The amendment to the COVID-19 epidemic counteracting law, commonly referred to as the “Anti-Crisis Shield”, introduces many solutions important for employers. They mainly concern the possibility of obtaining subsidies for salaries, as well as the introduction of flexible working hours (after meeting a number of detailed conditions).
Salary compensation of employees
Benefits provided for by the amended law on special arrangements for preventing, preventing and combating COVID-19 of 2 March 2020. (‘Special Act‘) are not dependent on the number of employees.
The employer can receive a subsidy in the amount:
- 50 % of the minimum wage for a full-time job, plus the amount of social security contributions payable by the employer on this benefit in the event of a reduction in the salary of an employee who is affected by economic downtime.
- Maximum 40% of the average monthly salary in the case of a 20% reduction in the employee’s working hours (however, not less than 0.5 full-time).
No funding is available for those earning more than three times the average monthly salary.
For micro, small and medium-sized businesses, i.e. with no more than 249 employees and an annual net turnover of no more than EUR 50 million), benefits are also provided to subsidise employees’ salaries, depending on the recorded decline in economic turnover. Thus:
- A decrease in turnover by at least 30% entitles to co-financing in the amount of maximum 50% of the minimum remuneration increased by the amount of social insurance contributions due from the employer;
- A decrease in turnover by at least 50% entitles to co-financing in the amount of maximum 70% of the minimum remuneration increased by the amount of social insurance contributions due from the employer;
- A decrease in turnover by at least 80% entitles to co-financing in the amount of maximum 90% of the minimum remuneration increased by the amount of social insurance contributions due from the employer.
This subsidy is possible for a maximum of 3 months. It also covers persons employed under a civil law contract (contract of mandate or other service contract).
The conditions for obtaining a subsidy vary, depending on whether it is applied for by means of economic downtime or a reduction in working hours or for a subsidy not related to these factors.
In case of stoppage or reduction of working time it is required that the employer enters into an agreement with trade unions or employee representatives (if there are no unions).
Other requirements include not being in debt for payment of taxes and social security contributions until the end of the third quarter of 2019 and maintaining the employment of subsidized employees for twice the subsidized period.
Flexible working hours for employees
The Special Act allows the employer to:
- Apply less favorable terms and conditions of employment for employees than those resulting from employment contracts;
- Reduce the mandatory rest periods for workers to a daily minimum of 8 hours and a weekly minimum of 32 hours (with an equivalent rest period of 8 weeks);
- Introduce an equivalent system of working time and extending the daily working time to 12 hours, within a reference period of a maximum of 12 months.
The conditions for implementing the above solutions are:
- Decrease in economic turnover due to COVID-19;
- Not being in debt for payment of taxes and social security contributions until the end of the third quarter of 2019;
- Conclusion of an agreement with trade unions or employee representatives (if there are no trade unions).
Preventive and initial staff screening
During an emergency or epidemic, the employers:
- are not obliged to refer employees to periodic examinations. Suspended duties must be carried out within 60 days of cancellation of an emergency or epidemic;
- Are obliged to send employees to preliminary and follow-up examinations before they are allowed to work. If the examination cannot be carried out by the labour doctor, another doctor may carry out the examination. An examination by another doctor is valid for 30 days after the cancellation of an epidemic or emergency.
Medical judgements that expired after 7 March 2020 shall remain valid, but no longer than 60 days from the date of cancellation of an emergency or epidemic condition.
Legalization of foreigners’ stay
Foreigners who would be obliged to submit an application for legalisation of their stay during an epidemic or emergency situation will benefit from the following facilitations:
- Extension of the period of stay and the period of validity of the visa until the 30th day following the cancellation of an epidemic or emergency situation, and
- Extension of the period of validity of the residence permit until the 30th day following the cancellation of an epidemic or emergency.