Many Governments have implemented job retention and employer support schemes in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Below we summarise some of the initiatives in our member firms’ countries.
The French Government has a partial activity scheme to support employers which applies if the company can demonstrate that (i) its activity is clearly impacted by sanitary measures (impossibility to maintain activity while respecting the required measures) and CoVid-pandemic consequences (no delivery, clients stopping their business) and that (ii) considering such circumstances, there is no remaining activity for part or all of the staff. The other requirements/terms are:
- Only employees can benefit from partial activity measures. Self-employed, top-level executives, corporate officers and trainees cannot benefit from these measures.
- The employer can use partial activity for the total working time duration of employees (max. 35 hours) or only for a few hours. There is an upper limit of 1,000 hours per year of partial activity per employee.
- Partial activity cannot be organized for only one employee and should be for a group of employees performing the same type of activities within the company.
- The employer must apply to the Ministry of Labour to grant permission to rely on the partial activity measures.
- Impacted employees are paid at least 70% of their gross usual salary (i.e. approx. 84% of their net salary) for the hours which are not worked. Then, the employer gets a refund from the Unemployment Fund, in the form of an allowance, being noted that this allowance cannot be lower than 8.03 euros per hour not worked. The maximum amount that can be refunded to employer is based on a remuneration of up to 4.5 times the minimum wage.
- Depending on circumstances and collective agreements, the employer may be able to require employees to use up some of their annual leave entitlement, paid at full pay.
The Job Retention Scheme entitles UK employers to claim part-payment of employees’ salaries if those employees have been ‘furloughed’ (laid off from work) as a result of the effects of the pandemic. The Scheme aims to help employers avoid redundancies and to provide financial support in cases where employees cannot do their jobs remotely:
- The Government will pay up to 80% of employees’ gross monthly wages (excluding bonuses/commission/fees) up to a limit of £2,500 per month.
- The Government will also pay the employers’ social security contrbution on that 80%/£2,500 salary and the minimum 3% statutory pension contribution. The sums paid to employees will be taxable in the normal way.
- The scheme applies to employees who were on the payroll and notified as such to HM Revenue & Customs by 19 March 2020.
- The employee must have agreed in writing to the furlough. Best practice is to confirm the changes to terms and conditions in a letter or email which the employee confirms agreement to.
- The furloughed employees must not work or provide services (but can do agreed voluntary training).
- Employers will be able to claim online from 20 April 2020. The Scheme currently runs for employees furloughed from 1 March to 31 May 2020.
On 24 March 2020, the Irish Government announced a new scheme to assist employers adversly affected by Covid-19 to keep paying employees, which replaced the previous Covid-19 Refund Scheme. The new scheme is called the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TSS), and commenced on 26 March for a period of three months, subject to review at that point.
The TSS will subsidise employers in the amount of 70% of an employee’s net pay, subject to certain limits, where the employer can show that it has suffered at least a 25% decline in turnover and is accordingly unable to pay normal wages and outgoings fully.
The Danish temporary salary scheme gives companies that experience financial difficulties (due to a decline in orders and/or fewer customers) due to CoVid which subsequently results in them being unable to employ their employees, the right to partial reimbursement for expenses incurred for three months. The companies undertake not to dismiss employees for financial reasons during the period in which they receive the compensation.
- All private companies can benefit from the scheme if they can demonstrate exceptional financial hardship as a result of CoVid and therefore face having to make redundancies for at least 30% of the workforce or more than 50 employees. In those situations, the company receives a state salary compensation of 75% of the salaries of the employees concerned, subject to a maximum of DKK 23,000 per employee a month if they do not layoff or make redundancies. For hourly wage earners, the state wage compensation amounts to 90%, but a maximum of DKK 26,000 per month.
- The Temporary Compensation Scheme applies from March 9 to June 9, 2020.
- The individual employee for whom the company seeks salary compensation must use vacation and / or leave for a total of five days in connection with the compensation period. If the employee does not have holidays corresponding to five days, then they must take leave without pay or use holidays days from the new holiday.
- If the company is faced with having to dismiss at least 30% of the employees, or at least 50 employees, it is recommended to make use of the assistance package and thus avoid redundancies.
- In addition the Danish Minister for Taxation has introduced three tax initiatives to improve liquidity of businesses: postponed payment deadlines for payroll tax and labour market contribution; postponed VAT payment deadline for large businesses; and increased limits for credit balance in the tax account.
The information above is for guidance only; specific local legal advice should be taken in each case.