generally adopted. However, under the prevailing COVID-19 situation we cannot rule out the possibility that such option would not be sought by an employer and that relief will unlikely be denied.

Further, taking cognizance of the added and new challenges of employers The Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations Ministry has appointed a Special Task Force ‘to prevent the spread of Covid – 19 at workplaces’ headed by Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena. Representatives of the Employers Federation and trade unions being an integral part of the Force. The Ministry has requested all workplaces to form a committee in this regards which step we would suppose is with intent to have businesses up and running as soon as possible.

It is hoped that the application of the law by the Commissioner would take cognizance of the extreme adverse impact that COVID-19 would have on commerce and therefore it is sought from the Commissioner to administer the law resourcefully whilst adhering to ‘just and equitable’ principles to save the already endangered businesses with a global recession all but unavoidable.

Content updated as of 20 April 2020

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 Savantha De Saram - Senior Partner

 

 

Thailand

 

Turkey

Summary of the Employers’ Liabilities in relation to Coronavirus and Turkish Government’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic in respect of Employment Law

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has become a major concern for the entire world due to its highly contagious character. In that regard, it has also created concerns regarding the employer / employee relationship. Needless to say, this has also had an impact on Turkey in particular starting from 11 March 2020 with the first confirmed case.

The Law on Reducing the Effects of the New Coronavirus (Covid-19) Outbreak on Economic and Social Life and Amendments to Certain Laws has been published in the Official Gazette dated 17 April 2020 and numbered 31102 and certain announcements has been made by Social Security Institution to minimize the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in respect of employment law.

We have prepared this brief note with a view to highlighting the duties and liabilities of Turkish employers concerning the Coronavirus and certain measures taken by Turkish government.

 

  • Right to Refuse Work: Under Law No.6331, if the employee encounters a “serious and imminent threat”, it has the right to refuse work until the necessary measures are taken. Therefore, an employee may refuse to perform certain instructions if these create significant COVID-19 risk (e.g., going on a business trip to the high-risk areas.)
  • Safety of Workplace: Under Occupational Health and Safety Law No.6331 (“Law No.6331”) employers have a general duty to ensure health and safety of their employees at workplace. Therefore, employers must take the necessary measures within the frame of the risk assessment and inform the employees on the risk and the measures taken. As such, employers should cooperate with the workplace doctor and the workplace safety specialists for carrying out a risk assessment.
  • Travel Inquiry: To better take the necessary measures and carry out the risk analysis, employers may inquire whether any of the employees have recently travelled to one of the high-risk destinations.
  • Work from Home: Employers may request employees to work from home if this is specified under the employment contract. If there is no specific provision in that regard, employees’ written consent shall be obtained although under the circumstances the rule pertaining written consent is not fully followed in practice.
  • Unpaid Leave: Employers may request employees to go on unpaid leave. In that regard, also employees may not use going on unpaid leave as a just ground for unilateral terminations of their employment contract.
  • Prohibition of Termination: Any employment contracts will not be terminated by the employers for a period of three months apart from cases where termination is made due to actions contradictory to the ethics and goodwill rules applicable the workplace. Employers who breach the abovementioned rule will be subject to an administrative fine in the amount of gross minimum wage.
  • Compensatory Working: Under Turkish law, in case of cease of operation completely due to hardship events or suspension of work prior or after national holidays, or actual working hours are considerably lower than ordinary due to similar reasons, or the employee is granted a time off upon his/her request, the employer shall have the right to call upon compensatory work within a certain period of time set forth under the laws to compensate for the time lost during unworked periods. Such period of time to call upon compensatory work is 4 months.

 

Short-term Employment Allowance

o   An employer who reduces the working period minimum by one-third or suspends the operation completely or partially for at least four weeks can make an application to the Turkish Employment Agency and notify the labor union that is party to the collective labor agreement, if any. The employees are also notified of this situation by announcement in workplace.

o   The applications of the Short-Term Employment Allowance will be concluded based on the statements of employers and without completing the necessary assessment for eligibility within 60 (sixty) days starting from the application date. The assessment for eligibility will be concluded later and any surplus or improper payments made on the basis of the incorrect information and documents provided by employers will be collected from those employers with the legal interest.

o   This regulation will be implemented with a retrospective effect of 29 February 2020.

 

  • Income Support: The government will pay a daily monetary support of TRY 39.24 to employees who go on unpaid leave or whose contract is terminated after 15 March 2020; and who are not benefiting from the short-term employment allowance and those who were previously qualified for unemployment benefit in the course of the non- working period (in any case, for the period limited to abovementioned prohibition of termination). As such, the government is supporting both employers and employees.
  • Suspension of Strike and Lockouts: The grant of authorization assessments, collective labor agreements, the resolution of labor dispute-disagreement as well as strike and lockout within the scope of Law on Trade Unions and Collective Labor Agreements (No. 6356) has been halted for three months.

 

Postponement of Social Security Premium Payments

o   Who will benefit?

Regarding Private Sector Employers;

  • Taxpayers with income tax liability in terms of commercial, agricultural and professional income,
  • Taxpayers operating in the sectors where workplaces are decided to be temporarily suspended within the scope of the measures taken by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in terms of their main field of activity and
  • Taxpayers that are directly affected by the pandemic and whose main field of activities are; shopping centers including retail sector, health services, furniture manufacturing, iron and steel industry, mining and quarrying, building construction services, industrial kitchen manufacturing, automotive manufacturing  and  trade,  and  parts  and  accessories  manufacturing for automotive industry, vehicle rental, storage activities and artistic services such as transportation, cinema and theatre, publishing activities of books, newspapers, magazines and similar printed products including printing, accommodation activities including tour operators and travel agencies, food and beverage services including restaurants, cafes, textile and apparel manufacturing and trade, public event and organization services, including relationships.

 

The Scope of The Postponement

  • The payment period of the insurance premiums for 2020 / March, which must be paid by the end of 2020 / April, has been postponed to 02/11/2020.
  • The payment period of the insurance premiums for 2020 / April, which must be paid by the end of 2020 / May, has been postponed to 30/11/2020.
  • The payment period of the insurance premiums for 2020 / May, which must be paid by the end of 2020 / June, has been postponed to 31/12/2020.

 

Defaults: The delay penalty and default interest will not be applied in the premium debts regulated under the Social Insurance Law.

Content updated as of 27/04/2020

PAE Law Office

 

 Emre Atayilmaz

Partner

 + 90 532 443 08 49

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 Ebulula Mardin Cad. Akatlar Maya Sitesi
PAE Binasi Z Blok Akatlar
Istanbul , 34335 Turkey

 

 

The Netherlands

The government of The Netherlands has created a package of temporary arrangements to soften the economic effects of the Corona crisis. Please find the most relevant measures for employers and self-employed hereunder.

 

Emergency fund

The government has introduced the Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for Sustained  Employment (NOW, Noodfonds Overbrugging Werkgelegenheid). This measure will provide financial help for employers to pay their employees' wages.

Any company (national or international) paying wage tax in The Netherlands and expecting a turnover loss of at least 20% can claim NOW for compensation of wages, up to 90%. In this way, our government hopes to keep employees with both permanent and temporary contracts employed during the Corona crisis. The Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) will pay the company an advance often within a week after filing the application.

The compensation will be granted for 3 months. The company has to choose which 3 months between March en July 2020 it thinks will be least profitable. Afterwards the UWV will calculate the actual loss and correct any surplus or shortage.

Other wage related costs are also compensated with the NOW. This applies to costs such as pension premiums (both the part for employees and employers), employee insurance premiums and the accrual of holiday allowance - for three months UWV applies a fixed surcharge of 30% on top of the wages for all employers for these costs.

Companies may also use the NOW in case the company experiences turnover loss due to other causes than the coronavirus outbreak, such as a burn down.

 

Termination of employment

The NOW emergency fund is intended to avoid redundancies but it remains possible for an employer to terminate employment contracts on other grounds than redundancy and the usual principles and rules continue to apply to that process. The NOW rules do not prevent termination by way of a mutual agreement. However in case the total amount of wages payed per month during the compensation period is lower than the total amount of wages payed in January 2020, the company will be sanctioned by way of a drawback on the payed compensation afterwards. It can therefore be advisable not to terminate any employment contract during the compensation.

 

The Self-employed

The following support for entrepreneurs in general, including the self-employed is available:

  • Self-employed professionals will be able to apply for an extra, temporary benefit for self-  employed professionals (Tozo) to bridge the loss of income from 1 March onwards, in the municipality where they live.
  • The government awards entrepreneurs in a number of specific sectors who have been affected by the corona measures a one-time, set reimbursement of €4,000. This is called the  Reimbursement for Entrepreneurs in Affected Sectors COVID-19 (Tegemoetkoming Ondernemers Getroffen Sectoren COVID-19, TOGS).
  •  Companies and self-employed can now apply for payment extension of several other taxes and duties: excise duty, landlord levy, environmental taxes, insurance premium, tax and betting and lottery tax.
  • Companies and self-employed will not have to pay any fines for late payment to the tax authority.
  • The normal collection interest rate for paying after the payment term has passed has been decreased temporarily to nearly 0%. This applies to all tax debts. The tax interest rate will also temporarily be set to the lowest possible percentage for all entrepreneurs.
  • Under certain circumstances, you can apply for unblocking of your G-account. Read the  conditions and find the form (in Dutch, under 'Deblokkeren g-rekening').
  • Any business in the Netherlands that employs no more than 250 workers (you have an SME), may be eligible for a guarantee for part of a loan through the SME credit guarantee (BMKB)  scheme. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy stands as guarantor. This will enable you to borrow more than would otherwise be possible based on your collateral.
  • For agricultural entrepreneurs, the equivalent of the BMKB-C is the Credit Guarantee  scheme for Agriculture (BL-C).
  • The Business loan guarantee scheme (GO) has been extended.
  • Entrepreneurs who have a loan from microcredit provider Qredits do not have to repay their loan for a period of 6 months. During this period, the interest will be reduced to 2%. The government supports Qredits with 6 million euros.
  • The government will extend the export credit insurance facility for companies that export capital goods or services. It will be possible for companies to get a short-term guarantee with a runtime of less than 2 years.
  • The Dutch Trade and Investment Fund (DTIF) will be extended to include pre-delivery advances.

Update 21 April 2020

 

For more information please contact Wieringa Advocaten  www.wieringa.nl

IJdok 17, 1013 MM Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Tel: (00)3120 531 30 31 e-mail: [email protected]

 

United Arab Emirates

The UAE Employment Law (Federal Law No. 8 of 1980) is the legislative instrument which provides guiding light in Employment governance. However, the Employment Law does not lay down any rules during times of pandemic or emergency. The Employment Law does not provide for unpaid leave, temporary/permanent reduction of salary or alike measures.

In wake of COVID 19 and the uncertainties surrounding over the Employment Law, the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation (Ministry) which is the sole authority responsible to issue directions and govern Employers-Employee relations in United Arab Emirates (UAE), issued two Ministerial Resolutions (Applicable to Non-Citizen Employees Only) as follows:

 

  • Ministerial Resolution No. 279 of 2020 (Resolution No. 1)
  • Ministerial Resolution No. 281/2020 (Resolution No. 2)

 

Provisional Measures by the Employers:

Resolution No. 1 allows Companies with the consent of the Employees, to apply following measures:

  • Allow the Employees to work remotely
  • Grant Employees paid leave
  • Grant Employees unpaid leave
  • Temporary Reduction of salary
  • Permanent Reduction of salary

It is stressed that all of the above measures are to be taken with Employees consent. Hence, any unilateral decision which is breach of the above provision would invite labour claims against the Employer.  Further, any Temporary/ Permanent reduction in salary should be registered with the Minister by way of addendum to the respective Labour Contract.

Further, the Ministerial Resolution provides (presumably after exhausting above measures) to list their surplus workforce on the “Virutal Labour Market” (constituted under the Resolution No. 1). While the Employees are listed in the Virtual Labour Market, other companies may hire their services, if needed. The Employers are still under obligation to continue paying for all allowances (except basic wage) till the Employee finds another job or leaves UAE.

Resolution No. 1 sheds light on precautionary measures during COVID 19, however, it maintains its socio-legislative principle with the concept of obtaining Employee consent before implementing any of the above measures.

 

Reduction of Work Force attending office

With a view to implement social distancing and avoiding public gathering, the Resolution No. 2 made it compulsory for Companies (Except for vital sectors) to limit their work force attending office to maximum of 30% only.

Further, the Companies were obliged to implement preventive and precautionary measures to identify and contain the risk of virus in the premises, for eg: checking temperature of the Employees twice a day, if transportation is provided by the Employer then to maintain 25% of the seating capacity and a like measures.

However, in light of the Dubai Government’s decision on 4 April, 2020, wherein it extended its sterilization programme to 24 hours, which meant that individuals would not be allowed to leave their premises except for essential purpose like medical or groceries or Employees working in vital sectors.

In view of the Dubai Government’s decision, the implementation of Resolution No. 2 has little relevance for non-vital sectors.

 

Redundancy Principles and Rules

The UAE Employment Law does not provide for redundancy as a legitimate reason to terminate Employees. Resolution No. 1 also refers to provisional measures (with the consent of the Employee) and the Employers can place the its surplus Employees in Virtual Labour Market but its obligation is only to the extent of providing allowances. Hence, even under Resolution No. 1 , Employers cannot opt for termination under Redundancy.

The position remains that if the Employers terminate the Employees on the ground of redundancy due to COVID 19, they expose themselves to labour claims for arbitrary dismissal under the UAE Employment Law.  

Please note that the above resolution applies only to Non- Citizen Employees and covers all entities registered with the Ministry. Thus, companies constituted under DIFC or ADGM are exempted as they are governed by their own Employment Law.

Content updated as of 20 April 2020

Mohamed ElGhatit <[email protected]>

 

United Kingdom

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

This was announced on 20 March 2020 and applies to employees and certain other categories of worker including agency workers who were employed and had gone on to the employer’s payroll on or before 19 March 2020. It provides that:

1.      an employer may offer “furlough” leave to an employee

2.      furlough leave may be offered on the basis that the employer will pay the employee 80% of the employee’s salary up to a cap of £2,500 or on the basis that the employer will pay the employee at a higher rate - for example in full  

3.      during furlough leave the employee must not undertake any work for the employer

4.      if the employee accepts the offer then the employer must designate them as furloughed – it should be noted that this Scheme does not dis-apply other employment laws and it is therefore important the employer seeks the agreement of employee to furloughing and that the process avoids any form of discrimination    

5.      the employer remains obliged to make payment to the furloughed employee but will then be able to claim from the State 80% of their salary subject to the cap of £2,500, certain minimum employer pension contributions and employer national insurance contributions

6.      furlough leave must be for a minimum of 3 weeks

7.      there may be more than one period of furlough leave for one employee so it is possible for an employee to return from furlough leave and then to go on to furlough again in the future   

8.      the scheme covers the period from 1 March 2020 to30 June 2020 (extended from the original end date of 31 May 2020). The aim of including March was to allow employers who had already decided to terminate employees on the basis of redundancy to continue their employment on the basis of furlough leave so that the employee retains a job  

 

Statutory Sick Pay

The rules on this basic State provision for employees have been adjusted to allow for it to be claimed for the first 3 days of absence for which it is not normally provided and to cover those isolating due to the issues relating to Coronavirus.

 

Redundancy Principles and Rules

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is intended to avoid redundancies but it remains possible for an employer to terminate employment on the basis of redundancy and the usual principles and rules continue to apply to that process. These include consultation with employees at an individual level prior to termination as redundant, collective consultation via employee representatives where the employer is proposing to dismiss 20 or more employees over minimum periods of 30 or 45 days depending on numbers, the need to give notice and the obligation to make a statutory redundancy payment.             

 

The Self-Employed  

Some support for the self-employed which attempts to mirror the support provided for employees under Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has also been established but it has a number of limitations.   

Content updated as of 21 April 2020

Prepared by Tim Clark <[email protected]

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United States of America

Summary of the U .S . Government’s Response to the COVID -19 Pandemic in relation to employees

Paid Sick Leave and Expanded / Paid Family Leave

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) was signed into law on March 18, 2020. FFCRA requires covered employers to provide their employees with paid sick or family leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. It provides that employers of fewer than 500 employees (with some exceptions for employers of fewer than 50 employees) must provide all employees, with minor exceptions:

  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick time at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick time at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19. Also -
  • Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

Covered employers may qualify for dollar-for-dollar reimbursement through tax credits for all qualifying wages paid under the FFCRA.

Employers may not discharge, discipline, or otherwise discriminate against any employee who takes paid sick leave under the FFCRA and files a complaint or institutes a proceeding under or related to the FFCRA.

The above benefits are not available to employees when the employer has no work for the employees to do. For example, if the employer is a restaurant, hotel, or transportation provider that is shut down or has reduced operations due to lack of customers, the above benefits may not be available to that employer’s employees.

Expanded Unemployment Benefits

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act. The CARES Act is intended to provide economic relief to individuals and businesses facing hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis. The CARES Act both broadens eligibility for unemployment benefits and increases those benefits:

  • Broadens eligibility by providing for up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefit assistance for certain “covered individuals” who are unemployed or partially unemployed as a result of COVID-19;
  • Eligibility includes independent contractors, self-employed individuals and those with a limited work history;
  • Additional $600 per week on top of ordinary state-authorized weekly benefits, until July 31, 2020.

Paycheck Protection Program and Loan Forgiveness

The Paycheck Protection Program (the “Program”) established by the CARES Act provides federally-guaranteed loans to certain eligible businesses and

entities. The Program covers the period between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020. Eligible businesses and entities include businesses with fewer than 500 employees, and certain select other types of businesses. To accommodate for the program, the CARES Act has authorized commitments of $349 billion. (As of mid-April, the Small Business Administration was reporting that available funds have been exhausted. The U.S. government is discussing making additional funds available.)

The loan may be used to cover payroll costs and payments on rent, utilities, interest on any mortgage obligation, and interest on any other debt obligation incurred before the covered period.

A borrower may be eligible for loan forgiveness and cancellation of indebtedness during the covered period for all payments made during an eight-week period beginning on the date the loan is funded. The loan forgiveness amount is subject to reduction if an employer lessens its number of full-time employees or decreases the pay of certain employees beyond 25% of that employee’s prior year compensation. However, employers that rehire employees who have already been let go (thus eliminating any reduction in the number of full-time equivalent employees) by June 30, 2020 will not be subject to reductions in any loan forgiveness amount.

Any loan amounts not forgiven at the end of one year are carried forward as an ongoing loan with a maximum interest rate of 4% for a maximum of ten years.

Employee Retention Employment Tax Credit for Employers

Under the CARES Act, employers may be eligible for a refundable employment tax credit of 50% of the “qualified wages” paid to employees from March 13, 2020 through December 31, 2020. This credit is generally available to employers, including tax-exempt employers, who either (1) had operations fully or partially suspended during 2020 because of government orders limiting business activity, travel, or meetings (for commercial, social, religious, or other purposes) due to COVID-19 or (2) whose gross receipts for a calendar quarter in 2020 were less than 50% of its gross receipts for the same calendar quarter in the prior year  (until the business's gross receipts are equal to at least 80% of its gross receipts relative to the same quarter in the prior year).

Content updated as of 20/04/2020

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Amanda Varella

[email protected]

Brown Ruddnick - Boston Offices

One Financial Center Boston, MA 02111

United States

Tel: +1.617.856.8200 | Fax: +1.617.856.8201

 

Vietnam

Vietnamese Government’s response to employment issues arising from the Coronavirus pandemic

 

On 1 April 2020, the Prime Minister of Vietnam issued Decision No. 447/QD-TTg declaring Coronavirus (COVID-19) as a national pandemic in Vietnam. In addition, Vietnamese government has imposed numerous measures to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 and mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak which include:

 

Work Suspension

 

According to Official Letter No. 1064/LDTBXH-QHLDTL of the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs of Vietnam (the “MOLISA”) dated 25 March 2020, employees who are suspended from work due to the Covid-19 will be entitled to a wage for work suspension as mutually agreed between the parties but not lower than the regional minimum wages stipulated by the Government, i.e. from VND3,070,000 (appx. US$132) to VND4,420,000 (appx. US$190) per month.

Cases where employees are considered as being affected directly of the Covid-19 are as follow:

 

(a)          Foreign employees who are not allowed to return to Vietnam to work during the Covid-19;

 

(b)          Employees who are subject to mandatory quarantine as requested by competent authorities; and

 

(c)           Employees who are suspended from work because the enterprise or its department cannot operate without their employer or other employee who is under quarantine or not allowed to return to work.

 

Financial Relief Measures

 

The Government of Vietnam has also passed Resolution No. 42/NQ-CP on measures to support those who are facing hardship due to the Covid-19 with the details as follows:

 

With regards to employers

 

(a)          Employers facing financial difficulties that have paid at least 50% of salaries in advance to their employees during their suspension of work for the period from April to June 2020 will be able to get interest-free loans with the term of 12 months from the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies; and

(b)          The capped loan shall be will be equivalent to a maximum of 50% of the minimum regional wages applicable to each employee based on the actual time of salary payment, but not exceeding three months.

 

With regards to employees

 

(a)          Employees who have their contracts suspended or take unpaid leave for a period of one month or longer will receive a financial support equivalent to VND1,800,000 (appx. US$80) per month. The support duration is based on the actual duration of the contract suspension or amount of unpaid leave taken but shall not exceed 3 months, calculated from 1 April 2020; and

(b)          Employees who have their employment contracts terminated but are not eligible for unemployment insurance, or employees become unemployed due to not having the labor contracts will also be given VND1,000,000 (appx. US$45) per month, calculated from April to June 2020.

 

Work Permit and Visa

 

Under Resolution No. 28/NQ-CP of the Government dated 10 March 2020, the MOLISA shall temporarily suspend the issuance of new work permits to foreign employees from countries and territories affected by Covid-19. Till date, no decision on resume of issuance of work permits has been issued.

In addition, all foreign nationals including overseas Vietnamese and their dependents have been temporarily suspended from entering to Vietnam from 22 March 2020 according to the Notification No. 118/TB-VPCP of the Government Office on 21 March 2020, except who are (a) unable to return to their country and must stay in Vietnam for work; or (b) foreign experts, business managers, high skilled workers etc. having a valid medical certificate proving negative for Covid-19 from the competent authority of their home country and have been accepted for entering Vietnam and strictly quarantined.

 

Practicing Social Distancing

 

Vietnam has ended its national social distancing measures at the end of 22 April 2020 except in some provinces or cities designated as high-risk, which will extend social distancing measures until 30 April 2020.

All business activities, including non-essential business and services, are allowed to return to normal on the condition they follow proper infection control measures. Based on the specific local conditions, the people’s committee of each province/city will have discretion over each sector on their localities.

Above content s of 24 April 2020. Nwever updates below

 

Covid-19 Update - Vietnam eases social distancing domestically and begins fight for economic recovery
 

27 - 04 - 2020
Indochine Counsel Press Release
 

Last Wednesday, Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc announced that Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, most of Hanoi, and all but two of the provinces were to be removed from the high-risk category in the fight against Covid-19. On Saturday, 26 April 2020, he issued Directive No. 19/CT-TTg on continued measures for prevention and control of Covid-19 (“Directive 19”).

While it doesn't necessarily replace Directive 16—which instituted Social Distancing throughout the country for three weeks ending 22 April—it does succeed it, and offer guidelines for moving forward now that Vietnam has essentially contained the first wave of Covid-19 infections.

Directive 19 divides localities into three categories: high, medium, and low risk. Each area has a different set of restrictions and those few that remain—or are later reclassified as—high risk must continue to abide by the guidance of Directive 16. In general, however, moving forward the country is expected to follow the below procedures:

  • Frequently wash hands with soap or other disinfectants, wear masks when going out and maintain a reasonable distance in making contact with others, not to gather in large crowds in public places or outside workplaces, schools or hospitals.
  • All festivals, religious gatherings or sporting events or any event that involves large crowds will continue to be banned.
  • Non-essential service businesses such as entertainment venues, beauty salons, karaoke bars, massage parlors, bars, pubs and discos will remain closed.
  • Retail and wholesale stores, lotteries, hotels, accommodation businesses, restaurants and eateries, sport centers, historical relics and tourist sites can resume operations but must implement preventive measures such as providing employees with protective gear, record temperatures of all arrivals, comply with hand washing and disinfection guidelines and ensure safe distance between customers.
  • Public transport, including inter-provincial transport, is allowed to resume.
  • Schools can re-open, but the school administration must reduce the number of students in each class to maintain safe distance, alternate schedules to reduce crowds in classes or canteens, frequently disinfect classrooms, and continue to incorporate online lessons if available.
  • Factories and manufacturing businesses can start operations, while making sure that workers are protected.
  • No gatherings of more than 20 people in public places or outside the office, schools or hospitals are allowed, and a safe distance of 1m must be maintained.

Now that the first wave of infections has been contained successfully, PM Phuc included economic measures in Directive 19 so as to restart the economy while coping with Covid-19. According to the directive, the line ministries are to expedite export contracts with member countries under the EVFTA, ensure all necessary protocols and goods are in sufficient supply to be ready for when European countries start to lift lockdown measures and open their economies. They are also to ensure that the supply and supply chain of raw materials is cleared to support inputs for production of exports.

In addition to a focus on exports, the line ministries are to take measures to develop the domestic market. They are to prepare stimulus measures and encourage the increase of consumption by citizens—especially e-commerce and retail systems. Essential goods must be in full supply, while domestic tourism can resume. Social measures of support for citizens that were instigated during the Covid-19 crisis are to be completed and social welfare and aid are to be distributed to the right people, ensuring transparency and in a timely manner. The Ministry of Health continues to boost information technology in tracing contacts and identifying ones that stand at elevated risks of infection, while dealing with local outbreaks. The ministry was also tasked with developing guidelines on Covid-19 safety measures for manufacturers, service industries and transport businesses.

In addition to actions directly aimed at restarting Vietnam's economic growth, the ministries are to focus on continued and specific actions to ward against reinfection and a second wave of Covid-19. The Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are to carry out entry restrictions and strictly manage all cases of entry, ensuring that all arrivals will be held in quarantine for 14 days as per guidelines. And the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Health, and the people’s committees of localities are to “implement quarantine protocols and focus on improving the conditions of concentrated quarantine sites.”

In the end, Directive 19 marks a new direction for Vietnam's fight against Covid-19. No longer is strict social distancing the norm, but now the country is primed to begin the arduous climb from the economic disaster of lockdown to a resumption as a regional powerhouse of GDP growth and an increasingly important exporter globally. If you have any questions about Directive 19 or how Covid-19 may affect you legally in Vietnam, please feel free to contact us.

 

Contributed by:

Le Nguyen Huy Thuy

Partner

[email protected]

Le Thi Khanh Hoan

Senior Associate

[email protected]

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