Labour & Employment-related measures in combatting the consequences of COVID-19 in CEE

30 April 2020 | newsletters

Find an overview of labour & employment-related measures in combatting the consequences of COVID-19 in the CEE region – status as of 5 May:

 

 

Albania

N/A

Austria

Unemployment Insurance

  • Early retirement part-time employees are allowed to continue the subsidized originally agreed part-time work if their employment relationship was discontinued during the COVID-19-crisis but restarted no later than 30/09.

Corona-short-time work

  • In case of economic difficulties related to COVID-19, short-time work subsidies can be applied for at the Labour Market Authority ("Arbeitsmarktservice"- AMS);
  • Reduction of average working time down to 10% during short-time work (up to 6 months). Reduction to 0 hours possible for a certain time as long average of 10% is met;
  • Short-time work subsidy of up to 80-90 % of the employee's net remuneration (the subsidy is capped at EUR 5,370 gross);
  • Short-time work subsidy also includes the employer's social security contributions;
  • Ban on termination of employment contracts during short-time work + one month afterwards (exemptions apply).

Special care time

  • If schools or kindergartens are closed due to authority measures, the employer may grant special care time to its employees. Special care time is limited to those employees (i) who are not necessary for the continuity of business operations, (ii) who have no further entitlement for absence of work due to child care and (iii) who have to take care of their children below age 14.
  • Special care time also applies to those employees that have to take care for disabled persons if facilities for disabled persons are also closed due to authority measures.
  • Special care time can be granted up to three weeks from the beginning of the official closure of schools/kindergartens/disabled persons facilities. The employer is entitled to compensation by the Austrian government of 1/3 of the remuneration paid to employees during special care time.
  • Deadline for application: The claim for compensation must be submitted to the federal accounting agency within six weeks from the day the authority measures (closure of schools/kindergartens) are lifted.

Works councils & shop agreements

  • Extension of mandate for works councils that would lapse between 16/03 until 30/04. Restart of deadlines for works council elections with 01/05.
  • Shop agreements for corona-short-time-work can stipulate regulations for consumption of holiday entitlements or time-credits.
  • Suspension of deadline for the challenge of ordinary terminations or dismissals until 30/04.

Employment Contracts

  • Stipulation that governmental measures are not a force majeure with regards to employment relationships.
  • If the employer is affected by governmental orders related to the COVID-19 crisis, the employer may request employees to consummate holiday entitlements or time-credits.
  • Suspension of deadlines for the enforcement of entitlements until 30/04.

Construction workers

  • Certain surcharges for employers do not apply during 16/03 until 15/5.
 

Bosnia and Herzegovina

This overview includes measures and recommendations adopted at the state level of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina ("FBiH") or Republic Srpska ("RS").

FBiH related measures only

Leave

  • One of the two employed parents of a child not older than 10 years of age should be entitled to paid absence in order to look after the child.
  • Employees should be entitled to use annual as well as other paid and unpaid leave.

Special working conditions

  • Employers should cut and reorganise working hours if possible, and organise work in shifts so that as few employees as possible perform work at the same time in one place.
  • Employers should instruct the employees to work remotely as far as allowed according to the nature of work and the working process.
  • Employers should cancel all business trips in the country and abroad.
  • Employers should cancel all meetings with a large number of participants. If a meeting is necessary, employers are to ensure a spacious meeting room and a distance of one to two metres between the participants.

Health and safety measures

  • Employers should ensure regular and increased health and safety protection, including hygienic measures in the working space such as cleaning, disinfection and ventilating the offices.

Tax measures

  • Delay of payment obligations relating to FBiH taxes and contributions incurred in March by 30/04/2020 and for obligations incurred in April by 31/05/2020.

Measures to mitigate negative effects on the economy

  • A FBiH draft law, currently in parliamentary proceedings, provides for subsidies for employers that experienced a fall in revenues of up to 20 % within the period 01/01 to 31/03/2020, compared to the same period in 2019. The subsidies would apply to minimum salaries and cover monthly contributions for each employee in the amount of BAM 244 (approx. EUR 120), starting from April until (and including) the month after the state of emergency is terminated. Entrepreneurs would also be entitled to certain benefits to that effect.
  • Payments of statutory default interest for all public incomes would be suspended during and 90 days after the state of emergency is terminated.
  • All deadlines in court proceedings, including labour disputes, will be suspended during and 10 days after the state of emergency is terminated.

RS-related measures only

Deadlines in labour proceedings

  • All deadlines in labour proceedings, apart from those relating to discrimination at the workplace and mobbing, are suspended as long as the state of emergency is in force in RS.

Tax measures

  • All employers and entrepreneurs shut down by the authorities due to the pandemic are entitled to the RS solidarity funds covering salaries, taxes and contributions due in March 2020. Funds should be paid upon an individual request and no interest is calculated for delay in these payments.
  • Employees with the legal entities and entrepreneurs shut down by the authorities or as a consequence of the pandemic are entitled to a minimum wage in RS as per the RS Government decision and contributions due in April 2020. Funds should be paid upon an individual request and no interest is calculated for delay in these payments.
  • Delay in 2019 income tax, i.e. the deadline for filing the tax return of 31/03 is delayed until 30/04/2020.
  • Farmers are entitled to a delay in 2019 contributions payments, i.e. the deadline for filing the return of 31/03 is delayed until 30/04.

The 2020 annual tax paid by micro entrepreneurs amounts to at least BAM 240 (approx. EUR 120).

 

Bulgaria

Additional options for employers

  • Assignment of work from home/remote work without employees' consent.
  • Provision of up to 50% of the paid annual leave without employees' consent.
  • Introductions of part-time work for some or all of the employees.
  • Ceasing the activity of the entire or part of the enterprise and providing the entire paid annual leave to the affected employees without their consent.
  • If the company's activity has been ceased by the authorities, the employer must not allow the affected employees to their working places.
  • The employer must approve all requests for paid or unpaid leave if submitted by:
    • a pregnant employee or an employee in advanced in vitro procedure;
    • mother or adoptive mother of a child of up to 12 years or with special needs regardless of the age;
    • single father or adoptive father of a child of up to 12 years or with special needs regardless of the age;
    • an employee under 18;
    • an employee with reduced capacity 50% and above;
    • an employee with special protection against dismissal as an occupational-rehabilitee employee or as an employee suffering from a disease designated in an ordinance of the Minister of Health.
  • Overtime restrictions do not apply to employees working under reduced working hours who provide or support the provision of medical assistance.

State aid for employers

  • During the application of the State of Emergency Act, but for not more than three months, the National Social Security Institute provides to employers meeting certain criteria 60 % of the social security income of their employees for January 2020 plus the employer's part of the social security contributions over the compensated 60%. The employer is obliged to pay the employees their full remuneration (i.e. the employer must pay the remaining 40 % of the remuneration and the social security contributions out of their own funds). If the employer does not pay the full amount of the remuneration to the employees for whom the financial aid has been received, the employer must reimburse the aid. In case of part-time, the financial state aid is proportionate to the not worked time (however, the employer must pay to the employees the full remuneration as if they were not working part-time).
  • On 30/03/2020 the Council of Ministers adopted a decree setting out the particular requirements and procedures for granting state aid. The aid could be used by (i) employers whose operations have been discontinued as a result of an order of the state for the duration of the emergency state (e.g. restaurants, bars); and (ii) almost all other employers (with a few exceptions for industries which are otherwise supported by the state, e.g. agriculture) - in case of a minimum of a 20 % decrease in revenue, who have temporarily stopped (entirely or partially) work or have introduced part-time for their employees.  The comparison basis for the decrease in the revenue depends on the date of establishment of the employer's company - for example for companies established before 01/03/2019, the revenue for the month preceding the month of filing the application for the financial aid should have decreased by at least 20 % compared to the same month in the preceding year (i.e. if the application is submitted in April  2020, the revenue for March 2020 should have decreased by at least 20 % compared to March 2019).

The main requirements for the employers applying for the financial aid are:

 

  • to be local natural or legal persons, or foreign legal persons having business activities in Bulgaria;
  • lack of outstanding tax and social security contribution liabilities established with a valid act issued by the competent authorities;
  • lack of insolvency or liquidation proceedings;
  • to keep the employees for whom they have received the aid for a period not shorter than the period of receipt of the aid;
  • not to terminate employment agreements on the grounds of closing down of part of the enterprise, staff reduction, decrease of the workload and a cessation of work for more than 15 days during the period the employer receives the state grant;
  • lack of established violations of employment and labour migration laws in the past 6 months before the issuance of the order for the work stop.

 

The term for filing the applications for financial aid with the Employment Agency is until 21/04/2020. Further details and samples of required documents are available on the website of the Employment Agency: https://www.az.government.bg/pages/izplashtane-na-kompensacii-za-zapazwane-na-zaetostta/

Croatia

Retention of Employees

  • The government offers financial support to eligible employers for retention of jobs in coronavirus-affected sectors, for a maximum pe-riod of three months from the beginning of March, in the amount of up to HRK 3,250 for March and HRK 4,000 for April and May per employee per month. In addition, the government will cover public levies (income tax and social security contributions) for the finan-cial support amounts for April and May in an approximate amount of HRK 1,460.
  • The government supports retention of employment for persons with disabilities by ensuring the employer payment of the disabled per-son's minimum wage.
  • Delay of payment of financial compensation for all employers who do not meet the statutory quota for employment of persons with disabilities.
  • Enabling the EU funding beneficiaries to suspend or delay project implementation, delay of repayment of funds, and to acknowledge the reduced realisation of planned indicators on projects due to objective new circumstances.

Social security contributions

  • Deferral of payment of public levies (income tax and social security contributions) for up to three months.

Options for employers

  • No amendments were introduced to the in-force labour legislation yet. The employers are being encouraged to: implement remote work, redistribute working hours, establish part-time work (with consent of employees), provide annual paid or unpaid leave.
 

Czech Republic

 
  • Compensation of employers through the Labour Office in the form of a contribution for full or partial wage compensation in the event of an obstacle on the part of the employee (quarantine order) or the employer (obstacle – closure of premises due to a government order to close) if it is shown that the obstacle at work was due to infection by COVID-19.
 

Hungary

Exemption from paying public charges and public health contributions

This exemption was granted to employers working in sectors of tourism, restaurants and catering, amusement, gambling, the film industry, artistic performances, events, and sport until 30/06/2020. The exemption was subsequently extended to other sectors, e.g. beauty industry, press, conference and event organisation, etc. Certain SMEs and private entrepreneurs operating under a simplified tax regime were also granted tax exemption until 30/06/2020.

Employment Contracts

Rules related to individual employment contracts generally aim at providing more flexibility to the parties during the course of the emergency situation. Accordingly during the period of emergency:

  • employers are allowed to unilaterally (without employee consent) order home-office and remote working;
  • employers are allowed to unilaterally modify or amend employees' work schedule without keeping four or seven days' advance notice;
  • parties may derogate from the statutory rules of the Labour Code by agreement, this may typically include:
    • agreement on allocation of yearly holidays without keeping the interim period of 15 days;
    • agreement on taking unpaid leave;
    • agreement for taking downtime (stoppage time) without compensation;
    • agreement on shortening working time/reducing salary.

Short time work and wage subsidy

As of 16/04/2020 a wage subsidy is available to employers and employees if they need to agree on reduced working hours due to economic difficulties arising as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic situation. Conditions of the subsidy have been modified on 21/04/2020 and the new rules enter into force on 29/04/2020.
The wage subsidy may be applied for and used if the employee's working time is reduced to 25-85% of the original working time. If the reduction of the work time does not exceed 50%, the parties need to agree on a so-called 'individual development timeframe' which is a period in which employees need to be at the employer's disposal and attend trainings or perform tasks related to their individual development or the development of the employer's (business) operations. Such timeframe needs to cover 30 % of the worktime reduction and the employee needs to pay the salary for that period. If the work time reduction exceeds 50%, agreement on an individual development timeframe is optional, not compulsory.
The subsidy may also apply to teleworkers, employees working in home office and agency workers.
The amount of the subsidy is 70 % of the employee's base salary for the period of the work time reduction The subsidy is free from taxes and social security contributions and can be paid for a period of three months. If the parties use this wage subsidy, the employer:

  • is not allowed to use any other type of wage subsidy; 
  • must maintain the concerned employees' employment for the period of the subsidy and one month thereafter; and 
  • may not order the concerned employees to work overtime.

The amount of the subsidy may not exceed double the amount of the national minimum wage minus the amount of taxes and levies at the time of the application. When applying for the subsidy, the employer needs to present:

  • the economic difficulties it faces;
  • that the necessity to reduce the working time is directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic situation and
  • that short time work helps maintaining workplaces which is necessary for its undisrupted operations that is also a national economic interest.

Further flexibility regarding the allocation of working time

As of 11/04/2020, employers may enjoy further flexibility when allocating employees working time. During the state of emergency, employers may unilaterally impose the application of a working time cycle (reference period) up to a maximum length of 24 months or extend the currently applied work time cycle. If the state of emergency is terminated, it does not have an effect on the allocated work time in a work time cycle during the course of the state of emergency. This means that the ordered working time cycle will not cease to exist or shall not be terminated at the end of the state of emergency.

R&D wage subsidy

As of 15/04/2020, employers may apply for a wage subsidy for a maximum period of three months to help pay the wage of employees employed as researchers and developers based on the definition provided by the Act on Research, Development an Innovation. This is a wage subsidy paid to the Employer by the relevant governmental office and its aim is to support employers to pay these employees' salaries. If the employer uses this subsidy:

  • it is not allowed to use any other type of wage subsidy;
  • must keep its headcount for the period of the subsidy; and 
  • •    must employ the employees who were the subjects of the subsidy for a period equivalent to the period of the subsidy.

The amount of the research & development subsidy may not exceed HUF 318 920 (approx. EUR 1,000) on a monthly basis per employee. Further application requirements of the subsidy are set out in the respective government decree (103/2020).

Kosovo

N/A

Montenegro

Paid leave

  • One of the parents /guardians/foster parents/adoptive parents or single parent of a child not older than 11 years of age is be entitled to paid absence, as long as the measure of discontinuation of educational work is in force.
  • Possibility of a chosen doctor to, at the request of the employee, extend the temporary incapacity to work up to 30 days (determined by the chosen team or the chosen doctor) and the temporary incapacity to work longer than 30 days (determined by the competent medical committee) until 30/04/2020.

Public traffic suspension

  • Suspension of public transport of passengers in interurban, suburban and urban bus and van transport, except for organised transport of employees.
  • Ban on intercity passenger transport, except with the confirmation of employer;

Tax measures

  • Delay of payment obligation relating to taxes and contributions for salaries for all enterprises in private ownership for up to 90 days.

Recommendations

  • All employers to establish for the jobs for which the work process permits so, the performance of tasks from home. In doing so, they should determine the jobs for which it is possible to perform work from home and persons performing these tasks, which, due to their health and other circumstances, should not be exposed to the risk of becoming ill, the way of communication of employees performing tasks from home, the way to maintain meetings that are in the function of performing theirs tasks.
 

Moldova

Options for employers

  • No amendments were operated to the in-force labour legislation, employers being encouraged alternatively to: implement remote work, adjust to flexible work schedules, establish part-time work, implement stationing or technical unemployment, provide annual paid or the unpaid leave. No guarantees are being put in place.

Employment Contracts

  • Suspension is triggered only in case of quarantine.
 

North Macedonia

Work from home

  • Employers should apply the recommendations concerning enabling certain categories of persons with medical conditions (chronic respiratory diseases; severe cardiovascular disease; diabetes – type 1; malignant diseases; and immuno-compromising conditions) to be released from work and work activities.
  • Employers should also apply recommendations concerning enabling one parent with child up to 10 years to be released from work and work activities.
  • The employer is obliged to provide work from home for all employees, where possible, without disturbing the regular and normal functioning of the institution.
  • During work from home employees are receiving full salary as they are working.

Special working conditions

  • All employees in the health sector should not use annual leave, paid and unpaid leave.

Interruption of work

  • The employer may oblige its employees to use a forced leave. Using a forced leave represents a basis for the employees to acquire the right for salary compensation due to interruption of the work process due to reasons provided by the employer i.e. business reasons. In this case the employees are entitled to salary compensation in amount of at 70% of the average salary in the 12 preceding months for a period of up to three months in the current year.
  • Employer may send its employees to absence leave mainly for the reasons of force majeure with obligation of payment of salary compensations in amount at least 50% of the salary, which they would otherwise be entitled to if they have worked.

Tax measures:

  • an exemption from paying the amount of advance payment of personal income tax for the months of March, April and May 2020 for taxpayers who have income from independent activities and fulfil the conditions set forward in the Governmental decree.
  • an exemption from paying the amount оf the advance payment of profit tax advance for the months of March, April and May 2020 for the companies-taxpayers that fulfil the conditions set forward in the Governmental decree.
 

Poland

Additional care allowance

  • Parent released from the obligation to perform professional work to care for a child (up to 8 years old), whose school or preschool was closed, will receive additional care allowance for the period not longer than 14 days.

Employment contracts

  • Employers may instruct their employees (employed under employment contracts) to work from home for a specified period as a form of remote working.

Remote working for employees employed under the employment contracts for a term specified by the employer

Social security' contributions

  • Entrepreneurs can file application via the internet (here in Polish) to defer payments of social security contributions for 3 months (contributions for 02/20 until 04/20) or suspend payments under contracts with the Polish Social Insurance Institution for 3 months
 

Serbia

Work from home

  • The employer is obliged to provide work from home for all employees, where possible.
  • During work from home employees should receive their full salaries as they are working.
  • Employees should not receive compensation of costs for travel to work nor other cost compensations, but they should continue receiving food allowances and annual leave allowances.
  • Employers should also apply recommendations concerning enabling one parent with a child/children younger than 12 years to work from home.

Special working conditions

  • Employers have to organise work in shifts if possible, and if it does not require additional investments with the aim of procuring as few employees as possible to perform work at the same time in one room.
  • Employers have to enable organisation of meetings by electronic means (e.g. video link, video calls etc.).
  • Employers have to postpone all business trips in the country and abroad.

Interruption of work

  • An employer may send its employees on absence leave mainly for the reason of state of emergency with the obligation of payment of salary compensation in an amount agreed in the employment agreement and Work Rulebook.
  • An employer may send its employees on absence leave for the reason of reduction of the volume of work to 45 workdays in a calendar year, while it could be prolonged only with Ministry's approval. In this case the employees are entitled to salary compensation in an amount of at least 60% of the average salary in the 12 preceding months.

Introduced Economic Measures:

On 10/04/2020 the Government of the Republic of Serbiaadopted the legal framework regulating the economic and other measures for mitigating the consequences that Covid outbreak caused to the economy in Serbia.

The following companies/enterprises will be able to use the below economic measures:

  • companies/enterprises that did not reduce the number of employees by more than 10 % in the period between 15/03 and 10/04 /2020 (excluding the employees on definite term employment contracts, whose employment agreements expired during the state of emergency);

The following companies/enterprises will not be able to use the below economic measures:

  • banks, insurance and reinsurance companies, companies managing private pension funds, leasing companies, payment institutions, and payment institutions and institutions of electronic payment funds, and companies that are public funds users.

Tax measures

  • Delay of a payment obligation relating to taxes and contributions for salaries for all enterprises in private ownership. All employers who choose to use this measure may use this delay measure until the beginning of 2021 (04/01/2021). Concerning income taxes and social contributions this measure refers to delay of payment of said obligations for March, April and May, or April, May and June as the employer chooses (postponed taxes/ social contributions can be paid in 24 monthly instalments.;
  • Delay of payment of corporate income taxes for  March, April and May (could be paid in 24 monthly instalments).
  • Exemption from the obligation to pay VAT for those who donated their products to institutions directly involved in activities for prevention of the spread of the coronavirus and treatment of citizens.

Direct subsidies to enterprises

  • For entrepreneurs, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises: payment of minimum net wages for months May, June and July multiplied by the number of full-time employees in March, April and May (proportionally increased also for part-time employees); and
  • for large enterprises: subvention in amount to 50 % of the minimum net wage for March 2020 for every employee with full-time working hours in May, June and July who has been sent by the employer on leave based on articles 116 and 117 of the Labour Act (proportionally increased also for part-time employees).

Employers shall lose their right to direct subventions and fiscal measures if there is a decrease in the number of employees by more than 10 % before the lapse of three months as of the last payment of direct subsidies (excluding the employees with whom definite term employment agreements were concluded before 15/03/2020 for the term expiring before the lapse of three months as of the last payment of direct subsidy).

  • Companies which apply for fiscal and direct subsidies measures cannot pay out dividends until the end of 2020.
 

Slovakia

N/A

Slovenia

State aid for employers during COVID-19 crisis- measures applicable between 13 March 2020 and 31 May 2020

  • Salary compensation reimbursement
    • Employees that are (i) instructed to wait for work while at home, or (ii) are unable to work due to vis major (e.g. child care during school closure) are entitled to salary compensation in the amount of 80% of their full time salaries (paid in net amounts by employers but fully reimbursed by the state – see below).
    • Fiscal reimbursement for salary reimbursement of employees under (i) and (ii) above available to employers who anticipate a 10% drop in revenue in year 2020 compared to 2019. Satisfaction of conditions subject to review at the end of the fiscal year (if not satisfied - return obligation). An employer is entitled to 100% of the salary compensation paid to workers, but to a maximum of the average Slovenian salary (EUR 1,799.66 gross).
    • Employers are also relieved of payment of all compulsory social security contributions for workers under (i) or (ii) above.
    • Ban on employers entitled to reimbursement of salary compensation paid to employees under (i) above to pay out dividends / management bonuses / to purchase own shares in 2020 – or else received subsidies must be returned in the full amount plus default interest.
  • State coverage of compulsory social security contributions
    • Full fiscal cover of social security contributions for pension and invalidity insurance for all workers that continue working during the COVID-19 outbreak (i.e. no cost for employer – but: employer must in such case pay a monthly "crisis allowance" in the amount of EUR 200 to each working employee).
  •  (Immediate) fiscal cover of sick leave
    • Immediate fiscal cover for workers' sick leave (default regime: first 30 working days of absence are covered by the employer).
  • Solidarity payments to selected groups of population
    • State-funded one-time solidarity payment to pensioners and other vulnerable groups (including regular students).
    • State-funded monthly universal basic income for self-employed persons, ministers and employees of registered churches, and farmers.

State aid for employers - measures applicable between 1 June 2020 and 30 September 2020

  • In the event that an employer's business is directly affected by the COVID-19 crisis, an employer is entitled to state reimbursement of 40 % of the salary compensation paid to workers working from home, but to a maximum of EUR 892.50 gross, for a maximum of three consecutive months, available on a one-off basis. An employer receiving reimbursement on this basis must pledge to keep the respective worker employed for at least six months after they return to work.
  • In case the Slovenian government would declare quarantine, employers would be entitled to state reimbursement of 100 % of the salary compensation paid to workers unable to work from home due to the nature of their work for the duration of the quarantine // no other limitations.
  • No state aid is envisaged for employers providing any precautionary measures regarding safety and health at work (i.e. ordering workers to stay at home / reorganisation of work process / etc.).

Work from home

  • An employer may assign work from home (as a precautionary measure during the COVID-19 crisis) by way of an internal decision (sklep delodajalca), if such assignment applies for a limited period only, and is given due to natural or other disasters (such as an outbreak of infectious disease).
 
  • Notification to the Slovenian Labour Inspectorate is required.

Use of annual leave and other options for employer 

  • An employer may unilaterally decide that workers should stay at home (as a precautionary measure): such decision would be considered a non-business reason for the cessation of work on the side of the employer. Workers are entitled to 100 % salary compensation.
 
  • Unused overtime hours: an employer is entitled to order workers to use their overtime hours by way of an internal decision (sklep delodajalca) unless stipulated otherwise in a collective-bargaining agreement. Workers entitled to 100 % salary compensation.
 
  • Use of annual leave: only in concurrence with the worker concerned. Workers entitled to 100 % salary compensation.
  • Collective leave: a unilateral decision of an employer communicated to the workers by way of a yearly work plan; must have regard for workers' personal and family lives. Workers entitled to 100 % salary compensation.
  • Unpaid leave: only in agreement with the worker concerned. No salary compensation for the worker (employer still obliged to cover compulsory social security contributions).
  • Waiting for work: in case of a decrease of business  (connected to COVID-19 or other) and the employer's inability to provide work to its workers connected thereto, workers entitled to 80 % salary compensation – and may be partially refunded – see section 'State aid' above.

Termination of employment relationships due to COVID-19

  • Mutual termination: by way of written agreement between employer and worker. A worker is not entitled to severance pay (unless agreed otherwise) and unemployment benefits.
Termination for a business reason: applicable in case of permanent cessation of a need for work under the conditions of am employment agreement, due to economic, organisational, or other reasons on the side of the employer; potentially justified in the case of COVID-19, would significantly impact the employer's business. A worker is entitled to severance pay and unemployment benefits.

Turkey

Unemployment Insurance – Short Working Indemnities

  • Companies reducing working time or interrupting their activities can apply to benefit from short working indemnities. Application procedures have been simplified. Further measures are expected to be introduced in order for companies to benefit from such a scheme.
  • The main supports granted by the Turkish government under the Short Working System are as follows:
    • payment of Short Working Indemnity to the Employees; and
    • payment of General Health Insurance premiums.
  • The short working indemnity is 60 % of the daily average gross salary calculated based on the last 12 months of salary. The short    working indemnity shall not be higher than 150 % of the monthly minimum gross salary.
 
  • The minimum amount of governmental support for 2020 is TL 1,752.40 and the maximum amount is TL 4,380.99.
  • The applications made to the competent authority shall be evaluated within 60 days following the application. As of 17/04/2020, the evaluations are mainly made based on the statements of the employer based on trust.  
  • During short working periods, general health insurance premiums are not paid by the employer and or employee. However, all other premiums (i.e. unemployment premiums) shall be required to be paid by the employer and or employee.

Postponed Work

  • In case weekly working hours are decreased temporarily by at least one-third, or complete or partial closure of the work place by the employer or by the competent authorities due to compelling circumstances (i.e. Corona Virus),  employers may require employees to compensate for unworked time through additional work within four months  after the workplace is back to running as it was before.

Employment Contracts

  • Only in case of a force majeure event, may the employee benefit from a short time work system. In addition, in case the employee cannot work for more than one week due to a force majeure event (i.e. quarantine for disease which is total out of the control of the employer), the employer is entitled to receive half of the wages for up to one week. At the end of this one-week period, both parties may terminate the employment agreement based on the labour code. However, through an amendment to Labour Law No 4857 as of 17/04/2020, no employment or service contracts can be terminated by the employer, for a period of three months starting from 17/04/2020  ("Effective Date"), except for in circumstances where the employees do not comply with the ethical and goodwill rules and similar reasons set out in the contract terms. The employer may leave the employee entirely or partially on unpaid leave for a period of three months from the Effective Date. A decision of the Employer on unpaid leave under this amendment, does not give the employee the right to terminate the contract based on termination with valid reason. In case of unpaid leave, the employee is given TL 39.24 per day.
 
  • Governmental measures alone are not considered as force majeure with regards to employment relationships. Despite governmental measures, a force majeure event would additionally require an interruption in operations or a decrease in working hours. If there is no effect on the employer's business (despite official statements and measures), the employer and employee cannot rely on force majeure and cannot use the rights arising therefrom.
  • No need to change the employment contacts for work from home/remote work.

Termination of Employment Relationship

  • In case the employee cannot work due to a force majeure event  (i.e. quarantine for disease which is totally beyond the control of the employer)  preventing the employee from performing his/her duties for more than one week, he/she shall be paid, up to one week, half his/her wages for each day. At the end of this period, both parties may terminate the employment agreement based on the labour code. However, through an amendment to Labour Law No 4857 as of 17/04/2020, no employment or service contracts can be terminated by the employer, for a period of three months starting from 17/04/2020  ("Effective Date"), except for in circumstances where the employees do not comply with the ethical and goodwill rules and similar reasons set out in the contract terms. The employer may leave the employee entirely or partially on unpaid leave for a period of three months from the Effective Date. The decision of the Employer on unpaid leave under this amendment, does not give the employee the right to terminate the contract based on termination with valid reason. In case of unpaid leave, the employee is given TL 39.24 for each day.

Additional Measures for the Employer

  • The Employer may request that the employee uses his/her paid  leave (if any) unilaterally. No consent is required by the employee. Explicit written consent is required for "unpaid leave".
No consent of the employee is required for the assignment of work from home/remote work.

 

This article is part of our coronavirus-focused legal updates – visit our coronavirus info corner to get more info!