COVID-19 Newsletter No 03
Due to the declaration of an emergency situation in the Slovak Republic by the Government of Slovak Republic for the risk of spreading COVID-19, several measures have been ordered so far. With the exception of strictly specified exceptions, almost all retail and service establishments were closed with effect from 16 March 2020 (some reopened on 30 March 2020 and some will be reopened on 22 April 2020), which generally has an adverse effect on the economy of Slovak Republic as well as on labour relations and employment.
In respect of the above, we would like to provide you with basic information about the most recent important measures for all employers who are affected by coronavirus crisis adopted by the Slovak Government to mitigate the negative impact of the current situation on the economy of Slovak Republic.
ADOPTION OF PROGRAM TO SUPPORT JOB RETENTION
Government of Slovak Republic has approved by its resolution No. 219 dated 14 April 2020 the program to support job retention which has expanded the list of contributions for this purpose during declared emergency, state of emergency or state of crisis (“State of emergency”). Therefore it is currently possible to apply for the following contributions:
1. The contribution for employers whose operations were closed or banned at the time of state of emergency under the measure of Public Health Authority of Slovak Republic (“PHASR”) – An eligible applicant for such contribution is an employer who retains job positions at the time of state of emergency despite its obligation to interrupt or limit operational activities under the measure of PHASR. The amount of the contribution is set as compensation of 80% employee's average salary. For more information please consult our COVID-19 Newsletter no. 2 dated 6 April 2020. As of 14 April became valid one major change to this measure where the limit for individual employers previously set to EUR 800.000 was cancelled and this measure is thus applicable also for bigger employers. The contribution can be already requested for at https://www.neprepustaj.sk/ and https://www.pomahameludom.sk/
2. The contribution for self-employed persons whose operations were closed or banned at the time of state of emergency under the measure of PHASR or whose sales decreased – An eligible applicant for such condition is self-employed person who had to close their operations due to the measure of PHASR OR their sales decreased at least 20 % (or 10 % in March). The amount of the contribution is set as compensation for loss of income in connection with decrease of sales. For more information please consult our COVID-19 Newsletter no. 2 dated 6 April 2020. The contribution can be already requested for at https://www.neprepustaj.sk/ and https://www.pomahameludom.sk/
3. The contribution for employers affected by state of emergency– this contribution is discussed in detail below as it is the contribution which we expect to have the most extensive use.
4. The contribution for selected groups of natural persons who have no other income during state of emergency.
THE CONTRIBUTION FOR EMPLOYERS AFFECTED BY STATE OF EMERGENCY
This contribution was introduced on 17 April 2020 by Announcement of Central Office of Labour, Social affairs and Family („Announcement“).
Eligible applicant for this contribution is employer who retains job position during state of emergency despite interruption or limitations of his operational activities.
The target group is employee in employment relationship who started to work on 1 March 2020 at the latest while such employee cannot be transferred to another operation while granting a contribution.
Conditions to request such contribution are in particular (the exact conditions are specified in the Announcement):
(i) a commitment that two months after the month for which the contribution is requested, the employment relationship shall not be terminated, i.e. employer shall not make a legal act terminating the employment relationship with the employee (s) by dismissal or by agreement on termination of Labour contract for the reasons stated in Article 63 (1) (a) and (b) of the Labour Code,
(ii) that as of 31 December 2019 such entity was not an “undertaking in difficulty”. Pursuant to the EU Commission Regulation , an undertaking is particularly in difficulty where more than half of its registered capital is lost as a result of accumulated losses or if the undertaking is the subject of collective insolvency proceedings,
(iii) that such entity fulfils the conditions according Article 70 (7) of Act No. 5/2004 Coll. on Employment Services, i.e. in particular, fulfils its tax duties, social insurance and health insurance duties, payment obligations towards employees and it is not in bankruptcy.
The above facts must be proven by an affidavit of employer and the accuracy of such affidavit may be subject to ex-post control.
Contribution cannot be granted for employees who receive social security benefits (sick leave, care for a family member) or taking annual leave.
The amount of the contribution for affected employers shall be determined by one of the following methods:
3A) Repayment of wage compensation for each employee who is not working due to obstacles on work on the part of employer (i.e. employer does not provide employee with work since it does not have any) according Art. 142 (4) of Labour Code, up to 80 % of employees average salary, maximum EUR 880 / employee / month. This option is very useful in case that employer is not able to provide work to some employees as a result of closures caused by coronavirus crisis.
3B) Repayment of part of wage costs for each working employee depending on employer´s decrease in sales. In this case, the amount of contribution is determined as follows:
The employer may choose only one of the above-mentioned contribution options for the entire period of granting a contribution, assuming that the employer shall choose the contribution that is more favorable to it.
If the employer chooses option 3A, it is a classic “kurzarbeit” scenario, under which the employee does not work because of an obstacle on work on the part of the employer (the employer is not able to allocate work to him). According to the recently adopted amendment of the Labour Code (effective since 4 April 2020), such an employee is entitled for 80% of wage compensation. Under this measure, the employer may receive the full amount of this wage compensation (up to EUR 880 per employee).
Contribution may also be applied for an employee who has worked partially during the month and has not worked partially because of an obstacle on work on the part of the employer. Actually paid wage by employer shall be repaid.
If an employer has paid compensation to employees of less than 80% of their average salaries according to collective agreement or a written agreement with employee representatives (Article 142 (4) of the Labour Code), the reimbursement for the relevant period shall take into account the real wage compensation paid, up to EUR 880.
If employer chooses option 3B, it is entitled for a flat-rate contribution for all employees who have worked at least 50% of their working time in a given month (i.e. employees who have not had an obstacle on work on the part of employee on the whole more than 50 % or have not taken annual leave).
Employers who have been operating during all year 2019, may for purposes of determination of sales decrease choose to compare (i) a given month with the same month in the previous year, or (ii) a given month with an average (i.e. 1/12) of sales in 2019.
Other employers may for purposes of determination of sales decrease choose to compare (i) a given month with the same month in the previous year (if any), or (ii) a month with February 2019.
The amount of granted contribution per employer is not generally limited.
Applications for contributions shall be submitted to the local labour office by e-mail or by electronic mail box.
The application for the month of March shall be submitted by 15 May 2020. Applications for April and May shall be submitted by the end of the following calendar month.
THE POSSIBILITY OF POSTPONEMENT OF SOCIAL AND HEALTH CARE CONTRIBUTIONS
By Act no. 69/2020 was The Social Insurance Act amended by establishing of several measures regarding the payment of social and health care contributions by obliged entities. The amendment came into effect on 6 April 2020 (for more information please consult our COVID-19 Newsletter no. 2 dated 6 April 2020).
Employers and self-employed persons who have decrease in net turnover or a decrease of business income of 40% or more can ask for postponement of obligation to pay payroll transfer to social-insurance fund, mandatory old-age pension savings and health insurance advances until 31 July 2020. By regulation of the Government of the Slovak Republic may be also postponed the payment of contributions for further months.
If the employer and self-employed person pays these contributions in the new term and in the correct amount they will not be penalized.
Government of Slovak Republic has approved by its resolution No. 208 dated 9 April 2020 specification of method of counting decrease of net turnover or business income.
The decrease in net turnover and income from business or other self-employment operation is determined by comparing the amount of sales for the current month with the amount of sales for the month:
(i) in the previous year, which is the same as the current month, or if the entrepreneur has been operating throughout the whole previous year, with a monthly average of sales,
(ii) February 2020, if the entrepreneur did not operate in the month of the previous year, which corresponds to the current month.
Thus, if the employer or self-employed person have been in operated in business for the whole year of 2019, they may choose one of the two options listed under (i).
Entrepreneur shall notify the Social Insurance Agency and the relevant health insurance company regarding the chosen method of determining of the sales decrease.
PROVISION OF TEMPORARY BUSINESS PROTECTION
On 14.04.2020, the Government of the Slovak Republic approved a bill aimed at providing temporary protection to businesses affected by the negative effects of spreading of COVID -19. The bill must be also approved by the National Council of the Slovak Republic which means that the wording may change during the approval process. Even though it is not the final wording of the act, let us summarize its most important points.
On the basis of the submitted form, the entrepreneur may apply for the so-called temporary protection by the court, provided that entrepreneur:
(i) started its business before 12 March 2020,
(ii) is not in bankruptcy as of 12 March 2020,
(iii) as of the date on which the application is filed there are no reasons for its dissolution and there are no effects of bankruptcy or restructuring authorization related to it,
(iv) did not distribute profit or other own funds in the calendar year 2020, or eliminated the consequences of such acts,
(v) in the calendar year 2020, except measures aimed at mitigating the consequences of the spread of Covid-19, it has not taken any other measure to jeopardize its financial stability or has removed its consequences,
(vi) keeps proper accounting and submits annual financial statements in the Collection of Deeds in accordance with the Commercial Code.
The provision of temporary protection to entrepreneur would, according presented bill, consist of following:
(i) suspension of bankruptcy proceedings initiated by the creditor (on the basis of proposals filed after 12 March 2020),
(ii) protection against creditor insolvency petitions,
(iii) suspending the obligation to file for its own bankruptcy during temporary protection,
(iv) suspension of certain executions which began after 12 March 2020,
(v) provision of temporary protection against execution of pledge over an enterprise, thing, right or other property value belonging to the enterprise,
(vi) modifying the rules on set-off claim against entrepreneur under temporary protection,
(vii) modifying the rules for the termination of the contract concluded with the entrepreneur under temporary protection business and the rules for the withdrawal for delay in performance,
(viii) suspension of the application of the time-limits for the execution of rights against the entrepreneur under temporary protection, including the time-limits for the enforcement of the claims arising from the opposed/contested legal acts ,
(ix) an obligation of the entrepreneur to pay, as a matter of priority, those obligations directly related to the continuation of the business that arose after the provision of temporary protection was granted,
(x) finance support during temporary protection.