Job preservation and restructuring

Out-Law Guide | 30 Jun 2020 | 4:45 pm | 177 min. read

Countries are emerging from lockdown at different rates while some remain locked down or at are taking a more restrained to easing restrictions than others. It is hard to keep track for those responsible for employees across different jurisdictions.

To make this easier, Pinsent Masons and our best friend firms have produced this briefing. It follows the cross-jurisdiction briefing sent at the outset of lockdown which focussed on job preservation schemes. This document provides an update on job preservation schemes but also covers, at a high level, the legal framework across the jurisdictions where there may need to be changes to your workforce through restructuring.

Of course this is high level guidance, and whilst we will keep you updated on key changes from time to time, specific advice should be sought if you are planning to take further advantage of the job preservation schemes or, more likely at this stage, are considering changes to your workforce. 

Countries

  1. Albania
  2. Australia
  3. Austria
  4. Belarus
  5. Belgium
  6. Bosnia & Herzegovina
  7. Bulgaria
  8. Croatia
  9. Czech Republic
  10. Denmark
  11. Estonia
  12. Finland
  13. France
  14. Germany
  15. Greece
  16. Hong Kong
  17. Hungary
  18. Ireland
  19. Italy
  20. Saudi Arabia
  21. Latvia
  22. Lithuania
  23. Luxembourg
  24. Norway
  25. Poland
  26. Romania
  27. Russia
  28. Serbia
  29. Slovakia
  30. Slovenia
  31. Spain
  32. Sweden
  33. Switzerland
  34. The Netherlands
  35. United Arab Emirates
  36. United Kingdom
  37. Ukraine

 

Albania

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Government's jobs retention program:

Guarantee Fund- guarantees the loans taken by the companies from the banks in order to pay exclusively the employees' salaries and social and health contributions for a period of three months. Salaries higher than ALL 150,000 are excluded from the coverage under such guarantee.

Financial support:

The employees employed in enterprises whose activity has been closed or stopped due to government orders, may benefit from the monthly state funded payment amounting to ALL 26,000 or the payment of ALL 40,000 depending on the respective classification of employer's activity.

Labour Code Options:

  • Re-deploy staff to other roles or "partial activity" scheme, i.e. short-time working. In such case, the employee's written consent would be required.
  • Reach agreement with the employee to take annual leave or unpaid leave set forth under the Labour Code, employment agreement or internal regulations.

Other options that may be taken into consideration include changes in work position, salaries and benefits, working hours etc. However, those would constitute changes to terms and conditions of the employment agreements and therefore would require employee’s written consent.

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Redundancy-operational reasons, economic conditions, business efficiency, are considered as reasonable grounds to terminate employment. Information and prior consultation with employees will most likely be required. Certain categories of employees i.e. employees on maternity, paternity or sick leave, representatives of trade unions for the entire term in office, are protected categories. Consultations and negotiations with trade union would be required for a collective dismissal.

Paid/unpaid leave:

The employee's consent would be required.

Agreement is required on reduction of working hours, salary, changes in job position, flexible working.

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

N/A

Contact

Jonida Braja, Associate,
Wolf Theiss

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Australia

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

JobKeeper Scheme:

Under the recently introduced JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme, a business that has met the decline in turnover threshold can be entitled to a JobKeeper subsidy of $1,500 per fortnight for each eligible employee on the condition that each eligible employee receives at least $1,500 for the relevant fortnight.

Employers who qualify for the JobKeeper scheme may also be empowered to:

  • stand down employers covered by the JobKeeper scheme;
  • direct employees to perform other duties or to perform duties at an alternative locations;
  • agree with employees to change ordinary working days and times;
  • agree with employees to take annual leave at half pay; and
  • request employees to take annual leave, and such requests must not be reasonably refused.

Paid annual leave:

An employer can direct employees to take a period of paid annual leave, but only if the requirement is reasonable. Whether it is reasonable will depend on factors such as the needs of the employee and the employer’s business, the custom and practice of the business, the timing of the direction and the notice given to the employee to take leave. This is the case even if the employment contract contains an express power to require employees to take leave at particular times. Terms of any applicable modern award/enterprise bargaining agreement may also limit an employer's powers to direct an employee to take annual leave.

Unpaid leave:

In narrow circumstances, an employer may be able to ‘stand employees down’ (effectively putting them on unpaid leave). This only applies in narrow circumstances if the employees cannot be usefully employed because of a stoppage of work for which the employer is not responsible. This may apply where an employer’s business is closed because of an enforceable government direction relating to non-essential services.

Salary/hours reduction (temporary or permanent):

Outside the JobKeeper scheme, salary/hours reductions are not permitted for most full-time and part-time employees without the employee’s agreement.

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Qualification for JobKeeper:

An employer will generally qualify for the JobKeeper scheme if it meets the decline in turnover test, meaning:

  • its business has an aggregated turnover of less than $1 billion and it estimates its turnover has fallen or will fall by 30 per cent or more; or
  • its business has an aggregated turnover of $1 billion or more and it estimates its turnover has fallen or will likely fall by 50 per cent or more.

The JobKeeper scheme will operate until 28 September 2020.

Modern award/enterprise agreement coverage:

Employers should be aware of the status of their employees (casual, permanent etc) and any applicable modern awards or enterprise bargaining agreements.

The provisions of these instruments may dictate certain employee entitlements and what employers can and cannot do to manage their employees and respond to the impact of COVID-19. Many of these instruments contain detailed consultation obligations which must be met before any major workplace changes (such as changes in hours, workforce composition, redundancies etc) can be implemented.

Redundances:

The Fair Work Act provides a minimum statutory redundancy pay entitlement based on the length of an employee's service. Employers should be aware that employees may have additional entitlements to redundancy pay under:

  • contracts of employment through express terms, company policies or redundancy agreements implied into the contract, or implied terms based on custom and practice; and
  • modern awards and enterprise agreements.

Obligations may also exist to notify any employee representative groups, such as unions, and Centrelink of the proposed redundancies.

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

JobKeeper payment enrolment for employers (employers who enrol must still satisfy the qualification requirements):

https://www.ato.gov.au/general/JobKeeper-Payment/

Contact

Patrick Williams, Associate, Pinsent Masons

Katie Williams advises on the key consideration when planning redundancies in Australia. (HR Network TV)

 

Patrick Williams explains the scope of Australia’s furlough scheme. (HR Network TV)

 

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Austria

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Short Time Work ("STW"; in German: "Kurzarbeit")

Conditions for STW are:

  • employers must face economic difficulties;
  • temporary reduction of normal working hours to 10%-90%; and
  • conclusion of a social partner agreement combined with a works council agreement/in enterprises without a works council, a social partner agreement combined with an individual agreement with the affected employees is required

The STW will approximately provide for a minimum net remuneration in accordance with the following scale:

  • with a gross remuneration before short-time work of up to EUR 1,700 in the amount of 90% of the previous net remuneration;
  • gross remuneration of up to EUR 2,685 in the amount of 85% of the previous net remuneration;
  • for gross remuneration of up to EUR 5,370 in the amount of 80% of the previous net remuneration;
  • for apprentices in the amount of 100% of the previous net remuneration

State compensates employer for lost working hours due to STW.

Agreement to consume banked annual leave and time-off

  • Consent of employees normally is required,
  • However, if business is closed or infringed due public health counter Covid-19 measures, employer may furlough employee, i.e. employee must consummate a certain part of time-off/banked annual leave

Mutual separation agreement with undertaking of employer to rehire employee after crisis/a certain period

Employee can collect unemployment money (which however is normally only 55% of former net salary) but is not obliged to take vacant job offerings

Agreement on home office

Employees who are member of a so-called "Covid-19" risk group, can, if reasonable protective measurers or home office is not possible request to be put on unpaid leave. Employer gets salary (including social insurance contributions) compensated by the state.

Deferred social insurance contribution payments

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

If employees are on STW, and for one month thereafter, redundancies are only possible under certain strict conditions.

If the economic situation turns better earlier than expected, pre-term end of STW should be considered.

Introduce flexible time schemes.

Agreement on reduction of working hours.

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

Main online portal for STW aid: AMS-Detail-Infos

Information provided by the Employer Association:

https://www.wko.at/service/corona-kurzarbeit.html

Contact

Walter Pöschl, Counsel,
Wolf Theiss

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Belarus

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Decrease of remuneration

At the initiative of the employer (should be justified by production/economic reasons and with at least 1-month prior notification to the employee), or under mutual agreement of the parties.

Shortened working week / working day

At the initiative of the employer (should be justified by production/economic reasons and with at least 1-month prior notification to the employee), or under mutual agreement of the parties.

Introducing idle time

(The employer may pay the employee a smaller salary, but not less than 2/3 of his/her base salary).

Granting regular annual leave

It may be taken outside the vacation schedule subject to the parties’ consent; or the employer has the right to grant leave ahead of schedule to all or certain categories of employees due to extraordinary and unforeseen circumstances.

Granting unpaid leave (partly paid leave)

It is possible only subject to the written employee’s consent.

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Temporary transfer of employee

To another job or to another employer (within the same location) due to idle time.

Temporary transfer of employee to another employer

(It is possible only subject to the written employee’s consent).

Creating conditions for working from home

If the job permits.

Redundancies

May be a necessary option for severely affected businesses (subject to complying with established procedures).

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

https://www.sorainen.com/service/covid-19-protection/

Contact

Laimonas Skibarka, Managing Partner,
Sorainen

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Belgium

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

1. Temporary unemployment scheme:

(Using a specifically simplified procedure) – (1) For businesses and their employees who are affected by the Corona virus/COVID-19 crisis (= “Force Majeure” or “act of God”) (2) only per full day of unemployment (3) for the time being until 31 May 2020 midnight (period of governmental restrictive measures, most probably to be prolonged), (4) with an unemployment allowance of 70% of the gross monthly salary (capped at 2,754.76 EUR), (5) and with a supplement of 5.63 EUR per day

2. Unpaid leave:

Rather exceptional (as temporary unemployment scheme is available); in such case agreement needed (ideally in writing)

3. Temporary reduced hours and pay:

Rather exceptional (as temporary unemployment scheme is available); agreement needed (ideally in writing)

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

1. Termination due to act of God

Requires proof that further execution of employment contract is definitely impossible; no notice period or no severance pay due. Very unlikely that this will be accepted by the labour courts.

2. Individual redundancy:

Either a notice period to be performed, or a severance pay in lieu of notice; CLA n° 109 requires giving reasons for dismissal and provides in sanctions for manifestly unreasonable dismissal

3. Collective redundancy or closure of a company:

Mandatory information and consultation procedure; may take several months; criminal sanctions in case of non-compliance

4. Changing terms and conditions in other circumstances:

Agreement needed (ideally in writing)

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

Regarding employment law:

Dutch: https://werk.belgie.be/nl/faqs/vragen-en-antwoorden-coronavirus

French: https://emploi.belgique.be/fr/faqs/questions-et-reponses-coronavirus

Concerning the temporary unemployment scheme:

Dutch: https://www.rva.be/nl/nieuws/tijdelijke-werkloosheid-ten-gevolge-van-het-uitbreken-van-het-coronavirus-covid-19-vereenvoudiging-van-de-procedure

French: https://www.onem.be/fr/nouveau/chomage-temporaire-la-suite-de-lepidemie-de-coronavirus-covid-19-simplification-de-la-procedure

Contact

Rudi Desmet, Partner
ASTREA CV

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Bosnia and Herzegovina

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Lay-off:

Temporary lay-off, in terms of suspension of employee's rights and obligations is currently only regulated for the territory of Republic of Srpska; inactive employment status; employees entitled to a remuneration in the amount of at least 50% of average salary paid to employee in the last three months

Furlough:

Not explicitly regulated for the territory of BiH

Reorganisation of working hours:

If work processes allow for this;

Remote work:

Not specifically regulated, but recommended by government officials; additional agreement/annex to be concluded;

Temporary stop of operations due to the employer's inability to ensure the required safety and protection of life and health at work ordered by the employer or a relevant authorities:

Employees are entitled to a salary compensation in the amount determined by the employer's general enactment (employment rulebook or collective bargaining agreement, if any) and the underlying employment agreement

Annual leave – could be "imposed" by employer further to adopted annual leave plan;

Unpaid leave:

Possible only upon employees' request;

Paid leave:

Possible only upon employees' request and for a limited period of time; employee's entitled to remuneration

Other measures (such as: shorter working hours, lower salary, minimum wage):

Require the employee's consent and that the formal procedure provided by the Labor Law is followed

Currently there are indirect financial measures, such as:

  • relief measures to be approved by the banks to their clients, directly or indirectly negatively affected by the outbreak, such as:
  • (i) moratorium of payment obligations by clients for maximum duration of six (6) months;
  • (ii) grace period for the payment of loan's principal in cases of annuity loans for maximum duration of six (6) months (during the grace period the client shall pay accrued interest but not principal);
  • (iii) prolonging the deadline for annuity loans repayment;
  • (iv) prolonging the deadline of the maturity date for loans with one-time maturity, including revolving loans, transaction account and credit card overdrafts and similar for a maximum duration of six (6) months, whereas the clients would be authorized to use part of the exposure, which was not used on the day of the modification, during the said period;
  • (v) approval of additional exposure amount for the purpose of overcoming current liquidity issues;
  • (vi) other measures intended to relieve the payment of client's loan obligations and to maintain client's business activities;
  • temporary suspension of payment of tax liabilities;
  • decrease of rent for publicly owned premises;
  • suspension of administrative, civil, extra-contentious and enforcement procedures; etc.
Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Redundancy:

Possible due to economic, technical or organisational reasons, with fulfilment of additional statutory obligations (employer obliged to determine whether an employee can be transferred to a different workplace or prequalified for conducting work of a different workplace with the employer), with obligation of conducting consultation procedure with workers' council or trade union, if employer intends to dismiss certain number of employees (different threshold apply on the territory of Federation of BiH, Republic of Srpska and Brcko District of BiH) in the period of 90 days; consent of the workers' council or trade union required if dismissing certain categories of employees.

Changing terms and conditions:

Possible to change current employment rulebooks; necessary to act in accordance with the law and internal acts.

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

Certain subsidies are already or will be in the upcoming period, available for those employers and industries most affected by the negative consequences, that are not working due to the outbreak of coronavirus;

https://covid-19.ba/

https://koronavirususrpskoj.com/

Contact

Lana Sarajlić, Attorney at Law in cooperation with
Wolf Theiss

Lamis Kulenovic, Associate at Law Office Naida Čustović

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Bulgaria

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

State subsidy for closed employers:

To support employers which closed part or the entire of their undertaking as result of the COVID-19 crisis the Government announced a state subsidy scheme with a budget of BGN 4.5 billion (approx. EUR 2.3 billion). The state subsidy will compensate eligible employers with 60% of the insurable income and social securities of their employees (whereas, 40% of the salary and the social securities are still to be paid by the employer) for the time of the closure but not more than 3 months. Employers of all industry sectors are given access to the subsidy, regardless of whether they have been directly closed by the Government (restaurants, theaters, etc.) or due to their business decision. The eligibility criteria, however, requires no pending tax or other public obligation to the state, evidenced reduction in sales revenues of at least 20% as well as commitment not to reduce workforce for a certain period after subsidies are used.

Paid leave:

The Parliament adopted a new Emergency law which allowed employers (as an emergency measure) to unilaterally order employees (without their consent) the usage of ½ of their paid leave. Given that the statutory paid leave in Bulgaria – and market standard – is 20 days per year, the practical impact of the above measure would relate to 10 working days on annual basis. Afterwards, only employers who have seized entirely or partially their operations would be able to order the remaining ½ of the paid leave. For all the rest, the consent of the employees will be required to continue with paid or unpaid leave.

Reduced working time:

Employers are given the right to reduce the working time of all or some of their employees to not less than 4h per day (or half of the regular working day) and pay proportionately decreased salaries. With the new law on emergency measures, this right is further enhanced by eliminating the obligation for the employer to held prior discussions with the unions and by allowing reduced working time for the whole period of the crisis (regardless of its duration).

Work from home:

The new law further allowed employers, during the state of emergency, to unilaterally sent employees to work from home. Previously, employers were required by the Labour Code (LC) to seek the consent of the employees and sign individual annexes with them. Work from home still entails payment of full salaries as well as particular conditions of work (HSE risks, control over overtime, etc.) to be additionally regulated.

Idle:

Apart from the emergency measures, an organization where work orders have completely stopped, employer may declare idle (for the whole organization or certain units) and unilaterally (i) move employees from the affected units/sites to other units/sites; (ii) send employees on paid leave after the 5th day; (iii) dismiss employees after the 15th day of the idle.

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Employers in Bulgaria have the following options:

  • Part-time: with the consent of the employees, a part time work may be temporarily implemented;
  • Shift work/summarized calculation: in operating entities, employer may consider implementing shift work or summarized calculation of the working time to reduce the intensity of people at the worksite.
  • Termination options: the employers can also use several redundancy grounds (cutting off positions, decrease in work, idle, closing part of the undertaking). Despite their differences, redundancy terminations characterize with notice periods (30 days-3 months), at least 1 month severance payment and possibly, prior selection of employees. Redundancies may be temporarily impeded if the employer have used state subsidy.
Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

The Employment Promotion Agency' website for the 60%-40% state subsidy

The dedicated webpage of the Labour Inspectorate for employer during the Covid-19

Orders by the Ministry of Health regarding applicable COVID-19 measures

COVID-19: staying steady on fluid ground - this platform provides regular and up-to-date alerts and practical analysis of the current COVID-19 developments prepared by the WT offices across the CEE/SEE region

WT SPACE - online collaboration platform to support business in the implementation of work from home during COVID-19

Contact

Hristina Dzhevlekova, Counsel,
Wolf Theiss

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Croatia

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Annual leave:

The employer may unilaterally determine the vacation schedule for the employees. The employees have to be informed at least 15 days in advance on the time and the duration of the annual leave.

Work from home:

If possible, the employer may enable the employees to work from home.

Paid leave:

The employer and the employee may agree on a paid leave.

Unpaid leave:

similarly, the employer and the employee may agree on an unpaid leave. During such period the employer is not obliged to pay the salary and the employee does not have the obligation to work.

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Amendments to the working conditions:

The employer and the employee may consensually amend the working conditions set out in the respective employment agreement, such as working hours, salary, work place etc.

Redundancy:

Statutory grounds and procedure to be respected.

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

N/A

Contact

Ira Peric, Consultant,
Wolf Theiss

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Czech Republic

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

When a business is closed or suspended due to the restrictions imposed by the Government, employees are generally entitled to their usual salary, unless the employer:

  • Reaches agreement with the employee to take annual leave or unpaid leave;
  • Orders the employee to take annual leave (in this case, the employer must notify the employee of this measure at least 14 days in advance, unless a shorter period has been agreed with the employee);
  • Adopts an internal regulation on partial unemployment where there is a temporary decline in sales and services. In such case, the employer may reduce salaries up to 60% of employees' average salary by adopting a relevant internal regulation. This is a unilateral act by the employer and does not require the employees' consent, although they must, of course, be duly acquainted with the internal regulation adopted. Where there is a Trade Union in place, an agreement must be reached with the Trade Union to reduce salaries. The companies can make use of the partial unemployment in various ways, such as by reducing employees' working hours or distributing working hours from Monday to Thursday which would entitle employees to receive their normal salary for Monday to Thursday and to receive 60% of their average salary for Fridays when not working. This internal regulation does not present the change of the employment agreement. Otherwise, any change of the employment agreement including the part-time regime requires the employee's consent.
  • Reduce the working hours upon the agreement with the employee.

To support the businesses and prevent redundancies, the Czech government has approved a financial support scheme which primarily covers wages paid to employees who cannot work but whom companies are still obliged to pay (numerous employees are unable to work due to quarantine or childcare, unavailability of the materials, products or services necessary to run a business or decline in sales and services, leading to partial unemployment, business closure due to government restrictions and quarantine).

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

In the Czech Republic there are currently no limitations regarding redundancies. However, the employer can claim the government support only for employees employed as at the date of the subsidy application and the employees must not be serving their notice period. Please also note that certain groups of employees are protected against the redundancy dismissal such as employees who are temporarily unfit for work (sick leave), pregnant employees, employees on maternity or parental leave, and members of trade union bodies during their term of office and up to one year after their term of office has expired where the prior consent of the trade union must be obtained. This protection applies only when the employment is terminated by notice. A termination agreement can be entered into with protected employees.

For restructuring changes, such as change of employees' scope of work or shorter working hours will be required in most cases the employee's consent. Please also note that in the event of redundancies and restructuring, a consultation obligation towards employees or their representatives will most likely be required. Where a collective dismissal is triggered, there are special obligations also towards relevant state.

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

N/A

Contact

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Denmark

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Wage compensation scheme:

The wage compen¬sation scheme applies to the private undertakings in Denmark facing to have to give notice of termination to a minimum of 30% of its staff or to more than 50 employees.

Compensation level:

Salaried employees:
75% of the salary of the employees in question (however, with a cap of DKK 30,000 per month per full-time salaried employee covered by the scheme).

Non-salaried employees:
90% of the wages of the employees in question (however, with a cap of DKK 30,000 per month per full-time employee covered by the scheme).

The wage compen¬sation scheme is conditional on a number of terms.

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Voluntary or non-voluntary salary reductions:

It is possible to enter into voluntary agreements with employees entailing a permanent or temporary reduction of salary.

If the employees refuse such voluntary salary reduction, it is possible to unilaterally notify the employees of the reduction in salary in accordance with the employees’ individual notices of termination. If the employees will not accept such notice, they can consider themselves terminated by the company.

Voluntary or non-voluntary reduction of working hours:

It is possible to introduce a voluntary reduction of working hours equaling a reduction in monthly salary.

Such reduction in working hours must be notified by the undertaking (the employer) to the employees in accordance with the employees’ individual notices of termination as it is considered a detrimental change in the employment terms.

The employees are entitled to refuse such a reduction in working hours, after which the employees may consider themselves dismissed with the ensuing consequences.

However, if the reduction in working hours and salary is made in agreement with the employees, the employees are unable to claim that the employment terms are detrimentally changed.

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

Wage compensation scheme:

https://www.bechbruun.com/en/news/2020/covid-19-more-details-on-the-financial-aid-in-the-form-of-wage-compensation-have-now-been-announced

and

https://www.bechbruun.com/en/news/2020/covid-19-strengthening-of-the-wage-compensation-scheme

Fixed costs compensation scheme:

https://www.bechbruun.com/en/news/2020/covid-19-compensation-scheme-for-fixed-costs-now-in-place

Contact

Lise Lauridsen, Partner,
Bech-Bruun

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Estonia

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Possible but not subsidised by state

  • Employees are asked to use their annual paid vacation (subject to agreement)
  • Employees are asked to use unpaid vacation (subject to agreement)
  • Decrease of pay and working hours by mutual agreement

Possible and may be eligible for state subsidy

  • Decrease of pay and working hours unilaterally by employer (decrease of work volume due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of the employer as a result of which financial difficulties to pay salary; max for 3 months per year; prior notice of 14 days and I&C with employees; if employees not agree, may terminate contract by 5 days’ notice and entitled to severance of 1 month average pay);
  • Requesting the employee to stay at home as no work at all (obligation to continue payment of average salary)
  • Criteria for subsidies (employer has to qualify for 2 out of 3):

    1. Company’s turnover in the calendar month for which compensation is applied for has to have dropped by at least 30% when compared to the same calendar month in the previous year;
    2. Company cannot provide work to the agreed extent for at least 30% of its employees together with decrease of pay or payment of average salary;
    3. Company has decreased the salary of at least 30% of its employees in the extent of at least 30% together with decrease of pay or payment of average salary.
    4. Subsidy available for 2 months in the period of March-May; subsidy up to EUR 1,000 gross per month per employee, employer’s own contribution at least EUR 150 per month per employee; prohibition to terminate due to redundancy within 1 month after using the subsidy.

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Redundancy

Redundancy - either individual or collective - when there is no more work to be provided under agreed terms and conditions.

Collective redundancy (ca 10% of employees made redundant within 30 days) requires additional information and consultation with employees and national unemployment board. Waiting period of 45 days before actual terminations can be initiated.

In either case restrictions apply on terminating the contracts with pregnant employees or employees using parental leave and preferential right to stay employed for employees with children under 3 years of age or employees who act as elected employee representatives (unless liquidation or bankruptcy). Notice periods depend on seniority and may be from 15 days to 90 days. Severance is 1 month average salary, Employees are eligible for additional severance pay and unemployment benefits from the state. Termination notice should be in writing or in electronic format.

Change of terms and conditions of employment

Only upon agreement with employees. Employees with min 30 employees may have to conduct information and consultation procedures if material changes affecting workforce are envisaged.

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

https://www.sorainen.com/service/covid-19-protection/

Contact

Laimonas Skibarka, Managing Partner,
Sorainen

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Finland

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Finland´s strategy is to provide general support to small and midsized companies aimed to avoid bankruptcies and save jobs instead of direct support to salary payments and job preservation.

Small and midsized companies can apply for grants up to EUR 100 000 and government guaranteed loans.

Single entrepreneurs can apply for EUR 2000 grant and government guaranteed loans.

Such grants and loans can be used for salary payments as well as other expenses.

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

The following key-amendments to employment legislation have been imposed:

  • Lay-off notice period decreased from 14 days to 5 days.
  • Mandatory negotiation periods with employees´ representatives before lay-off (in companies with 20 or more employees) decreased from 14 days and 6 weeks to 5 days.
  • Lay-offs to be applied also to employees in fixed periods.

Several Finnish labor market organizations have agreed on employer-friendly amendments to collective bargaining agreements for companies´ ease.

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

Governmental financing institution Finnvera

Governmental companies´ support unit Business Finland

Local Centres for Economic Development

The Finnish Government

Contact

Panu Ståhlberg, Attorney-at-Law,
Magnusson

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France

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria
  • Teleworking should be favoured.
  • Where teleworking is not possible, the French government has set up the short-time working scheme to preserve as many jobs as possible.
  • In this case, the employer is legally forced to cover 70% of the current employee's remuneration but then the State will reimburse the employer of this same amount up to a maximum of € 6,927.39 gross monthly salary (i.e 4,5x the minimum wage). Thus, up to this amount, it means that companies would see the cost of short-time working reduced to zero.
  • The employer is free to complete or not the remuneration to obtain 100% of the previous remuneration but the outstanding amount is only covered by the employer and not the State.
  • All employees are in principle eligible for the short-time working scheme.
  • The French government encourage employees to take paid leave during the quarantine period.
  • Moreover, the employer is now authorized, until December 31st, 2020, to decide on the taking of paid leave days acquired by an employee, including before the beginning of the reference period during which they are normally intended to be taken, or to unilaterally modify the dates of taking paid leave (once they have already been planned by the employee) within the limit of 6 business days (which corresponds to the fifth week of paid leave) by respecting a notice period of one day provided that a company or branch agreement exists.
  • The Government has also amended the provisions of the Labour Code relating to maximum working hours. Thus, until December 31st, 2020, in companies operating in sectors of activity that are particularly necessary for national security and the continuity of economic and social life, the rules of public order relating to maximum working hours may be modified and increased.
  • These same companies may also derogate from the Sunday rest rule by allocating weekly rest by rotation until December 31st, 2020.
Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Even if dismissals have not been officially forbidden, the French Labour Minister announced on March 16th, 2020 that no dismissals linked to the Covid-19 would be accepted and has warned the employers' and trade union organisations.

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

https://code.travail.gouv.fr/dossiers/ministere-du-travail-notre-dossier-sur-le-coronavirus

https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/actualites/l-actualite-du-ministere/article/coronavirus-questions-reponses-pour-les-entreprises-et-les-salaries

https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/actualites/l-actualite-du-ministere/article/coronavirus-covid-19-securite-et-sante-des-travailleurs-les-obligations

Contact

Valérie Blandeau, Partner, Pinsent Masons

Valerie Blandeau advises on the key considerations when planning redundancies in France. (HR Network TV)

 

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Germany

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Short-time work

Reduction of working time and corresponding reduction of the salary.

Substitute of the difference by the state with short-time work compensation (Kurzarbeitergeld -KuG).

The calculation of KuG depends on the respective income tax class and the child allowances. Federal Employment Agency published a table for calculation of KuG (see links in other column). In general KuG is 60% for employees without children, 67% for employees with children.

Please note that the government has just agreed on an increased KuG amount of up to 80%/87% under certain circumstances/requirements.

As short-time work is a temporary change in the terms of the employment contract, it requires:

  • Works council agreement with the works council (if available; the works council has an enforceable right of co-determination) or
  • Agreement with each individual employee on an individual contract basis or
  • An respective regulation on the existing employment agreement

Requirements for employers for short time work compensation:

  • considerable loss of work with loss of remuneration
  • operative conditions
  • personal requirements of the contractor
  • Notification of short-time work and short-time compensation

Voluntary Waiver of Contractual Holiday Entitlements

This requires the employees consent and can only be done for the contractual holiday entitlements (not for the statutory holiday entitlements).

Forced Holiday / Company Vacation

Generally done via a shop agreement with the competent works council.

Voluntary Unpaid Leave

This requires the employees consent.

Voluntary Reduction in Pay/Working Time

This requires the employees consent and is not the preferred choice for employees eligible for short time work on KuG (please see above).

Reduction/Non-Payment of Variable Remuneration

This generally requires the employees consent; exceptions apply for example if the bonus plan or employment agreement already has a respective clause.

Deferral of Remuneration

This requires the employees consent and leads to a later payment of party of the current remuneration.

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Redundancies

No special rules/limitations due to the current situation.

  • The employer must observe the applicable notice period, which is ordinarily determined by law (between four weeks and seven months, depending upon the length of employment)
  • The termination of an employment is restricted provided that (i) an employee has been employed for more than 6 months when the notice of termination is given and (ii) the employer employs more than 10 full-time employees. An employee, who fulfils these requirements, may further only be terminated for a “particular reason”, including but not limited to (i) reasons related to the personal situation of the person to be dismissed (e.g., long-term sick leave), (ii) reasons related to the behaviour of the person to be dismissed (for example theft or fraud to the detriment of the employer) or (iii) reasons related to the business of the employer (for example the employer’s decision to restructure the business, which reduces the number of positions). Generally in the current situation the latter applies.
  • Special termination protection against unlawful dismissal applies to employees who are officially acknowledged handicapped persons, employees on three years’ maternity leave, or pregnant employees. In all of these cases, prior approval of various German authorities is required.
  • In case a company intends a mass lay-off, which means that the employer intends to terminate a large percentage of its employees during a one-month period, the prior approval by the employment office is required
  • Telework/ Home Office

    If possible employees should work from home. If this is not possible, employees can work in the office (only for maintaining emergency operation or if all health and safety requirements are met).

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

Table for calculation of the KuG (German language only)

Fact sheet KuG (German language only)

Contact

Dr. Joël Hofmann, Senior Associate, Pinsent Masons

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Greece

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

The available options depend on whether the operation of the business has been prohibited upon order of a Public Authority (point 1), or it has been suspended upon employer’s decision (point 2), or it continues (point 3).

1. If the operation of the business has been prohibited upon order of a Public Authority

1st option

  • The employment agreement is suspended: i.e the employee is not obliged to provide his/her work and, therefore, the employer is not due to the payment of the respective salary.
  • In case of work, the employee is entitled to the agreed remuneration. In case of suspension, as per the above, the employee is entitled to a special purpose compensation of 800,00 € (net amount) provided by the Greek State for the period from 15/03/2020 until 30/04/2020.
  • Full social security coverage is provided by the state budget.
  • During the measures adopted for the restriction of spread of COVID-19, the dismissals are not permitted and if they take place, they will be deemed null and void.

2nd option

  • Transfer of personnel to companies within the same group: agreement needed. The group companies implementing the above are required to maintain, in total, the same number of employees as before the transfer.

2. If the operation of the business has been suspended upon employer’s decision (only in case of businesses which are determined by the Ministry of Economics as seriously affected by COVID-19)

1st option

  • The employment agreements could have been (until 20/4/2020), by the employer’s unilateral decision, suspended for 45 consecutive calendar days.
  • Each employee receives from the Greek State the net amount of €800 (regardless of the type of the employment agreement, full / part time) which covers 45 consecutive calendar days of suspension.
  • The Greek State covers all social security contributions of the aforementioned period, which are calculated on the employee’s agreed monthly salary.
  • The employer shall retain under the same conditions all the employees, who were employed on 21.3.2020 for 45 days after the suspension period (except for the employees who are retired/resigned or work under definite duration employment agreements which expire within this period). If dismissals take place, despite the aforementioned, they will be deemed null and void.
  • 2nd option

    An employer may unilaterally decide that the business will operate until 20/9/2020 with security staff, as follows:

    • Each employee shall work for a minimum of 2 weeks per month, either continuously or intermittently;
    • The above working method applies on a weekly basis and at least 50% of total staff shall be designated as security staff.
    • The employer, who decides to implement such working method, is obliged to maintain the same number of employees.

    3. If the operation of the business continues

    1st option

    Unpaid leave: agreement needed.

    2nd option

    Granting of annual leave: agreement needed

    3rd option

    Reduced hours/pay: agreement needed

    4th option

    Rotation employment

    • Employment for fewer days per week or fewer weeks per month or fewer months per year or a combination of these, with a full-time working schedule.
    • It can be imposed unilaterally by the employer on all or part of the staff, for a maximum of 9 months / year.
    • The legal prerequisites of rotating employment are: Restriction of employer's financial activity, information and consultation with the employees’ representatives, notification of the agreement / decision to the Labour Inspection within 8 days.

    5th option

    Lay off

    • The employee does not provide work and receives ½ of the average of the last two months' remuneration under full-time employment.
    • It can be unilaterally imposed by the employer on all or part of the staff, for a maximum of 3 months / year.
    • The legal prerequisites are: Restriction of employer's financial activity and information and consultation with the employees’ representatives.
Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

1st option

VES: agreement needed

2nd option

An employer, who is not determined by the Ministry of Economics as seriously affected by COVID-19, or whose operation has not been prohibited upon order of a Public Authority, may proceed to redundancies under the following terms:

  • This must be the ultimate measure (ultima ratio) taken by the employer.
  • The redundancies should not exceed the limit of 6 per calendar month for businesses employing from 20 to 150 employees, or the limit of 5% of the total workforce (and at most 30 employees) per calendar month for businesses employing more than 150 employees, in order to avoid the application of the Greek law 1387/1983 for collective redundancies, which provides for a specific procedure to be followed (informing of and consultation with employees' representatives, notification to the Supreme Labor Council etc).
  • A selection process shall be followed based on the following criteria: employee's performance (the least productive employee is made redundant), prior service (seniority) with the Company (last one in, first one out), family maintenance obligations (single employees should be made redundant before those who are married and have children), health (the healthy should be made redundant before the sick) etc.
Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

https://www.potamitisvekris.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/POTAMITISVEKRIS-Newsletter_COVID-19-EN.pdf

Contact

Alexios D. Papastavrou, Partner,
Potamitisvekris

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Hong Kong

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

The Hong Kong Government has launched an Employment Support Scheme (ESS) to provide time limited support to employers to retain their employees, with applications being open from 25 May 2020.

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

If the ESS is unavailable then the options available to employers in Hong Kong are to seek alternative terms with their employees, such as a salary reduction, or else look towards redundancy and termination, which are relatively straightforward procedures in Hong Kong

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

https://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202005/12/P2020051200764.htm

Contact

Paul Haswell, Partner, Pinsent Masons

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Hungary

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Government-backed funds:

  • Reduced working hours: Employers agreed with employees to reduce the original daily working hours from 25% to 85% may be entitled to the subsidy, provided that the numerous additional criteria is performed. The subsidy is capped, it cannot exceed of HUF 112,418 (EUR 312/ employee/month). (employment agreement is amended by the authority's positive decision).
  • Employees in Research and Development sector: Employers can receive a capped wage subsidy in the amount of HUF 318,920 (EUR 889/ employee/month), provided that the employee's monthly gross base salary was HUF 670,000 (EUR 1,869) or higher on the day of the declaration of the national state of emergency. If the given monthly gross base salary is under this amount, the amount will be proportionally reduced.

Lay-off:

Applies if the employer receives the funds above; lay-off prohibitions linked to the affected employees only.

Labour Code options:

  • Unpaid leave: Based on the parties' agreement.
  • Working time frame: Can be introduced up to 24 months (maximum duration is 36 months in the case of a CBA).

Holiday:

Except for 7 seven working days of the vacation time, it is the employer who is allowed to schedule the employees' vacation time, however employers must comply with the relating rules of scheduling vacation.

Non-labour law related measures:

  • Numerous sectors of the economy are exempted, among others accommodation; hospitality, tourism, from their liability to pay social contribution tax and obliged to pay only the 4% in-kind health insurance contribution which may not exceed HUF 7,710 (EUR 22).
  • From 1 July 2020, social contribution tax will be reduced from 17.5% to 15.5%.
  • The deadline declaring and paying corporate income tax, local business tax, energy suppliers' income tax, small business tax and innovation contribution is postponed until September 30.
  • Businesses may request tax reduction until the 30th day following the lifting of the state of emergency.
  • Provision of loan guarantees and payment of interest on the loan provided by the bank.
Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Redundancy

Organizational changes adopted by the employer resulting in redundancy constitutes a valid reason for termination of employment relationships under Labour Code, either by notice or agreement (lay-off prohibitions linked to the government-backed funds).

Other alternatives:

  • Applying for government-backed funds.
  • Unpaid leave – based on the parties' agreement.
  • Reducing working hours – based on the parties' agreement.
  • Introducing working time frame.
  • Holiday: Allocate holiday in compliant with the Hungarian legislation.
  • Ordering remote work.
Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

Template forms for applying government-backed funds:

Reduced working hours

Employees in Research and Development sector
English content has not been published so far.

Contact

Barnabás Buzási, Senior Associate, Wolf Theiss

Nóra Bogdány, Associate, Wolf Theiss

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Ireland

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Lay off situation

An employer can lay an employee off if the employer is (i) unable to provide work, (ii) reasonably believes it will be temporary, and (iii) gives prior notification of the lay-off. An employer requires contractual right or employee's consent to lay-off without pay.

Short-time working arrangement

Short-time work is where an employee's weekly pay is less than half of normal weekly pay, or work hours are reduced to less than half normal weekly working hours. An employer can place an employee on short-time if it (i) reasonable believes that the situation will be temporary and (ii) gives the employee prior notice of the short- time arrangement. An employer requires contractual right or employee's consent to reduce pay.

Amendment to Legislation

If an employee is on lay-off or short-time for 4 consecutive weeks they could trigger a redundancy situation. However, new legislation was implemented to provide that if an employee is on lay-off or short-time due to Covid-19 they cannot trigger a redundancy situation until after 31 May 2020.

A Temporary Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS)

The TWSS will apply for 12 weeks from 26 March 2020. Eligible employers can claim from Revenue a subsidy payment of between 70-85% of an employee's average net weekly pay up to a max net amount of €350/410 per week per eligible employee (depending on the employee’s average net weekly pay). In phase 1 of the TWSS, employers cannot claim a refund for employees with an average net weekly wage of more than €960. From 4 March 2020, phase 2 will apply and employees with an average net weekly wage of more than €960 can be covered by the TWSS if they are now receiving less than €960. To be eligible employers must incur/likely incur in Q2 a 25% reduction in turnover/customer orders so that they are unable to pay wages. Employees can work when on TWSS (unlike Furlough). Employers are encouraged to top-up the subsidy payment. If an employer is not topping up they would need the employee's consent or a contractual right to reduce.

Unpaid leave

Employer will need contractual clause or employee agreement. May be possible if it’s custom and practice in the workplace.

Reduced hours/pay

Employer will need contractual right (express or implied from custom and practice) or employee's agreement.

Job-share

Employer will need contractual right (express or implied from custom and practice) or employee's agreement.

Annual leave

Generally, an employer can decide when an employee’s annual leave may be taken, but this is subject to a number of conditions. Employer must take into account the employee’s family responsibilities, opportunities for rest and recreation and must consult with the employee (or their union) at least one month before the leave is to be taken.

Other leave options

Parental leave, paternity leave, carer’s leave, force majeure.

Immigration

INIS has advised that persons who have a current valid visa permission which is due to expire from 20/3/2020 to 20/5/2020, their permission will be automatically renewed for two months. The renewal of the permission will be on the same basis as the existing permission with the same conditions attached.

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Redundancy

An employee who has been placed on lay-off or short-time due to Covid-19 cannot currently trigger a redundancy situation until after 31 May 2020.

If a genuine redundancy situation arises, the employer will need to consider whether it is an individual redundancy situation or a collective redundancy situation.

In both situations, a redundancy process should be followed. It is, however, a stricter process in a collective redundancy situation as it is a 30 day information and consultation process and the Minister of Employment Affairs and Social protection needs to be notified.

If an employee's role is made redundant and they have two years' service with their employer, they will be entitled to a statutory redundancy payment, which is calculated as 2 weeks' pay per year of service and a bonus week's pay with pay capped at €600 per week.

COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

If an employee has been laid off without pay or is unemployed due to Covid-19 they can apply for this payment from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. The payment is €350 per week and is due to be available for up to 12 weeks from the end of March. The payment also applies to the self-employed, non EU/EEA workers, students and part-time workers residing in Ireland.

Other options include changing terms and conditions, temporary lay-off or short-time, as discussed.

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

Coronavirus: income supports for employers and employees in Ireland.

Coronavirus: advice for employers and HR in Ireland.

Guidance on employer eligibility for Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.

Contact

Ciara Ruane, Senior Associate, Pinsent Masons

Ciara Ruane advises on the key considerations when planning redundancies in Ireland. (HR Network TV)

 

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Italy

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Preliminary note:

It is currently under its final approval (to which the formal publication must follow) a new Law Decree which could amend certain previous regulations relating to Covid-19 emergency.

Individual/Collective redundancies

Both collective and individual dismissals are currently prevented up to May 17, 2020 – with some limited exceptions:

  • dismissal of executives (dirigenti)
  • dismissal for subjective reasons.

It is likely that such prevention is going to be extended up to August 17, 2020.

Suspension of working activities

The suspension of the Working activities – were not completely prevented according to the applicable law – can be regulated according to the needs of the employer (e.g. suspension for 2 days per week, etc.).

For the days of suspension:

  • It is possible to use the any unused holidays and or to furlough the employee;
  • the employer has the right to access the state salary support (the amounts depend on the salary of the employees to whom the state support is granted);
  • certain further paid leave are provided for employees with children who are prevented to go to school (or other structures);
  • in case of ascertained Covid-19 disease, the relevant employee has the right to use a specific paid leave for healthy reason.

State salary support instruments (so-called ammortizzatori sociali):

  • Beneficiaries: employees hired before 17 March, 2020 (under approval the extension of this term up to 25 March 2020);
  • Procedure: extreme simplification of the procedures required to access to those instruments
  • Duration: nine weeks – also segmented - to be used by August 31, 2020, plus (under approval) further nine weeks (five by the end of august and four in September / October).
Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

After May 17, 2020 (now, probably, after August 17, 2020) it would be abstractly possible to proceed with individual and collective redundancies also for objective reasons.

The possible impact with trade unions which are playing a material role in this emergency remains to be seen.

New ways of planning the working activities:

  • Smart working: advisable (strongly) for those departments within which it is possible to perform the working activities from home.
  • Job rotation
  • Distancing at workplace (e.g. division of the spaces and regulation of the working/common areas at workplace)
  • Intensification of health and safety measures (certain help from state are is being provided in this respect).

All the health and safety measures to be put in place in order to prevent/mitigate Covid-19 pandemic are currently listed within a so-called Protocol (lastly released on April 24, 2020), as well as within other specific protocols issued with reference to certain limited specific sectors (e.g. logistic) drafted by trade unions and government, and to be adopted by all the employers allowed to re-open/continue their activity.

Funds have been set aside in order to support employers in implementing these security measures.

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

Advice and updates: https://www.gpblex.it/en/covid-19-update/

Official information is available within the web pages of the Italian Government and of the Italian Social Security National Body

Contact

Paola Cavalli, Gatti Pavesi Bianchi

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Saudi Arabia

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Amendment to the KSA Labour Law:

A change to the KSA Labour Law means that for a period of six months (i.e. between April – October 2020) employers can agree the following with employees:

  • Salary reduction in correspondence with a reduction in working hours;
  • Unpaid leave
  • Requirement for employees to take paid annual leave (as part of their annual leave entitlement).

Any dismissal by the employer during the implementation of these measures (i.e. between April – October) will be invalid where the employer received assistance from any KSA government programmes during this time.

Furlough programme for KSA nationals:

On 3rd April KSA announced a furlough programme for the private sector, current details of which are:

  • The employer may apply to the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI) to cover 60% of its KSA national employees' salaries up to a maximum of SAR 9,000 per employee through the SANAD programme (unemployment benefit programme) for a period of three months.
  • If the employer has 5 employees or less, then all of them will be covered, otherwise up to 70% of the employer's KSA national workforce may be covered through this initiative.
  • The KSA employee must have been registered with GOSI prior to 1 January 2020.
  • The employer must be able to demonstrate that it is in a sector impacted badly by COVID-19. The following sectors are exempt from this programme: financial services (including banks, insurance companies, exchanges), communications, food retail outlets and food companies.
  • The employer must pay wages to all other employees, both KSA nationals and foreign nationals during this period.
  • The employer must have paid its employees their complete and accurate salaries during the first quarter of 2020.
  • The employer must undertake that once the three month period is over (end of July), the employer will resume paying such employees their salaries in full.

HRDF programme to supplement salaries:

Whilst not strictly a furlough programme this programme was announced on 2nd April 2020 and permits private sector employers to apply to the HRDF for support to pay up to 50% of their KSA nationals salaries subject to lower and upper limits on salary and with conditions applying.

Additional Leave:

Employees outside of the Kingdom due to the suspension of commercial flights are regarded as being on official leave over and above the minimum under the Labour Law.

Employees ordered to quarantine (even if self-imposed) for 14 days are on official leave over and above that under the law.

Employees ordered to quarantine (even if self-imposed) for 14 days are on official leave over and above that under the law. Such employees are not required to work from home during this period.

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Working from home

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD) instructed private sector establishments on 18 March 2020 to suspend work at their main office / headquarter and instead activate work from home (WFH) procedure. Companies are also required to reduce the number of employees working in their branches, offices and other facilities to a maximum of 40% of the headquarter (HQ) workforce. The WFH initiative was initially for 15 days but is now understood to be until Ministry of Interior and MHRSD advise otherwise.

Certain sectors are exempt from the above requirements, including vital infrastructure sectors such as water, electricity and communications, and companies involved in food, medicine, and their supply chains as well as logistics, including provision of such services to consumers. MHRSD will issue the exemption on application.

Other initiatives announced:

  • The Human Resources Development Fund will allocate 5.3 billion to support the private sector to employ and train KSA Nationals.
  • Exemption from expat levy for those employees who's Iqama has expired prior to 30 June 2020. Their Iqama will be extended for a period of three months without charge.
  • Refund of fees for new visas which have been unused during the ban.
  • Employers may extend the exit re-entry visas that have not been used during the ban.
  • Suspension of recruitment fines during this period.
  • Temporary suspension of the wage protection system.
  • Allowing KSA nationals to immediately count towards Nitiqat.
  • Widening of Ajeer system to apply to all sectors and enabling employees to work for other employers.
  • Any individual (national or foreign and illegal residents) will be entitled to receive free medical treatment for COVID-19 at a government hospital.
Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality
Contact

Ruth Steven, Associate, Pinsent Masons

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Latvia

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Unpaid leave

Written consent of the employee is needed.

Temporary reduction of working time and/ or salary

Agreement with the employee is needed.

Annual paid leave

Written consent of the employee is needed.

Idle time (down time)

May be announced by the employer. There is a possibility to apply for State financed salaries for employees put on “down time” or “idle time” (meaning salaries to employees who due to COVID circumstances do not perform their work functions). The support is up to 75% of the monthly salary (average salary for previous 6 months), but not more than EUR 700 per month (the amount is not subject to taxes; plus there is additional EUR 50 support for each kid under age of 24 being under “guardianship” in the meaning of taxes).

Support is available for the period from 14 March until 14 May 2020. In order to receive support, the company needs to comply with the following criteria:

  • company income in March or April 2020 has decreased by at least 30% in comparison to the same month in 2019; or
  • company income in March or April 2020 has decreased by at least 20% in comparison to the same month in 2019 and the company complies with at least one of the following criteria:
  • exports amounted to at least 10% of total turnover in 2019 or amounted to at least EUR 50,000;
  • the average gross monthly salary in the company in 2019 was at least EUR 800;
  • long-term investments in assets amounted to at least EUR 500,000 as at 31 December 2019
Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Redundancy

In accordance with the Latvian Labour law.

Please also see “Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria.”

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

https://www.sorainen.com/service/covid-19-protection/

Contact

Laimonas Skibarka, Managing Partner,
Sorainen

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Lithuania

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Declaring idle time

Can be declared unilaterally by the employer. If idle time is declared due to quarantine, the salary of a full-time employee during idle time may not be lower than the minimum wage set in Lithuania (EUR 607 gross).

The state will provide employers with subsidies on wages during idle time, which will be paid until the government-declared emergency and quarantine continue (special conditions apply). Each employer will be able to choose the amount of the subsidy: 70% of the employee’s wage during idle time, but not more than EUR 910.50 gross (for a full month of idle time), or 90% of the employee’s wage during idle time, but not more than EUR 607 gross (for a full month of idle time). Additional conditions apply.

Declaring partial idle time

Can be declared unilaterally by reducing the number of weekly working days by at least two working days or daily working hours by at least three working hours. If employers declared partial idle time, they can also apply for subsidies on wages.

Modification of working time and/or remuneration

With the consent of the employee.

Transfer to another position

With the consent of the employee.

Granting annual leave

On the employee’s request.

Unpaid leave

On the employee’s request.

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Creating conditions for working from home

If the job nature permits.

Employee-related financial liabilities

It is recommended to review the company’s remuneration policies and additional benefit policies and evaluate the options for unilaterally reviewing variable remuneration, incentive bonuses and other bonuses and, if necessary, reduce or cancel them. Note that contractual variable pay may only be changed by an agreement.

Redundancies

Subject to complying with established procedures, including severance compensations, notice periods, etc.

In addition, please see section “Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria.”

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

https://www.sorainen.com/publications/advice-for-employers-organising-work-during-the-coronavirus-quarantine/

https://www.sorainen.com/publications/support-to-employers-during-the-quarantine-period-in-lithuania-new-rules-concerning-payment-of-subsidies/

https://socmin.lrv.lt/en/news/decisions-taken-regarding-subsidies-for-employers-and-self-employed-persons-main-steps

Contact

Laimonas Skibarka, Managing Partner,
Sorainen

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Luxembourg

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Maintain employment

  • Partial unemployment due to force majeure: Upon motivated request, the State reimburses 80% of employees’ remuneration during inactive hours (permanent and fixed-term contracts, apprenticeships) paid by the employer (up to an amount of EUR 5,354.98 gross per month per employee) during which time dismissals for economic reasons are prohibited
  • Extension of residence permits for third-country nationals: For the duration of the emergency state, expired visas and residence permits for third-country nationals remain valid
  • Jobswitch, a contact platform: Connect the unemployed, staff in partial unemployment and self-employed people with companies in need of labour

Maintain activity in essential sectors of activity

  • Increase in the maximum working time in essential sectors of activity: Extend, with the agreement of the staff delegation, the maximum working time up to 12 hours a day and 60 hours a week
  • Refusal or cancellation of annual leave in essential sectors of activity: Allow employers to refuse, during the emergency state, annual leave requests and cancel leave already granted
  • Increase in working hours for certain student contracts in essential sectors of activity: Extend the weekly duration of fixed-term contracts with a student to 40 hours over a period of 4 weeks or a month

Benefit of administrative tolerance for social security contributions

  • Increased flexibility in the payment of social security contributions: Provide flexibility to companies in cash management and payment of social security contributions, e.g. by temporarily suspending the calculation of default interest for late payments

Promoting telework

  • Amended taxation of telework for Belgian, French and German cross-border commuters: Allow cross-border commuters to work from home during the crisis without being taxed in their country of origin

Aid to invest in infrastructure intended to set up a teleworking system: Support companies that invest in tools aimed at allowing their employees to telework

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Changing employment contracts terms and conditions:

  • Any change to the employment contract may be made by mutual agreement by both parties in writing via an addendum to the contract (such change may be permanent or temporary).
  • Unilateral modification of the contract imposed by the employer can be done by respecting a specific process and respecting given notice periods (similar to dismissals) – this option does not seem to be the most appropriate in the current situation as the changes can take 2, 4 or 6 months (depending on the employees seniority) to be implemented
  • Partial unemployment where 80% of the employees’ remuneration is reimbursed by the State for inactive hours. Employers are not required to pay the employee’s full salary during partial unemployment and are entitled to only pay the employee the amount covered by the State (i.e. 80% of the salary) but which cannot be less than the social minimum wage for unskilled employees. The State’s participation is capped at 250% of the social minimum wage for unskilled employees – (i.e. currently EUR 5,354.98 gross)

Redundancy:

  • Employers who benefit from partial unemployment undertake not to dismiss any employee for economic reasons during the period of partial unemployment
  • Collective redundancies (more than 7 employees dismissed over a period of 30 days or 15 employees dismissed over a period of 90 days) must follow the specific process for collective redundancies

Sick leave and dismissals:

During the emergency state, the computation of the 26 week period of sick leave during which employees are protected against dismissal is suspended until the day following the end of the emergency state. This protection against dismissal does not apply to dismissals with immediate effect for serious fault or reasons

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

All measures taken by the Luxembourg government to support the economy and all involved parties are summarised in the “Covid-19 Economic Stabilisation Programme” available here :

https://meco.gouvernement.lu/dam-assets/dossiers/Tableau-stab-9avril-EN.pdf

Arendt & Medernach has created a dedicated webpage gathering information about the Authorities' position and useful links in relation to the ongoing crisis:

https://www.arendt.com/jcms/p_46725/en/authorities-position-and-useful-links#EmployeesHR

Last but not least, we have added very recently a new section named “Resuming business activities as lockdown ends” gathering all aspects to be considered when envisaging going back to a new normality:

https://www.arendt.com/jcms/p_48474/en/solutionresumebusiness

Arendt & Medernach has launched a comprehensive and dynamic platform, gathering answers to our client’s’ most frequently asked questions in relation to the ongoing crisis:

https://www.arendt.com/jcms/p_46455/en/arendt-covid-19-solutions

A section dedicated to managing employees, cross-border workers and human resources:

https://www.arendt.com/jcms/p_46492/en/solutionemployeeshr

For any additional questions relating to employment law questions, including any training requests, please consult our dedicated brochure or contact our team under [email protected]

Contact

Arendt & Medernach SA

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Norway

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Temporary lay-off partly or in full up to 6 months

Requires “justifiable need” on the employer’s hand part (CV-19 has been qualifying) or express agreement with employees. Employer-financed period of two days with full salary, 18 days with full salary below NOK 599.148,- from the state. After 20 days, unemployment benefits from the state.

Redundancy (permanent measure)

Requires “justifiable grounds” in circumstances relating to the employer/business or the employee.

Reduced contract hours/pay

Requires express agreement with the employees/union - or if necessary to do unilaterally - “constructive dismissal” (partial dismissal of existing employment or employment terms, in combination with a new offer). In latter case the employer must show “justifiable grounds” and a process shall be followed with consultations etc.

Job-sharing (rare)

Requires express agreement or a “constructive dismissal”. Could also be done as part of the temporary lay-off (e.g. in case of 50 % lay-off)

Leave of absence without pay – has to be agreed

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Instructed holiday periods to utilize free time where business activity normally is high.

Salary freeze for a period – contracts to be examined exclude contractual obligation to do so.

Incentive freeze (e.g. bonus).

Changing (other) terms and conditions as mentioned.

Redundancy, i.a. also due to decrease of natural turn-over and on boarding agreements already entered into.

Temporary lay-off: the possibility to take up another work outside in the lay-off period to be considered by employers.

Redundancy: outplacement or similar could be considered to mitigate consequences.

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality
Contact

Rajvinder Singh Bains, Senior Associate Lawyer,
BAHR

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Poland

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Due to COVID-19 many entrepreneurs need to take action to preserve jobs and may be helped by solutions provided by the so-called Anti-crisis Shield proposed by the Polish government (the Act dated 2 March 2020 on Special Arrangements for the Prevention, Control and Management of COVID 19, Other Infectious Diseases and the Resulting Emergencies, and Certain Other Acts further amended).

Guaranteed employee benefits fund subsidy

According to the Anti-Crisis Shield, entrepreneurs may apply for subsidies towards the salaries of employees (and persons engaged under civil-law contracts) financed by the Guaranteed Employee Benefits Fund (a special purpose public fund). The subsidy may be granted for one, two or maximum three months and also covers social security contributions.

To apply for a subsidy there must be a decrease in entrepreneurial turnover (decrease in the volume or value of sales of goods or services) of not less than 15% (calculated as the ratio of the total sales during any two subsequent calendar months in 2020 to the total sales in the corresponding period in 2019) or not less than 25% (calculated as the ratio of sales in any calendar month in the period after 1 January 2020 to the total sales in the previous month).

The entrepreneur should decide whether to implement economic downtime or reduce working hours – this decision will affect the subsidy amount.

During the period of economic downtime (period when employees are on standby, but do not actually work for reasons not attributable to them) employers may pay employees a reduced salary (such reduction being not greater than 50%), however such salary may not be lower than the national minimum salary (currently PLN 2,600 gross, approx. EUR 575) taking into account the working time. In such a case, the subsidy shall amount to 50% of the minimum salary taking into account the working time (i.e. PLN 1,300 gross, approx. EUR 287, in case of a full-time contract).

The employer is also entitled to reduce working time by up to 20%, to not less than 0.5 FTE, however the employee’s subsequent salary may not be lower than the national minimum salary (taking into account the working time) (i.e. PLN 2,600, approx. EUR 575, in case of a full-time contract). In this case, the subsidy may amount to up to half the employees' remuneration, but not more than 40% of the average remuneration for work in the preceding quarter (approx. PLN 2,079, approx. EUR 460).

In order to introduce the above solutions, it is necessary to conclude an agreement with employees’ representatives on employment conditions and work procedures during economic downtime or the period of reduced working time.

In addition, during the period of receiving the subsidy the employer may not terminate employment contracts for reasons not related to the employee.

Subsidy applications may be submitted via the Dedicated Portal.

Labour fund subsidies

The Labour Fund salary subsidy for employees and persons engaged under civil-law contracts is only available for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (less than 250 employees).

For eligibility, it is necessary to meet the criterion of a decrease in economic turnover following the occurrence of COVID-19, calculated as the ratio of the total sales during any two subsequent calendar months (with 30 consecutive calendar days also being treated as one month) in the period after 1 January 2020 to the total sales in the corresponding period in 2019.

There are three thresholds for the decrease in turnover affecting the subsidy amount:

  • at least 30% - a subsidy in an amount not exceeding the sum of 50% of the salaries of individual employees (but not more than 50% of the amount of the minimum remuneration for work per employee, i.e. approx. EUR 287);
  • at least 50% - a subsidy in an amount not exceeding the sum of 70% of the salaries of individual employees (but not more than 70% of the amount of minimum remuneration for work per employee, i.e. approx. EUR 433);
  • at least 80% - a subsidy in an amount not exceeding the sum of 90% of salaries of individual employees (but not more than 90% of the amount of the minimum remuneration for work per employee, i.e. approx. EUR 557).

The entrepreneur may also receive funds towards social security contributions.

The subsidy will be available for 3 months and during this period entrepreneurs are be obliged to keep employees covered by such subsidy agreement in employment.

The subsidy application must be submitted within 14 days of the date of application opening by the director of the appropriate poviat labor office and may be submitted via the Dedicated Portal.

Contributions to employee capital pension schemes

Employers with at least 250 workers are obliged to pay contributions to the Employee Capital Pension Schemes (pracownicze plany kapitałowe). Employee Capital Pension Schemes are also financed from funds of their participants (in particular employees).

The Anti-Crisis Shield stipulates that contributions to the Employee Capital Pension Schemes may be suspended.

During the period of economic downtime or the reduction of the working hours the hiring entity may stop paying contributions to an Employee Capital Pension Scheme for employees who are affected by the economic downtime or reduced working hours. Employees may also suspend payment to these pension schemes.

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Entrepreneurs, despite taking measures to preserve jobs, may be faced with the necessity to reduce employment or change employment conditions. In such circumstance they may draw on assistance provided by the Anti-Crisis Shield and the labour law.

Flexibility of working time and changes in employment conditions

Companies affected by a decrease in turnover due to COVID-19 may apply solutions aimed to make working time more flexible. According to the Anti-Crisis Shield, in order to implement the above solutions, the decrease in the volume or value of sales of goods or services in the company should amount to at least 15% in the case of a comparison between two consecutive calendar months in 2020 and the same period in 2019, or by at least 25% in the case of a comparison between month and the previous month in 2020.

There are three solutions regarding working time and other employment conditions:

  • limiting the continuous daily rest period from 11 to 8 hours, and the uninterrupted weekly rest period from 35 to 32 hours, including at least 8 hours of uninterrupted daily rest;
  • the possibility to conclude an agreement with employees’ representatives on introduction of an equivalent working time system where it is permissible to extend the daily working time, but not more than up to 12 hours, in a reference period not exceeding 12 months; the extended daily working time is balanced by shorter daily working hours on certain days or days off;
  • the possibility to conclude an agreement with employees’ representatives introducing less favourable employment conditions.

Changing employment terms and conditions

In order to avoid the need for redundancies, employers and employees may consider changing the terms and conditions of employment and introducing regulations less favourable than those resulting from internal company regulations or employment contracts.

Parties to an employment relationship may change, in particular:

  • the amount of the working hours – working hours may be shortened; consequently the salary will be reduced proportionally;
  • salaries – the parties may agree to reduce the amount of salary; it is also possible to suspend the payment of some allowance / benefits, e.g. statutory bonuses, awards or additional allowances not provided for by mandatory labour legislation;
  • work positions / scope of employee tasks – it may be agreed that the employee will be assigned tasks/work other than that arising from the employment contract if there is a need for such work and the employee agrees to it.

The aforementioned changes may be implemented by individual agreement with the employee or under the collective agreement with employees’ representatives. In case of a collective agreement, the agreement may be concluded for maximum 3 years and the employees should be represented by trade unions or other representatives if there are no trade unions in the company.

In certain cases, changes in the terms and conditions of employment may be made by unilateral decision of the employer. In particular, the employer may entrust the employee with other duties (but in accordance with the employee's qualifications and without any reduction in salary) for a period of 3 months per year. The employee’s consent is then unnecessary.

The employer may also change the working and pay conditions by giving the employee a notice of termination of these working and pay conditions. The statement must include the new terms and conditions of employment (e.g. changed working hours or a pay reduction) and must be accepted by the employee in order to take effect. If not accepted, the employment contract will be terminated.

Collective redundancies

The employer is entitled to terminate an employment contract due to economic reasons. In the case of employers with more than 20 employees, the reduction of employment requires the application of the so-called Collective Redundancies Act (the Act of 13 March 2003 on special rules for termination of employment relationships with employees for reasons not related to employees).

A collective redundancy procedure should be initiated if the employer needs to terminate employment relationships for reasons not related to the employees, by way of termination notices given by the employer, as well as by way of mutual agreement, if over a period not exceeding 30 days the redundancies relate to at least:

  • a) 10 employees, if the employer employs less than 100 employees;
  • b) 10 % of employees, if the employer employs at least 100 but less than 300 employees,
  • c) 30 employees, if the employer employs at least 300 employees or more.

The collective redundancy procedure is time-consuming - the procedure depends on cooperation with the employees’ representatives, in the best case the procedure will take 2 months (from the moment of the decision on collective redundancies to the termination of employment contracts). The procedure involves consultations with trade unions or other employees’ representatives, information obligations towards the employees, notification of public authorities and creation of additional employment documentation regarding employees’ rights during and after the collective redundancy process (agreement with the employees’ representatives or regulations on collective redundancies).

In the framework of collective redundancies, employees are entitled to a severance payment of 1 – 3 months’ remuneration depending on the length of employment at the company.

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

Guaranteed employee benefits fund subsidy

Dedicated Portal

Labour fund subsidy

Dedicated Portal

Contact

Anna Gwiazda, Legal Counselor, Kochanski & Partners

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Romania

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Partial unemployment - reducing the working schedule from 5 to 4 days/week with an equivalent reduction in salaries.

Furlough / technical unemployment leads to suspension of employment and in general terms to the payment of a compensation of 75% of base salary for each employee. During the state of emergency, technical unemployment falls under a state support scheme, whereby the state advances the payment of 75% of each employee's base salary, capped at 75% of the daily average salary at national level substantiating the budget (i.e. 75% of RON 5,429/ month). During the state of emergency employers are not obliged to pay the difference between the amount advanced by the state and the (higher) amount representing 75% of the base salary.

Use of accrued holidays (consent is required).

Unpaid leave (consent is required).

Secondment (in Romanian detasare) to other employers in need of personnel (personnel sharing) – Consent is required if over 1 year.

Free time off against which future overtime hours spent by employees in the next 12 months will be set off.

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Flexible work arrangements (appropriate language to be inserted in the employment agreement, therefore such require consent)

Reducing working schedule if necessary (requires consent)

Redundancy (must follow the procedure laid by the Romanian law in case of individual or mass dismissals; certain categories of employees are protected from dismissals)

Use of accrued holidays (consent is required)

Unpaid leave (consent is required)

Secondment (in Romanian detasare) to other employers in need of personnel (personnel sharing) –. Consent is required if over 1 year.

Free time off against which future overtime hours spent by employees in the next 12 months will be set off.

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality
Contact

Adelina Iftime-Blagean, Counsel

Andreea Stan, Senior Associate

Wolf Theiss

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Russia

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Reduced hours/week/pay – need a written additional agreement to an existing employment contract specifying the terms and conditions to be changed.

Paid leave – consent of the parties needed.

Unpaid leave – by request of the employee. The employer cannot force employees to take paid or unpaid leave.

Downtime period by initiative of employer –2/3 of average salary to be preserved for the downtime period.

Downtime period due to force majeure – by initiative of employer; 2/3 of base salary to be preserved for the downtime period; force majeure to be justified by employer.

Job sharing – a written agreement needed.

Employers who qualify as SMB (small and mid-size businesses) may receive bank credits at 0% rate to be used for financing salary payouts.

Above measure was announced to cover the businesses which are affected by the CV-19 the most, and its enactment is to follow.

State-funded financial support to SMBs is has been announced (fixed amount per employee), and its enactment is to follow.

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Redundancy – thoroughly regulated, formalistic, multistage; selection among employees holding same job positions to be particularly considered. Need to formalise set of documents at each stage. Need to seek acknowledgment of notification about redundancy by employees to be made redundant.

Changing terms and conditions – by agreement to be in writing.

Restructuring – thoroughly regulated, formalistic, multistage; need justification; same as above per in relation to redundancy.

Protected categories of employees to be considered.

Job sharing/remote work/flexible working – by agreement to be in writing.

Outsourcing of functions – by service/contractor agreement between an employer and a service provider; to be in writing. Requalification into employment to be considered. Formal differentiation to be put in place contractually, and in terms of internal procedures.

Hiring independent contractors may be considered – by service/contractor agreement with an individual. Requalification into employment to be considered. Formal differentiation to be put in place contractually and in terms of internal procedures.

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality
Contact

Maxim Alekseyev, Senior Partner,
ALRUD Law Firm

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Serbia

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Labor Law options:

  • Holiday: can be ordered 15 days in advance (either as collective or individual annual leave for unused annual leave for 2019 and pro-rata annual leave for 2020).
  • Release of employees from work obligations: nevertheless, the employer is obligated to pay salary to such employees.
  • Temporary stop or reduction of operations in all/some units, for up to 45 working days within a calendar year (unless such period is prolonged), with payment of a salary compensation equal to at least of 60% of the average salary of the affected employee in preceding 12 months, which compensation cannot be lower than minimum wage in Serbia (Art. 116 of the Labor Law).
  • Temporal stop of operations due to the employer's inability to ensure the required safety and protection of life and health at work ordered by the employer or a relevant authorities, with payment of a salary compensation in the amount determined by the employer's general enactment (employment rulebook or collective bargaining agreement, if any) and the underlying employment contract (Art. 117 of the Labor Law).
  • Rescheduling of working hours, in line with the Labor Law.
  • Other measures (such as: shorter working hours, lower salary, minimum wage), which generally require the employee's consent and that the formal procedure provided by the Labor Law is followed.
  • Unpaid leave cannot be ordered but may be allowed upon an employee's request.
  • Dismissal of employee(s) (individual or collective dismissals).
Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Redundancy due to ecological, technological or organizational changes, subject to obedience of the mandatory procedural aspects of such termination (e.g. compliance with rules on protection from dismissal of certain categories of employees; involvement of the representative trade union organized at the level of the employer (if such exists) and Serbian National Employment Office in case of collective dismissals; etc). Redundancy procedure should be followed, for example, in case of shortening of working hours.

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

Main websites for information on state aid (in particular, fiscal and direct benefits):

https://pks.rs/

https://privreda.gov.rs/

COVID-19: staying steady on fluid ground - this platform provides regular and up-to-date alerts and practical analysis of the current COVID-19 developments prepared by the WT offices across the CEE/SEE region.

WT SPACE - online collaboration platform to support business in the implementation of work from home during COVID-19.

Contact

Miloš Anđelković, Senior Associate

Marijana Zejaković, Senior Associate

Wolf Theiss

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Slovakia

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

State aid jobs retention program:

  • for mandatorily closed employers - the state contribution of 80% of employee's salary amounting up to EUR 1,100;
  • for not mandatorily closed employers – (i) the state contribution of up to 80% of employee's salary of the employers who are not able to assign work to employees due to current COVID19 situation in the amount of up to EUR 880, or (ii) the state contribution of up to EUR 540 in case of decrease in sales.

One of conditions for provision of any of the abovementioned contributions is an employers' commitment not to lay off employees on the grounds of redundancy (for at least 2 months following the month for which the contribution is provided).

Labour Code options:

  • Employee is entitled to wage compensation in the amount of 80% of his/her average earnings in case he/she cannot perform work due to extraordinary situation (obstacles on part of employer).
  • Paid / Unpaid leave – consent of employee required.
  • Holiday – can be ordered 7 days in advance (2 days in case of transferred holiday from previous years).

Amendment of employment contract – agreement (employee´s consent) required.

Apart from state contributions for jobs retention, there are various other support measures, e.g.:

  • Deferment of payments of social and health insurance contributions for employers whose revenues drop by more than 40 percent.
  • Deferment of payments of income tax advance payments for businesses with a revenue drop by more than 40 percent
  • Provision of loan guarantees and payment of interest on the loan provided by the bank.

During effectiveness of COVID19 prevention measures, (i) employer is authorized to order home office to employee, if the agreed type of work allows it and (ii) employee is entitled to work from home, if the agreed type of work allows it and there are no serious operational reasons on the employer's side which do not allow it.

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Redundancy – organizational changes adopted by the employer resulting in redundancy constitutes a valid reason for termination of employment relationships under Labour Code, either by notice or agreement.

Other alternatives:

  • Attending state aid jobs retention program
  • Amendment of employment contract – agreement needed

Leave/ holiday arrangements

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

Main online portal for requesting state aid for jobs retention:

https://www.pomahameludom.sk/

Governmental information portal regarding COVID19, including information for employers:

https://www.korona.gov.sk/

Contact

Zuzana Hodonova, Counsel

Jozef Virčík, Associate

Wolf Theiss

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Slovenia

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Temporary lay-off:

State offers reimbursement of salary compensations up to maximum amount of EUR 1,753.84; application with Employment Service of Slovenia is required.

Temporary cessation of work due to force majeure:

State offers reimbursement of salary compensations up to maximum amount of EUR 1,753.84; application with Employment Service of Slovenia is required.

Exemption from payment of all social contributions:

Applicable for temporarily laid-off employees and employees that do not work due to force majeure.

Unpaid leave: agreement needed.

Reduced hours/pay - agreement needed.

Exemption from payment of pension and disability contributions: applicable to employees that continue to work.

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Redundancy:

Only upon presence of valid legal ground (business reasons, culpability or incapability); statutory notice period applies; employees are entitled to severance pay. Mass redundancy requirements have to be respected if the thresholds are reached.

Changing terms and conditions: as above

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

Act regulating interventional employment-related measures adopted in response to CV-19 outbreak

Government page dedicated to COVID-19 outbreak and in its response adopted measures

Webpages of the competent regulators:

Employment Service of Slovenia

Financial Authority

Contact

Žiga Dolhar, Senior Associate

Larisa Primožič, Associate

Wolf Theiss

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Spain

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Priority of remote working as way of organization (at least till August).

Employees have a new right to adapt and reduce working hours for children and family care (specially foreseen during schools closing).

The ERTEs derived from Covid-19:

ERTEs allow companies to suspend employment contracts or reduce working hours for reasons of force majeure or based on economic, technical, organisational or production causes (ETOP).

Those allow companies to save salaries until they recover from the current situation and workers are entitled to receive the unemployment benefit, which amounts to the 70% of their pensionable salary (also for terminations on probationary period).

Employees have this benefit even if they do not meet the sufficient requirements to be paid the unemployment benefit. And the time of unemployment during the ERTE does not compute them for the purposes of providing future unemployment.

 

In addition, if it is an ERTE of force majeure, the company is exempt from paying social security for its employees.

The ERTE by force majeure does not require negotiation with the worker representatives. The ERTE ETOP on the contrary yes. But the negotiation is abbreviated (7 days maximum).

The ERTE by force majeure is limited till the end of the special alarm state (currently foreseen till May 10th). On the contrary the ERTE ETOP can last more time, upon the needs of the company /or agreement with workers representatives.

Special paid leave from March 30th to April 9th inclusive, for employees who, do not work in essential business and could not work remotely. Those are eight working days that the employee owes to the company until end of 2020. The way to recover these hours must be negotiated with the workers representatives.

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Those companies that have applied an ERTE derived from Covid-19, must maintain employment for six months after the end of ERTE. It does not prevent fair dismissals or ending temporary contracts upon completion.

Restructuring planning remainas in force as before Covid-19, but there is a new legal prohibition to make redundancies if the ground is directly Covid-19. These will be deemed unfair (according to the majority interpretation since the Law does not clarify it) and therefore give the right to pay the maximum legal compensation or to reinstate the employee to his or her position.

Other Alternatives:

  • Salary reduction keeping the daily hours.
  • Holiday Management to adapt the holiday time so employees can work in the summer time and recover the time later on the year.
Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

Frequent questions for companies, by the Spanish Employment Service (in Spanish)

Information regarding the extraordinary measures in relation to unemployment

Contact

Ana Gómez Hernández, Socia,
Ceca Magán Abogados

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Sweden

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Short-time work scheme (up to 80% reduction of hours but employee keeps app. 90% of salary) with substantial governmental support to employer for salary cost – agreement needed (in collective bargaining agreement or with 70 % of the employees).

Reduced hours/pay – express agreement needed

Unpaid leave – express agreement needed

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Redundancy – employer decides if there is a redundancy situation but last-in-first-out (subject to sufficient qualifications) applies plus priority right to re-engagement. Trade union consultation prior to decision. A number of additional formalities apply.

Changing terms and conditions possible with agreement or as technical redundancy (same process as for redundancy, see above)

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

Short-time work scheme

Contact

Åsa Erlandsson, Partner, Setterwalls

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Switzerland

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria
Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Definition of mass redundancy

Mass redundancies are notices of termination given by the employer to employees of a business within 30 days of each other for reasons not pertaining personally to the employees and which affect:

  • at least 10 employees in a business normally employing more than 20 and fewer than 100 employees;
  • at least 10% of the employees of a business normally employing at least 100 and fewer than 300 employees;
  • at least 30 employees in a business normally employing at least 300 employees.
  • Procedures for mass dismissal

    a) Consultation with and Information to the Employees

    The employer is required to consult the work council, or in absence thereof, the entire employees, as soon as it begins to consider implementing mass dismissal (and before the final decision for such dismissal is made).

    The employer must inform the employees of the reasons for the mass dismissal, the number of employees to whom notice may be given, the number of employees normally employed by the business and the time period in which the employer plans to issue the notices of termination.

    b) Information to Cantonal Administrative Body

    Simultaneously, the employer must forward a copy of the information on the planned mass dismissal it has handed out to the employees to the cantonal employment office.

    c) End of Consultation Period

    It is required to allow the employees the possibility to submit proposals on how terminations can be prevented or their number reduced and how their consequences can be mitigated.

    The employer is advised to set a deadline by which the employee proposals must be submitted. Pursuant to Swiss doctrine and case law, the timeframe for such consultations may vary between five days and two weeks, depending on the complexity of the situation. Collective Labour Agreements may provide for longer terms.

    Once the employer is in receipt of the work council’s/employees’ suggestions, he has to diligently examine them and only thereafter make its final decision.

    d) Written Notification to Cantonal Administrative Body

    Following expiry of the consultation period, the employer must provide the results of that consultation and the planned mass redundancies to the cantonal employment office, with a copy thereof to the work council/employees. The cantonal body will try to find solutions related to the problems the mass redundancy may cause.

    e) Notices of Termination

    Notice of termination should by all means only be given once the consultation period has ended and the employees have been heard. In any case, the legal or statutory notice periods must be complied with. The employment ends in no case earlier than 30 days from the date of notification of the cantonal employment office.

    f) Social Plan

    Further requirements apply to businesses that normally employ at least 250 employees and intend to make at least 30 employees redundant within 30 days for reasons unrelated to these persons. These employers are obliged to negotiate with the employees to enter into a social plan (a mutual agreement between employer and employee which sets out measures to mitigate the effects of the redundancies).

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality
Contact

Dr. André Wahrenberger, Attorney at Law, LL.M
Blum&Grob Attorneys at Law Ltd

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The Netherlands

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for Sustained Employment (Dutch: “Noodfonds Overbrugging Werkgelegenheid” or “NOW”)

  • Government relief scheme for compensation of wage costs in case of expected revenue loss of at least 20% over a period of 3 consecutive months from March until July 2020.
  • Compensation 90% of wage costs relative to revenue loss. Example: 50% revenue loss = 45% of wage costs compensated.
  • Wage costs maximized capped at € 9,538 per employee per month.
  • Employer should pay employees in full (100%) when receiving compensation.

Unpaid leave or mandatory (holiday) leave

  • Only if arranged in employment contract or CLA. Otherwise consent of employees required.

Reduced hours/pay

  • Consent of employees required.
  • Unilateral reduction of hours/pay rarely accepted by courts.
  • Not advisable if employer qualifies for NOW compensation.

Temporary benefit for self-employed professionals (Dutch: “Overbruggingsregeling zelfstandig ondernemers” or “Tozo”)

  • Government scheme for compensation of self-employed professionals facing financial problems due to a loss of income, income support and/or loan for business capital.
  • Reimbursement for entrepreneurs in affected sectors scheme (Dutch: “Tegemoetkoming Ondernemers Getroffen Sectoren COVID-19” or “TOGS”)
  • Government scheme, one-time compensation of € 4,000 for entrepreneurs in certain affected sectors.
Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Restructuring / Redundancy

  • Works council has consultation rights.
  • Unions may have consultation rights.
  • If 20 or more reductions within 3 months, notification required under Collective Redundancies Act (Dutch: “WMCO”).
  • Minimum statutory severance is 1/3rd months’ pay per full year of service. Works council or union may negotiate upward depending on financial situation company.
  • Execution: dismissal permit via UWV or termination agreement.
  • NOW compensation will be lowered in case of redundancy dismissals during compensation period (150% of the employee’s pay as a ‘penalty’). But only in case of termination via UWV dismissal permit; not in case of termination agreement.
  • Statutory notice period in months: <5 years = 1 | 5-10 years = 2 | 10-15 years = 3 | >15 years = 4.
  • Changing terms and conditions

    • Consent of employees required.
    • Unilateral change of key terms and conditions rarely accepted by courts.
    • Unilateral and temporary change of non-key terms and conditions possible if necessary for survival
Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

Overview Dutch business measures

More elaborate information on these measures

Elaborate Q&A Employment Law and Coronavirus (Dutch)

Contact

Rhamsey Croes, Partner, BarentsKrans

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UAE

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Paid annual leave:

Under the UAE Labour Law employers can require that their employees take their paid annual leave on specified date(s).

Unpaid leave:

Unpaid leave is permissible with the employee’s consent in writing. For employers registered ‘onshore’ in the UAE, the employee’s consent must be recorded in the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation (MoHRE) template contract addendum. For employers in the freezones, any additional recording requirements should be checked with the relevant free zone authority.

Salary reduction (temporary or permanent):

A salary reduction is possible with the employee’s advance consent in writing. For employers registered ‘onshore’ in the UAE, the employee’s consent must be recorded in the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation (MoHRE) template contract addendum.

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

‘Redundancy’ as a concept:

For employers registered ‘onshore’ in the UAE, pursuant to the MoHRE’s Ministerial Resolution No. 279 of 2020, employers who have identified a surplus of non-UAE national staff and whose employment will be terminated, the employer is required to:

  • continue to provide the ex-employee with all of their entitlements with the exception of basic salary until such time that the employee secures alternative employment or leaves the UAE; and
  • give the individual the opportunity to be registered onto the MoHRE’s ‘Virtual Job Market.’
  • Notwithstanding the above, any ‘redundancy’ type dismissal (by an ‘onshore’ or free zone employer) will risk an arbitrary dismissal claim from an employee where the maximum compensation is three months’ gross pay.
Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/guides/coronavirus-uae-private-employers

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/guides/coronavirus-uae-employment-advice

Three month extension for expired visa

MoHRE’s Virtual Job Market

Contact

Ruth Stephen, Associate, Pinsent Masons

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UK

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Lay off or short-time working-need contractual clause to operate. After 4 consecutive weeks or 6 weeks in 13 week period employee entitled to claim a statutory redundancy payment.

Furlough-UK Government scheme introduced to deal with the impact of Covid-19- Key elements:

  • need agreement from employees (individually or collectively)
  • can’t do any work for employer during Furlough and 80% of "pay" is recovered up to a maximum of £2 500 per month.

The scheme is in place in its current form until 31 July 2020. From August until 31 October 2020, the scheme will continue but part time work will be possible and businesses will begin to share the cost of Furlough (although the exact share remains unannounced).

It remains possible to make redundancies but guidance should be sought on this.

Unpaid leave - agreement needed.

  • Changes to contract like reduced hours/pay-agreement needed (via collective, express or deemed)
  • Job-share- agreement needed (deemed or express)
  • Paid or unpaid sabbaticals-agreement needed
  • Enforced (paid) holiday-notice double the length of the holiday needed.
Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Redundancy

Can be a fair reason for dismissal and those who have 2 or more years of service can claim unfair dismissal and a statutory redundancy payment. (If employees with less service are made redundant because of their protected characteristics or for a reason such as having made a protected disclosure/whistleblowing, they will be entitled to claim automatically unfair dismissal.)

What is redundancy? Closure of a business or workplaces or a reduction in the need for workers/work of a particular kind.

There needs to be a genuine redundancy and a fair process followed in making that redundancy which will involve individual consultation and collective consultation where the numbers justify it (and in situations where it has been agreed with Trade Unions ("TUs") and employee representatives.)

A fair procedure must be followed which will include, where appropriate fair pooling and selection, individual and collective consultation and consideration of suitable alternative employment where available.

Consultation: where 20 or more redundancies are proposed within 90 days there are information and collective consultation obligations with TU's/elected representatives or an obligation to elect representatives where there are no existing representative bodies.

Where there are between 20 and 99 proposed redundancies, employers are obliged to engage in 30 days consultation and in 45 days if 100 or more redundancies are proposed (guidance should always be sought on whether this obligation is triggered and how it is managed).

There are also important statutory notification obligations to BEIS (the relevant Government department) and criminal penalties can be imposed on the employer and directors if these obligations are not met.

There are ways of truncating the collective consultation process and consultation remotely, which may be required at present, is challenging but achievable.

The penalty for failure to inform and consult is 90 days actual gross pay per dismissed employee so the stakes are high if there collective consultation is not carefully managed.

Where selection is required fair selection criteria are necessary and the pool of selection must also be carefully considered where there is a reduction in numbers of the same or similar roles.

Individual consultation is also required to enable, for example, challenge to the provisional selection criteria or the proposed disappearance of a post/role.

A statutory redundancy payment at a maximum of £538 per week up to 20 years service with a multiplier of 0.5/1/1.5 depending on the age of the employee (with a maximum payment of £16 140).

Enhanced redundancy terms may apply through the contract/collectively agreed terms or through custom and practice (the latter involves careful analysis of a number of considerations and guidance should be sought to determine whether employees may argue that such terms apply.)

The maximum financial downside for unfair dismissal claims in such circumstances is the lesser of 52 weeks gross salary or £88 519. (The basic award normally payable is covered by payment of the statutory redundancy payment.)

Changing terms and conditions-to reflect different working hours/patterns/to include a lay off clause

If this affects the collective group of 20 or more and there is a proposal to dismiss those who refuse to accept the changes, then information and consultation obligations and notification obligations arise as is the case under redundancy-(see above).

Employers usually attempt to obtain consent from their employees to changes or to use where possible flexibility clauses before proposing to dismiss and re-engage on the new terms. The use of flexibility clauses is quite restricted.

The statutory, fair reason for the dismissal would be for a business reason (some other substantial reason). This needs to be carefully thought through in advance and a real business need should be evidenced.

Individual consultation with the employees, particularly where the employees refuse to accept the changes, should take place with "refuseniks" in collective consultation scenarios and where there is no collective consultation. Meaningful engagement with the employee population is recommended even where there is no proposal or intention to dismiss and re-engage on the new terms.

Any termination and offer to re-engage would be on notice and very often there is an offer made to re-engage on the issue of notice to change the terms and conditions of re-engagement on the changed terms.

The maximum financial downside for unfair dismissal claims in such circumstances is the basic award of up to £16 140 (calculated on the same basis as statutory redundancy pay) and the lesser of 52 weeks gross salary or £88 519 whichever is the lesser figure.

Job sharing and other flexible working arrangements could be agreed with employees or be proposed as part of an attempt to change terms and conditions.

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/analysis/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme-employers

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/guides/uk-lay-off-short-time-working

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/guides/making-redundancies

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/guides/what-are-employees-entitled-to-receive-on-redundancy

Government for the Furlough Scheme:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Government guidance on the suite of support available:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-covid-19

Contact

Diane Nicol, Partner, Pinsent Masons

Chris Evans comments on the challenges facing multinational businesses looking to restructure (HR Network TV)

 

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Ukraine

Job preservation options available currently - details and key criteria

Standstill: payment of at least 2/3 of the base salary to non-working employees if the standstill caused not by the employees' fault (including during quarantine).

Partial unemployment aid: certain employers (e.g. small or medium-size companies or companies involved in production with a closed production circle) may apply for such aid if they have to reduce the working hours of employees due to quarantine. The partial unemployment aid is provided for every hour by which the employee's working hours were reduced and is calculated based on 2/3 of the employee's base salary, but cannot currently exceed: (1) for small and medium companies – UAH 4,723 (approx. EUR 157); (2) for production companies – UAH 2,102 (approx. EUR 70) per a month.

Paid/unpaid leave: the employee's consent is required.

Reduced working hours/salary or introduction of part-time work/work in shifts: the employer is obliged to notify the relevant employees two months prior to the introduction of planned changes.

Restructuring, redundancy planning and other alternatives on the journey to the new normality – key considerations

Redundancy: the employees may be terminated due to redundancy only if they cannot be transferred to other positions. Certain categories of employees (people with disabilities, pregnant women, etc.) are generally protected against redundancy. Consultations with trade union, prior notifications of employees and the State Employment Service (in case of massive dismissals) are required.

Standstill: higher amount of compensation during standstill may be provided in employment agreements, collective agreements and/or other company documents (e.g. internal policies).

Partial unemployment aid: the employer cannot dismiss employees based on the most popular grounds, including redundancy, during 6 months after the termination of the relevant state aid (or, if the state aid was provided less than within 6 months - during the period of payment of state aid). If the employer violates such obligation, it must return all funds received from the relevant state fund.

Unpaid leave: the period of an unpaid vacation is unlimited during quarantine.

Reduced working hours/salary or introduction of part-time work/work in shifts: to avoid prior notification of employees, the employees' consents for the changes are required.

Weblinks to job preservation options and restructuring / redundancy planning for the new normality
Contact

Olga Ivlyeva, Associate, Wolf Theiss

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