Overview

A roundup of the major global coronavirus COVID-19 developments that we're aware of that are likely to impact employers. 


Contents

This is not a complete list of all developments.  If you are interested in the latest news for a particular country, please reach out to your normal DLA Piper contact, or email us at [email protected].  

Legislation, guidance and other emergency measures are being introduced daily around the world so please always check the latest update as this may supersede earlier updates.

 

June 17 Update 

Australia 

Queensland: the Queensland government has announced that it has approved COVID-Safe site-specific plans for Stadiums Queensland venues including The Gabba, Suncorp Stadium and Metricon Stadium, which will allow for crowds of up to 2,000 people in these stadiums beginning this weekend (20 June).

Canada 

The government will now require temperature screenings for all passengers flying in or to Canada. This new screening measure will be in addition to the existing health screening and face covering measures already in place. Temperature screening will be introduced through a phased approach.

Alberta: The public health emergency in the province expired on June 15, 2020, and was not renewed.

British Columbia: The state of emergency in the province has been extended until June 23, 2020.

Manitoba: The state of emergency in the province has been extended until July 15, 2020.  The government has released a draft of its plans for Phase 3 of reopening.

Newfoundland and Labrador: The public health emergency in the province has been extended until June 30, 2020.  The government amended its employment standards legislation to extend the period that an employee can remain temporarily laid off to 26 weeks in a period of 33 consecutive weeks.

Nova Scotia: The state of emergency in the province has been extended until June 28, 2020.

Nunavut: The public health emergency in the territory has been extended until June 25, 2020.

Ontario: The government has released online resources to assist employers in developing COVID-19 workplace safety plans.  The government announced it is enabling more regions of the province to enter Stage 2 of the government's reopening framework as of June 19, 2020.

Prince Edward Island: The state of emergency in the province has been extended until June 28, 2020.

Quebec: The government announced that additional businesses will be permitted to reopen as of June 22, 2020.

Saskatchewan: The government has released guidelines in preparation for Phase 4 of the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan.

Hong Kong 

Allowance for workers extended: The Government announced that the monthly $1,000 allowance under the Anti-epidemic Fund for outsourced cleaning and security workers of the Government and the Housing Authority will be provided for a further three months in July, August and September.

Graduates job subsidy to launch: The Environment Bureau today announced that a subsidy programme for graduates will be launched under the Green Employment Scheme to subsidise private companies to employ fresh graduates. Applications will open on June 26. The programme covers areas related to environmental protection, ecological conservation, green energy and energy conservation, climate change as well as sustainable development to provide job opportunities for graduates interested in environment-related fields.

About $24 million has been earmarked under the Anti-epidemic Fund for the programme to provide employers of fresh graduates with a monthly subsidy of $5,610. The subsidy will form part of the monthly salary of each fresh graduate paid by their employers for a period of 18 months.

Driver subsidy set: The taxi or red minibus driver subsidy under the second round of the Anti-epidemic Fund is open for applications until September 30. Under the fund, the Government provides a monthly subsidy of $6,000 for each eligible active taxi or red minibus driver for six months, from April 1 to September 30.

India 

Tamil Nadu: Due to increasing COVID cases, the State government of Tamil Nadu has ordered a 12 day complete lockdown in the Greater Chennai Police Commissionerate Limits areas in Tiruvallur District, Chengalpattu District and in Kancheepuram District. This lockdown will be in effect between 19 June 2020 and 30 June 2020.  The notification provides, among other things: 

  • auto, taxis, and private vehicles will not be permitted, except for medical emergencies.
  • e-pass will be restricted to those applicants only who intend to travel from Chennai to other districts for marriage, funeral and medical emergencies, provided they submit relevant documents.
  • a full-day lockdown will be enforced on two Sundays - 21 June 2020 and 28 June 2020 - without any relaxations.
The existing procedure with respect to operation of trains, and international and domestic flights will continue to be in effect.
Italy 

On 16 June 2020, new Law Decree no. 52 on the social safety net has been approved and provides, in particular, the possibility for employers to benefit from the 4 weeks of salary integration already provided for in the Law Decree no. 34/2020 (“Decreto Rilancio”), if the first 14 weeks have already been used, for periods of time prior to 1 September 2020.

The total number of weeks that can be requested remains 18 weeks:  This change does not increase the total integration salary period, but changes the possibility of using the 4 weeks integration for periods of time prior to 1 September 2020.

Taiwan  

Individuals previously diagnosed with COVID-19 shall only be allowed to enter Taiwan if more than two months have passed since the onset of symptoms and the symptoms have eased or more than ten days have passed since onset and they have tested negative in two PCR tests with a 24h interval.

Starting June 22, business travellers from low - medium risk countries intending to enter Taiwan for less than 3 months may apply for reduced quarantine periods / requirements.  

June 16 Update

Australia

NSW: the NSW Government has announced that the state will increase capacity on the public transport network by almost double from 1 July.

Victoria: from 20 July, a limited number of Melbourne-based criminal jury trials will be resuming subject to COVID measures.

Queensland: the Queensland Government has announced that from 16 June, up to 100 people can attend funerals in Queensland. Funeral organisers need to keep were a record of attendees for eight weeks in case contact tracing is necessary at a later date. Weddings remained capped at 20 guests (although up to 100 people can attend a wedding if the wedding venue opts into the relevant industry safe plan). The 100 attendees only applies to funerals, it does not apply to wakes. Wakes are considered a gathering and therefore are subject to the relevant requirements for the venue.

South Australia: the South Australian Government has announced that from 17 June, South Australia's borders will be reopened to travellers from Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania. Travellers must be travelling direct from these states/territories. The change means travellers from those jurisdictions will no longer need to isolate themselves for 14 days when they arrive in South Australia. The South Australian Government has also announced that as of Friday 19 June, public assemblies of up to 300 will be permitted and indoor classes will be allowed up to 20 people, provided physical distancing is met.

Hong  Kong Hong Kong will further relax virus-related social distancing measures by allowing public gatherings of up to 50 people on 19 June. Public processions and protests of more than 50 people require a notice to police, according to a Hong Kong public order ordinance.
India

Karnataka -  the State government has an order to partially modify the inter-state travel protocols, to include a few additional measures. The modification order inter-alia provide that –

  • Persons coming from Maharashtra shall be placed in a 7 day institutional quarantine followed by 7 days of home quarantine.
  • Persons coming from Delhi and Tamil Nadu shall be placed in a 3 day institutional quarantine followed by 11 days of home quarantine.
  • Persons coming from states other than Maharashtra, Delhi, and Tamil Nadu shall be required to undergo 14 days of home quarantine.
  • The registration on “Seva Sindhu” Portal is mandatory for all incoming travellers to Karnataka by providing correct contact number and destination address.
  • Any violation of the quarantine norms, failure to register on “Seva Sindhu” portal, giving incorrect information by the incoming passengers will attract penal actions under Section 51(b) of the Disaster Management Act 2005, and section 188 of the Indian Penal Code 1860.

Karnataka- the State government has withdrawn (with immediate effect) the extension on working hours granted to factories (which was discussed in our email dated 26 May 2020).

Indonesia

The minister of Youth and Sports has issued Health Protocol No. 6.11.1/Menpora/VI/2020. Three types of sports activities are covered by the Health Protocol: national and regional training, championships and recreational sports activities.

The Ministry of Youth and Sports has divided the phases of these activities into three stages:

  • The first stage: sports activities may be resumed while strictly following the COVID-19 prevention protocols.
  • The second stage: domestic championship activities can be held again with permission from the government.
  • The third stage: the new championships can be attended by spectators once trials at home and abroad are permitted.

The Task Force for the Acceleration of the Handling of COVID-19 issued Circular Letter No. 7 of 2020 revoking Circular Letter No. 4 of 2020 (as amended). The Circular Letter imposes more lenient requirements on the criteria and requirements for people to travel during the adaptation period including among others the following:

All individuals traveling by public transport, by land, train, sea and air within Indonesia must:

  • show their identification documents (KTP or other valid form of identification);
  • show a PCR test certificate with a negative result that is valid for 7 days or a of rapid test certificate with a non-reactive result that is valid for 3 days upon departure.

Meanwhile every individual arriving from abroad must:

  • undergo a PCR Test when the PCR Test arrives, if he/she has not undergone one already and cannot show the PCR Test result from the country of departure;
    • undergo quarantine while waiting for the results of the PCR test, in special quarantine accommodation provided by the government; or quarantine accommodation that is certified as COVID-19 quarantine accommodation by the Ministry of Health.
Taiwan The MoL launched cash rewards for first time employees, who entered the workforce on or after January 15. Under the scheme, these employees may receive NT$30k or up to NT$108k for certain sectors with manpower shortages, depending on how long they stay on the job (max. reward achieved at 18 months).
Abu Dhabi

The Abu Dhabi movement ban is to be extended by one week, from Tuesday 16 June 2020. The ban covers movement between Abu Dhabi’s regions (Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafrah) as well as in and out of the emirate. It applies to all Abu Dhabi residents, including UAE nationals, and has been in place since Tuesday 2 June 2020.

Colombia

Bogotá’s Mayor issued Decree 143 which continues the mandatory isolation measures against COVID-19 until 0:00 a.m. July 1, 2020.

Additionally, the Decree adds new restrictions to mobility and consumption activities such as:

  • On odd numbered days only those with even ending ID numbers will be able to enter establishments to carry out permitted activities such bank services, markets and notaries. Vise-versa, on even numbered days those with odd ending ID numbers may carry out said activities.
  • Health services, pharmacies and funeral services are excepted from this measure.  
  • Areas in Bogotá with higher risk of contagion will have additional commuting restrictions and commercial activities will be allowed only during 12:00 noon until 11:59 p.m.
  • Biosafety measures are mandatory for all allowed activities.

June 15 Update

Ukraine

On 3 June 2020, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine adopted a Resolution No 435 (“Resolution 435”),  which came into force on 4 June 2020. The Resolution 435, among other, established lifting of some restrictions from 5 June:

  • domestic air transportation of passengers;
  • operation of cafes, restaurants, in particular, hosting of visitors in the premises, subject to certain conditions (e.g. compliance with anti-epidemic measures, namely, the observance of the distance of at least 1.5 meters between the places for sitting at the adjoining tables and the placement of no more than four customers at the table (excluding children under 14 years of age) etc.);
  • persons aged over 60 may not comply with the obligation to self-isolate.

On 12 June 2020, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine adopted a Resolution No 480 (“Resolution 480”), which came into force on 13 June 2020. According to the Resolution 480 the following changes were adopted:

  • foreigners and stateless persons (except those permanently residing at the territory of Ukraine or who are recognized as refugees, or who need additional protection) may cross the state border of Ukraine with an existing insurance policy related to the treatment of COVID-19, observation;
  • established a mandatory observation requirement only for persons crossing the border and coming from countries or are citizens of countries with a significant prevalence of COVID-19 (except for certain cases). The persons who gave consent to self-isolation using the "Act at home" (in Ukrainian “Дій вдома”) electronic service of the state web portal of electronic services before crossing Ukrainian border are not subject to observation;  
  • abolished the requirement for mandatory observation for persons entering Ukraine from the temporarily occupied territories in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, after resuming the passage of persons through checkpoints. In order to be allowed to enter Ukraine, person should give consent to self-isolation using the "Act at home" (in Ukrainian “Дій вдома”) electronic service of the state web portal of electronic services before leaving the temporarily occupied territories. The absence of such consent is ground to prohibit entrance to Ukraine.

In addition, as of 15 June 2020, all checkpoints across the State Border of Ukraine for international air transportation of passengers are open.

Australia

NSW: The NSW Government has announced that COVID-19 restrictions will ease at NSW public schools from Monday 15 June 2020, including assemblies, choirs and class photographs. School sporting activities, including inter-school competitions and contact sport, can resume at the start of Term 3 on 20 July 2020.

The NSW Government has also announced that restrictions imposed during COVID-19 will be further eased next month with strict social distancing rules. From 1 July:

The number of people allowed inside indoor venues will be determined by the ‘one person per 4 square metre’ rule, with no upper limit. This includes function centres. All activity must be seated only.

Cultural and sporting events at outdoor venues with a maximum capacity of 40,000 will be allowed up to 25 percent of their normal capacity. Events must be ticketed and seated and follow strict guidelines.

On compassionate grounds, restrictions on funerals will immediately be eased to allow the four square metre rule to apply.

All other restrictions including 20 guests inside the home and 20 for outside gatherings remain the same.

Music festival and nightclubs will continue to remain closed in July as the heath advice remains that these venues and activities pose a high risk of the virus spreading.

Victoria: The Victorian Government has announced an easing of restrictions.   From 22 June, libraries, community centres and halls will be able to open to 50 people. Religious ceremonies can also increase to 50. Pubs and clubs will be able to host up to 50 seated patrons, with no requirement to purchase a meal with a drink, however people will need to give their contact details and table service restrictions will still apply. Standalone TABs will also be able to reopen in line with rules on retail businesses while TABs in pubs will need to observe density and patron limits that apply to those venues. Restaurants and cafes will also be able to increase the number of patrons to 50. Cinemas, concert venues, theatres and auditoriums can open, also with up to 50 people per space. The same increased limit will apply to galleries, museums and amusement parks.

From 20 July, electronic gaming areas at pubs, clubs and the casino will be reopened with strict distancing, cleaning and hygiene requirements.

From 22 June, all sports training and competition will resume for those 18 and under. Non-contact sports competition can also begin across every age group. Indoor sports centres and physical recreation spaces like gyms will be able to open to 20 people per space, with a cap of up to 10 per group for those over the age of 18. Local football, soccer clubs and other contact sports will be able to resume training for over 18s from 13 July. From 20 July, full competition can begin.  Clubs and community facilities will also be able to reopen their changerooms.

There will also be an easing of restrictions applying to holiday accommodation and camping sites, with communal spaces like showers and kitchens soon to be available to visitors.

The advice is still that if a person can work from home, they must continue to do so.

Hong Kong

First batch of job aid disbursed

The Government disbursed the first tranche of wage subsidies under the Employment Support Scheme (ESS) to a total of 49,500 applicants who include employers and self-employed people (SEP). The Government noted that 98% of the first batch of recipients receiving wage subsidies comprises micro or small and medium-sized enterprises with less than 50 employees.

Employers who receive wage subsidies for the first tranche have undertaken not to make redundancies during June to August and to spend all the wage subsidies on paying wages to the employees. In addition, the first batch of 24,000 successful SEP applicants will each receive a one-off lump sum subsidy of $7,500 into their assigned bank accounts. The total sum of subsidy involved is $180 million.

$150m to support tourism industry

About 3,400 applications have been approved for disbursement of subsidies totalling over $150 million under the five tourism industry support schemes in the second round of the Anti-epidemic Fund, the Commerce & Economic Development Bureau announced.

India

Delhi – the state government has issued the Delhi Epidemic Diseases (Management of COVID-19) Regulations, 2020. As per these regulations, authorised persons are empowered to impose a fine for the violation of directives / guidelines pertaining inter-alia to –

  • Observation of quarantine rules;
  • Maintaining of social distancing;
  • Wearing of Face mask / cover in all public places / workplaces.

In case a person refuses to pay a fine on the spot, then action under Section 188 of the penal code would be imposed on her/him.

These regulations are valid up till 13 June 2021.

The Supreme Court (SC) of India has passed an interim order in a case filed by several employers’ associations challenging the MHA order (dated 29 March 2020) on payment of wages during the lockdown.

The SC order states that “the private establishment, industries, employers who are willing to enter into negotiation and settlement with the workers / employees regarding payment of wages for 50 days or for any other period as applicable in any particular State during which their industrial establishment was closed down due to lockdown, may initiate a process of negotiation with their employees organization and enter into a settlement with them and if they are unable to settle by themselves, then submit a request to concerned labour authorities who are entrusted with the obligation under the different statute to conciliate the dispute between the parties who on receiving such request, may call the concerned Employees Trade Union/workers Association/ workers to appear on a date for negotiation, conciliation and settlement.”

Taiwan

For foreigners residing in Taiwan on a visitor visa, landing visa or visa exempt entry, and entered the country before March 21, the fourth 30-day extension was issued totaling a 120 day extension. However, the max duration of stay is limited to 180 days.

June 12 Update

Australia

The Australian Government has announced amendments to stage 3 of the roadmap. National Cabinet has agreed to remove the 100 person limit on non-essential indoor gatherings under the stage 3 framework and replace it with physical distancing (including 1 person per 4sqm), hygiene and COVID Safe plan requirements. Other amendments to stage 3 of the roadmap include that, for outdoor venues with up to 40,000 spectator capacity, ticketed and seated events will be able to be held in front of a crowd of no more than 25 per cent of capacity (provided physical distancing, hygiene and other COVID safe requirements are met). National Cabinet reiterated that high risk venues such as nightclubs do not form part of stage 3 easing of restrictions. High risk outdoor events without ticketed seating such as music festivals also do not form part of stage 3. These changes are not happening immediately, as states and territory governments will still determine when to implement the changes under stage 3 in their respective states/territories. For outdoor venues of more than 40,000 spectator capacity, arrangements are to be settled by the states and territories on a venue by venue basis.

The temporary measure introduced by the Australian Government for reducing the time required for changes to enterprise agreements to be agreed by employees - the access period - from a minimum of seven days to a minimum of one day is set to be withdrawn. A review conducted by the Attorney-General's Department concluded that the need for the change had now passed and the original seven-day access period should be reinstated.

Australian Parliament has passed the Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Flexibility Measures) Bill 2020, which provides greater flexibility in taking the PPL entitlement. The legislation provides for a non-flexible PPL period of up to 12 weeks, which must be taken in the 12 months following the birth of a child. A flexible PPL period of up to 30 days can then be taken any time after the initial period but must be used within two years of the birth or adoption of the child.

In Southern Australia: the SA Government has announced that it is easing restrictions from Friday 19 June, increasing the 20 person room limit to 75, and moving a total cap of patrons per restaurant, pub or venue of 80 up to 300. The state will also be bringing forward its stage three easing of restrictions from July to 29 June. In line with the Australian Government’s announcement, the cap of 100 people per room will replaced with one person per 4 square metres when stage 3 easing of restrictions commences (on 29 June). SA has also announced that it will reopen its borders for interstate travel on 20 July.

Colombia

The Colombian Ministry of Health has issued Resolution 899 which specifies biosafety measures for the control of COVID-19 for activities such as:

  • Accountability and law
  • Companies management
  • Consultancy  
  • Architecture and engineering
  • Scientific and development research
  • Marketing and publicity

As general measures all the industries must adapt their working spaces with cleaning controls and protection endowments. The Resolution also states how commuting and interaction among people must be handled.

A communication plan for prevention, monitoring and responding in cases of infection is also addressed.

Furthermore, the Resolution sets specific requirements depending on the business activity.

Hong Kong

Wage subsidies explained

Employers are eligible to apply for wage subsidies in respect of their employees aged 65 or above who have Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) accounts, even if they have not made any MPF voluntary contributions for these employees.

If the employer has provided the mature employees’ basic salary information to the fund trustee(s), the amount of wage subsidies under the Employment Support Scheme will be calculated based on 50% of the basic salaries actually paid to these employees in the specified month. The wage cap will be set at $18,000 per month per employee, while the maximum wage subsidy per employee is $9,000 per month, Dr Law said.

The Government estimates that there are currently about 115,000 employees aged 65 or above, whereas the MPF Authority’s data suggests that about 60,000 mature employees have set up MPF accounts.

More leisure facilities to reopen

The Leisure & Cultural Services Department will reopen more public swimming pools, gazetted beaches, libraries and museums. 

Beach-goers have to comply with the law that prohibits group gatherings of more than eight people.

The adult and children's libraries of a further 19 district libraries will reopen on June 15. To avoid people gathering, admission slips will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis for entry to each session.

Support for more sectors set The Government will provide salary subsidies to employers who hire graduates and assistant professionals of the engineering, architectural, surveying, town planning and landscape sectors.

Both new graduates and assistant professionals who have just completed professional training or are waiting to attend the professional assessment examination are facing difficulties in finding jobs. The first group is applicable to university students studying architecture, surveying, town planning and landscape architecture, and are graduating this year. 

Employers will receive a salary subsidy of $5,610 per month for providing recognised professional training to each employed graduate. The subsidy period is up to 18 months and a total of 500 subsidy places will be provided.

The second group is applicable to assistant engineers who complete the training within this year but still need to obtain practical work experience. It is also applicable to assistant professionals who complete the training within this year and satisfy admission criteria of the professional assessments in the relevant sectors.

Employers will receive a salary subsidy of $10,000 per month for providing opportunities for recognised professional practice to each assistant professional employed. 

The subsidy period is up to 12 months and a total of 1,250 subsidy places will be provided.

The subsidy scheme will be opened for application from June 19 to July 18. 

More aid for construction sector

The Anti-epidemic Fund will offer a one-off subsidy to employers in the construction sector who have employed casual employees on a long-term basis.

If an employer in the construction sector has made contributions for a casual employee under the Mandatory Provident Fund Industry Schemes for at least 15 days in the calendar month of March this year, the employee will be regarded as a qualified employee. An employer may apply for a subsidy of $36,000 per qualified employee.

Applicants must undertake not to make their employees redundant for a period of six months on receipt of the subsidy and to spend the full amount of the subsidy on paying wages to their workers.

Currently, there are some 40,000 casual employees being employed on a long-term basis in the sector. The measure is expected to help about 3,500 employers and their workers tide over the current difficulties.

The Construction Industry Council will handle applications and disburse the subsidies for the Government, and will announce the details by late June.

India

Karnataka – the Department of Health and Family Welfare has revised the protocols related to inter-state travellers. The measures under the revised protocol is similar to the last version (detailed in our updates of 4 June 2020). In summary, the revised protocol inter-alia provides that:

  • Travellers should mandatorily register themselves on the ‘Seva Sindhu Portal’ by providing details such as name, address, contact number, etc. Further, Business visitors should provide details of their name, mobile number and address of the person they intend to meet in Karnataka, and date of return.
  • Asymptomatic travellers from Maharashtra will be required to undergo 7 days of institutional quarantine followed by 7 days of home quarantine. For other states the requirement is 14 days of home quarantine.

For business travellers who are natives of Karnataka and who are returning to Karnataka within 4 days from the date of journey, there is no testing or quarantine requirement for them upon return to the State. However, the concerned person should report to ‘Apthamitra Helpline (14410)’ regarding the status of their health during the next 14 days. Further, traveller who is returning after 4 days should follow the applicable quarantine protocols.

Taiwan

Visitors to various public spaces will no longer be required to wear a facemask, so long as they can maintain a social distance of 1m outdoors or 1.5m indoors.

At the beginning of 2020, the Taiwan tax authorities issued a policy change that allows a retroactive application of different accounting standards to the fiscal year 2018, which may result in additional undistributed surplus earnings. These earnings may be distributed now, and in some cases deducted from taxes as a COVID-19 measure, allowing for a bit of tax relief for businesses.

   

June 11 Update

France

The French Government announced yesterday that:-

  • Businesses in hotel, catering, cafés, tourism, events, sports and culture sectors, regardless of their size, will continue to be able to benefit from 100% coverage of the partial activity allowance for hours not worked until September.
  • As a reminder, for the other business sectors, since 1 June, only 85% of the hours not worked in respect of partial activity are covered by the State.
  • The activities benefiting from this enhanced support are divided into two categories:
    • the hotel, catering, café, tourism, events, sports and culture sectors, which are the most lastingly affected because they are subject to activity restrictions that go beyond 11 May 2020 (list S1);
    • the upstream or downstream activities of these sectors (list S1 bis).
  • To benefit from the measures, companies must have suffered an 80% loss of turnover during the year containment period (15 March - 15 May).

The lists of affected businesses can be accessed (in French) here.

Brazil The Governor of São Paulo extended quarantine until June 28. According to what he called the “São Paulo Plan”, each city of the state shall be classified by color, red being the worst scenario and green the best scenario when all activities are allowed. Today the city of São Paulo is classified as orange, which means that certain activities are allowed but quarantine is still necessary. During the orange stage stores, shopping centers and offices are allowed to open as long as authorized by the Municipality and in compliance with certain rules (ie observing sanitary recommendations provided by the Municipality and limited to 4 hours per day for stores).
Australia

The NSW Government has announced that, from Saturday 13 June, the gathering limit will be increased to 20 people (both in homes and in public places) and food courts will be allowed to reopen.

Spain

Royal Decree-law 21/2020 (RDL 21/2020), dated June 9th, on urgent measures for the prevention, containment and coordination to be implemented in combating the COVID-19 health crisis has been published on the official gazette -  Download PDF.

This new regulation aims to set out the basis for the so called “new normality”.

Among other issues, RDL 21/2020 provides as follows:

  • Compulsory wearing of masks – usage conditions (sec. 6).
  • Measures regarding the workplace, educational and health centres, shops, hotels and tourist, restoration, and hospitality premises, cultural, leisure and sports facilities, and sports competitions (secs. 7 to 16).
  • Transport measures (secs. 17 and 18).
  • Medicines, medicinal products and devices, and biocides (secs. 19 to 21).
  • Duties in relation to early detection, sources of infection control and epidemiological monitoring. Sec. 27 refers to personal data protection (secs. 22 to 27).
  • Measures to ensure the capabilities of the health care system. Both public and private health centres must have an internal emergencies plan (secs. 28 to 30).
  • A sanctions system is established (sec. 31).
  • The suspension of expiration dates is lifted for registration entries that may be subject to cancellation due to time constraints (Additional Provision -AD- 4 ).
  • AD 4 modifies RDL 8/2020 provisions regarding companies.
  • AD 5 modifies RDL 11/2020 provisions on the right to terminate certain user agreements, and the restrictions imposed to commercial communications on gaming activities are repealed.

From an employment law perspective, the following obligations on employers are included:

  • Adopt ventilation, cleaning and disinfection measures appropriate to the characteristics and intensity of use of the workplace, in accordance with the protocols established in each case.
  • Make available to employees water and soap, or hydroalcoholic gels or disinfectants with virucidal activity, authorized and registered by the Ministry of Health for hand cleaning.
  • Adapt working conditions, including the organization of work stations and shifts, guaranteeing the maintenance of a minimum interpersonal safety distance of 1.5 meters between employees.
  • Where this is not possible, protective equipment appropriate to the level of risk must be provided.
  • Adopt measures to avoid massive overlapping of people, whether employees, customers or users, at workplaces during the time slots where the greatest influx is expected.
  • Adopt measures for the gradual return to work in person and the promotion of the use of remote working when this is possible due to the nature of the work activity.
  • People with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 or in home isolation due to COVID-19 or who are in home quarantine because they have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 should not  go to their workplace.

June 10 Update

Australia
  • The Australian Government has announced it will legislate to suspend the indexation of tax instalment amounts for the 2020-21 financial year in response to COVID-19. This change will affect instalments payable to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) for an estimated 2.2 million taxpayers paying Pay As You Go (PAYG) income tax instalments, and around 81,000 taxpayers paying Goods and Services Tax (GST) instalments in 2020-21. Tax instalments help spread taxpayer obligations over the year and to reduce a taxpayers’ balance on assessment. Historical Gross Domestic Product outcomes are normally used to index a range of instalment amounts annually to reflect anticipated income growth. Given the economic impact of COVID-19, the Government has decided to suspend this indexation for 2020-21.
  • Professional sporting codes in Australia have been granted limited exemptions from state governments for crowd attendance at stadiums. For the AFL, small crowds have been approved by the NSW and Adelaide state governments for particular games, with the NSW Government allowing 350 people to attend a game this weekend and the Adelaide Government allowing 2,000 at a game hosted at the Adelaide Oval. As for the NRL, the NSW Government has said stadiums can use their corporate boxes in line with the restrictions for pubs and restaurants (a maximum of 50 people, abiding by physical distancing restrictions).
  • In NSW, the Government has announced that adult community sport will recommence on 1 July 2020. Under the new restrictions, food and drink premises in stadiums will be able to open. They will need to follow the same requirements that apply in other food and drink premises and pubs and registered clubs. Stadium operators will be required to develop and comply with a COVID-19 Safety Plan, operate with restricted numbers (one person per four square metres and up to 50 people in each of the existing seated food and drinks areas, whichever is the lesser, on the premises) and keep contact details of each person entering the premises.
Canada

Ontario: Child care centres are permitted to reopen, subject to specific health and safety requirements.

Quebec: The government has announced a further easing of workplace restrictions starting June 15, 2020.

Saskatchewan:  The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Saskatchewan has issued an advisory on questions, screening or testing by employers regarding COVID-19.

Germany

Local governments continue to relax restrictions on lockdown measures on a continuous basis. Increasingly, local restrictions are also reduced due to court rulings (eg different restrictions on opening hours for the inside and outside areas of restaurants or the restriction on the maximum number of visitors to shops).

Members of the coalition government have agreed on further measures to revitalise the economy and secure jobs (yet to be approved finally). In this context, note a cut in value added tax (VAT) from 19% to 16% / 7% to 5%, limited in time from 1 July to 31 December 2020.

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi has announced that the Abu Dhabi movement ban is to be extended by one week, starting from Tuesday 9 June. The ban covers movements between Abu Dhabi’s regions as well as in and out of the emirate. It applies to all Abu Dhabi residents, including UAE nationals. Employees in vital sectors, those transporting necessary goods or individuals visiting hospitals may apply for an exemption through a special permit.

India

Gurgaon (Haryana): earlier, the Haryana State government had issued guidelines limiting the lockdown in the State to containment zones till 30 June 2020. To align district guidelines with this, the District authorities in Gurgaon have also issued revised guidelines, limiting the lockdown in Gurgaon to containment zones (till 30 June 2020). The Gurgaon guidelines inter alia provide that –

  • Industrial establishments will be permitted to operate as per the SOP issued by Industries department in this regard.
  • The movement of individuals shall remain strictly prohibited between 9pm to 5am (except for essential services).
  • Use of Aarogya Setu shall be mandatory for employees of private organisations. It shall be the responsibility of the heads of the respective organisations to ensure 100% coverage.

Telangana:  the State government has extended the State-specific lockdown till 30 June 2020. However, it is clarified that no shops and establishments (except for hospitals and pharmacies) can remain open after 8 p.m.   

Bangalore (Karnataka):  the municipal authorities in Bangalore have published an SOP for the enforcement of home quarantine rules for inbound persons to Bangalore Municipal Corporation limits. The guidelines inter alia include that travellers should mandatorily self-register on the Seva Sindhu portal by providing details related to name, address, phone number, and pin code. Further, travellers are also encouraged to use ‘Aarogya Setu’, ‘Apthamitra’, and ‘Quarantine Watch’ App

Malaysia

Details of extension of wage subsidy program The government will extend the wage subsidy program for a further 3 months. This PENJANA program is in addition to the earlier PRIHATIN package wage subsidy program. The subsidy under the PENJANA program is RM600/month for each employee up to a maximum of 200 employees per employer. As a result, qualifying employers will be able to combine the PRIHATIN and PENJANA programs for a total 6 months of wage subsidy. Perkeso has issued an FAQ dated 9 June 2020 in relation to the combined wage subsidy program: https://www.perkeso.gov.my/images/pengumuman/p su/090620_-_FAQ_PENJANA_PSU.pdf

Chile

On June 7th, 2020, the health authority announced new measures in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, as follows:

1. In addition to the territories that are already in total quarantine (including Santiago), it was established that all inhabitants of the following locations must remain in isolation:

a. Commune of Calama, in the Region of Antofagasta

b. Commune of San Antonio, in the Region of Valparaiso

2. Also, the authority stated new criteria in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic:

a)  If the patient presents symptoms, a medical leave will be granted for 14 days from the starting of the symptoms.

b) If the patient has no symptoms, the medical leave will be granted for 14 days from the diagnosis of the disease by the PCR test.

Persons who have taken the PCR test (PCR) should be in quarantine until they are notified of the results of such test.

Those individuals who have been in close contact with people diagnosed positive for COVID-19 should take isolation measures for 14 days from the day of contact. If the PCR is negative, that will not exempt the individual from doing quarantine.

Close contact is now defined as a person who has been in contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19, within 2 days before the beginning of the symptoms and 14 days after. In the event that close contact occurs with a person who does not present symptoms, contact must have occurred within 14 days of the PCR test being taken.

Individuals entering from abroad must be quarantined for 14 days regardless of the country of origin.

In addition, these are the symptoms that heath authority considers as suspicious of having COVID-19:

a.            Body temperature of 37.8 ºC or higher.

b.            Coughing.

c.            Breathing difficulty.

d.            Chest pain.

e.            Sore throat when eating or swallowing fluids.

f.             Muscular pain.

g.            Chills.

h.            Headache.

i.             Diarrhea

j.             Sudden loss of smell

k.            Sudden loss of taste

 

June 9 Update

Canada

Alberta: The provincial government is deferring Workers’ Compensation Board premiums for private sector businesses.

New Brunswick:  On June 5, 2020, the provincial recovery plan moved to the next phase of the “yellow level” for all areas of the province except Zone 5. The “yellow level” includes the gradual reopening of more businesses and activities and the easing of further restrictions, subject to continuing physical distancing and safety guidelines.

Newfoundland and Labrador:  The province enters “Alert Level 3” effective June 8, 2020. The focus of Alert Level 3 is to control the transmission of COVID-19, while further relaxing public health measures.

Nunavut:  The public health emergency in the territory has been extended to June 11, 2020.

Ontario:  Emergency orders in the province have been extended until June 19, 2020, including the closure of specified non-essential establishments and the prohibition on organized public events and gatherings of more than 5 people. Outside of the Greater Toronto Area and certain other municipalities, some non-essential establishments will be permitted to open beginning June 12, 2020 as part of Stage 2 of reopening the province.

Australia

The Australian Government has announced that it will extend the $150,000 instant asset write-off for six months to 31 December 2020. Australian businesses with annual turnover of less than $500 million will be able to take advantage of this extended timeframe to invest in assets to support their business.

The Australian Government has also announced that the subsidy for child care providers under the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package will discontinue from 12 July 2020, and JobKeeper payments will cease from 20 July for employees of a CCS approved service and for sole traders operating a child care service. The Government will resume the Child Care Subsidy scheme and provide a Transition Payment of 25 per cent of their fee revenue during the relief package reference period (17 February to 1 March) from 13 July until 27 September. The Government will also ease the activity test until 4 October to support eligible families whose employment has been impacted as a result of COVID-19. These families will receive up to 100 hours per fortnight of subsidised care during this period.

In the specific states/territories:

Queensland: The Queensland Government has announced the introduction of a Hardship Payment to help Queenslanders who have exhausted their sick leave or pandemic leave entitlements, and tests positive to COVID-19. This payment will provide affected workers with a one off $1500 payment to cover their unpaid sick leave. To be eligible for this payment the Queensland workers must be employed, test positive to COVID-19 and have no access to paid sick leave or pandemic leave
Hong Kong

Government further backs travel sector

The Government announced that more support will be provided for the travel industry by enhancing the Green Lifestyle Local Tour Incentive Scheme and extending the subsidy initiative for tourist guides. The Green Lifestyle Local Tour Incentive Scheme was introduced last December, under which each travel agent can obtain a cash incentive of $100 for each Hong Kong resident for whom it arranges an eligible green lifestyle local tour.

As the epidemic has been subsiding, the Government has decided to increase the commitment for this scheme from the original $50 million to $100 million, and will discuss with the trade details of further enhancing the scheme. Meanwhile, the Government has been subsidising tourist guides with a maximum of $1,000 each in completing the Continuing Professional Development Scheme for renewing Tourist Guide Passes until October 27.

In view of the suspension of training courses caused by the epidemic early this year, the Government decided to extend the subsidy initiative for six months until April 27, 2021, which will benefit more than 5,000 tourist guides.
Malaysia

The Conditional Movement Control Order expires today, and from 10 June 2020 a new Recovery MCO phase will start. The Recovery MCO is scheduled to last until 31 August 2020.

During the Recovery MCO —

  • almost all social, educational, religious, business, and economic sectors will resume operations in stages, while still needing to comply with the relevant Standard Operating Procedures;
  • inter-state travel is permitted with the exception of areas which are under an Enhanced MCO;
  • international travel continues to be prohibited.  

During the Recovery MCO, individuals required to undergo mandatory 14-day quarantine upon returning to Malaysia will be required to do so from home. Under the previous Conditional MCO, the quarantine had to be carried out in designated government quarantine centres.  However, they will still be required to undergo a health screening, and their compliance with quarantine will be monitored. Those returning from overseas will be required to download the MySejahtera application, and will be required to wear quarantine wristbands for identification and monitoring.

Ireland

Emergency changes to redundancy law extended:   Emergency measures, which prevent employees on lay off or short time from issuing notice to their employer of their intention to claim a redundancy payment, have been extended until the 10th August 2020.  This applies to employees who have been placed on short time or lay off due to the effects of measures taken by the employer to comply with Government policy to limit the spread of Covid-19.

 

June 8 Update

UK From today,  Monday (8 June), the majority of entrants to the UK, whether existing UK residents returning from abroad or non-residents entering for business, leisure or other purposes will be required to complete a 14-day isolation period upon arrival.  Click here for further information. 
South Africa

The Department of Employment and Labour has issued a consolidated Direction on Occupational Health and Safety Measures in Certain Workplaces (“Updated Directive”) which replaces the Direction on Occupational Health and Safety Measures in Certain Workplaces issued on 29 April 2020. 

The Updated Directive imposes additional obligations on businesses and institutions, provides additional guidelines and in some instances removes certain duties on employers. Some of the key changes in the Updated Directive include:

  • placing an obligation on employers in line with the Regulations to take special measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 for persons considered as vulnerable employees (i.e. employees over the age of 60 or who have comorbidities);
  • giving the right to employees to refuse to perform any work where circumstances arise which, with reasonable justification, appear to that employee or to a health and safety representative to pose an imminent and serious risk of exposure to COVID-19;
  • placing an obligation on all employers (not only those with more than 500 employees) to consult (i) any representative trade union, and (ii) health and safety committee; or (iii) in the absence of such committee, a health and safety representative or employee representative, on the workplace plan;
  • placing an obligation on small businesses (those that employ 10 or less employees) to:
  • develop a basic plan for phasing in the return of its employees taking into account those that are able to work remotely and those over the age of 60 years or who have comorbidities; and
  • implement other measures indicated by a risk assessment of the workplace including measures applicable where the public have access to the workplace;
  • placing additional obligations on the compliance officer, including overseeing the implementation of the workplace plan and adherence to the health and safety measures established in the workplace;
  • creating additional conditions that must be met before allowing an employee who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 to return to work, including that the employee:
  • must have completed the mandatory 14 days of self-isolation; and
  • must wear a surgical mask for 21 days from date of diagnosis; and
  • requiring the employer to conduct an assessment of exposure in the event that an employee has had contact with another employee diagnosed with COVID-19 to determine whether the exposure carries high or low risk of transmission between the employees. If there is low risk of exposure the employee can continue working but the employer must monitor the employee's symptoms for 14 days from the first contact.  Where there is high-risk of exposure the employee must remain in quarantine for 14 days and the employer must place that employee on paid sick leave; and
  • removing the obligation on employers to make arrangements for the washing, drying and ironing of the cloth masks that it is required to provide to its employees. The Updated Directive further provides that employees may not be required to pay for PPE such as masks or any other measures that the employer implements.
Colombia

Ministry of Health Legal Decree 800 to protect the social security registration and economic sources.

During the sanitary emergency, regain entities and  Social Security Monetary Sources Manager (ADRES per its acronym in Spanish) may sign partial payment agreements for the early recognition of 25% of the value of recovery requests.

The resources obtained will be aimed for health services and immigrants without health registrations and/or coverage.  

ADRES may do prepayments to the public health services system that have intensive care units (ICU) and/or advanced health care services. This, despite of the COVID-19 number of patients.

Transportation Accidents Mandatory Insurance (SOAT per its acronym in Spanish) must transfer the additional amount of income received according to the risks decrease.

Ministry of Justice issued Legal Decree 801 to apply technology measures for judicial proceedings.

The purpose of this new Legal Decree is to streamline judicial processes and provide attention for users of the justice service, within the Economic, Social and Ecological Emergency State.

Technologic measures and new infrastructure will be implemented in order to protect the due process right and justice access.

Ordinary Judicial processes will be available for processes of the following nature:

  • Civil
  • Labor
  • Family
  • Contested administrative
  • Constitutional

Ministry of Labor issued Legal Decree 802 in order to protect the population about to get their pension rights

Population about to get their pension rights, might be part of the anticipated retirement plan through their own Pension Fund and Severance Management Institutions.  

This program applies only for people who will receive a monthly allowance of 1 monthly minimum legal wage and who COVID -19 crisis jeopardize their right to get a monthly pension.

Superior Justice Council (Consejo Superior de la Judicatura in Spanish) issued the Agreement PCSJA20-11567

Terms for judicial process will restart counting since July 1, 2020.

As of 17 of June, 2020 judicial personnel may assist to judicial offices in order to organize and plan all the required measures to restart their activities.

Specific matters on different law areas will remain their terms suspended. Some to the matters are: administrative tribunals for law issuing legal control, Constitutional invalidity control, and, extrajudicial conciliation, among others.

Ministry of Treasury issued Legal Decree 815 in order to stablish the Formal Employment Support Program (PAEF for its acronym in Spanish)

Colombian Government will provide a monthly monetary aid to companies, consortiums, individuals or temporary unions with the following conditions:

  • Incorporation before January 1, 2020. Except for individuals and corporations who develop education activities and non-profit entities.
  • Commerce registration at least from year 2019.
  • Support a decrease in their income of at least 25%, and the need to receive the monetary aid.
  • Bank account.
  • Social Security Authority will verify the following 3 years if the monetary aid was used for the purpose according to the mentioned Legal Decree.
  • This aid could be provided up to 4 times meanwhile the program is in force, this is as of May 2020 up to August 2020.   
Hong Kong

310,000 apply for job aid scheme

The Employment Support Scheme (ESS) received more than 140,000 applications from employers and 170,000 from self-employed people from the first day of the application period on May 25 until 6pm 5 June 2020.

The Government said the vetting process of all the applications received is expeditiously underway with a view to disbursing wage subsidies to successful applicants starting from mid-June.

Upon completion of the processing of applications, the ESS Secretariat will inform successful applicants of the results via SMS and email. Applicants can login to the ESS portal to check the amount of subsidy granted and the committed head count for the months of June to August.

Quarantine exemptions for company directors

The Government announced a mechanism for directors or executives of specified listed companies to apply for exemption from the compulsory quarantine arrangement. It covers companies that are listed on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (SEHK) and included in the Hang Seng Index, Hang Seng China Enterprises Index or Hang Seng Composite LargeCap, MidCap or SmallCap Index.

During any calendar month, each of the listed companies or listing applicants can only nominate a maximum of two directors or executives for the exemption.

After returning to Hong Kong, the exempted person will be subject to medical surveillance arranged by the Department of Health for 14 days.

Currently, travellers to the Mainland would still be subject to the 14-day compulsory quarantine requirement imposed by Mainland authorities.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government is discussing with Mainland authorities the mutual recognition of COVID-19 testing results conducted by recognised medical laboratories, with a view to exempting the quarantine requirement for Hong Kong travellers to the Mainland.

Malaysia Incentives under the “Penjana” Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana ERP) On 5 June 2020, the Prime Minister announced a short-term Penjana ERP worth RM35.0 billion.  The incentives under the Penjana ERP relevant to employers are the following:
  • The government will extend the wage subsidy program for a further 3 months. As the economy is already opening in stages, the subsidy for the extended period is RM600/month for each employee up to a maximum of 200 employees per employer.
  • To encourage companies to hire employees, the government will pay RM800 per employee to companies that hire unemployed Malaysians under the age of 40, and RM1,000 per employee for companies that hire those aged 40 and above or persons with disabilities. Both of these incentives run for 6 months.
Taiwan Social distancing guidelines have been slightly relaxed, namely the facemask mandate on public transportation only applies when a distance of 1.5m can not be adhered to. Additionally, restrictions on large events have been eased. 
Indonesia

Ministry of Manpower Guidance

On 20 May 2020, the Minister of Manpower issued Circular Letter No. M/7/AS.02.02/V/2020 addressed to  Governors all over Indonesia to convey to all company leaders in their areas among other things, the following:

  • Arrange business continuity planning for facing COVID-19 in the following stages:
    • the recognition of business priorities;
    • the identification of pandemic risks;
    • the planning of risk mitigation;
    • the identification of a pandemic impact response;
    • the designing and implementing of business continuity planning;
    • the communication of business continuity planning;
    • the examination of business continuity planning.
  • Follow a COVID-19 transmission prevention protocol in the workplace including among others, by:
    • checking body temperatures at each company entrance and observing the general condition of workers / laborers and guests;
    • providing training and public awareness and education to all workers / laborers regarding COVID-19;
    • regulating work patterns and classify workers / laborers according to company policy taking into account government decisions regarding the level of the disaster;
    • temporarily delaying workforce health inspections until the occupational safety and health aspects have been satisfied or until COVID-19 ends.

In addition to the above, on 20 May 2020, Minister of Health has issued Decree No. HK.01.07/MENKES/328/2020, under which, when returning to work after the implementation of the Large Scale Social Restriction (“LSSR”), workplaces must:

  • prohibit workers or visitors who have symptoms of fever, a sore throat, cough, cold or shortness of breath from coming to work;
  • if workers must go into quarantine or independent isolation they are still entitled to their rights;
  • a day before entering work, a COVID-19 risk self-assessment must be made by all workers to ensure that the workers who go to work are not infected with COVID-19; and
  • implement physical distancing.

Jakarta: back to work measures

For DKI Jakarta area, the local Government has issued Governor Regulation No.51 of 2020 on the Implementation of LSSR during the Transition Period towards a Healthy, Safe and Productive Society (“Regulation 51/2020”) and DKI Jakarta Governor Decree No. 563 of 2020 as its implementing regulation (“Decree 563/2020”).

The general principles and health protocols for implementing the transitional LSSR under Regulation 51/2020 includes, among other things:

  • healthy residents may engage in activities outside the home;
  • travel by unhealthy / unfit residents is not permitted;
  • facilities are only to be used at 50% capacity;
  • a mask must always be used when outside the home;
  • a safe distance of 1 meter between people must be kept;
  • hands must be washed with soap regularly.

According to Decree 563/2020, the schedule for the First Phase includes the following:

  • First Week: the opening of places of worship, the mobility of private vehicles and mass public transport and taxis (conventional and online);
  • Second Week: the opening of offices, factories, warehouses, standalone restaurants, shops, and retailers, showrooms, museums, beaches and public motorbike transportation (Ojek);
  • Third Week: the opening of markets, shopping centers, malls (non-food / food) and parks.

The transition period applies from 5 June 2020 until 18 June 2020 and will be extended for 14 days if there is no significant level of transmission.

However, if there is a significant level of transmission during the transition period, the DKI Jakarta Provincial Government can stop all activities and re-implement restrictions.

Travel

Under the Task Force for the Acceleration of the Management of COVID-19 Circular Letter No.4 of 2020 (as amended),  exceptions from the limitations on travel apply to people who work in government or private institutions which provide the following services: 

  • the acceleration of COVID-19 management;
  • defense, security and public order;
  • health;
  • basic needs;
  • basic services support; and
  • essential economic functions.

The requirements for exceptions for people who work for government or private institutions are the following:

  • assignment letter;
  • a Reversed Transcription - Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test certificate with a negative result that is valid for 7 days or a Certificate of a Rapid-Test test with a non-reactive result valid for 3 days upon departure;
  • a certificate proving being symptom-free from such illnesses as influenza issued by a hospital doctor or health centers for areas that do not have PCR Test / Rapid Test facilities;
  • those who do not represent a government or private institution must sign a statement over a duty stamp acknowledged by the local village chief / village head;
  • a National Identification Card (KTP) or other valid identification;
  • their travel plans (departure schedules, schedules while in the assignment area, and return schedule).

June 5 Update

Australia

The Australian Government today announced significant reforms to be made to Australia’s foreign investment legislation. The Australian Government will release exposure draft legislation for consultation in July, with the reforms scheduled to commence on 1 January 2021. Key elements of the reform package include:

  • A new national security test for foreign investors who will be required to seek approval to start or acquire a direct interest in a ‘sensitive national security business’ – regardless of the value of the investment.
  • A time-bound ‘call in’ power enabling the Treasurer to review acquisitions that raise national security risks outside of proposed acquisitions relating to a ‘sensitive national security business’.
  • A national security last resort power that provides the ability to impose or vary conditions and in extraordinary circumstances order disposal on national security grounds.
  • Stronger and more flexible enforcement options including the expansion of infringement notices and higher civil and criminal penalties.
  • Measures to streamline approval for passive investors and investments into non-sensitive businesses.
Canada

Manitoba: The government announced an increased investment of $5.7 million in the Canada-Manitoba Job Grant program this year to better assist businesses with staff training costs as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The program allows employers to apply for up to $10,000 for each of their employees, to a maximum grant of $100,000. Applications for the Canada-Manitoba Job Grant for 2020-2021 are now available. The application deadline is July 3, 2020.

Saskatchewan: Phase 3 of Re-Open Saskatchewan is set to begin on June 8, 2020. Places of worship, restaurants and licensed establishments, gyms and fitness facilities, child care facilities and personal care services will be permitted to re-open.

The scope of the provincial Temporary Wage Supplement Program is being expanded. For each eligible worker, the temporary wage supplement is $400 for each four-week period, up to 16 weeks, for the period from March 15, 2020 to July 4, 2020.

Yukon:  The territory has repealed and replaced its Leave Regulation under the Employment Standards Act to provide for a leave of absence without pay for up to 14 days if the employee requires the leave as a result of various circumstances related to COVID-19.

Germany

The government plans another package to support the future of the German economy. This package will include inter alia:

  • a reduction in VAT from 19% to 16% and from 7% to 5% from 1 July to 31 December 2020
  • a guarantee that social security contributions will not exceed 40% in 2021
  • support for employee share schemes, mainly for start ups
  • additional financial support for small and medium size companies
  • support for families with a payment of EUR 300 for each child
India
  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has released a SOP on preventive measures to contain spread of COVID-19 in offices. The guidelines under the SOP inter alia provides measures related to –
    • generic preventive measures to be followed at all times;
    • measures specific to offices;
    • measures to be taken on occurrence of COVID-19 positive case; and
    • disinfection process to be followed in case of occurrence of a suspect/confirmed case.
  • Tamil Nadu – the government has released additional testing and quarantine guidelines for COVID-19 management in the State.  These guidelines inter- alia provide for –
    • disinfection process to be followed in case of occurrence of a suspect/confirmed case.
    • In relation to inter / intra district travel – no pass is required for movement of persons within a zone by two wheeler / four wheeler / SUV/ Van / Bus / Train.
    • passes are required for movement from Chennai (zone VIII) to other zones. Testing will be done even if an individual is asymptomatic.
    • individuals who test positive will be subject to institutional quarantine, whereas those who test negative will be required to undergo home quarantine.
    • persons travelling for business trip and returning within 48 hours are exempted from quarantine. In such cases, the individual would be required to furnish valid a return (travel) document.
  • Maharashtra - by way of an amendment to the state-specific guidelines, the State government has ordered that private offices can operate up to 10% staff capacity or 10 people, whichever is more, with remaining persons working from home. Further, all the employers will take sensitisation program to educate the employees about adequate precautions on returning home so that vulnerable group especially the elderly is not effected (with effect from 8 June 2020).
  • Maharashtra – it is clarified that the inter-district movement of persons within the area of Municipal Corporations under the MMR (Mumbai Metropolitan Region) shall be allowed without any restrictions.
Taiwan Starting June 7, the face mask mandate on the subway and bus systems will be eased. Face masks will only be required, if social distance cannot be maintained.
Ireland The Government has today announced an acceleration of the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business as well as extensions to the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.    Click here to read more. 

June 4 Update

Ireland

Update to Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme - Maternity Returners:   On 29 May the Irish Government announced a change to the TWSS for those returning from maternity leave who were not on their employer’s payroll on 29 February nor paid in either January or February 2020 in accordance with the original rules of the scheme. The change being made will allow for consistent treatment with other employees who were on the payroll on 29 February. Revenue has agreed that this provision will be implemented from 26 March, where applicable.

Colombia New Regulations have been issued by the Colombian Government in relation to the public health crisis - click here. 
Australia
  • Mutual obligation requirements for job seekers will recommence, in a limited capacity, from Tuesday 9 June 2020. During this period, suspensions and financial penalties will not apply.
  • The Australian Government has announced its HomeBuilder grant scheme. From 4 June until 31 December 2020, HomeBuilder will provide all eligible owner-occupiers (not just first home buyers) with a grant of $25,000 to build a new home or substantially renovate an existing home. Construction must be contracted to commence within three months of the contract date. HomeBuilder applicants will be subject to eligibility criteria, including income caps of $125,000 for singles and $200,000 for couples based on their latest assessable income. A national dwelling price cap of $750,000 will also apply for new home builds, and a renovation price range of $150,000 up to $750,000 will apply to renovating an existing home which must have a current value of no more than $1.5 million.  The exact details of the HomeBuilder scheme will be released in due course. 

In the specific states/territories:

  • WA: The Federal Government has agreed to the WA Government's request to remove the Commonwealth Biosecurity restrictions, meaning that Kimberley, Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku and parts of the East Pilbara will reopen to all Western Australians from Friday 5 June. Access to remote communities will remain restricted under the State Government's Emergency Management Act.
  • Queensland: Queensland gyms can open their doors to more people after the Chief Health Officer approved the state’s Fitness Industry COVID Safe Plan. Fitness businesses wanting to exceed current limits of 20 people on site will be required to comply with the approved industry plan, while still maintaining required social distancing.
Canada

Canada: The Ministry of Transport has released new requirements and guidance for workers in the aviation, marine, rail and road sectors to use face coverings.

Alberta: The government announced that the first stage of the province’s reopening is fully active in Calgary and Brooks. The first state of the province’s reopening had previously been implemented in all other regions of the province.

New Brunswick: The state of emergency in the province has been renewed until June 12, 2020.

Ontario: The state of emergency in the province has been renewed until June 30, 2020.

Quebec: The public health emergency in the province has been renewed until June 10, 2020.

Belgium

The Belgian National Security Council convened yesterday and decided to further alleviate the lockdown restrictions for Belgium, but the new measures are still to be confirmed by law. We do not expect drastic changes concerning labour law matters, other than that some businesses in the hospitality and leisure sector (bars, restaurants, etc.) will be able to reopen as from 8 June when certain conditions are met.

UAE

Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management has announced that all private sector businesses may now operate at 100% capacity, meaning that 100% of an employer’s workforce may now attend the office. Shopping malls may now also operate at 100% capacity. Guidelines regarding social distancing and health and safety remain in effect.

Previously, a maximum of 50% of an employer’s workforce was permitted to be in the office at any one time and shopping malls were permitted to operate at no more than 70% capacity.

India Karnataka – the State government has released protocols to be followed for the inter-state travel of persons to Karnataka during the phased reopening (Unlock 1) period till 30 June 2020. All commercial establishments, offices, factories etc. are required to check for quarantine stamp on all their customers or visitors (at the back of their hand) before they enter the premises. The should not allow those with quarantine to enter before the end of their quarantine period or till they get current COVID negative test report. They should inform the police at telephone number 100 about the violations. Further, the protocols inter alia include that -
  • health screening will be conducted by the authorities at border check-posts, airports, railway stations, and bus stands;
  • persons entering Karnataka should mandatorily register themselves on the Seva Sindhu portal, and enter details of the exit checkpost from Karnataka;
  • All symptomatic persons, regardless of the State of origin, would be subject to 7 days institutional quarantine followed by 7 days home quarantine;
  • All persons (symptomatic or otherwise) entering Karnataka from Maharashtra shall be placed under institutional quarantine for 7 days and then home quarantine for 14 days. However, there are some exemptions from quarantine for business travellers from Maharashtra. For example, to establish that one is a business traveller, she/he should have a confirmed return ticket which should be no later than 7 days from the date of arrival. Further, if such a person has a COVID-19 negative test report (which is not older than 2 days), such person would be exempted from the quarantine. In case such person does not have a COVID-19 negative test report, then she/he would be subject to institutional quarantine for 2 days within which a COVID-19 test would need to be conducted (at such person's expense);
  • Asymptomatic persons from any other State will need to undergo home quarantine for 14 days. If individuals from States other than Maharashtra are arriving in Karnataka for business work, then as long as they have a return ticket which is for 7 days from the date of arrival, then such persons need not undergo quarantine;
  • No hand stamping of business visitors is required.  
Indonesia  The Minister of Religion has issued Decree No. 494 of 2020 under which, the departure of the Hajj Pilgrims for the Hajj Pilgrimage in the year 1441 H / 2020 M has been cancelled for all Indonesian citizens who use i) a Government Hajj Quota; or ii)  Hajj visa. As a result of the cancellation, among other things: a. Regular Hajj Pilgrims and Special Hajj Pilgrims who have paid the Hajj Travel Costs (“Bipih”) for the Hajj Pilgrimage in the year 1441 H / 2020 M will become Hajj Pilgrims in the Hajj Pilgrimage in 1442 H / 2021 M; b. the Bipih payments made for the Hajj Pilgrimage in the year 1441 H / 2020 M will be kept and managed separately by the Hajj Financial Management Agency; c. all the passports of Hajj Pilgrims, Regional Hajj Officers and Counselors from the Hajj and Umrah Guidance Group for the Hajj in the year 1441 H / 2020 M will be returned to their owners.
Taiwan The CECC has decided to continue with its plan to loosen certain restrictions starting June 7 due to 56 days (4x14 days) without any local transmission. The first big announcement are easing of the facemask mandate on long-distance public transportation, allowing passengers to take of their masks as long as social distancing is adhered to. This means that food and beverages may be consumed on trains and domestic flights again starting June 7.

 

June 3 Update

 

Hong Kong

Aid for employment agencies set

The Labour Department announced that the Subsidy Scheme for Employment Agencies (EAs) will be introduced under the Anti-epidemic Fund to assist them in tiding over the difficulties arising from the COVID-19 epidemic.The department said EAs that provide foreign domestic helper placement services have been greatly affected as some overseas countries have suspended the processing of new and contract renewal applications for helpers. Those EAs that do not provide such placement services have also been affected by the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 epidemic and the worsening unemployment situation in Hong Kong, it added. The department noted that the Anti-epidemic Fund Steering Committee on May 29 endorsed a proposal to provide a one-off subsidy to EAs. A subsidy of $50,000 will be granted for each main licence of an EA which provides foreign domestic helper placement services. For EAs which do not provide such placement services, a subsidy of $30,000 will be granted for each main licence. An additional $10,000 will be granted for each duplicate licence for a branch office of both kinds of EAs. The scheme will open for application in the second half of June. All EAs holding valid licences or that have submitted an application for licence renewal in accordance with the Employment Agency Regulations as of May 31 will be eligible. Those applying for a $50,000 subsidy will be required to declare that they had provided foreign domestic helper placement services on or before May 31. For enquiries, call 2115 3667. LCSD provides ex-gratia payments

The Leisure & Cultural Services Department is providing ex-gratia payment to personnel affected by the cancellation of programmes to relieve the impact of the pandemic. The payment is being made to those engaged in recreation and sports programmes organised or subvented by the department, including coaches and instructors. It is being offered to those directly engaged by the department or sports coaches and staff hired by national sports associations or sports organisations subvented under the Sports Subvention Scheme. The payment is also being offered to sports coaches from national sports associations or sports organisations who were engaged by the department through the Direct Purchase Authority Management System. The ex-gratia payment is equivalent to the amount of their original remuneration for cancelled programmes scheduled to commence or to be held from January 29 to March 31. Coaches and personnel are not required to submit applications. The department will release the payment to these people directly or through national sports associations or sports organisations. Disbursement of the payment began in May and is being carried out in batches. Additionally, the department will provide ex-gratia payment to instructors and speakers of seminars, workshops and training courses organised by the Hong Kong Public Libraries and the Music Office whose programmes were cancelled or could not be rescheduled due to venue closure, school suspension or the pandemic.

Quarantine measures to extend The Government will extend compulsory quarantine measures for people arriving in Hong Kong from both the Mainland and foreign places. Secretary for Food & Health Prof Sophia Chan said that given the development of the epidemic situation in places within and outside the Mainland, there is a need to continue restricting the movement of people between Hong Kong and other places and implement compulsory quarantine measures to prevent imported cases. The Government will extend the expiry date of the Compulsory Quarantine of Certain Persons Arriving at Hong Kong Regulation (Cap 599C) by a month to July 7. The expiry date of the Compulsory Quarantine of Persons Arriving at Hong Kong from Foreign Places Regulation (Cap 599E) will be extended by three months to September 18. In the meantime, the Government holds the view that there is a need to introduce a mechanism to allow consideration of gradual relaxation of compulsory quarantine requirements for people arriving from specific countries and places after assessing the relevant public health risks. A mechanism will be introduced to empower the Secretary for Food & Health to specify two categories of places. People from Category 1 specified places will be subject to compulsory quarantine arrangements. For Category 2, people from these places will be excluded from the requirements in respect of the compulsory quarantine arrangements subject to meeting certain conditions, such as obtaining a negative COVID-19 test result. The arrangements for both categories apply to locations within and outside China. At this stage, all places in China outside Hong Kong and all places outside China will be specified as Category 1 effective from midnight on June 5. Unless exempted pursuant to the regulations, arrivals from these places will be subject to the compulsory quarantine arrangements. Meanwhile, the criteria for the Chief Secretary to exempt travellers from the compulsory quarantine arrangements under Cap 599E will be expanded to cover people whose travelling is necessary for purposes relating to manufacturing operations, business activities or professional services in the interest of Hong Kong's economic development, and thus be aligned with relevant provisions under Cap 599C.

India

Pursuant to the revised MHA guidelines on phased reopening of activities and extension of lockdown in the containment zones across the country, the governments of Gujarat, Odisha, Punjab, and Chandigarh have also released revised guidelines for this extended period (i.e., till 30 June 2020). The guidelines inter alia provide the following -

  • Punjab – outside containment zones, all categories of industries are allowed to operate in both rural and urban areas; all private offices are allowed to open after following social distancing measures. No separate permission will be required by the offices, and the employees can commute without the requirement of pass.
  • Odisha – there will be no inter-state and intra-state restriction on movement of persons  and no permission / approval / e-permit would be required in this regard, and movement of individuals will remain prohibited between7 p.m. to 5 a.m. (not applicable to staff of IT/ITES companies). Further, all industrial establishments, service sector industries including IT/ITES are allowed to operate.
  • Chandigarh – no mandatory pass will be required to enter the territorial limits – however, random screening will be conducted at the border and self-monitoring for 14 days is advised. Private offices will be allowed to operate with 75% capacity till 7 June 2020. However, they are allowed to operate with full capacity from 8 June 2020 onwards.
  • Gujarat – all industries and private offices are allowed outside containment zones. However, as far as possible practice of work from home should be followed.

Kerala – inter state movement of persons by all modes of transport would be regulated only through pass issued under COVID-19 Jagratha platform. However, business travellers, technical / professional personnel coming from work and those returning from Kerala within a week are exempted from the provisions of quarantine.     

 

Indonesia The Minister of Trade has issued Circular Letter No. 12 of 2020 on The Resumption of Trading Activities during the Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID- 19) Pandemic and the New Normal (“Circular Letter 12/2020”). Under Circular Letter 12/2020, the following trading activity places may operate and the following protocols apply to them, among others: 1. Traditional markets must: a. ensure that all traders, management and supporting organs test negative for COVID-19 according to a PCR/rapid test facilitated by the relevant regional government and that they use masks, face shields and gloves during their activities; b. arrange sellers in shifts while social distancing (maintaining a minimum distance of 1.5 meters between persons); c. only open from 6 am-11am, and conduct initial screenings before they open (body temperatures must be below 37.30° C). 2. Convenience stores (i.e. minimarkets, supermarkets, hypermarkets and department stores) must: a. implement circulation management and limit visiting times; b. limit the number of visitors to 40% of the normal number with strict controls at the entrance and exit doors; c. only sell hygienic products. 3. Restaurants and diners must: a. conduct initial screenings of workers before they enter (body temperatures must be below 37.3°c); b. maintain the cleanliness of all public facilities such as toilets and parking lots; c. only sell healthy, clean food. 4. Pharmacies and health device stores must: a. maintain a minimum distance of 1 meter and a maximum of 5 persons queuing at cashiers;  b. provide hand washing facilities, soap and hand sanitizers and regularly spray disinfectants every 2 days.   5. Malls and shopping centers must: a. have separate entrances and exits; b. limit the number of visitors to 35% of the normal number with strict controls at the entrance and exit doors.   6. Restaurants which are located in rest areas must: a. prioritize take-away services and only allow a 50% capacity for dine-in customers; b. only sell healthy, clean food. 7. Salons/spas and tourism sites must implement strict health protocols during their operations. 8. Certain tourism sites (i.e. zoos, museums and art galleries) must set the maximum number of visitors at 50% of the normal capacity and sell tickets online. Sanctions can be imposed for violations of Circular Letter 12/2020 according to the prevailing laws and regulations.
Malaysia

Government advisory on collection of personal data of customers and visitors:  The Department of Personal Data Protection of Malaysia’s Ministry of Communications and Multimedia has issued an advisory on the collection, processing, and storage of personal data by business premises during the Conditional Movement Control Order ("Conditional MCO") period ("Advisory"). The Advisory states that businesses are only permitted to record the minimum required information of visitors or customers for the purposes of contact tracing – name, contact number, and dates and times of the visit. The data can be recorded digitally or manually. The Advisory also recommends that a notice must be clearly displayed so visitors or customers know the purpose of the collection of their personal data. The business premises must ensure that the information collected is only used for contact tracing purposes, and not for other purposes such as marketing. The information can only be stored for 6 months after the end of the Conditional MCO, and must thereafter be permanently destroyed or deleted. The Advisory also states that the Ministry’s enforcement officers would be conducting spotchecks from time to time to monitor compliance with the Advisory. Any businesses that fail to abide by the Advisory may be subject to a fine of up to RM300,000 or imprisonment of up to two years, or to both.

Taiwan

The long-awaited government stimulus coupons are being rolled out on July 1. For NTD 1,000 coupons worth NTD 3,000 may be bought by Taiwan nationals and foreign spouses of Taiwan nationals. There is no age requirement for the coupons and digital options are available, such as linking to credit cards.

Public use of campuses of high schools and below will resume earlier than expected. Starting June 13, campuses will be accessible by the general public, and schools will be allowed to rent out spaces once again.

 

June 2 Update 

Australia 

Master Builders Australia, Housing Industry Association and Australian Industry Group have made a joint submission to the Fair Work Commission asking for temporary award changes to the Building and Construction General On-Site Award, the Joinery and Building Trades Award and the Mobile Crane Hiring Award. The application seeks a range of temporary changes to the awards, including not paying overtime for hours worked between 6am and 2pm on Saturdays and reducing the minimum casual engagement from four hours to two hours. Other proposed changes include that employers would be able to direct workers to take any accrued annual leave in excess of two weeks, while employees could opt to spread out paid annual leave by taking it at half pay. The measures would also permit employers to direct workers to perform other duties within their competency and qualifications, regardless of classification and have them work in different locations.

Tasmania: the Tasmanian Government has announced that it is easing restrictions to stage 2 from 3pm on Friday 5 June. Effective from 3pm Friday 5 June 2020:

  • Tasmanians will be able to travel across the state and stay overnight;
  • Gatherings increased to 20 people at a time for indoor and outdoor, including cinemas, museums, galleries, historic sites, religious gatherings and weddings;
  • Gatherings of up to 40 patrons for seated table service at cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs (excluding nightclubs) only where sufficient space and settings allow this to occur;
  • 10 visitors to households, in addition to household members;
  • Funerals up to 50 people;
  • Open homes and auctions can resume with 20 people;
  • Gyms and boot camps for up to 20 people;
  • Beauty services (including tattoo, nails, waxing, facials and tanning) for up to 20 people;
  • Park exercise equipment and playgrounds open for up to 20 people;
  • Outdoor community sport to resume, with up to 20 athletes/personnel, as guided by AIS; and
  • Indoor sport and recreation, including pools with up to 20 people, no spectators, as guided by AIS.

NSW: the NSW Government has announced that from 13 June, fitness, gymnasiums, pilates, yoga and dance studios can reopen with up to 10 people per class and 100 people in an indoor venue, community centres, including their recreational facilities can reopen, some indoor recreational facilities including pools and saunas can reopen and tattoo and massage parlours can reopen with up to 10 clients. The four square metre rule must be applied at all times. Kids’ sport and community sport competitions can restart for those aged 18 years and under from Wednesday 1 July 2020. The return date for adult community sport activities will be made at a later stage.

Germany 

There is currently no harmonised procedure throughout Germany on lockdown relaxation measures. However, the basic lockdown rules (minimum distance of 1.5 m, mouth-and-nose covering) are maintained in all federal states and local governments take decisions to relax current lockdown rules and, if necessary, advise on further local lockdowns.  All local governments have now decided to relax lockdown rules and reopen further business sectors which means that:

  • restaurants are open in all local states
  • hotels, holiday homes and sport facilities are open again, or will be in the coming days
  • from mid/end of June in some local states, limited reopening of cultural events (concerts / cinema etc.) is possible again. However, preventative measures must be taken, and visitor numbers will remain limited.

Due to the fact that these changes are implemented at local state level, deviations apply between the different states regarding the details.

Therefore, more employees are returning to work and problems due to lack of childcare will increase. Schools and childcare facilities continue to reopen gradually in the upcoming days and weeks. However, it is to be anticipated that restrictions in the childcare provided (smaller groups / only part-time care etc.) will continue or may be reactivated in some cases. Therefore, the German Bundesregierung has decided (yet to be approved) to extend the regulation that employees who have to look after their children (up to the age of 12) due to closures of schools or childcare facilities are entitled to compensation under section 56 of the German Infection Protection Act. The compensation amounts to 67 percent of the net remuneration, limited to a maximum monthly amount of EUR 2,016, and is granted for up to ten weeks (for single parents 20 weeks).

India 

Jharkhand: The State government has released guidelines for the strict implementation of MHA order until 30 June 2020. These guidelines permit, among other things the following activities: functioning of call centres of private companies, and shops selling IT hardware products / networking equipment / software / telecom, etc. Further, it is clarified that all activities permitted prior to this order will remain permitted.

Madhya Pradesh: The State government has released revised guidelines to be applicable until15 June 2020. The guidelines inter alia provide that – no pass will be required for movement of persons inside or outside of the State limits; private offices located in Indore, Bhopal and Ujjain will be allowed to operate with 50% staff capacity, and with full capacity in other locations.

Rajasthan: The State government has released revised guidelines to be applicable until 30 June 2020. The guidelines inter alia provide that – no activities will be permitted in the containment zones; movement of persons for all non-essential activities will remain prohibited between 9pm to 5am. However, the staff of IT/ITES is exempted from this requirement with a night travel pass. Further, private offices can also operate with up to full strength.

Spain 

Consultation of the General Directorate of Labour of 27 May 2020 DGT-SGON-733PGG and Consultation of the General Directorate of Labour of 27 May 2020 DGT-SGON-726PGG offer guidance to interpret the existence of total or partial force majeure.  The guidance is non-binding for judges.

Further extension of the State of Alarm: The Congress are due to approve this Wednesday 3 June the extension of the state of alarm until 21 June 2020. The law will be published in the coming days.

Guaranteed Minimum Income Scheme for Vulnerable Families (“Ingreso Mínimo Vital”): The Government has approved on 30 May 2020 the Guaranteed Minimum Income Scheme for Vulnerable Families. It was published on 1 June 2020.

Taiwan 

Restrictions on export and sale of facemasks have been lifted and masks are now available in stores. Prices are around 5-6 NTD per mask, depending on package size and distributor.

The MOTC announced a NTD 16.5 billion aid program for the shipping industry.

The NIA announced additional extension possibilities for foreigners, who are not able to return home due to travel restrictions or lack of travel options.

The central government approved a NTD 6.6 billion subsidy program to aid university graduates. Depending on the field, graduates are eligible for special subsidies up to NT$7,000 per month. Additionally, the government is providing tuition subsidies for graduates who enroll in training programs for green energy, information technology, machinery, electrical engineering and certain other sectors, up to NT$ 100,000 per person. Companies may also be eligible for subsidies when hiring new graduates.

UAE 

Abu Dhabi has announced a ban on travel in and out of the emirate during which residents of Abu Dhabi city, Al Ain and Al Dhafra may travel within their cities but not leave them, effective 2 June 2020 for a period of seven days. Individuals may apply for a permit online for exceptional circumstances. Essential workers such as medical staff, patients with chronic diseases with medical appointments and drivers transporting goods are among those who will be eligible.

The Abu Dhabi media Office has also announced the easing of some restrictions on activities in the emirate, including raising the capacity in malls and restaurants inside malls to 40%. Hotel beaches, restaurants outside malls and museums are also allowed to re-open with a maximum capacity of 40%. Individual outdoor sports practiced in open spaces, such as horse riding, cricket, cycling, golf, sailing and racquet sports, are also now permitted for people aged 12-60, effective 1 June 2020.

 

June 1 Update 

Australia 

Queensland: The Queensland Government has announced that: From midday 1 June:

  • People in Queensland will be able to undertake unlimited travel including overnight stays throughout the entire state of Queensland. The easing of restrictions does not apply to biosecurity or restricted zones for indigenous communities which will remain in place;
  • Restaurants, cafes, pubs, gyms and other health clubs, parks, museums and art galleries, churches and places of worship and other public facilities such as libraries that continue to operate under a COVID safe checklist will be permitted to increase the total number of patrons/customers to 20;
  • Beauty therapy, nail salons, tanning, tattoo parlours and spas to reopen for 20 customers at a time;
  • Gatherings of up to 20 people in homes and for weddings, with 50 allowed for funerals.

From midday Friday 5 June:

  • Restaurants, cafes and pubs will be allowed to increase their numbers in venues to allow up to 20 people in each separate area, seated for meals or drinks (provided they have a COVID safe industry plan and continue to comply with the four square metre rule).
  • The same easing of restrictions will also apply to gyms and other health clubs, parks, museums and art galleries, in churches and places of worship and other public facilities such as libraries;
  • In relation to community sporting events where clubs have more than one field, limits of 20 spectators per field will apply. 
Brazil 

On 28 May, the Brazilian Congress signed Act no. 44/2020 to extend the validity of Provisional Measure 936/2020 for an additional 60 days (which will run from 28 May).  PM 936 was created to institute the ‘Emergency Employment and Income Maintenance Program’ to contribute to the maintenance of employment, to guarantee continuity of business activities and soften the social impact raised from the social isolation necessary to combat the coronavirus.

The benefit to be paid during suspension by the government is a percentage of the Unemployment Benefit the employee would be entitled to in case of termination without cause, which full amount varies from R$1,045.00 to R$ 1,813.00, depending on the average of the employee´s monthly salary in the previous 3 months.

Please note that the benefit, therefore, may vary from R$ 261,25 to R$ 1,269.10 per employee per month, based on the monthly salary received by the employee and percentage of work time/ salary reduction agreed, as below:

Percentage of reduction

Benefit from the government

Below 25%

None
25% to 49,99%

25% of the Unemployment Benefit employee would be entitled to in case of termination without cause

(R$ 261,25 to R$ 453,25)
50% to 69,99%

50% of the Unemployment Benefit employee would be entitled to in case of termination without cause

(R$ 522,50 to R$ 906,50)

70% to 100%

70% of the Unemployment Benefit employee would be entitled to in case of termination without cause

(R$ 731,50 to R$ 1,269.10)

 

Colombia 

The Colombian President has issued Decree 749 extending mandatory lockdown to July 1, 2020. This Decree adds new industries and activities that are excluded from lockdown such as:

  • Technical and professional activities to provide general services.
  • Laundries, housemaids and cleaning services.
  • Research laboratories from universities, museums and libraries
  • Outdoor individual sports and physical activities for people older than 70 years 3 times per week, half an hour a day.
Hong Kong  Anti-epidemic scheme enhanced:  The Government will enhance the Anti-epidemic Support Scheme for Property Management Sector. Under the enhanced scheme, the subsidised period will be extended for three months, from June to August 2020.   Meanwhile, the caps on headcounts of the Anti-epidemic Hardship Allowance per eligible building block will be relaxed to 100. An extra subsidy of $2,000 will be granted to each eligible private residential or composite building block, while the amount of extra subsidy for each eligible industrial or commercial building block will be doubled. The deadline to apply for the scheme is July 15 and application details will be announced shortly. Property management companies and owners' organisations which have submitted applications for or their applications have already been approved under the previous scheme do not need to submit a new application for the enhanced scheme. 8k business applications received:  The Distance Business Programme has received 8,017 funding applications from enterprises. The programme aims to provide funding support for enterprises to adopt IT solutions during the COVID-19 epidemic for developing distance business, so as to continue their business and services. Meanwhile, 2,023 service providers have enrolled on the IT Service Providers Reference List. The list seeks to offer relevant market information for reference by enterprises applying for funding. Whether or not the enterprises engage service providers on the list will not affect the outcome of the application.Application for enrolling on the list will close on June 6. Transport trade subsidies open: The Transport Department announced that applications for the subsidy scheme for public light buses, local ferries and taxis under the second round of the Anti-epidemic Fund have opened. Green minibus and local ferry operators will be provided with a monthly subsidy of $6,000 for each employee aged 65 or above who has not participated in Mandatory Provident Fund schemes for a period of six months. The subsidy for supporting the operators on salary payments will be disbursed in two tranches. Until June 21, green minibus and local ferry operators who have received the department's letters and application forms can submit an application for the first tranche of the subsidy. The subsidy will be disbursed through autopay in about two to three weeks upon completion of the verification. The subsidy can support the operators in paying staff wages from June to August 2020. The second tranche of the subsidy is expected to be disbursed in September. The second round of the fund will provide a one-off non-accountable subsidy of $30,000 per green minibus to the Passenger Service License holders who have been approved to operate relevant green minibus route packages.As of May 27, the department has received 150 applications involving 3,000 green minibuses. It started disbursement of the subsidy for verified applications. A one-off non-accountable subsidy of $30,000 per vehicle will be provided to each registered owner of a taxi and a red minibus. Until September 30, taxi and red minibus owners who have received the department's letters must use the registration PIN provided in the letters for submission of registrations through GovHK. After successful completion of the registration, the subsidy will be disbursed to the designated local bank account provided in the registration through autopay in about two to three weeks. The department has started issuing letters to inform registered owners of non-franchised public buses, school private light buses and hire cars of the detailed arrangements for the subsidy under the second round of the fund. A one-off non-accountable subsidy of $30,000 per vehicle will be provided to each registered owner. The application deadline is July 31. Catering subsidy reminder issued: Eligible food licence, liquor licence or karaoke establishment permit holders wishing to apply for the Catering Business (Social Distancing) Subsidy Scheme are reminded to submit their applications by 5pm on June 5. As of yesterday, more than 7,100 applications had been received for the scheme set under the second round of the Anti-epidemic Fund.
Indonesia 

1 June 2020: The Task Force for the Acceleration of the Management of COVID-19 has issued Circular Letter No.5 of 2020 (“Circular Letter 5/2020”) which amends the previous Circular Letter No.4 of 2020 regarding the criteria for exceptions from the limitations on travel by people to accelerate the management of COVID-19 (“Circular Letter 4/2020”). Under Circular Letter 5/2020, among other things:

1. exceptions from the limitations on travel apply to:

  • a. people who work in government or private institutions which provide the following services:
    • i. the acceleration of COVID-19 management;
    • ii. defense, security and public order;
    • iii. health;
    • iv. basic needs;
    • v. basic services support;
    • vi. essential economic functions;
  • b. patients who require emergency health services and people whose immediate family members are seriously ill or have passed away;
  • c. Indonesian Migrant Workers, Indonesian citizens and overseas students and other people being repatriated by the government for special reasons to their places of origin;

2. The requirements for exceptions for people who work for government or private institutions are the following:

  • a. assignment letter;
  • b. a Reversed Transcription - Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test certificate with a negative result that is valid for 7 days or a Certificate of a Rapid-Test test with a non-reactive result valid for 3 days upon departure;
  • c. a certificate proving being symptom-free from such illnesses as influenza issued by a hospital doctor or health centers for areas that do not have PCR Test / Rapid Test facilities;
  • d. those who do not represent a government or private institution must sign a statement over a duty stamp acknowledged by the local village chief / village head;
  • e. a National Identification Card (KTP) or other valid identification;
  • f. their travel plans (departure schedules, schedules while in the assignment area, and return schedule).

Circular Letter 4/2020 (as amended) is now in effect until 7 June 2020.

Portugal 

Under the Resolution of the Council of Ministers no. 40-A/2020 of 29 May, teleworking (remote working) is no longer mandatory in Portugal.  Decree-Law no. 24-A/2020 of 29 May has also been published, revoking the possibility of a teleworking regime being imposed by one of the parties as of June 1, 2020.

From today onwards, the normal Labor Code regime will apply, such that any adoption of a teleworking regime depends on an agreement between the employer and employee.  However, some exceptions apply, pursuant to Resolution no. 40-A/2020, namely:

  • the teleworking regime remains mandatory when required by the employee, regardless of the employment relationship and whenever the functions in question allow it, in the following situations:
    • The employee is covered by the exceptional regime for the protection of immunocompromised and chronically ill patients, pursuant to article 25-A of Decree-Law no. 10-A/2020, of 10 March;
    • The employee has a disability (equal to or greater than 60%);
    • The employee has a child or other dependent under 12 years of age, or, regardless of age, with a disability or chronic illness (due to the suspension of teaching and non-teaching activities in school or social support equipment for early childhood or disability, outside school breaks). This obligation applies only to one of the parents, regardless of the number of dependent children or dependents.
  • The teleworking regime also remains mandatory, regardless of the employment relationship and whenever the functions in question allow it, when the physical spaces and the work organization do not allow compliance with the guidelines of the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) and the Authority for Working Conditions on the matter, to the strictest extent necessary.

Additionally, in situations in which the teleworking regime is not adopted under the terms provided for in the Labor Code, preventive measures can be implemented, namely, the adoption of rotating employees between the teleworking regime and the work performed in the usual workplace, daily or weekly, different entry and exit hours or different times for breaks and meals.

Additionally, as of 1 June, the suspension of classroom teaching and non-teaching activities in pre-school establishments ceases, thus employees may neither be absent from work due to this suspension nor request that the teleworking regime applies due to the same.

As of 9 June, the suspension of activities developed in leisure centers also ceases and employees with children attending school (as a rule, who are 6 years old or older) may neither be absent from work due to this suspension, nor request that the teleworking regime applies due to the same.

UK

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak,  announced on Friday 29 May further details of the forthcoming changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CRJS) which were trailed in his announcement on 12 May 2020:

  • The CJRS will continue until the end of October 2020, with employees on furlough continuing to receive 80% of salary up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. The amount of Government contribution will be tapered down, with employers accessing the scheme required to contribute at the following levels –
    • In June and July the scheme will continue as before with no employer contribution;
    • In August, employers will pay employer’s national insurance and auto-enrolment pension contributions (which roughly total 5% of employment costs);
    • In September, employers will pay 10% of furlough pay, with the Government paying 70%;
    • In October, employers will pay 20% of furlough pay, with the Government paying 60%.
  • The Government is introducing flexible furloughing from 1 July,  rather than from 1 August as previously announced.    There will be maximum flexibility with no central definition of part-time hours – so from 1 July, employers will have complete flexibility to decide on the right arrangements for them and their staff.   The Chancellor gave as an example an employee being brought back for two days per week.   The employer would pay for two days and the furlough scheme would cover the other three days.
  • To introduce the new flexible furlough scheme from 1 July,  the current furlough scheme will close to new entrants on 30 June.   Employers wanting to place new employees on the current furlough scheme will need to do so by 10 June to allow time to complete the minimum 3 week furlough period before then.
  • The Chancellor also announced that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is being extended.   Applications will open in August for a second grant which will be paid out in a single instalment covering three months of average monthly profits.  To maintain fairness alongside the CJRS,  the value of the final grant will be 70%, up to a total of £6,570.  There will be no further extensions to this scheme.
  • The Government has released a fact sheet on the revisions to the CJRS and SEISS but, otherwise, no further guidance or legislation has yet been released.  The fact sheet states that further guidance on flexible furloughing and how employers should calculate claims will be published on 12 June.
US 

The CDC published recommendations for reopening office buildings. According to the CDC, employers should, among other COVID-19 changes, take employee temperatures and check their symptoms upon arrival, space desks six feet apart or install shields between them, bar seating in common areas, and mandate face coverings. The CDC is also recommending updates to HVAC systems and abolishing communal perks like coffee pots and bulk snacks. You can also find the CDC’s Resuming Business Toolkit here.

The CDC issued Interim Guidelines for COVID-19 Antibody Testing. The guidelines address the current status of antibody testing in the US, including types of antibody testing, FDA-authorized serologic tests, strategies to optimize testing outcomes, limitations of serologic testing, recommendations for use of serologic tests and other considerations. The guidelines recognize that serologic assays for SARS-CoV-2 are now broadly available and can play an important role in understanding the virus’s epidemiology in the general population, identifying groups at higher risk for infection, and determining the proportion of a population previously infected with SARS-CoV-2, as well as information about populations that may be immune and potentially protected. Importantly, however, the CDC guidelines provide that serologic testing should not be used to determine immune status in individuals until the presence, durability, and duration of immunity is established. The CDC further states that serologic tests should not be used to make decisions about returning persons to the workplace.

The CDC issued contact tracing interim guidance intended to assist state, local, territorial and tribal health departments with their development of jurisdictional plans for COVID-19 investigation and contact tracing efforts. The guidance notes that for COVID-19, a close contact is defined as any individual who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 10 days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.

OSHA issued an alert listing steps employers can follow to implement social distancing in the workplace and to help protect workers from exposure to the coronavirus. Safety measures employers can implement include:

  • Isolate any worker who begins to exhibit symptoms until they can either go home or leave to seek medical care;
  • Establish flexible worksites (e.g., telecommuting) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts), if feasible;
  • Stagger breaks and re-arrange seating in common break areas to maintain physical distance between workers;
  • In workplaces where customers are present, mark six-foot distances with floor tape in areas where lines form, use drive-through windows or curbside pickup, and limit the number of customers allowed at one time;
  • Move or reposition workstations to create more distance, and install plexiglass partitions; and
  • Encourage workers to bring any safety and health concerns to the employer’s attention

OSHA continues to release recommended practices for employers in certain sectors. The latest alerts address protections for workers at nursing home and long-term care facilitiesretail pharmacies, and rideshare, taxi and car services.

States and localities continue to issue reopening guidance. For example:

  • Governor Pritzker issued detailed guidelines to prepare Illinois businesses and employers to reopen. The guidance includes a business toolkit with signage, training checklists, and other resources to ensure business and activities are conducted in accordance with public health recommendations.
  • Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced industry-specific rules for the reopening of restaurants, child care facilities and some industries as part of phase three of Chicago’s reemergence from the coronavirus stay-at-home order.
  • LA, Chicago Impose Virus-Inspired Layoff, Leave Mandates
    • Under LA’s new worker retention ordinance, certain businesses that undergo changes of ownership or control must retain the workers for at least a 90-day transition period. The policy applies to businesses that operate at the airport (not including airlines), hotel and event center operators, and commercial property managers. LA’s City Council also enacted a “right of recall” ordinance, requiring that the same categories of employers must offer laid-off or furloughed workers the first chance to get their jobs back as companies resume operations.
  • In Chicago, a new ordinance bars employers from firing workers who take time off for reasons related to Covid-19, such as obeying a stay-at-home order from state or local officials or after a health official’s quarantine instructions specific to the employee. The new anti-retaliation restrictions took effect May 20, when the City Council and Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) enacted them. As part of the same ordinance, the city also enacted changes to its paid leave law, expanding it to cover outside sales representatives, motor carriers, members of religious organizations, and student workers at Illinois colleges and universities. The language of the ordinance said these categories were omitted due to a “scrivener’s error” when the city previously amended its paid leave law in December.

Boston City Hall officials released guidelines and recommendations for reopening commercial buildings, which can start beginning June 1. Offices in Boston can open Monday at 25% capacity. The city’s nine-page guidance can be found here.

Mayor London Breed unveiled a timeline for reopening San Francisco that will allow certain businesses and activities to resume with modifications in phases over the coming weeks and months. As long as San Francisco continues to make progress slowing the spread of COVID-19, meets key health indicators, and state guidance continues to allow more activities, San Francisco restaurants will be able to offer outdoor dining, retail businesses will be able to allow customers to shop inside with modifications, and additional outdoor activities can resume on June 15th. The City plans to allow additional activities and businesses to resume in July and August.

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that the District of Columbia will enter Phase 1 of its reopening plan on May 29. The administration will operationalize those recommendations from its advisory group that it accepts per phase by the Mayor’s order. The advisory group released its 76-page ReOpen DC report earlier this week.

Washington’s DOSH enacted an emergency rule that allows the agency to cite Washington employers who fail to follow the patchwork of rules and guidance related to COVID-19. The emergency rule requires employers to cease prohibited business activities and come into compliance with requirements under the State’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy Proclamation, and amendments under RCW 43.06.220 (Emergency Proclamation).

 

May 29 Update

Australia 

Victoria: the Victorian Government has announced that stay at home directions would be amended from Monday 1 June to state that if people can work from home, they are obliged to keep working from home. Penalties apply for those contravening these orders.

NSW: the NSW Government has announced that from Monday 1 June, up to 20 people can attend weddings, 50 at funerals and 50 at places of worship, subject to the four square metre rule.

WA: the WA Government has announced that phase 3 of the WA roadmap to ease COVID-19 restrictions will commence on Saturday, June 6. As part of Phase 3, Western Australia will implement a two square metre per person capacity rule for venues, replacing the previous four square metre rule, which is the current national advice.  From 6 June:

  • non-work indoor and outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people are allowed at any one time, per single undivided space, with up to 300 people in total per venue. This “100/300 rule” means that up to 300 people will be permitted in some settings, like for indoor and outdoor venues, with multiple divided spaces with up to 100 people in each space;
  • food businesses and licensed premises may operate with seated service, and alcohol may be served without a meal at licensed premises (patrons must be seated);
  • food courts can reopen with a seated service, and beauty therapy and personal care services can reopen;
  • galleries, museums, theatres, auditoriums, cinemas and concert venues can reopen (during any performance, the patrons must be seated (100/300 rule));
  • arcade, skate rinks and indoor play centres to reopen (100/300 rule), auction houses and real estate auctions can reopen, TAB and other gaming venues (other than the Casino) are permitted to reopen;
  • full contact sport and training is now permitted;
  • playgrounds, skate parks and outdoor gym equipment are permitted to be used;
  • parents/guardians will be able to enter school grounds to drop off or pick up their children;
  • gyms, health clubs and indoor sports centres will be able to offer the normal range of activities;
  • Large community sporting facilities or wildlife parks that can accommodate more than 300 patrons, while allowing for two square metres per patron, may be able to apply for an exemption to the 300 patron limit
  • WA businesses are reminded that they must submit a COVID Safety Plan, prior to reopening, to ensure they mitigate the risk of COVID-19, in line with health advice. Premises that opened during Phase 2 should update their COVID Safety Plans accordingly.

Travel will now be permitted throughout Western Australia, including into the Kimberley region, pending the Commonwealth's approval to remove the Biosecurity Area on June 5. Access into remote Aboriginal communities will remain prohibited.

Canada 

Manitoba: The province has announced its plan for Phase Two of its Restoring Safe Services plan, to commence June 1, 2020 with the re-opening of certain workplaces (subject to prescribed safety guidelines).

Nova Scotia: Effective June 5, 2020, most businesses in the province that were previously required to close will be permitted to reopen, subject to sector-specific safety protocols.

Quebec: The public health emergency in the province has been renewed to June 3, 2020.

France 

The 100 km restriction on travel will be lifted on 2 June. Travel will be allowed in France as from that date. Travel in Europe will be decided on 15 June.

Bars, restaurants and cafés will reopen in Green areas on 2 June and only the terraces in Orange areas (Paris).  Public gatherings are still limited to 10 people.   Theatres and concert halls will reopen in Green areas on 2 June and only the terraces in Orange areas (Paris).  Cinemas and nightclubs remain closed until 22 June.

Wearing a mask is recommended and companies are invited to provide masks to their employees. Wearing masks is mandatory on transport and it is only recommended in shops but customers can be refused if they are not wearing them.

Hong Kong  Laundry trade subsidy opens: The Anti-epidemic Subsidy Scheme for the Laundry Trade opened for applications and will run until June 12 to help the trade cope with challenges brought by the current economic situation.NAbout $90 million has been earmarked under the Anti-epidemic Fund for the scheme to provide a one-off subsidy to help the laundry and dry cleaning services industry meet their operational costs. Around 1,400 laundry shops and workshops are expected to benefit. To take care of the livelihood of elderly employees, the scheme requires an undertaking from applicants not to reduce the total number of employees aged 65 or above for three months upon receipt of the subsidies. Otherwise, the Government may retrieve any subsidy already disbursed. Eligible applicants must hold valid business registration certificates for operating laundry and dry cleaning services or related collection and dispatch services at outlet shops. The services should have been in operation on or before May 12 and still in operation on the date of submitting the application. Depending on the size of the operation, an eligible laundry shop or workshop will receive a one-off subsidy ranging from $10,000 to $150,000. The first batch of subsidies is expected to be disbursed to approved applicants in late June at the earliest.
India 

Pursuant to the announcement made in the Union Budget, Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs has launched the facility for instant allotment of PAN (on near to real time basis). This facility is now available for those PAN applicants who possess a valid Aadhaar number and have a mobile number registered with Aadhaar. The allotment process is paperless and an electronic PAN (e-PAN) is issued to the applicants free of cost.

Haryana: the State government has ordered that for the period of lockdown, private establishments can schedule their operations between 9am to 5pm.

Rajasthan: the State government had granted an extension of working hours for factories in light of the restrictions on business operations and movement of people in the earlier phases of the lockdown.  However, with the current relaxations in place (in terms of opening of factories / manufacturing units, non-requirement of passes for movement, etc.), the State government has withdrawn (with immediate effect) the extension on working hours granted to factories.

Tamil Nadu: due to the economic impact of COVID-19, the State government has ordered the deferment of payment of taxes and dues to the Urban Local Bodies (all corporations including Greater Chennai Corporation, Municipalities and Town Panchayats) and also the renewal of D&O Trade License arising up to March 2020 for 3 months till 30 June 2020, without levying any penalty in view of COVID-19. 

Madhya Pradesh: the State government has clarified that no e-passes is required (except for those travelling from Indore, Bhopal, and Ujjain) for persons travelling from Madhya Pradesh to another location. Further, it is also clarified that their confirmed air / train tickets will be treated as valid e-passes for their movement from their residence to airports / train stations.

Telangana: the State government has extended the applicability of paid holiday order till 31 May 2020. As per the paid holiday order, all the shops and establishments which are closed during the lockdown were required  declare paid holiday for all categories of employees.

Indonesia 

The Minister of Health has issued Circular Letter No. HK.02.01/MENKES/335/2020 on the Protocols to Prevent COVID-19 in the Workplace in the Service and Trade Sectors (Public Areas) to Support Business Continuity. The Circular Letter requires the following protocols to be followed:

Operators or managers of workplaces or business actors in the service and trade sectors (public areas) must:

 

  • a. regularly clean and disinfect their workplaces and public areas (public facilities that are often touched by the public should be disinfected every 4 hours);
  • b. provide adequate hand washing facilities that workers, consumers and business actors can access easily;
  • c. make sure that all employees understand self-protection against the spread of COVID-19 and maintain a clean and healthy life style;
  • d. check the body temperatures od all workers before they start work and consumers and business actors at entrances; if a worker has a temperature above 37.30 Celsius (confirmed by two checks 5 minutes apart), he/she must not be allowed to enter and must undergo a health examination;
  • e. require employees and consumers to wear a mask;
  • f. provide information in media to remind workers, business actors, customers, and visitors to follow the physical distancing rule, wash their hands with soap and running water or use hand sanitizers and always use a mask;
  • g. maintain a physical distance of at least 1 meter;
  • h. apply measures to minimize contact with customers, for example use flexy glass or encourage customers to use non-cash payment methods;
  • i. prevent crowds of customers, for example by limiting the number of people who can enter retail outlets

Workers must:

 

  • a. make sure they are in good health before leaving for work; if they experience such symptoms as a fever (high temperature),  cough,  runny nose or sore throat are advised not to go to work but go to a health care facility if necessary;
  • b. keep their hands clean by washing them frequently with soap and running water, or use a hand sanitizer;
  • c. avoid touching their face with their hands such as their eyes, nose or mouth;
  • d. always remember to keep a distance of at least 1 meter when dealing with business actors or co-workers when on duty;
  • e. use special work clothes and change clothes upon finishing work;
  • f. use a mask when leaving from and returning to work and while at work;
  • g. take a shower immediately and change clothes before having contact with family members at home; clean mobile phones, glasses, bags and other items with a liquid disinfectant.

Consumers must:

  • a. always wear a mask while in public areas;
  • b. keep their hands clean by washing them frequently with soap and running water or use a hand sanitizer;
  • c. avoid touching their face with their hands, such as their eyes, nose and mouth;
  • d. always remember to keep a distance;
  • e. keep a physical distance of at least 1 meter from other people
Netherlands 

Update on NOW 2.0: The Dutch government has announced that the NOW-regulations will be updated with regard to dismissal requests on the following points:

  • The NOW will be extended by one month until 1 October 2020;
  • An additional provision will be included in the NOW regulations to prevent abuse in the event of dismissal on business and economic reasons. In case of large dismissal applications (dismissal of 20 or more persons) a penalty of 5% on the company’s total NOW subsidy will be imposed with which the total subsidy will be reduced, unless an agreement on the dismissal application has been reached between the company and the relevant trade unions (or, in the absence thereof, another employee representative body).
  • If companies fail to reach an agreement with the trade unions or an employee representative body, a request for mediation must be submitted to (a to be established committee) the Dutch Labour Foundation. In the absence of this agreement or a request for mediation, the discount of 5% on the final NOW subsidy amount will be imposed.
South Africa 

The amended Regulations issued in terms of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 pertaining to Alert Level 3 (“Level 3”) of the lockdown in South Africa have just been released (the Regulations). South Africa will move to Alert Level 3 on 1 June, 2020 which will see a rapid and expanded opening of the economy.

In terms of the amended Regulations:

  • all businesses except for a few listed exceptions are now permitted to operate;
  • all employees who are able to work from home must do so, however persons will be permitted to perform any type of work outside the home and to travel to and from work for work purposes provided that that work does not fall under one of the exceptions and subject to strict compliance with health protocols and social distancing measures, and a phased-in return to work in a manner that avoids and reduces the risks of COVID-19;
  • businesses with more than 100 employees must, where possible, make provision for minimizing the number of employees at the workplace at any one time through rotation, staggered working hours, shift systems, and remote working arrangements to facilitate social distancing and to limit congestion on public transport;
  • in addition to the occupational health and safety directions issued, employers must adhere to social distancing and health protocols (Employers will be required to continue to comply with the COVID-19 Direction on Health and Safety in the Workplace that was issued by the Department of Employment and Labour when South Africa moved into Alert Level 4 as well as any sector-specific guidelines);
  • special measures must be put in place for employees who are over 60 years old as well as those employees with comorbidities, which measures may include continuing to work from home; and
  • industries, businesses and entities in the public and the private sector which are permitted to operate under Alert Level 3 must designate a COVID-19 compliance officer who must oversee the implementation of the workplace plan and adherence to the standards of hygiene and health protocols relating to COVID-19 and the workplace.

In the construction, manufacturing, business and financial services sectors where there are more than 500 employees employers must finalize workplace arrangements in respect of the following:

  • arranging transport for employees where possible, or where not possible employers must implement staggered work time arrangements to reduce congestion in public transport;
  • stagger the return to work of employees to ensure workplace readiness and to avoid traffic congestion during peak travel times;
  • screen employees daily for symptoms of COVID-19 and refer employees who display symptoms for medical examination and testing, where necessary; and
  • submit data collected during the screening and testing process to the Director- General for Health.

Sector or industry bodies must, in the event of high health risks, develop sector-specific health protocols which must include provisions to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the sector concerned and provide for those circumstances where a business cannot operate staggering working hours or provide transport to its employees.

UK  The Information Commissioner's Office has updated its Workplace testing – guidance for employers.  Under the guidance, employers can in principle carry out temperature/health checks provided that they're only collecting the data they need, and not sharing the data any more widely than necessary.  

 

May 28 Update

Australia

Northern Territory: The NT Government has announced that from Monday June 15, people arriving in the NT from interstate will no longer have to undergo 14 days of mandatory, monitored hotel quarantine, and instead can undergo the two weeks of self-quarantine at their own home, in private accommodation, or in appropriate commercial accommodation, at their own cost. Arrivals from interstate will be able to choose their own quarantine arrangements – as long as it is appropriate, within the guidelines directed by the Chief Health Officer. This change will not apply to people arriving from overseas, including overseas arrivals transiting from interstate. This new arrangement will also include mandatory coronavirus testing regime for all arrivals going into quarantine.

Canada

Alberta: On May 25, 2020, hairstyling and barbershops were permitted to reopen in Calgary and Brooks, and cafés, restaurants, pubs and bars were have reopened for table service at 50 per cent capacity. This is in addition to the reopening of limited businesses and activities in these cities on May 14, 2020.  Starting May 25, 2020, organizations and businesses that have previously received or submitted a request for PPE from the Provincial Operations Centre or AHS can continue accessing PPE supplies, subject to availability and for a fee, until June 30, 2020.   Starting July 1, 2020, businesses and non-Alberta Health Service (AHS) organizations will be required to access personal protective equipment (PPE) directly through suppliers.

British Columbia: The state of emergency in the province has been extended until June 9, 2020.

Manitoba: Public health orders in the province have been modified to increase the limit on gathering size to no more than 25 people for indoor premises and 50 for outdoor areas, providing social distancing measures are in place.

Nunavut: On June 1, 2020, restrictions on some businesses will begin to lift and the limit on the size of outdoor gatherings will increase to 25 people.

Ontario: The provincial government has extended many emergency orders, including the order requiring the closure of non-essential businesses, until June 9, 2020.

Saskatchewan: The province has set the target date to begin Phase 3 of Re-Open Saskatchewan at June 8, 2020.  The state of emergency in the province has been extended until June 10, 2020.

Colombia  

The Ministry of Health issued Resolution 844 of 2020 that extends the health emergency across the country until August 31, 2020.  This Resolution also reconfirms the requirement to implement biosafety protocols for those industries are allowed to operate despite the mandatory isolation measures.   People over 70 must remain in quarantine until August 31, 2020.

Mandatory lockdown has been extended until June 30, 2020.  Some activities will be progressively authorized to restart operations, provided that they comply with the biosafety protocols.

The Colombian President announced that the Government will pay 50% of the service bonus for those employees who earn a minimum legal wage.  Moreover, the announcement mentioned that it is possible to agree with the employee to pay the other 50% in installments.  The service bonus corresponds to 15 days of salary per semester worked and has to be paid on June 20 at the latest according to Colombian Labor Code.  Note that this benefit is pending to be made law by way of a Government decree.

Hong Kong  Secondary schools resume smoothly: The Education Bureau said it is content with the overall situation concerning the resumption of Secondary 3 to 5 classes. The bureau reminded parents to arrange masks for their children, measure their body temperature daily before leaving home and prevent them from attending school if they feel unwell. According to the bureau's plan, Primary 4 to Secondary 2 students will resume classes on June 8 while upper kindergarten to Primary 3 students will resume classes on June 15.
Indonesia  The Minister of Health has issued Decree No. HK.01.07/MENKES/327/2020 on the determination of COVID-19 as a disease due to specific and certain work. Under the Decree, among other things,:
  1. certain work is work performed by health workers and non-health workers in handling COVID-19;
  2. doctors who handle or treat health workers and non-health workers who become ill or die from COVID-19 due to work can diagnosis COVID-19 as a disease due to work;
  3. the types of work that is closely related to the high risk of COVID -19 exposure in the work environments are performed by:
    1. health workers who serve / treat / are in contact with COVID-19 patients;
    2. health workers / laboratory personnel who examine patient specimens of COVID-19;
    3. non health workers in health facilities in contact with COVID-19 patients; and
    4. health workers / officers performing tasks outside of health facility areas to handle COVID-19;
  4. in determining COVID-19 as an illness due to work, a doctor's written statement is required for the procedure for claiming work accident benefits; and
  5. doctors must make a professional diagnosis of a disease due to work based on facts and evidence of the results of the anamnesis (medical history), physical examination results and other supporting examinations
Taiwan  The National Immigration Agency is giving 30-day extensions on an application basis to foreigners who legally stayed in Taiwan for 180 days, and are therefore not eligible for regular extensions. The criteria are as follows:
  • Persons whose means of transport to their home country are suspended due to the epidemic.
  • Spouses, registered same-sex partners, parents or minor children who have household registration or legal residence in Taiwan.
  • Those who have entered the country with a foreign passport and have household registration status in Taiwan.
  • Those who have been determined by the central purpose business authority to be necessary for an extended stay.
  • Any other person who has a valid reason and who, after consideration, has found it necessary to extend his stay.
  • The CECC announced a relaxation for seating rules in public spaces starting June 7th.
  • The MOTC is planning domestic travel subsidies starting July.
  • The CECC announced data protection guidelines regarding epidemic prevention measures.

 

May 27 Update

Australia 

Courts in some states and territories have announced steps to reopen to parties and the public. Notably, the NSW Supreme Court has stated that certain face-to-face civil hearings are to resume on 1 June 2020, followed by criminal jury trials from 29 June 2020.

 

China 

Premier Li Keqiang delivered the annual government work report at the third plenary session of the 13th National People’s Congress saying that due to Covid-19, the policy on exempting or reducing companies’ contributions of social insurance (covering pension insurance, unemployment insurance and work-related insurance) which planned to be terminated by the end of June, 2020, will be extended and continue to the end of 2020.  Small and micro enterprises may delay their enterprise tax payment to the next year. This year, the government will reduce tax burdens and social insurance contributions of enterprises by nearly RMB 2.5 trillion in total.

UAE

The Government of Dubai has announced a partial resumption of economic activities. As of Wednesday 27 May, indoor gyms and fitness clubs are permitted to reopen to 50% capacity. Cinemas and entertainment venues (such as Ski Dubai and Dubai Mall ice rink) may now also reopen. Contactless hand sanitizer dispensers must be installed in all common areas and social distancing of a minimum of two meters must be maintained. Gyms are not permitted to open any shower, spa, sauna or massage facilities. Dubai International Airport will also reopen for individuals re-entering the emirate and for those in transit.

Retail outlets may now increase their maximum customer occupancy and staffing levels to 70%. Food and beverage outlets may operate at 100% capacity provided that social distancing measures are maintained.

Offices may now operate at 50% employee capacity and all building elevators must have markings on the floor to indicate social distancing.

The nightly disinfection programme timings have been revised to 23:00 to 06:00, during which individuals may not leave their homes unless for an emergency. There is now no restriction on movement from 06:00 to 23:00. Preventative measures, such as mask wearing, remain in place.

US

Join us on June 3, for a CLE Webinar on US back to work considerations for employers.  Register here.

Last week the CDC released additional guidance on reopening. See CDC Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response and reopening decision tool.

On May 23, 2020, the CDC issued Interim Guidelines for COVID-19 Antibody Testing. The guidelines address the current status of antibody testing in the US, including types of antibody testing, FDA-authorized serologic tests, strategies to optimize testing outcomes, limitations of serologic testing, recommendations for use of serologic tests and other considerations. The guidelines recognize that serologic assays for SARS-CoV-2 are now broadly available and can play an important role in understanding the virus’s epidemiology in the general population, identifying groups at higher risk for infection, and determining the proportion of a population previously infected with SARS-CoV-2, as well as information about populations that may be immune and potentially protected. Importantly, however, the CDC guidelines provide that serologic testing should not be used to determine immune status in individuals until the presence, durability, and duration of immunity is established. The CDC further states that serologic tests should not be used to make decisions about returning persons to the workplace.

OSHA continues to release recommended practices for employers in certain sectors. The latest alerts address protections for workers at nursing home and long-term care facilitiesretail pharmacies, and rideshare, taxi and car services.

OSHA recently issued two revised enforcement policies to ensure employers are taking action to protect their employees as businesses reopen. First, OSHA is increasing in-person inspections at all types of workplaces. According to OSHA, “[t]he new enforcement guidance reflects changing circumstances in which many non-critical businesses have begun to reopen in areas of lower community spread. The risk of transmission is lower in specific categories of workplaces, and personal protective equipment potentially needed for inspections is more widely available. OSHA staff will continue to prioritize COVID-19 inspections, and will utilize all enforcement tools as OSHA has historically done.”  Second, OSHA is revising its previous enforcement policy for recording cases of coronavirus. Under OSHA's recordkeeping requirements, coronavirus is a recordable illness, and employers are responsible for recording cases of the coronavirus, if the case:

  • Is confirmed as a coronavirus illness;
  • Is work-related as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; and
  • Involves one or more of the general recording criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7, such as medical treatment beyond first aid or days away from work.

Under the new policy, OSHA will enforce the recordkeeping requirements of 29 CFR 1904 for employee coronavirus illnesses for all employers. The policy continues to acknowledge that, given the nature of the disease and community spread, it remains difficult to determine whether a coronavirus illness is work-related, especially when an employee has experienced potential exposure both in and out of the workplace. OSHA's guidance emphasizes that employers must make reasonable efforts, based on the evidence avalable to the employer, to ascertain whether a particular case of coronavirus is work-related. According to OSHA, recording a coronavirus illness does not mean that the employer has violated any OSHA standard. Read more here.

States and localities continue to issue reopening guidance. For example:

  • On May 24, 2020, Governor Pritzker issued detailed guidelines to prepare Illinois businesses and employers to reopen. The guidance includes a business toolkit with signage, training checklists, and other resources to ensure business and activities are conducted in accordance with public health recommendations. Phase 3 guidelines cover 10 main industry categories. Each set of guidelines includes a common set of guidelines that are expected and encouraged among all employers and activity types, as well as workplace and program-specific guidelines.
  • On May 21, 2020, the advisory group Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser convened to recommend how to reopen the city released a four-phase approach that could take effect before the end of this month. The 76-page ReOpen DC report recommended that the first phase of reopening allow hotels to open, restaurants to open outdoor seating, barbershops to reopen by appointment and other nonessential retailers to provide curbside and delivery service. It recommended each type of business implement strong safeguards for social distancing and sanitation. The group's recommendations are not binding. The first phase could begin as soon as May 29 if the decline in daily COVID-19 cases continues. An announcement by Mayor Muriel Bowser is expected on Wednesday, May 27.

 

May 26 Update 

Australia 

The Australian Government has announced that the Industrial Relations Minister will chair five working groups with the aim of producing reform of Australia’s industrial relations system. The working groups will cover five key areas: award simplification, enterprise agreement making, casual and fixed-term employment, greenfields projects, plus compliance and enforcement in areas such as wage underpayment. The groups will include employers, small business, unions and other groups, and work through until September. The Australian Government has also announced it will not pursue the union-targeted Ensuring Integrity Bill, which would have given Australia’s courts greater powers to disqualify union officials and cancel union registrations on the basis of unlawful action.

The Australian Government will temporarily the Corporations Act 2001 (the Act) so that companies and officers’ will only be liable if there has been “knowledge, recklessness or negligence” with respect to updates on price sensitive information to the market. Companies may also hold back from making forecasts of future earnings or other forward-looking estimates, limiting the amount of information available to investors during this period. The changes will be in effect for six months.

In the states/territories: 

ACT: the ACT Government has announced an easing of restrictions. From Saturday 30 May:

  • 20 people are allowed per enclosed space in cafes, bars, restaurants and clubs (provided they comply with physical distancing restrictions). If a venue has multiple enclosed spaces, they can have multiple groups of 20 patrons. This framework allows larger venues with clearly separated enclosed spaces to cater for more patrons. Some of the larger venues in the ACT with multiple enclosed and outdoor spaces may be able to accommodate 150 or more patrons.
  • Beauty therapy, nail salons, tanning and waxing services, day spas, massage parlours, and tattoo businesses can reopen, but must complete a COVID Safe plan and keep a record of their customers.
  • Indoor gyms and fitness centres can reopen, to a maximum of 20 people per any enclosed space. Organised social sport will be increased to a maximum of 20 participants.
  • Galleries, museums, national institutions, and outdoor attractions like zoos can reopen for groups of up to 20 people in a designated session.
  • Restrictions on choirs, bands and orchestras, caravan parks and campgrounds, places of worship and community centres will also be lifted, and the maximum number of people at a wedding will be increased to 20, and 50 for funerals.
  • All of the above venues must ensure 4 square metres per person is available.

NSW: the NSW Government has announced that beauty, nail, waxing and tanning salons can reopen from 1 June under strict COVID-safe guidelines. Before reopening, businesses will require a COVID-19 safe plan which includes increasing hygiene protocols and keeping a record of attendance. No more than 10 clients will be allowed inside salons at any one time and four square metres of space must be allowed per person. Zoos, reptile parks and aquariums will also be reopening from 1 June.

South Australia: the South Australian Government has announced it is bringing forward the relaxing of its stage 2 restrictions to Monday 1 June (from 8 June). Cinemas, theatres, galleries, museums, beauty salons, gyms and indoor fitness centres will be able to reopen from next Monday 1 June. Those venues, along with pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes, will be able to admit up to 80 patrons, provided they can contain them to groups of 20 in discrete areas within the venue. Pubs will be able to serve alcohol without food but only to seated patrons. Rules allowing one person per four square metres, and 1.5-metre social distancing, will remain in place. Businesses will be required to complete COVID-19 plans and produce them on request. Further easing of restrictions includes that up to 50 mourners will be allowed at funerals, while training for contact sport will resume, as can competition for non-contact outdoor sports.

Western Australia: the WA Government has announced that effective from Friday 29 May, travel around WA will be permitted everywhere except the areas bounded by the Commonwealth by security determination and remote Aboriginal communities. This means people in WA can travel to all regions except the Kimberley and the biosecurity zones.

Northern Territory: the NT Government has announced that from 5 June, restrictions on travel to remote communities within the NT will be eased.

Victoria: the Victorian Government has announced a range of restrictions to be opened:

  • From Tuesday 26 May: outdoor playgrounds, skateparks and outdoor gym equipment will open for 10 people at a time;
  • From Monday 1 June:
    • Up to 20 people, including household members will be allowed in people’s homes. Outdoor public gatherings will also increase to a limit of 20 people, with up to 20 guests allowed at weddings and up to 50 mourners allowed at a funeral. Up to 20 people will be allowed at other religious ceremonies, in addition to those required to perform the service.
    • Pubs, cafes and restaurants will be allowed up to 20 patrons for dine-in service in accordance with previous announcements. Entertainment and cultural venues like galleries, museums, drive-in cinemas and historic sites will be able to reopen, alongside zoos and outdoor amusement parks. Physical distancing and a limit of up to 20 patrons per space will apply, and indoor venues will be required to keep customer contact details. Non-food and drink market stalls will also be able to open.
    • Travel: Overnight stays can resume at private residences and tourism accommodation, including campgrounds and caravan parks, but not those with communal facilities like kitchens and bathrooms.
    • Sport: Swimming pools will also open with limits of 20 people and additional safety requirements in place. Community sporting activities will also be permitted with up to 20 people in undivided spaces, provided the sport is outdoors, noncompetition, non-contact, and people are able to play 1.5 metres apart. Restrictions on professional sport will remain unchanged.
    • Libraries, youth centres and other community facilities will be able to open with no more than 20 people in a single area.
    • Beauty and personal care services like nail salons, spas, tattoo parlours will be able to reopen with up to 20 customers per space – with customer contact details required to be kept. 
    • Auctions and open house inspections will also be subject to the 20-person limit and with the requirement to keep the contact details of everyone who attends.
France 

As of 1st June, the conditions for the partial activity allowance (read more here) will be reviewed:

  • The indemnity paid to the employee remains unchanged: during the partial activity, he/she receives 70% of his gross remuneration (approximately 84% of the net salary), and at least the net equivalent of the SMIC.
  • The State will pay 85% of the compensation paid to the employee, up to a maximum (unchanged) of 4.5 SMIC. Companies will thus be reimbursed 60% of the gross salary, instead of the previous 70%.
  • In accordance with the commitments taken last 14 May, sectors such as tourism subject to specific legislative or regulatory restrictions due to the health crisis will continue to receive 100% coverage.

This measure will be implemented by decree.

Portugal 

Decree-Law no. 20-G/2020 of 14 May established a scheme of incentives for companies with less than 250 employees to adapt to requirements imposed due to pandemic, in line with the rules and recommendations issued by the competent authorities.

This incentive applies to companies operating in all sectors - except fisheries, agriculture, forests, the financial and insurance sector, defense and betting - and consists of financial support for the acquisition and installation of protection equipment, cleaning and disinfection, reorganization and adaptation of the workstations to grant social distancing and compliance with recommended hygiene measures.

This financial support corresponds to 80% of the eligible costs incurred by companies with less than 10 employees and 50% of the eligible costs incurred by companies with between 10 and 249 employees.

Singapore 

Further financial measures introduced amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic:   The Singapore Government announced a Fortitude Budget on 26 May 2020 to help workers and businesses tide through the current COVID-19 pandemic. The Fortitude Budget is the fourth Budget introduced in the course of this year and amounts to approximately S$33 billion building upon the measures announced in the earlier budgets.

The key focus of this Fortitude Budget is jobs, read a summary of the measures proposed which employers should note, here

US 

On May 14, 2020, the CDC released updated reopening guidance that focuses on cleaning and disinfecting workplaces, and a decision-making tool for workplaces to reopen.

The CDC and OSHA continue to issue industry-specific guidance – for example, see interim guidance for manufacturing workers and employers.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued two documents, a checklist and an infographic, designed to assist retail food establishments that might have been closed or partially closed during the COVID-19 pandemic in preparing to reopen.

The IRS has issued relief guidance permitting certain mid-year cafeteria plan election changes in response to COVID-19 (Notice 2020-29). In related guidance, the IRS increased the carryover limit for unused amounts in health flexible spending arrangements (health FSAs) at the end of a plan year (Notice 2020-33).

States and cities continue to ease restrictions and reopen the economy. For example:

  • On May 14, 2020, Governor Cuomo announced that five regions in New York — expanded from three announced Monday — have met all seven metrics required to begin phase one of the state's regional phased reopening plan when NYS on PAUSE orders expire on May 15th. If the trend continues, these five regions can begin opening businesses for phase one, which includes construction; manufacturing and wholesale supply chain; retail for curbside pickup and drop-off or in-store pickup; and agriculture, forestry and fishing. Business guidance for phase one of the state's reopening plan is available here.
  • On May 14, 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that he has approved reopening plans for Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
  • Some counties and municipalities in Wisconsin began opening after the state’s highest court overturned a statewide stay-at-home order on May 13, 2020. Other local governments around Wisconsin began issuing new public health guidelines, stay-at-home orders and other measures in response to the court’s decision.
  • On May 12, California released restaurant reopening guidelines for establishments in jurisdictions that have met the state’s Phase 2 reopening criteria.
  • Gov. Charlie Baker unveiled a four-step plan to begin reopening Massachusetts by May 18 and published Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards that will apply across all sectors and industries once reopening begins.

 

May 22 Update 

 
Australia

New South Wales: the NSW Government will allow pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants to have up to 50 customers, subject to the one person per four square metre rule, and with strict social distancing guidelines from 1 June 2020. All customers must be seated and will be required to give their name and contact details (phone number and address) on entry. Group bookings will be limited to 10 people. These venues will also need to develop a COVID Safety Plan consistent with NSW Health guidelines.

 
Brazil

The Legislative Assembly approved the decision of the Governor of São Paulo to move the holiday of June 9 to May 25. Thus next Monday 25 May is a holiday in the State of São Paulo.

 
Canada 

The Federal Government of Canada is now recommending people wear face masks whenever physical distancing is not possible.

Manitoba: As of Friday, May 22, 2020, public health orders will be modified to increase the limit on gathering size to no more than 25 people for indoor premises and 50 for outdoor areas, providing social distancing measures are in place. Other changes such as an expansion of the types of businesses that can re-open are being discussed, and more details will be announced once those decisions are made.

Quebec: The public health emergency in the province has been renewed to May 27, 2020.

Saskatchewan: The province has identified June 8, 2020 as the target date for Phase 3 of its Re-Open Saskatchewan program.

 
Hong Kong

Environment Bureau to offer 500 jobs The Environment Bureau announced plans to launch the Green Employment Scheme as an initiative to provide more than 500 time-limited jobs in the realm of environmental protection in the coming months. The scheme will cover three categories of environmental protection work, namely Electric Vehicles (EVs) Popularisation, Use Less, Waste Less and Leave No Trace at Mountain & Sea. The positions, both full-time and part-time, will last for six months to a year and are suitable for candidates with different skills and qualifications. The Community Green Stations (CGS) will also offer, through their operators, 45 jobs that include Environmental Education Officers and Assistants. The jobs include 150 green ambassadors and 50 cleaning workers under Leave No Trace at Mountain & Sea, 50 eco-tour guides and artisans, 100 green ambassadors for beach cleaning, and environmental investigators for the preparation of the voluntary scheme on phasing out products containing microbeads. Fifty waste reduction and recycling green ambassadors will be employed to strengthen the promotion of the Plastic-free School Lunch Pilot Scheme.

Quarantine exemptions set The Government announced that enterprises with an operating base relating to logistics, port or shipping business on the Mainland can apply for an exemption from the compulsory quarantine arrangement. They include owners of enterprises with a valid business registration certificate and with an operating base relating to logistics, port or shipping business activities on the Mainland, as well as up to one person employed and authorised by the enterprise. The other category covers up to two people employed and authorised by such an enterprise. An exempted person must only travel to and stay in the Mainland area or city where that individual’s operating base is located, and must take every precautionary measure to ensure personal hygiene and avoid unnecessary social contact whilst there. After returning to Hong Kong, the exempted person will be subject to medical surveillance arranged by the Department of Health for a period of 14 days.

Cross-boundary student plan drafted An initial implementation plan has been formulated on the feasibility of class resumption for about 2,500 cross-boundary secondary students. Exemption from the 14-day compulsory quarantine and class resumption arrangement on a controlled basis should be granted for cross-boundary students. The Government will explore the feasibility of class resumption by phases, with a pilot run involving about 2,500 cross-boundary students enrolled in Secondary 3 to 5 in the first phase. 

 
India

Gujarat: pursuant to the extension of lockdown in the State till 31 May 2020, the Gujarat government has published revised guidelines to be followed. The revised guideline inter-alia provide that – only essential activities will be allowed in the containment zones; workers/employees who live in the containment zones will not be allowed to leave containment zones, etc. Further, private offices in western Ahmedabad, Surat’s orange and green zones, and other areas outside containment zones are allowed to function with 33% staff capacity.     

Bihar and Chandigarh: pursuant to the extension of lockdown, the respective State /UT governments have released revised guidelines to be followed in the jurisdictions. While the revised measures for these State/UT are similar to the MHA guidelines (referred to in our update on 18 May 2020), private offices can operate with 50% and 33% staff capacity in Gujarat and Bihar, respectively.

Indore (Madhya Pradesh): by way of partial modifications, the district authorities have given certain relaxations to the activities that are permitted in Indore. As per the relaxations, industrial units located in the Pologround industrial area, Samwer road sector A to Sector F, industrial and trading units located in Nemawar road ring road to bypass, and all units located outside Indore bypass are allowed to operate between 7am to 6pm after following social distancing measures and guidelines. Some of the measures required to be followed inter alia includes, the provisioning of thermal screening for workers; providing transport facilities, etc.  

 
Italy 

Law Decree no 34 has been published.  The Decree implements various employment related measures, including extending the prohibition on dismiss for objective reasons (both individual and collective) for a further three months.

 
Taiwan The MOTCs outlined its plan for re-opening Taiwan in more detail. Currently, the MOTC expects the facemask mandate on public transportation to end in August at the earliest, and hopes to open Taiwan to international tourism in October. Starting May 27, travellers on the trains will be allowed to eat food again, however they will be required to wear their facemasks when not eating or drinking.  
UK

The Government has announced the introduction of a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for people arriving in the UK from overseas from 8 June. Arrivals will be required to provide an address at which they will self-isolate. People who breach the rules could be refused entry and could face a £1,000 fine. There are exemptions for freight workers, medical staff and travel within the common travel area. The quarantine measure will be reviewed in 3 weeks.

The Government has published a revised Treasury Direction under sections 71 and 76 of the Coronavirus Act 2020. There are quite significant changes to the previous version.  The new Direction was required due to the extension of the CJRS from 31 May to 30 June. The Government has also taken the opportunity to make changes to the Direction which appear to be aimed at removing some of the discrepancies between the Direction and the guidance.

 

 

May 21 Update 

 
Australia

Australia Capital Territories: recent amendments have been made to ACT’s Long Service Leave (Portable Schemes) Act 2009 to allow eligible workers (in building and construction, contract cleaning, the community sector and security) to access up to two weeks of leave earlier and allow eligible workers who have left the industry because of the COVID-19 outbreak to access a payment instead of leave for their recognised service. A registered worker will be eligible for early access to their Portable Long Service leave if they have 18 months or more recognised service in the ACT, have recognised service in their relevant industry in the ACT in the 12 months immediately before the COVID-19 emergency and suffer hardship because of the COVID‑19 emergency.

 
Canada

Canada: The large employer emergency financing facility (LEEFF) is available for applications starting today.

Quebec: The province will begin to allow outdoor gatherings on May 22, and certain businesses (private health services and personal care services) will be permitted to resume activities on June 1.

Saskatchewan: The province has amended its employment standards legislation to establish an open-ended period in which an employer can temporarily lay off employees during a public emergency and exempt employers from providing group termination notice to employees and the union during a public emergency.

Yukon: The territory is now in Phase 1 of the Government of Yukon’s reopening plan, A Path Forward.

 
Hungary

The Government has today issued a Decree on the border crossing from Austria. As of tomorrow (22 May) Austrian and Hungarian citizens (or an EEA citizen entitled to permanent residence verified by a permanent residence card) may enter the territory of Hungary if they are able to prove that they are currently not infected with SARS-CoV-2. The non-infection shall be verified with a ‘molecular biological test’ that

  • was not conducted more than 4 days prior,
  • was conducted in accordance with professional healthcare rules, and
  • is in English or Hungarian language.

If a person enters the territory of Hungary and within 14 days of entering showss COVID-19 symptoms, then they must not leave their place of residence etc. and must notify the infectious disease authority via phone without undue delay.

The main change introduced by the Decree is that the above individuals are not required to stay in mandatory home quarantine after entering the country.

 
India
  • Pursuant to the direction of NDMA, the MHA has further extended the national lockdown till 31 May 2020. Further, the MHA has also published revised guidelines as per which - inter-state movement of passenger vehicles and buses is allowed during the lockdown with mutual consent of the State / UTs; State authorities are allowed to delineate the Red, Green, and Orange Zones after taking into consideration the parameters shared by the MoHFW, etc.
  • As per the revised National Directives (as annexed in the revised MHA guidelines) employers are required to ensure that – wearing of masks is made mandatory in the workplace; spitting is prohibited in the workplaces; as much as possible practice of work from home is followed, staggering working hours is followed in the workplaces; provision is made for thermal screening, handwash and sanitizers; and frequent sanitization of the workplaces is conducted, etc. 
  • The following activities continue to be prohibited, hospitality services (except those housing police, stranded tourists and those providing quarantine facilities), shopping complexes, cinema halls, religious, social and political gatherings.
  • Extension of lockdown- pursuant to the nationwide lockdown the States of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu has also extended the State specific lockdown till 31 May 2020.
  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has released guidelines related to –  basic preventive measures to be followed at the workplaces;  measures to be taken on occurrence of COVID-19 positive case and the related reporting requirement; disinfection process to be followed in case of occurrence of a suspect / confirmed case; and management of persons who came in contact with a COVID positive employee, etc.
  • Extension of lockdown-  pursuant to the nationwide lockdown, the government of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana have issued revised guidelines to be followed in the respective states for the period of lockdown. The MoHFW had (in its order dated 30 April 2020) categorized Indian districts into red, green and orange zones based on a risk-profiling. The MoHFW has now issued a new order stating that the State governments may categorize the districts and municipal corporations within their jurisdictions into red, green and orange zones. For such risk categorization, the States would need to consider the MoHFW guidelines / benchmarks/ thresholds, and also consider the spread of the disease in a geography, contacts, zone of influence, etc.
  • The government had announced that domestic flights operations will commence from 25 May 2020. Pursuant to this, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has published general instructions for commencement of air travel and specific guidelines to be followed by air passengers and major stakeholders (i.e. airlines). The general instructions inter alia provide that – on the day of commencement only about 1/3rd operations would be permitted; a self-declaration / Aarogya Setu app status would be obtained from passengers that the passenger is free of COVID-19 symptoms; passengers will be required to wear face masks; no physical check-in at the airport counters will be done and only passengers with confirmed web-check in shall be allowed to enter the airport, etc.
  • The Employees Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) has issued an internal / departmental circular stating that it may be difficult for establishments to make timely remittance of provident fund contributions in light of COVID-19. Given that there would be absence of mens rea, the EPFO has announced that there would be no levy of damages on the belated contributions
  • Employees State Insurance,1948 (ESIC) – extending the earlier granted relaxation, the employers are allowed to file the return of contribution up to 11 June 2020, for the contribution period from October, 2019 to March, 2020.
  • Delhi  - the government has released revised guidelines to be followed in the State till 31 May 2020. The measures under the revised guidelines are largely similar to the MHA revised guidelines (referred to in our 18 May 2020 update). That said, the measures inter alia provides that – all the private offices are allowed to function with full strength, however as far as possible the practice of work from home should be followed; industrial establishments shall be permitted with staggered business hours, i.e. industrial establishments with registered names starting from M/s A to M/s may function from 7:30 am to 5:30pm whereas those with registered names starting from M/s M to M/s Z may function from 8:30am to 6:30pm, etc.         • Madhya Pradesh – by way of a notification, the State government has granted exemption to employers from filing annual returns if an employer has filed annual returns under the Labour  Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns & Maintaining Registers by certain Establishments) Amendment Act, 2014. • Uttar Pradesh- due to unavoidable circumstances the State government has cancelled the exemption granted to factories regarding working hours (as referenced in our update on 8 May 2020). • Extension of lockdown - pursuant to the nationwide lockdown the States of Bihar, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Kerala has also extended the State specific lockdown till 31 May 2020.
 
Indonesia 

Government measures

On 19 May 2020, the Governor extended the  LSSR in the Jakarta area for 14 days from 22 May 2020 to 4 June 2020. Everyone domiciled, residing or engaging in activities in the Jakarta area must comply with the LSSR according to the prevailing laws and regulations and follow the COVID-19 prevention protocols. Besides, no one may travel in or out of Jakarta during the non-natural disaster emergency declared due to the spread of COVID-19. Anyone caught violating this prohibition will be ordered to return to where they came from and stay home or if they insist on entering DKI Jakarta, spend 14 days in quarantine in a location determined by the COVID-19 task force.   However, holders of an electronic National Identification Card (“e-KTP”) and foreigners who hold an e-KTP/permanent stay permit/limited stay permit for Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang or Bekasi (“Jabodetabek”) traveling to/or from an area in Jabodetabek are exempt from this prohibition, provided that they have a SIKM (explained below). The following among others are also exempt if traveling to/from their places of work:

  • members of the Indonesian National Army or Police Force;
  • toll road personnel;
  • patients who needs emergency health services and their companions; and
  • civilians, business people, and foreigners who hold an Entry and Exit Permit (Surat Izin Keluar Masuk – “SIKM”) due to their work/duties. The places of work are those under the regulations on Large Scale Social Restrictions include i) government offices; and the offices of ii) international organizations; iii) state owned enterprises involved in the management of COVID-19; and iv) businesses in certain sectors including health, energy, logistics, communications and information technology.

A SIKM can be applied for by completing an online application at www.corona.jakarta.go.id and submitting the following  documents:

  • a cover letter from the Head of the Neighbourhood (Rukun Tetangga - RT), acknowledged by the Head of the Neighbourhood Group (Rukun Warga - RW) where the applicant resides
  • a stamped health statement;
  • a written assignment statement proving the applicant’s need to leave Jabodetabek, if the workplace is outside Jabodetabek, or if on business, a letter explaining that the business is outside  Jabodetabek and is known to the authorised official; and
  • an e-KTP/permanent stay permit for foreigners.

A civilian, business person, or foreigner who due to his/her duties or because of an emergency must travel into Jakarta from outside of Jabodetabek requires a SIKM obtained through the online application by submitting the following documents:

  • a Jakarta e-KTP or Jakarta Family Card for those who are domiciled outside of Jabodetabek;
  • an e-KTP/permanent stay permit for foreigners; and
  • a stamped health statement

According to the website (https://corona.jakarta.go.id/id/izin-keluar-masuk-jakarta#11sektor), applications for a SIKM for those domiciled in Jakarta must also be accompanied by a i) colour ID photograph and ii) a scanned copy of the KTP. Meanwhile, those who are domiciled outside of Jabodetabek, must also submit i) a written statement explaining that they are working in Jakarta from their workplace (for repeated travel) and ii) a written guarantee from their family/workplace in Jakarta known to their local head of RT (for one-time travel).

In Jakarta,

  • any person who does not use a mask in public places while the LSSR are in effect, will be i) served a written warning, ii) ordered to perform social work ie, clean public facilities or iii) fined from IDR100,000 to IDR250,000;
  • heads of workplaces/offices who violate the temporary suspension of work activities in the workplace/office during the implementation of LSSR are subject to administrative sanctions in form of i) the sealing of their workplace/office and ii) a fine of IDR5,000,000 to IDR10,000,000;
  • heads of workplaces/offices which are exempt from the temporary suspension of work activities in the workplace/office while the LSSR remain in effect who do not follow the protocols for preventing the spread of COVID-19, will be i) served written warnings and ii) fined from IDR25,000,000 to IDR50,000,000;
  • any person who violates the prohibition against engaging in activities with more than 5 people in public places while the LSSR remain in effect will be i) served a written warning, ii) ordered to perform social work ie, clean public facilities, or iii) fined from IDR100,000 to IDR250,000; and
  • any private car driver who violates the 50 percent vehicle capacity limit or does not use a mask, as well any motorcycle rider who violates the passenger limit or does not use a masks, will i) be fined, ii) be ordered to perform  social work ie, clean public facilities or iii) have the vehicle towed away to a storage facility provided by the DKI Jakarta Government.

Travel prohibition

People who are exempt from the prohibition to travel are:

  • workers in the government or private sector who are engaged in the acceleration of the handling of the spread of COVID-19, health services, strategic sectors, basic needs, security, defense and public order;
  • people who need emergency health services;
  • Indonesian migrant workers, Indonesian citizens, students studying overseas, people being repatriated for certain reasons by the government to their hometowns; and
  • people traveling because an immediate family member is severely ill or has passed away.

 To prove they are eligible for an exemption they must show the following documents, among others:

  1. their assignment Letter from the company if they work in the private sector; a reference letter from the hospital if they will obtain treatment in another hospital or healthcare facility; a written statement from the Head of local Sub-district if they do not work in the private sector or for a government authority; the death certificate if they are going to attend a funeral; a reference letter from the Migrant Worker Protection Agency; Written Statement from a representative of the Republic of Indonesia overseas for those returning from overseas; or a written statement from the university/school for students;
  2. the result of a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) or rapid test proving they are negative for the virus; and
  3. valid ID card.

The above is valid up until 31 May 2020 and may be extended, as required.

Following the above, the Minister of Transportation requires the following:

  1. the Head of the Airport Authority Office to supervise and ensure the implementation of Circular Letter 4/2020 and report the results of their supervision to the Director General of Air Transportation;
  2. airport operators to provide security and inspection posts at each airport equipped with facilities to implement health protocols;
  3. scheduled commercial air transportation business entities to ensure that their passengers satisfy the requirements under Circular Letter 4/2020 before they issue tickets or other transportation documents; and
  4. flight navigation services providers to support the application of time slot recommendations when scheduling flights.

Besides, the Minister of Health requires:

  • Indonesian citizens returning to Indonesia must do their best to obtain and bring a health certificate in English which is valid for at least of 7 days from its issuance by a health facility in the country they returning from , and have it validated by a doctor in the Port Health Office of the State Border Crossing Post (Pos Lintas Batas Darat Negara - PLBDN);
  • Indonesian citizens returning to Indonesia who do not have i) a health certificate; ii) a health certificate valid for more than 7 days; or iii) a health certificate that proves a negative for a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) result from COVID-19, must undergo an additional health check including a rapid test or PCR;
  • foreigners entering Indonesia must have a Health Certificate in English stating a negative PCR check result from COVID-19 valid for at least 7 days from its issuance by a health facility in their country of origin, and is validated by a doctor at the Port Health Office or PLBDN; and
  • foreigners arriving who do not have i) a health certificate; ii) a health certificate valid for at least 7 days; or iii) a health certificate that proves a negative PCR check result, must undergo an additional health check including a rapid test or PCR.

The foreigners entering Indonesia referred to in Circular Letter 313/2020 are those who are allowed to enter Indonesia under Minister of Law and Human Rights Regulation No. 11 of 2020 on Temporary Restrictions on Foreigners Entering the Territory of the Republic of Indonesia: i) foreigners holding a Limited Stay Permit or Permanent Stay Permit, Diplomatic Visa/Official Visa and Diplomatic Stay Permit/Official Stay Permit; ii) those entering for medical aid and medical support, food and humanitarian reasons; iii) aircraft or vessel crews; and iv) foreigners who will work on national strategic projects.

 
Malaysia Changes to international travel restrictions: The government has announced some changes to the international outbound and inbound travel restrictions during the Conditional Movement Control Order (MCO) period. Individuals holding Malaysia My Second Home status will now be allowed to return to Malaysia, subject to the following conditions: 1. Before leaving for Malaysia, they must undergo a health check and obtain confirmation that they are COVID-19 negative. 2. Upon arrival in Malaysia, they will be subject to a health screening, and must undergo a 14-day quarantine at a government designated location. 3. The individuals must pay for the cost of accommodation during the quarantine. The government also announced that Malaysians who hold Permanent Resident status in other countries will be allowed to leave Malaysia. However, those who choose to leave will not be allowed to return to Malaysia until the expiry of the Conditional MCO.  
Netherlands

The NOW scheme for funding salary costs has now been updated and also extended for a further 3 month period so that it will cover salary costs up to 31 August 2020.  Click here for more information. 

 
Spain
  • The Government has agreed to lift the suspension of the court procedural deadlines as from 4 June: -
    • The Council of Ministers has agreed to include in the agreement requesting authorisation to extend the state of emergency, the lift of the suspension of procedural deadlines with effect from 4 June.
    • The deadlines and terms provided for in the procedural laws were suspended as a result of the declaration of the state of emergency for the management of the health crisis caused by Covid-19 with the entry into force of Royal Decree 463/2020 of 14 March.
  • The Conciliation and Mediation Services of the Community of Madrid has issued new instructions on telematic and in person conciliation hearings.
  • On May 20 the Order from the Ministry of Health Order SND/422/2020 dated May 19, was published in the official gazette dealing with mandatory use of protective masks for people above 6 years old and recommended for children between 3 and 5 years old in the street, open spaces and enclosed spaces open to the public where a distance of 2 meters can´t be respected.   
  • An agreement between PSOE, Unidas Podemos and EH Bildu regarding the immediate revocation of the 2012 labor reforms has been made public. Further details should be available in the next few days.
 
Taiwan
  • The ban on inbound and outbound international tours operated by Taiwan tour operators has been extended until the end of June 2020. Due to the extension of the Chinese New Year holiday, the start of the summer break has been postponed by two weeks, and will therefore start around mid-July. 
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs granted the third automatic 30-day extension to short-term visa holders and persons who entered on visa-exempt entry. This extension applies to people who entered Taiwan legally on or before March 21, and have not exceeded their stay. With this the automatic extension totals 90 days, however the total stay may not exceed 180 days.
  • The MOTC amended subsidies for quarantine hotels. Subsidies of NT$1,500 are now granted to medical personnel who stay at quarantine hotels.
  • The Maritime and Port Bureau announced subsidies for the shipping industry. These subsidies grant relief for interest payments on loans taken out after January 15, 2020, for up to a year.
  • The Ministry of Finance is granting businesses affected by COVID-19 the option to receive VAT refunds for overpayments according to Art. 39 of the Value-Added and Non-Value Added Business Tax Act. Usually overpaid VAT is off-set against future VAT liabilities. This gives businesses alternative ways of obtaining liquidity during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • The Ministry of Transportation and Communication has revised its regulations for aircraft pilots. Due to the low amount of flights currently being conducted, pilots are finding it difficult to get the required certifications & flight hours necessary to uphold their license. Under the new rules pilots are able to apply for a 3-month extension.   
  • The MOTC outlined its three-step course in rolling back COVID-19 restrictions for tourism. In phase one, it will promote "epidemic prevention tours", i.e. domestic tours. In phase two it would provide subsidies for domestic tours. In phase three, Taiwan would be reopened to international tours. The implementation of this plan depends on the CECC and the continued progression of the COVID-19 pandemic, currently this plan is not being implemented.
  • The Central Epidemic Command Center has outlined potential new quarantine rules for short-term business travel. For business trips, where the business part would be at most 3 days, the new rules would allow for a 5 or 10 day quarantine with subsequent testing (at the individual's own expense) if the country of origin poses a low or extremely low infection risk (such as New Zealand). The rules have not yet been signed, although it is expected they will be enacted in the near future. For travellers from higher risk countries or for trips longer than three days, the regular 14 day quarantine will still be required.
 

 

May 20 Update 

Australia

The Australian Government has announced it will not proceed with the Onshore Biosecurity Levy. The levy was first proposed in a 2017 independent review, which found that the national biosecurity system was underfunded, and recommended the introduction of a levy on imports to generate revenue for biosecurity functions that could not be cost recovered.

The Fair Work Commission has varied the Fast Food Industry Award 2010. The variations insert a new schedule which applies to employers who do not qualify for JobKeeper and employees who do not qualify for JobKeeper (and their employers in relation to those employees). The variations allow covered employers to reduce part-time workers' guaranteed hours to eight, with no overtime penalties, amend rosters, and request employees take annual leave, which they must not "unreasonably" refuse. The added safeguards include the right of workers to have disputes arbitrated and the requirement that any extra hours be genuinely agreed "without coercion or duress". The operation period for this variation is from 19 May to 31 July.

In the specific states/territories:

  • New South Wales: the NSW Government has announced that regional travel within NSW will be allowed from 1 June 2020. Art galleries, libraries, museums and other cultural institutions will also reopen from 1 June.
  • South Australia: The South Australian Government has announced that from Friday 22 May, all cafes and restaurants will be permitted to seat up to 10 patrons indoors and another 10 outdoors as well as sell alcohol to diners. The Government has also announced that it will be moving to Stage 2 restrictions (which include gatherings of up to 20 people) from Friday 5 June – not Monday 8 June as previously announced.

Brazil 

On 19 May, Decree 59.450 was sanctioned by the Mayor of São Paulo. The idea is to bring forward upcoming public holidays in order to facilitate social distancing during quarantine. May 20 and 21 will be public holidays in the city of São Paulo and the Governor of São Paulo is planning to move the holiday of June 9 to May 25.

Canada

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will be extended another three months to the end of August. The government will be looking at making adjustments to the program. Moreover, the government is also changing the eligibility requirements for the wage subsidy. More details are available here: https://www.dlapiper.com/en/canada/insights/publications/2020/05/canada-emergency-wage-subsidy-extended-to-august-2020/.

British Columbia: The Province has released the initial set of WorkSafeBC guidelines that will help businesses and organizations develop their plans to reopen safely in the coming days and weeks. More details are available here: https://www.dlapiper.com/en/canada/insights/publications/2020/05/bc-restart-plan-phase-two/.

Manitoba: The state of emergency in the province has been extended until June 16, 2020.

New Brunswick: The state of emergency in the province has been extended until May 28, 2020.

Newfoundland and Labrador: The public health emergency in the province has been extended until May 31, 2020.

Northwest Territories:  The territory has entered Phase One of its Emerging Wisely Plan, and has allowed some businesses to open.

Nova Scotia: The government has eased some additional public health restrictions around COVID-19.

Nunavut:  The state of emergency in the territory has been extended until May 28, 2020.

Ontario: The province has allowed additional workplaces to re-open. More details are available here: https://www.dlapiper.com/en/canada/insights/publications/2020/05/more-ontario-businesses-prepare-to-reopen/.

The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has extended all emergency orders currently in force until May 29, 2020.

Prince Edward Island:  The state of emergency in the province has been extended until June 14, 2020.

Saskatchewan:  The province has allowed additional workplaces to re-open.

Colombia

The Ministry of Labor has issued Decree 676 in which states that COVID-19 must be considered and treated as a “labor disease” for health personnel, managers, janitors, security staff and others who work directly with health services.   Therefore, the Labor Risks Manager will be responsible for payments and social benefits in cases of infection with COVID-19.

As of May 19, 2020 the Ministry of Treasury issued Decree 677 that amends Decree 639 from 2020 with the following changes:

  • Temporary unions and consortiums constituted before January 1, 2020, which have three or more employees and which are not political organisations, are included in the list of organization which may receive the 40% salary aid for each of their employees.
  • 5 days before receiving the monetary aid, all the labor debts should be covered as an additional requirement for the employer.

Hungary

The National Public Health Centre has issued  detailed guidance on preventive sanitary measures to be followed when returning to the workplace. The document is only available in Hungarian.

 

May 19 Update 

Australia
  • Australia’s Federal Court has ruled that employees who are stood down are not eligible to receive paid sick, carer’s and compassionate leave. The court found that if there is no work available to be performed, there is no income and no protection against that which has not been lost.
  • New South Wales: the NSW Government has announced that students at NSW public schools will return to classrooms full-time from Monday 25 May.
  • Australian Capital Territory: the ACT Government has announced its roadmap, which includes an easing of restrictions on 30 May (phase two). Provided ACT continues on the current path of low COVID-19 infections, gatherings of up to 20 people will be allowed from 30 May, as well as the reopening of gyms, cinemas, beauticians and tattoo studios.
  • Western Australia: following the Australian Government’s announcement on the recommencement of elective surgery, elective surgery in Western Australia has been increased to at least 50 per cent of all normal elective surgical activity in both public and private hospitals.
  • Victoria: the Victorian Government has announced that from 1 June, cafes, restaurants and the dining areas of pubs and clubs will be able to reopen their doors to serve meals to up to 20 customers at a time per enclosed space. From 22 June, the Government has indicated this could increase to up to 50 patrons, however the Chief Health Officer will review the rates of community transmission in Victoria before any steps are taken. All venues will need to abide by existing physical distancing requirements and every patron will also have to give their first name, last name and mobile phone number if they want to enter.
South Africa  The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (“CCMA”) announced hat the CCMA offices nationally are open and fully operational from Monday 18 May 2020. In its announcement, the CCMA sets out the steps that it has taken to protect its employees and the parties attending at their offices for hearings, including that anyone wanting to gain access to their buildings must submit to compulsory screening, must wear a face mask, must apply hand santizer and must adhere to social distancing rules. With regard to the latter, only parties of 10 or less will be permitted to enter CCMA buildings or other designated venues. The communication states that failure to adhere to the rules set out in the communication will result in the matter not being heard and/or refusal of permission to access the CCMA building.
UAE

The UAE has announced that foreign national UAE residents who hold valid residence visas and who are currently abroad will be permitted to return to the country from 1 June 2020. Currently, UAE residents abroad must apply for permission to return, with priority being granted to key workers or those whose repatriation requires to be prioritised on humanitarian grounds.

In Dubai, following an easing of movement restrictions over Ramadan, the nightly curfew has been extended by two hours such that individuals are not permitted to leave their homes other than for an emergency during the hours of 20:00 and 06:00, effective 20 May 2020. Malls and shopping centres will now be open from 09:00 to 19:00 and supermarkets may operate 24 hours per day.

 

May 18 Update 

Spain

Order SND/414/2020 from the Ministry on Health, dated May 16, has been published on the official gazette (BOE).  As part of Phase 2 of the Plan for the transition for the new normal,  the Order provides for flexibility in relation to some of the national restrictions which were established as part of the Emergency Situation

The Order regulates several measures in relation to retail, hospitality etc. Section 3 continues to promote remote work. It states that provided that it is possible, remote work should be maintained when possible.

Hungary 
  • The Government envisages the state of emergency ending in June.
  • Certain businesses in the aviation industry (affected activities: aircraft/spacecraft manufacturers; aircraft/spacecraft repairs; air passenger transport) are exempted from the payment of social contribution tax for their employees if
    • their main activity is any of the activities listed above (i.e. aircraft/spacecraft manufacture; aircraft/spacecraft repair; air passenger transport),
    • the average number of employees (during the 12-month period before the state of danger) is at least 10, and
    • due to the coronavirus (causality is required) the net turnover between April 1, 2020 and May 31, 2020 of their activities diminished by at least 25% (pro rata) compared to the net turnover between January 1, 2020 and March 31, 2020.
  • As of today the Government further eased the protective measures in effect. However, different rules apply in the capitol, Budapest from the rest of the country.
    • In Budapest
      • the curfew-like restrictions are no longer in effect;
      • social distancing requirements (at least 1.5 m) must be met;
      • everyone must wear something (mask, scarf) to cover their mouth and nose in stores and on the public transport;
      • all stores may open; in restaurant-type venues guests may be served on the terraces (but not indoors), and social distancing rules must be kept;
      • the operator of the restaurant-type venue must facilitate the social distancing rules.
    • In the rest of the country
      • hotels may operate;
      • guests may be served in the indoor sections of restaurant-type venues as well, but employees working inside must wear something (mask, scarf) to cover their mouth and nose; and social distancing must also be applied.
South Africa 

The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition has published a new directive regarding e-commerce/ online sales during Alert Level 4 (“Directive”), attached hereto. In terms of the Directive all retailers selling goods on e-commerce platforms must ensure that, in addition to following the health and safety measures already issued by the Minister of Employment and Labour, employees in the e-commerce sector must also adhere to the following:

  • employees may not share face masks, equipment, stationery, utensils or similar items;
  • health and safety officers must take employees’ temperatures at the start of their shift and every four hours thereafter;
  • retailers must provide for as many payment options as possible that are based on reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19;
  • retailers must provide written guidelines for customers on how to safely disinfect goods before use; and
  • all goods must be sanitized before leaving the warehouse or depot of the retailer; and retailers must put collection protocols in place to ensure adequate social distancing is maintained by delivery service personnel.

In addition to the above, all delivery services must ensure that:

  • all delivery service personnel have their own hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, which must be refilled daily;
  • all delivery service personnel wear a cloth mask when delivering goods to customers;
  • all delivery service personnel maintain at least a 1.5m distance from other delivery services personnel and from customers when delivering goods; and
  • no delivery service personnel enters a customer’s home if the customer or anyone within the immediate vicinity is not wearing a face mask.

The directive in respect of the Temporary Employee/ Employer Relief Scheme (“TERS”) has been amended to make allowance for employees to individually apply for the COVID-19 TERS benefits if, amongst other things, the employee’s employer has failed or refused to apply for the TERS benefit on the employee’s behalf.

 

May 15 Update 

Australia 

The Australian Government has announced that elective surgery can resume across Australia. However, the resumption of elective surgeries in each state/territory will still to be determined by the government of that state/territory.

Queensland: the Queensland Government has announced that from Monday 25 May, Queensland schools will fully reopen to students from all grades. Kindy, prep, year 1 and years 11 and 12 went back to school this week.

UK

A new version of the Job Retention Scheme guidance was published yesterday: Check which employees you can put on furlough to use the job retention scheme.

The previously published guidance has also been updated to reflect the announcement of the extension of the scheme:

 

May 14 Update

Australia 

The Australian Parliament has passed new privacy laws for the COVIDSafe app. The Australian Government has also issued new regulations which limit the life of enterprise agreements that are altered using the shorter 24 hour notice period to 12 months.

The ‘mutual obligation’ JobSeeker requirements, which provide that those unemployed must attend appointments and job interviews to receive the social security payment, has been suspended until at least 1 June 2020 (with the obligation to be brought back in stages thereafter).

Following legislative changes that reduced the minimum time that workers have to consider changes to their enterprise agreements proposed by employers from one week to one day in April, the Attorney-General, Christian Porter, has signalled an intention to publish regulations that would limit any changes made to workers’ pay and condition deals with their employers in response to COVID-19 will only be in effect for 12 months. This is slated through for passage through the relevant institutions in the future.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is extending the deadline for both listed and unlisted entities to lodge certain financial reports by one month.  The extension applies to companies due to report up to and including 7 July 2020.

In specific states/territories:

  • WA: WA will reinstate compulsory school attendance from Monday 18 May. Students with medical vulnerabilities or family members with chronic health issues will be granted exemptions, but otherwise, the standard absence rules will apply in public, independent and Catholic schools.
  • Victoria: temporary regulations have been issued in Victoria allowing for electronic signatures and witnessing documents via audio visual link.
Canada 

British Columbia: The state of emergency in the province has been extended to May 26, 2020.

Northwest Territories: The government has released its plan, titled Emerging Wisely, which charts the path to easing public health restrictions. 

Ontario: The state of emergency in the province has been extended to June 2, 2020.

Saskatchewan: The state of emergency in the province has been extended to May 27, 2020.

Spain 

Royal Decree-Law 18/2020 dated May 12, published on May 13 allows temporary layoff procedures due to force majeure to be extended until June 30, 2020 and provides for an extension of the term for relief from social security contributions and for the job retention clauses.  The new regulation also establishes restrictions on dividend distributions at companies that have implemented an ERTE temporary layoff procedure, and extends the provision not allowing dismissals on grounds related to COVID-19 to June 30, 2020.   Read about the changes in full here

UK

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published guidance for employers on complying with data protection law when taking steps to manage Covid-19 health and safety risk in the workplace. The Guidance focuses on ‘testing’ of employees (which includes collecting data about symptoms and the conducting of temperature checks, and well as collecting data about Covid-19 test results), but also touches on other measures which businesses might be considering in order to monitor employee movements within the workplace.

The Guidance forms part of the ICO’s ongoing programme of guidance on data protection and the coronavirus pandemic.

Read the key takeaways from the guidance here

 

May 13 Update

Australia 

In response to the Australian Government announcing a roadmap to guide Australia out of Covid-19 lockdowns, the States/Territories have announced:

Queensland: From 16 May, the following is allowed in outback Queensland (in addition to the easing of restrictions that was previously announced):

  • Dining in: restaurants, cafes, pubs, registered and licensed clubs, RSL clubs and hotels (maximum 20 people) but for locals only (who must show their proof of residence) (again, no bars or gaming);
  • Recreational travel (500kms within the outback if the person lives in the outback).

South Australia: South Australia will become the first state to begin to fully restore elective surgery from 14 May with the lifting of the Appropriate Surgery Direction.

Victoria: Victoria has clarified that operators of various facilities are to keep a record of members of the public who attended certain facilities (including their contact phone number and the date and time)  to support contact tracing in the state.  This includes operators of physical recreational facilities, community facilities (hosting a wedding or funeral), arenas, places of worship and auction houses.

Colombia 

The National Apprentice Service (per its acronym in Spanish SENA) issued Resolution 1-0511 which extends the suspension for all administrative and disciplinary processes in course. This suspension takes place as of May 11, 2020 and up to May 24, 2020.

The suspension of terms does not apply to:

  • proceedings that are about to start, which will be managed through electronic platforms.
  • sanctions and contract breaches declarations will continue through an online process. This does not apply for claims against resolutions regarding apprentices agreements quota.  

Italy 

 

Currently in Italy there is currently a prohibition on terminating any employment contract due to “justified objective reason” (including the negative impact of the COVID-19 emergency on the business of the company) until (at least) 16 May 2020.  There is currently a draft law providing for the extension of this term for an additional 90 days - until 16 August.  The draft law is expected to be approved in the coming days.  

During the prohibited period, any withdrawal of an employment contract in breach of this rule will be considered null and void and the employee will be reinstated in his/her job position.  Disciplinary dismissals are allowed.   

Spain 

As noted in our update below, an agreement between social agencies was reached on 11 May regarding an extension of some labor measures such as:

  • Force Majeure ERTES (i.e. temporary suspension of employment or reduction of working hours) beyond the state of emergency
  • measures on exemptions from social security contributions and
  • clarification of the consequences of the breach of the maintenance of employment commitment,

among other things.  It is expected that this agreement will be made legally binding with its publication in the Official Gazette this Wednesday.

Read an English version of the agreement here. 

UAE 

In Dubai, the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management has announced that hotels may now reopen their private beaches only to their guests while enforcing stringent preventive measures, including mandatory physical distancing between individuals. Hotel pools must remain closed.  Sports and recreational activities are now also permitted in open spaces for up to five people, including cycling, water sports and skydiving, subject to strict preventative measures.

 

May 12 Update 

Australia   

The National COVID-19 Coordination Commission has released a "planning tool" to help employers plan a safe return to work as coronavirus restrictions ease. The NCCC says the tool complements the Safe Work Australia guidelines and is available here.

The Fair Work Commission has set timeline benchmarks for JobKeeper disputes that will require:

  • a first conference or hearing within 48 hours of lodgement of the application;
  • the delivering of ex tempore decisions wherever possible;
  • reserved decisions to be delivered within 48 hours of hearing; and
  • an overall lodgement to finalisation target of 90% within four days and 100% within 14 days.

Victoria: In response to the Australian Government announcing a roadmap to guide Australia out of Covid-19 lockdown, the Victorian Government has announced that state schools will gradually be returning to onsite learning from 26 May. 25 May will be a pupil free day for state schools, but then there will be a return to face-to-face learning for prep, Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 11 and Grade 12 from 26 May. Grades 3 to 10 will return from 9 June. Grades 3 to 10 will still be allowed to attend classrooms early if they are unable to learn from home.

Canada 

The government announced that is it establishing the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) to provide bridge financing to Canada’s largest employers, whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through conventional financing, in order to keep their operations going.

The Government is extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy beyond June to help kick-start the economic reopen and boost jobs.

New Brunswick: Has has entered Phase 2 of its reopening plan.

Newfoundland and Labrador: Effective today, Newfoundland and Labrador will enter Alert Level 4. Alert Level 4 permits the gradual resumption of some activities and business operations, while maintaining certain public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Nova Scotia: Has announced that its reopening plan is under development.

Prince Edward Island: Has begun to ease restrictions related to COVID-19 as of May 8, 2020.

Colombia 

The Ministry of Health has issued Newsletter 30 to clarify the conditions for working from home for those industries who restarted operations this Monday 11 of May:

  • companies must take special precautions and prioritize the possibility of working at home for employees or personnel older than 60 years and/or with diseases as diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, among other who attack the immune system
  • If it is not possible for vulnerable personnel to work remotely, the employer must reschedule the working hours so they may use public transportation when there is lower traffic of people.

The Ministry of Health also issued Resolution 735 with additional requirements on the biosafety protocol for specific industries such as: call centers, delivery and courier companies.  The measures include: 

  • cleaning the vehicle in which the commuting is done as well as the load container at every arrival and departure for the delivery,
  • courier and deliveries to have a kit with sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol to clean themselves and anything left in the vehicle,
  • packages must be covered in two different bags so the external one will be the only one to have contact with the courier/delivery person.
Hong Kong 

We are expecting to hear further details about the Employment Support Scheme (i.e. wage subsidy) later today / tomorrow.  

Estate agents subsidy: The Government has earmarked $135 million under the second round of the Anti-epidemic Fund to provide a cash subsidy to individual licensees in the estate agency sector. A one-off cash subsidy will be provided to each licensee of a salesperson's licence and an estate agent's licence (individual). The subsidy amount is equal to the 24-month licence fee of the respective licences.  The amount for a salesperson's licence is $2,510 and $3,930 for an estate agent's licence (individual). It is estimated that the measure will benefit about 40,000 individual licensees. There is no need to submit an application for the cash subsidy. The Government will provide the cash subsidy to the eligible licensees in batches through the Estate Agents Authority. The first batch of subsidies is expected to be disbursed in late May.

India 

Madhya Pradesh:  By way of an amendment to the Madhya Pradesh Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act 1961 (SO Act), the State government has exempted all establishments with 100 or less employees / workers from the applicability of SO Act.   Relaxations are also provided by way of multiple amendments in terms of: validity of license granted under the Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Madhya Pradesh Rules, 1973; applicability of Factories Act, 1948 for the next 1000 days (except for certain provisions related to safety and overtime wages), etc.  New industries which begin production for the first time in the next 1000 days will be exempted from the applicability of industrial disputes laws (except for certain provisions related to lay-off and retrenchment).

Uttar Pradesh:  The State government has exempted all factories and establishments engaged in the manufacturing process from the operation of all labour laws for a period of 3 years.  However, this exemption is subject to certain conditions, which includes among other things, that:

  • name and details of all workers should be entered electronically in attendance register
  • workers should not be paid less than minimum wages
  • the payment of wages should be credited in workers bank accounts and
  • spread over of the work should not more than 12 hours in a day, etc.

This has not yet been published in the official gazette yet (which will demonstrate that the change is in force).

Note that there are questions being raised on the constitutional validity of these changes, specifically the ones in Uttar Pradesh.

Indonesia  The Head of the National Task Force for the Acceleration of the Handling of COVID-19 has announced that the government will allow people under the age of 45 to engage in certain activities.  However, they must still follow the COVID-19 prevention protocols, such as keeping a distance from each other, avoiding crowds, wearing a mask, and often wash their hands with soap. Apparently, people under the age of 45 are less vulnerable so they can keep working and not be terminated.   
Malaysia 

Malaysia enters next phase of Conditional Movement Control Order (MCO)

Today marks the last day of the first phase of the Conditional MCO, and Malaysia now enters a further extended Conditional MCO, which currently is set to expire on 9 June. Malaysia has been under an MCO since 18 March. There are no changes to the operating conditions for employers/businesses.

Taiwan  The Ministry of Transport and Communication has amended the subsidy system for businesses operating in train stations. Previously, only the general operator was able to apply for subsidies and rent reductions. Under the new rules, the general operator may pass on up to 50% of the subsidies received from the MOTC to the individual stores. The Ministry of Economic Affairs ( MOEA) also launched a website for a streamlined subsidy application process for MOEA subsidies, and not subsidies provided by other ministries.
UK 

It was announced today that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will be extended to the end of October 2020.  Highlighting that 7.5 million jobs from nearly 1 million businesses have been furloughed, the Chancellor has indicated that the Government will continue to support people back to work as the economy reopens.

The key details are as follows:

  • The CJRS will be extended to the end of October 2020
  • Until the end of July 2020 there will be no changes at all to the terms of the scheme
  • In the period August – October 2020, the CJRS will continue for all sectors and all regions but with greater flexibility to support the transition back to work. In this period, employers who are currently using the CJRS can bring back furloughed employees part-time.
  • Employers will be asked to share the costs of employees’ salaries.  However, through a combined approach from the Government and employers, employees will receive no less than the current grant (i.e 80% of salary, capped at £2,500)

Full details will be published by the end of May 2020.

Read more on the recent UK developments here

In other developments: 

 

May 11 Update 

Australia

In response to the Australian Government announcing a roadmap to guide Australia out of Covid-19 lockdowns, the States/Territories have announced:

Queensland:  Will begin its “step one” from Saturday 16 May. People in Queensland will be allowed gatherings of 10 people in public spaces, and dining at cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs for up to 10 people at a time. There will also be travel up to 150km from home, and up to 10 wedding guests and 20 funeral guests for indoors funerals (30 guests for outdoor funerals).  The Queensland Government also announced that businesses on JobKeeper will also be exempt from payroll tax on the JobKeeper payments.

Victoria: The Victorian Government has announced that from Wednesday 13 May, there is a fifth reason to leave the home, being to visit friends and family. This means:

  • Up to five guests (family and/or friends) are allowed to visit a person’s home if they live in Victoria;
  • Up to 10 persons can be gathered together outdoors. These persons can engage in outdoor recreational activities, with the examples provided including walking, fishing, hiking and golf. The activities are still subject to physical distancing; and
  • There are no limits to how far you can travel within Victoria.
  • Other easing of restrictions include that weddings will now be able to have 10 guests (up from five guests), and up to 20 people will be able to attend funerals held indoors and up to 30 if they’re held outdoors. Restrictions will be eased for attendance of up to 10 persons at community services. Professional sporting codes are also able to resume training from 13 May.
  • The new restrictions and a renewed State of Emergency will be in place until Sunday 31 May. Workplaces should develop a Covid-19 plan in accordance with the Safe Work Australia national Covid-19 safe workplace principles.

NSW: The NSW Government has announced that from Friday 15 May, people in NSW will be allowed to have five visitors in their home and gather in groups of up to 10 people outside. Places of worship will also be open to up to 10 people. Restaurants and cafes will be open to up to 10 dine-in patrons, however these businesses must abide by physical distancing, including the four square metre rule.  Weddings will be allowed to have 10 guests, funerals will be able to have 20 attendees if held indoors and 30 if outdoors. The restrictions on regional travel within NSW remain.

WA: The Western Australian Government has announced a four-stage plan to ease lockdown restrictions.

  • Phase one: WA is currently in phase one.
  • Phase two: From Monday 18 May, WA will move to phase two, which will allow for indoor and outdoor non-work gatherings of up to 20 people, and allow restaurants, cafes, hotels and pubs to reopen for up to 20 patrons (provided they comply with physical distancing, including the 4 square metre rule). Phase two will also allow groups of up to 20 to engage in non-contact sport, swimming in outdoor pools, and indoor and outdoor fitness classes. Weddings and funerals can have up to 20 participants if indoors and 30 if outdoors. Places of worship, community facilities and libraries can reopen but are limited to 20 people. The 13 regional borders in WA will be replaced with four, allowing for travel between neighbouring regions. The hard border with the eastern states will remain in place. As part of this phase two easing, businesses and premises will need to complete an official Covid-19 Safety Plan, the details of which are to be released shortly.
  • Phase three: the WA Government has stated that phase three may happen within four weeks, however details will be confirmed in due course.

NT: The NT Government has confirmed it will ease restrictions to stage 2 in line with the roadmap previously released by the territory. From Friday 15 May, NT will see some indoor activities allowed, as well as cafes, restaurants, beauty therapy clinics and certain other businesses reopening. These activities in stage 2 will be subject to physical distancing requirements and a two hour time limit. Environmental health officers will be conducting checks to ensure compliance. Prior to resuming operation all businesses and organisations are to have a Covid-19 Safety Plan in place.

South Australia: the South Australian Government will allow outdoor dining at restaurants and cafes, and re-open university and TAFE tutorials, public libraries and pools, churches, community halls and auctions, from Monday 11 May. Groups will be limited to up to 10 people except at funerals, where 20 people are allowed to attend indoors and 30 people outdoors. Caravan and camping holidays, as well as regional travel in general, will also be permitted from 11 May.

ACT: The ACT Government has announced it will ease restrictions to allow gatherings of up to 10 people from 9 May. This includes boot camps, picnics, house inspections, auctions. Indoor funerals can now have up to 20 people, whilst outdoor funerals can have up to 30 people. Physical distancing must be followed at all times, with people to keep 1.5m apart. There should also only be one person per 4 square metres indoors when people are visiting other households.

Tasmania: the Tasmanian Government has announced that on May 11 the number of attendees allowed at a funeral will increase from 10 to 20 people. Aged care visits will also be allowed once a week for a maximum of two visitors. National Parks and reserves will open to residents who live no more than 30km away.

The Australian Government has temporarily suspended early access of up to $10,000 in super this financial year and next, after the Australian Federal Police confirmed it is investigating cases of fraud.  The Australian Government has also announced it is delaying the implementation of the findings of the banking royal commission for six months.

Brazil 

The governor of the State of São Paulo has extended quarantine until May 31.  The governor of the State of Rio has also extended quarantine until May 31 but lockdown is under discussion for the coming weeks.

Canada 

The Federal government of Canada has reached an agreement with all the provinces and territories to top-up the wages of essential workers. More details on this top-up program are to come as the details are still being worked out with a few provinces.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, in collaboration with provincial and territorial privacy commissioners, has released a guidance document to provide privacy principles for contract tracing and similar apps.

Alberta: The Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Code has been amended to permit the use of additional types of respiratory protective equipment (including FFP2, KN95, P2, Korea 1st class, and DS respirators) at work sites.

British Columbia: The province has entered stage 1 of a 4-stage restart plan. Phase 2 is currently scheduled to begin in mid-May. Phase 3 is targeted to begin sometime between June and September of 2020, depending upon the progress of Phases 1 and 2.

Manitoba: The province has released a multi-phase Restoring Safe Services Plan, with phase 1 having commenced on May 4, 2020 and phase 2 to commence no earlier than June 1, 2020.

Ontario: The state of emergency in the province has been extended until May 19, 2020.  The government has begun to ease restrictions on the operations of certain businesses (garden centres, nurseries, hardware and safety supply stores, and retail stores capable of providing curbside pickup).

Quebec: The public health emergency in the province has been renewed until May 13, 2020. The government has indicated that it is safe for workers under 70 years of age to return to work if they are part of the gradual reopening of businesses, provided that hygienic and social distancing measures are respected within the work place.

Colombia 

The Colombian President has issued Decree 639 which sets out a new program to support employment with a payroll benefit for companies.  Terms and conditions to access this benefit are:

  • It applies to companies incorporated before January 1, 2020.
  • The company must certify a decrease of 20% or more of its income. This certification must be signed by the legal representative and the fiscal auditor or public accountant, as it may apply.
  • The benefit applies only for May, June and July 2020.
  • The benefit corresponds to 40% of a current legal monthly minimum wage per employee (this is COP$351.124, approximately USD$92 ).

The Treasury Ministry issued Newsletter 21 ruling on subsidy to be granted to employers.  The subsidy will be 40% of the minimum legal monthly wage for employees of companies that have had a 20% of reduction in their income.  This is an a new measure to protect employment. This Newsletter also postponed income tax payment until December 2020.

Bogota’s mayor issued Decree 126 setting forth additional transitional measures for managing the risk derived from the pandemic in Bogotá: The main measures are:

  • Industries allowed to restart operation will need to enforce hygiene and clearance measures for staff, customers and operation as determined by the mentioned Decree and other regulations issued such as Resolution 666 by Ministry of Health.
  • Health Secretary will adapt strategic areas in order to test people massively and randomly, also to train and teach preventive measures and disinfection sessions.
  • Pedestrian and biking sides will be adapted in order to promote the individual transportation.

Not complying with the regulations may incurred in monetary sanctions or even deprivation of liberty up to 8 years.

The President also issued Decree 636 of 2020 ordering the extension of the national lockdown to Monday May 25, 2020.  However, this decree allows certain new sectors to restart operations, as follows:  

  1. Currency exchange.
  2. Fishery resources.
  3. Gambling and games of chance.
  4. Sea and river dredging.
  5. Harbor activities.
  6. Transportation and public infrastructure and its supplies.
  7. Construction and all the supply chain.
  8. Air operation.
  9. Maintenance, fabrication and repair to computers and electronic devices.
  10. Products for vehicles.
  11. Bicycles and all the supplies for their maintenance.
  12. Books and handcraft materials.
  13. Appraisal for real state.
  14. Public parking lots.
  15. Laundry services.

Regional authorities will be able to modify the conditions of the sectors who restart operations if necessary to control the outbreak of COVID-19.

The President also issued Decree 637 which declares a new Economic, Social and Ecological Emergency for 30 days as of May 6, 2020. This allows the President to issue decrees with force of law to rule in matters where Government deems convenient its intervention.

Hong Kong 

ID card replacement to resume: The Immigration Department announced that the operation of all nine Smart Identity Card Replacement Centres will be fully resumed on May 11 in light of the more stabilised epidemic situation.

Support scheme applications set: The Government will launch the Subsidy Scheme for Beauty Parlours, Massage Establishments & Party Rooms under the second round of the Anti-epidemic Fund on May 11. Under the scheme, each eligible beauty parlour or massage establishment will receive a one-off tiered subsidy of $30,000, $60,000 or $100,000, depending on its number of workers. Each eligible party room will receive a one-off subsidy of $40,000.

Coach drivers scheme opens: The Tour Service Coach Drivers (Mainly Serving Tourists) Support Scheme, under the second round of the Anti-epidemic Fund, is open for applications from today to June 5. The scheme will provide each tour service coach driver with a one-off subsidy of $10,000.

Scheduled premises' rules clarified: Premises can still operate other licensed businesses which are not required to be suspended if they were operating more than one licensed business before the closure. Certain scheduled premises, namely karaoke establishments, clubs or nightclubs, party rooms and bathhouses, should remain closed until May 21. However, these scheduled premises may still operate other licensed businesses if the operators have implemented all measures to effectively stop or avoid operation of businesses and offering services which are required to be suspended.  Facilities, installations and equipment for karaoke activities are closed or properly sealed off and notices are posted in prominent locations at the entrances clearly indicating that only catering services but no karaoke services are provided in the premises. Other scheduled premises operating more than one licensed business can adopt similar measures to operate other licensed businesses which are not required to be suspended, the bureau added.

India 

In light of the Bombay High Court decision in Align Components Private Limited v. Union of India (Writ petition 10569 of 2020), the labour department of Madhya Pradesh has allowed employers to deduct wages of employees refusing to come to work in the industries which are allowed to operate during the lockdown.

Gujarat:  The government has released guidelines regarding activities permitted in the red, orange, and green zones of the State.     

Noida: To streamline the issuance of passes to industrial units, the district authorities have launched an online portal (https://ipassgbn.azurewebsites.net/). The facility for obtaining permission through emails has also been introduced for industries by providing necessary details of the unit.

Uttar Pradesh: The government has released a format for the application to be submitted by industrial units (along with the self-declaration of compliance with social distancing measures) for operations during the lockdown.

Haryana (Gurgaon): The authorities have released guidelines for the operation of industries and commercial establishments in the territorial jurisdiction of Gurgaon.

Karnataka: The government has issued an advisory for IT/ITES companies which covers various measures including operating practices, material movement and actions to be taken on detection of COVID-19 case in the workplace.  The government has also permitted inter district movement of individuals and vehicles to undertake the permitted activities. For this,  Bengaluru Urban and Bengaluru Rural will be treated as a single unit for movement during daytime between 7am to 7pm with no requirement to obtain movement passes as official company letter /  ID card would suffice for the purpose.

Maharashtra (Navi Mumbai):  The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation issued revised guidelines on the measures to be put in place for the lockdown period till 17 May.   The government has relaxed working hours provision for the factories located in the state. 

Madhya Pradesh:  The government has issued orders with revised guidelines to extend the lockdown in the state till 17 May 2020.   The government has also released guidelines regarding activities permitted in the red, orange, and green zones in the State.       

Indonesia 

A Circular Letter issued by the Ministry of Manpower on the implementation of the religious day benefit (THR) states among other things:

  • Companies should pay THR in accordance with the prevailing regulations.
  • If a company cannot pay THR, through dialogue between the company and the employees, they should reach agreement on the following:
    • THR will be paid in stages if the company cannot pay it in full in a timely manner;
    • payment of THR can be postponed until an agreed date, if the company cannot pay any of the THR at the specified time;
    • when and how the fine for late payment of the THR will be paid.
  • The agreement between the parties must be submitted to the local Manpower office.
  • The agreement on when and how THR will be paid will not release the company from its obligation to pay the 2020 THR and a fine for the late payment under the prevailing regulations. The 2020 THR and its fine should be paid in 2020.
Ireland 

The Irish National Return to Work Safely Protocol was published on Saturday 9 May.   The Protocol sets out guidelines for employers to prevent the spread of Covid19.  Read the details here.  

Malaysia 

The government has stated that the authorities will shut down the entire operations of any company that has even one worker who tests positive for COVID-19.

Netherlands 

On Wednesday, 6 May 2020, the Dutch government announced what government restrictions that were put in place due to Covid-19, will be lifted or loosened.

As from 11 May 2020:

  • Employees in contact-professions are allowed to perform their activities again. This includes e.g. driving instructors, hair and beauty salons and alternative medicine practitioners. There are a few conditions:
    • Employees should keep a 1.5 meters distance from their customers, if possible;
    • Employees can only see customers by appointment;
    • When making the appointment, possible health risks should be assessed together with the customer.
  • Primary schools, primary schools for special care, and day care centers will re-open under certain conditions.
  • Adults can play sports outdoors, such as tennis and golf, as long as they keep a distance of 1.5 meters from each other. Matches and competition sports are not allowed and nor is the use of shared changing rooms or showers.

As from 1 June 2020:

  • Secondary schools will re-open.
  • Establishments serving food and drinks (such as cafés and restaurants) may re-open outdoor seating areas as long as their customers can keep a distance of 1.5 meters from each other.
  • Cinemas, restaurants, cafés and cultural institutions will re-open, subject to the following conditions:
    • No more than 30 people (including staff) are allowed inside and everyone must be able to keep a distance of 1.5 meters from each other;
    • A reservation needs to be made before visiting;
    • When making the appointment, possible health risks should be assessed together with the customer.
  • Museums and heritage sites will re-open. Visitors must buy a ticket beforehand, to ensure that everyone can keep a distance of 1.5 meters from each other.
  • Everyone travelling with public transport will be required to wear a (non-medical) face mask.

As from 1 July 2020:

  • Shared toilets and shower blocks at campsites and holiday parks can re-open.
  • The maximum number of visitors allowed at cinemas, restaurants, cafés and cultural institutions is increased to 100.
  • The maximum number of participants at organized gatherings, such as church services, weddings and funerals is increased to 100.

As from 1 September 2020:

  • Gyms, saunas, health clubs, club canteens, coffee shops, casinos and sex clubs will re-open.
  • People of all ages will be allowed to participate in contact sports and indoor sports.
  • Sports events, including professional football matches, can take place without spectators.

Measures that continue to apply:

  • Everyone needs to keep a distance of at least 1.5 meters from each other.
  • Everyone is strongly advised to work from home as much as possible.
  • Everyone is strongly advised to stay at home if they do not feel well;
  • Everyone is encouraged to regularly wash their hands and to sneeze and cough into their elbow;
  • The public transport and shops are required to take all necessary measures to ensure that people keep a distance of at least 1.5 meters from each other.
Singapore 

The Ministry of Health announced on 2 May 2020 that some of the tightened circuit breaker measures would be eased gradually over the following weeks as local transmission numbers reduce and to allow select economic activities to resume. The gradual re-opening of work places will be done progressively, taking into account various factors including the ability to minimize transmission risks at the workplaces. This would entail more stringent requirements on all employers, further details of which have now been provided by the Ministry of Manpower and the Ministry of Trade and Industry on 6 May 2020 and 9 May 2020 respectively.  Read full details of the safety requirements on employers here

Spain 

An agreement between social agencies was reached on 11 May regarding an extension of some labor measures such as:

  • Force Majeure ERTES (i.e. temporary suspension of employment or reduction of working hours) beyond the state of emergency
  • measures on exemptions from social security contributions and
  • clarification of the consequences of the breach of the maintenance of employment commitment,

among other things.  It is expected that this agreement will be made legally binding with its publication in the Official Gazette this Wednesday.

On May 9, new Order SND/399/2020 was published by the Ministry of Health regarding the flexibility of national restrictions due to the emergency situation during implementation of Phase 1 of the transition to the new normal.  It includes regulations in relation to health and safety in the workplace.

Sweden 

Summary of new measures proposed by the government

Extended reimbursement for the first day of sickness: The reimbursement for the first day of sickness, which would originally been valid until 31 May, is proposed to be extended for four months to 30 September 2020. Additionally, the standard compensation is increased by SEK 104 from 1 June. This means that anyone who has been ill and receives a salary deduction can apply for a standard compensation of SEK 804 from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency from that date.

Waived requirement for medical certificate: The government has proposed that the requirement to show a medical requirement shall be waived until 30 September 2020, in order to reduce the burden on the health care system. The temporary rules imply that a person does not have to prove his or her absence with a medical certificate during the first 14 days of sickness in order to receive sick pay or sickness benefit, compared to the usual rules according to which a medical certificate is to be submitted from the eighth day of sickness.

State responsibility for sick pay costs is extended and adjusted: The state is currently covering the employer's costs for sick pay for April and May 2020. It has now been proposed that this state aid shall be extended to cover sick pay costs during June and July. From 1 August to 30 September, the state will reimburse employers for higher sick pay costs as a result of the corona pandemic. The government is currently preparing the details of the proposal.

Increased unemployment benefit from day 101: The Government has proposed that the cap for unemployment benefit scheme's income-related remuneration shall be increased for remuneration day 1010 and onwards from SEK 760 to SEK 1000 per day. The increase is temporary and applies from June 29, 2020 to January 3, 2021.

Taiwan 

The Ministry of Labor has announced extended subsidies for adversely affected employees with disabilities and sheltered work spaces. These subsidies are intended to provide necessary additional special assistance.  The Ministry of Labour also announced extensions for microloans that are available until December 31.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC) announced a four-step plan to relax COVID-19 related restrictions on travel, including the facemask ban and the reduced max. capacity on trains.  The MOTC also announced a taxi fuel subsidy of up to NT$2,000 per month, which comes in addition to the regular subsidies of up to NT$10,000 per month and NT$18,960 per month for training. This fuel subsidy is available for up to 6 months.

The Centre for Disease Control announced that businesses who are currently closed due to COVID-19 may reopen if they comply with the social-distancing guidelines. The decision regarding this compliance will be issued by the local governments.

The Ministry of Education announced a NT$2 billion subsidy plan for the sports industry and affected employees. Applications are open and can be filed online under https://rev.sa.gov.tw/Apply

UAE 

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (“MOHRE”) has urged private sector employers located ‘onshore’ in the UAE not to terminate employees infected with Covid-19. However, no legislative protections have been introduced and MOHRE confirmed that any complaint concerning the termination of employment due to Covid-19 would be handled in accordance with existing legislation and practices. MOHRE has not yet issued any guidance on terminations resulting from Covid-19, with Ministerial Resolution No. 279 of 2020 (please see our April 1 update) not referencing redundancies.

UK 

On Sunday 10 May, the Prime Minister set out a conditional plan for easing lockdown.   The key points announced so far for England include:

  • Employers are permitted to be open for business unless they are on the prescribed list issued by the Government at the start of the lockdown in March.  
  • From Wednesday 13 May, employees who are unable to work from home and whose employer is open for business are able to travel into work. 
  • Employees should avoid public transport when travelling to work and travel by car, where possible, or preferably by bicycle or walking.   
  • The Government is anticipating that there will be a phased reopening of schools from 1 June 2020, starting with Reception, Year 1 and Year 6.   
  • While the lockdown continues, from Wednesday 13 May, people may take unlimited amounts of exercise outdoors, sit in the sun, drive to other destinations and play sports with members of the same household. 
  • Social distancing rules must be followed at all times.

There are slightly different rules in place for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  

On 11 May, the Government published guidance for employers to help get businesses back up and running and workplaces operating safely.  The guidance covers 8 workplace settings which are allowed to be open, from outdoor environments and construction sites to factories and takeaways.  This sets out practical steps for businesses focused on 5 key points, which should be implemented as soon as it is practical:

  • Employees to work from home, if they can
  • Employers to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade union
  • All workers to maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible
  • Where workers cannot be 2 metres apart, manage transmission risk
  • Cleaning processes to be reinforced 

Read more in the government's publications:  

Ukraine 

On May 9, the Chief State Sanitary Doctor of Ukraine adopted 5 Resolutions on temporary rules for businesses are opening from today, namely for:

  • beauty salons and hairdressers/barbershops;
  • dentists;
  • restaurants (and similar);
  • shops who are specializing in the products other than groceries;
  • businesses which can operate and have visitors. These rules are to be applied within the period of quarantine.

The Resolutions enter into force on May 11. The main rules for businesses which can operate and have visitors are as follows:

  • Temperature screening before commencement of work is obligatory for all employees. Employees with a temperature above 37.2°C or with signs of respiratory illness are not allowed to work;
  • Employees and visitors are allowed to be in premise only if wearing mask/respirator;
  • Pre-registration for visitors to enter the premises is needed. The interval between visits should be planned in a way which is sufficient for avoidance of contact between visitors. Waiting zone for visitors must be outside of premises and the social distance (1.5 m.) should be kept between visitors;
  • At the entrance to the premises the “antiseptic” station should be placed;
  • Number of visitors is limited: one visitor per 10 sq. m. of service area;
  • There shall be at least 1.5 m. between the places of service provision. Advertising printing materials shall be unavailable for visitors;
  • The employer is obliged:
    • to provide antiseptics, soap and paper towels;
    • to inform clients about restrictions and conditions of service at the entrance to the premise, during telephone calls and on the Internet;
    • to make a marking that would indicate a social distance (1.5 m.) both in and out the premise;
    • to ensure wet cleaning with sanitizers at the end of working day and airing at least every 2 hour within the working day and after the end of the working day;
    • to collect used personal protective equipment and paper napkins in separate  (from the rest of the garbage) trash boxes with disposable plastic bags;
    • temporarily suspend people from risk category from work (people over 60, people with chronic diseases that inhibit immunity)
  • The employee is obliged:
    • to wash hands regularly or treat them with antiseptic at least once per 3 hours, and after visiting public places, WC, providing services etc.;
    • to abstain from contact with people who have symptoms of respiratory illness (cough, fever, etc.);
    • to self-isolate when symptoms of respiratory illness are detected.

On May 4, 2020, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine amended previously adopted resolutions relating to COVID-19. The changes were published on May 08, 2020 and come into force on May 11, 2020.  The changes include:

  • Quarantine and quarantine measures were prolonged until 22 May with the lifting of some the quarantine measures (see below);
  • Visiting parks, squares, recreation areas, forest parks and coastal areas, as well as children's and sports grounds are allowed;
  • Some businesses of trade and consumer services are allowed to operate (e.g. shops, open terraces of restaurants, etc.). In addition to other sanitary requirements, business may operate if:
    • all employees are provided with personal protective equipment for eyes, face and hands;
    • number of visitors is limited: one visitor per 10 sq. m. of premise;
  • Cafes are allowed to operate (only takeaway or outdoor – in case of outdoor, additional epidemiological requirements are established);
  • Notaries, attorneys, auditors and psychologists are allowed to work;
  • The business can allow for visitors only if there is a decision of shareholders/management on the access of visitors to the premises and provided that both employees and visitors are supplied with certain individual protection measures;
  • Epidemiological requirements for businesses to operate during quarantine will be established in the future by the Chief Sanitary Doctor of Ukraine.

On May 7, 2020, the Parliament of Ukraine adopted changes to the law regarding COVID-19, these amendments will be valid for the period of quarantine and two months after it ends. The final version of the changes has not been made public yet, but based on the draft, we expect the following changes to be introduced:

  • Medical interns, without a qualification category, may be hired on a voluntary basis in medical institutions, with restrictions on such hiring (restrictions will be set later by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine);
  • Medical workers who are treated in medical institutions or in self-isolation receive a temporary disability allowance in the amount of 100% of their average salary, regardless of their length of insurance service;
  • Introduction of additional coronavirus testing for:
    • persons seeking medical attention with signs of coronavirus;
    • persons who were in contact with a person with coronavirus.
  • Regular coronavirus testing is introduced for:
    • medical and other workers who work in health facilities;
    • members of the police and the National Guard.
US 

On May 7, 2020, the EEOC posted an updated and expanded technical assistance publication addressing questions arising under the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Laws related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The newly added questions and answers, G.3, G.4., and G.5., provide information about the accommodation of employees with underlying medical conditions.  The answer to G.4. was revised after initial posting to clarify that the ADA does not allow exclusion of employees simply because they have an underlying medical condition that the CDC says might pose a higher risk of severe illness if the individual contracts COVID-19. See the updated technical assistance here.

On May 7, 2020, the EEOC announced that it will delay the anticipated opening of the 2019 EEO-1 Component 1 data collection and the 2020 EEO-3 and EEO-5 data collections because of the current pandemic. The EEO surveys collect data from employers in different sectors of the workforce. The EEOC was planning to open the following EEO surveys in 2020: the 2019 EEO-1 Component 1 (Employer Information Report); the 2020 EEO-3 (Local Report); and the 2020 EEO-5 (Elementary-Secondary Staff Information Report). The EEOC acknowledged that delaying the collections until 2021 will ensure that EEO filers are better positioned to provide accurate, valid and reliable data in a timely manner.EEO-1,  EEO-3 and EEO-5 filers should begin preparing to submit data in 2021.

States continue to announce the easing of restrictions and reopening plans. Recent developments include:

  • On May 7, 2020, following up on the state’s announcement that it will begin modifying the stay at home order on Friday, May 8, Governor Gavin Newsom announced updated industry guidance – including for retail, manufacturing and logistics – to begin reopening with modifications that reduce risk and establish a safer environment for workers and customers. The guidance provides that, before opening, all facilities must:
    • Perform a detailed risk assessment and implement a site-specific protection plan
    • Train employees on how to limit the spread of COVID-19, including how to screen themselves for symptoms and stay home if they have them
    • Implement individual control measures and screenings
    • Implement disinfecting protocols
    • Implement physical distancing guidelines

Before re-opening, all facilities must first perform a detailed risk assessment and implement a site-specific protection plan. Adaptations need to be made before Stage 2 workplaces can open – currently that includes modifications like curbside pickup at retail locations. 

  • On May 7, 2020, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced details on phase one of reopening the state. Some counties will be eligible to begin the limited reopening of additional business sectors beginning as early as May 15 if they have demonstrated they have met all prerequisites for reopening.

 

May 7 Update

 
Argentina 

On April 11, the National Government issued Decree No. 355/2020 through which exemption from mandatory isolation and lockdown was extended to personnel concerned in certain activities and/or who live in certain regions, exempted activities were listed as follows:

  • Banking activity with customer service.
  • Car repair shops (restricted to vehicles used for essential activities).
  • Automobile’s spare parts sale.
  • Tire shops.
  • Sale of school and computer supplies (exclusively with delivery method)

On April 14, Decree 367/2020 was issued whereby occupational risk insurers must consider Covid-19 "presumed to be an occupational disease" and may not "refuse to provide coverage" for workers considered essential and who are exempt from quarantine.

On April 18th, the government issued an Administrative Resolution 524/2020 which exempts the certain activities from mandatory isolation and lockdown.   

On April 22, Resolution No. 344/2020 of the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security established that a virtual platform, which ensures the guarantees of due process, will be used for meetings and administrative actions.   

On April 26, Decree No. 408/2020 stated that each province may establish exceptions to the public circulation restriction, with prior approval of the local health authority and as long as the required conditions are fulfilled. However, this does not apply to cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants or to the following activities:

  • Face-to-face classes at all levels of education
  • Crowded events
  • Shopping malls, cinemas, theatres, museums among others
  • Tourist activities

If an exception is established, a monitoring of the epidemic situation should be performed and the results should be informed to the National Government.

To date, no mandatory protocols have been established by government authorities for workers that are back to their normal activities. However, we expect that the measures to be taken should be the most restrictive and preventive ones (mandatory utilization of face mask, gloves –if necessary- and keep social distancing).

On April 28, the Labor Ministry issued resolution No. 38/2020 which established a specific procedure to be followed in case an employee reports a case of Covid-19. As well, through Resolution No. 40/2020 the Ministry determined that workers affected by Covid-19 disease will be able to make submissions online to the Central Medical Commission (Comisión Medica Central) and the Jurisdictional Medical Commission (Comisión Médica Local) through the online “Distance Procedures System” (TAD).

Under the agreement signed by the General Labor Confederation (CGT), the Argentine Industrial Union (UIA) and the National Government, among with Resolution No. 397/2020 issued by the Ministry of Labor, it was determined that suspensions of employment in accordance with article 223 b of the LCT, will have a time limit of 60 days effective as of April 1, 2020, with the guarantee of the continuity of the jobs during the time the suspension takes effect. The non-remunerative amount to be paid by employers may not be less than 75% of the employees´ net income, and, over that amount, contributions will be paid.  These provisions do not not apply to employees exempted from attending their workplaces under any of the resolutions and decrees issued previously.   Joint submissions made by trade unions and companies, as long as they are in accordance with the content of the agreement and is included the list of affected/concerned employees, will be approved.

 
Australia 

Return to Work: The Australian Government has published the National COVID-19 Safe Workplace Principles aimed at getting Australians back to work. The principles are to operate subject to recommendations and actions taken by the National Cabinet and is inclusive of worker’s rights to a healthy and safe working environment while encouraging workplaces to operate on the advice of health authorities. The principles are intended to adhere to State and Territory laws on Workplace Health and Safety. To complement this, Safe Work Australia has developed nationally-consistent, industry-specific COVID-19 OHS Guidance, based on a set of safe work principles agreed by the National Cabinet.  Read more about Australia's return to work plans here

The Fair Work Commission will approve consent coronavirus-driven changes to the Vehicle Manufacturing, Repair Services and Retail Award if it doesn't receive any objections by 7 May. The proposed award change allows for annual leave flexibilities and a capacity for employers that have closed down to direct employees to take paid annual leave.

ACT: The ACT Government has announced a plan to return children to classrooms.

  • From Monday 18 May: all preschool, kindergarten, year 1, 2 and 7 students will return to their usual school for on-campus learning, and year 11 and 12 students will attend a combination of on-campus and remote learning.
  • From Monday 25 May: all year 3, 4 and 10 students will return to their usual schools.
  • From Tuesday 2 June: all students in years 5, 6, 8 and 9 will return to their usual schools, meaning all year groups will have returned to on-campus learning.
  • Remote learning will remain available for students with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems.

Queensland: the Queensland Government has announced a slight easing of restrictions. From Sunday 10 May, five members from the same household will be allowed to visit another household. There is no limit on how many people are in the household that is being visited.

 
Denmark 

The Danish Prime minister announced today that the next step in the opening phase is that all stores and shopping centers can open again Monday 11. May 2020.  

Children in 6th grade to 10th grade are coming back to school Monday 18. May 2020 (child care and school children in 0 – 5th grade are already back in school).

Restaurants and cafes can open again from 18 May 2020.  

The guidelines and restrictions from the Government regarding the opening are still not available – but are expected within a short time.

There is still a general restriction on gatherings of more than 10 people in public places.

The borders are still closed.

 
Germany 

The German government has decided to further relax the lockdown. Measure include, among other things:

  • All shops can open again, but must implement a concept for access to the store, maximum number of person in the sales area, Extension of childcare as of 11 May 2020 (kindergarten etc)
  • Continue to gradually open schools before the summer break
  • Restaurants can open gradually
  • Continue to keep social distance of 1.5m
  • Obligation to wear masks in certain public areas (e.g. shops, public transport)

The details must be decided by the local governments.

 

Hungary 

As 7 May, the Government eased travel restrictions for those travelling into Hungary from a neighbouring country who are citizens of the neighbouring country (or Hungarian citizens without domicile in Hungary) if they are coming to Hungary for employment in the agricultural sector: 

  • Employees in question may only enter into Hungary at the border crossing designated by the Hungarian head of Police (on the Police website), and only in groups.
  • The employer shall provide a prior notification to the employee of the requirements and projected date of entry in the employee’s native language.
  • The employer shall – at least 48 hours before the entry – notify the border crossing in question electronically of the entry, name of the entering employee, ID number of the employee, the planned place of employment and accommodation, and the planned duration of employment. These data shall also be sent to the infectious disease authority three days before the planned entry.
  • The employee may only enter Hungary after a health check showing no sign of COVID-19 infection.
  • A valid and effective contract of employment is also a prerequisite of entry.
  • Employees entering via the above means shall be in a special quarantine for 14 days (e.g. employees may leave the accommodation only for work).
  • The exiting of the employee shall also be notified to the relevant border crossing and to the infectious disease authority.
 
US 

On May 5, 2020, the EEOC announced new technical assistance guidance on accommodating employees with medical conditions, then later removed one of three additions because it had been “misinterpreted.” Additional guidance is expected in light of the clarification.

States continue to announce the easing of restrictions and reopening plans. For example:

  • On May 5, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced details of a five-phased plan, “Restore Illinois” to reopen Illinois, which will operate on a region-by-region basis. According to Governor Pritzker, Illinois began phase two of its reopening plan on May 1, when a modified order took effect allowing some businesses to reopen. In Phase 3, manufacturing, offices, retail, barbershops and salons can reopen to the public with capacity and other limits and safety precautions.
  • On May 4, 2020, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined additional guidelines for when regions can re-open and which industries and businesses can open in each phase of the state's re-opening plan. Businesses considered "more essential" with inherent low risks of infection in the workplace and to customers will be prioritized, followed by other businesses considered "less essential" or those that present a higher risk of infection spread. Regions must not open attractions or businesses that would draw a large number of visitors from outside the local area. The Governor also outlined new safety precautions that each business must put in place upon re-opening, including:
    • Adjust workplace hours and shift design as necessary to reduce density in the workplace;
    • Enact social distancing protocols;
    • Restrict non-essential travel for employees;
    • Require all employees and customers to wear masks if in frequent contact with others;
    • Implement strict cleaning and sanitation standards;
    • Enact a continuous health screening process for individuals to enter the workplace;
    • Continue tracing, tracking and reporting of cases; and
    • Develop liability processes.
  • On May 4, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the State will move into Stage 2 of modifying the stay at home order on Friday, May 8, with guidelines to be released Thursday, May 7 for certain Stage 2 sectors, including some retail, manufacturing and logistics businesses. Businesses and employers in those sectors will be able to open as soon as Friday if they can meet the guidelines provided by the State.
  • On May 1, 2020, Indiana Governor Holcomb issued an executive order setting forth a schedule for a phased reopening of the state’s economy. The order requires all employers wishing to continue operations or reopen to implement a safety plan by Monday, May 11. The plan must be publicly posted and provided to each employee. At a minimum, the plan must address the following four points:
    • Instituting an employee health screening process
    • Employing enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols for the workplace, including regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces
    • Enhancing the ability of employees, customers, and clients to wash hands or take other personal hygiene measures such as the use of hand sanitizer
    • Complying with social distancing requirements established by the CDC, including maintaining six-foot social distancing for both employees and members of the public when possible and/or employing other separation measures such as wearing face coverings or using barriers

On May 3, 2020, the SBA updated its FAQs regarding the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) under the CARES Act to address . The updated FAQs address whether a borrower’s PPP loan forgiveness amount (pursuant to section 1106 of the CARES Act and SBA’s implementing rules and guidance) will be reduced if the borrower laid off an employee, offered to rehire the same employee, but the employee declined the offer. According to the FAQ, “as an exercise of the Administrator’s and the Secretary’s authority under Section 1106(d)(6) of the CARES Act to prescribe regulations granting de minimis exemptions from the Act’s limits on loan forgiveness, SBA and Treasury intend to issue an interim final rule excluding laid-off employees whom the borrower offered to rehire (for the same salary/wages and same number of hours) from the CARES Act’s loan forgiveness reduction calculation. The interim final rule will specify that, to qualify for this exception, the borrower must have made a good faith, written offer of rehire, and the employee’s rejection of that offer must be documented by the borrower. Employees and employers should be aware that employees who reject offers of re-employment may forfeit eligibility for continued unemployment compensation.”

 

 

May 6 Update

Australia

The Australian Government has amended the Corporations Act to allow companies to hold fully virtual Annual General Meetings and let company officers sign documents electronically. The changes being announced will allow companies to convene annual general meetings, and other meetings prescribed under the Corporations Act, entirely online rather than face-to-face. These temporary changes will be valid for six months starting from 6 May.

Canada

The federal government announced $77 million in subsidies to be allocated to food processors in order to protect the safety of their workers. The money can be used to purchased more PPE, adjust hygiene protocols or promote other social distancing rules. The money will also help processors adapt their plants so they can produce more goods domestically.

Colombia 

The President has ordered the extension of the national lockdown to Monday May 25, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.  Only companies from the authorized sectors (construction and manufacturing, up to now) will be allowed to reopen provided that they have previous authorization from the local authorities.

Hong Kong  Detailed directions have been issued in relation to catering business: 
  • Tables available for use or being used by customers within any premises on which food or drink is sold or supplied for consumption on the premises (catering premises) must be arranged in a way to ensure there is a distance of at least 1.5m or some form of partition which could serve as effective buffer between one table and another table at the premises;
  • No more than 8 people may be seated together at one table within any catering premises;
  • A person must wear a mask at any time within any catering premises, except when the person is consuming food or drink on the premises;
  • Body temperature screening must be conducted before the person is allowed to enter the catering premises;
  • Hand sanitisers must be provided at any catering premises for any person at the premises; and
  • In respect of bars, pubs or the part of the catering premises that is exclusively or mainly used for the sale or supply of intoxicating liquors for consumption in that premises or in that part of the catering premises:
    • the number of customers must not at any one time exceed 50% of the normal seating capacity;
    • no more than 4 persons may be seated together at one table therein, irrespective of the hour of operation; and
    • live performance and dancing must not be allowed therein 
  • All karaoke activities carried on at any catering premises must be suspended.

Hungary 

Certain health and safety assessments may be postponed until the 60th day following the end of the state of emergency.  These include: assessment of hazardous and non-hazardous work equipment, examination of electrical equipments, etc.

India 

Extension of lockdown:  Further to the extension of national lockdown, the State governments of Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, and Bihar have also issued orders with revised guidelines to extend the lockdown in the respective states till 17 May 2020.  The authorities in Pune have released a list of micro-containment zones, and revised guidelines required to be followed during the period.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): The governments of Delhi and Telangana have released SOPs for entities engaging construction work. As per the SOP, the entities have to, among other things:

  • make thermal screening mandatory
  • make provision for water, soaps, and hand sanitizers
  • provide hand gloves and face mask, etc.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has allowed the SEZs and EOUs units located in Tamil Nadu under the jurisdiction of Madras Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) Special Economic Zone (except those which fall in a “containment zone”), to continue their operation. However, this is subject to fulfilment of certain conditions by units falling within and outside the limits of Greater Chennai Police.     

Maharashtra: The government has exempted the late fee payable (under the Maharashtra State Tax on Professions, Trades, Callings and Employments Act, 1975) by the employers regarding monthly or annual returns for the period up to March 2020 and monthly period of April 2020. This exemption is subjected to fulfilment of certain eligibility conditions, which includes- i) any amount payable (tax + interest) as per return should have been / shall be paid on or before the filing of returns; and ii) the employers should submit the returns pertaining to any periods up to April 2020 on or before 31 May 2020.

Haryana: The government has announced that all the MSME units in Haryana will be eligible for 100% interest benefit on loans availed for payment of wages to employees and / or other expenses up to a maximum of INR 20,000 per employee. This is however subject to certain conditions, which includes inter alia that- the unit should have been in the commercial production for at least 80% of days between 1 February 2020 and 15 March 2020; units should have a running account term loan / working capital loan from commercial bank / financial institution, etc.   

Immigration: The Ministry of Home Affairs has ordered that all existing visas granted to foreigners shall remain suspended until the restriction on international air travel from / to India is lifted by the Government of India.

Indonesia  The West Java Governor issued Circular Letter No. 460/71/Hukham which provides technical guidelines on Large Scale Social Restrictions (“LSSR”) in West Java which apply to transportation. The guidelines include a restriction on the number of passengers, the operating hours of transport providers and the mobilization of freight transportation during the LSSR.
Taiwan 

Taiwan nationals stranded in Hubei province are now allowed to return to Taiwan on their own, meaning they are not required to return via government organised repatriation. Upon arrival, they will still be required to conduct 14 day mandatory quarantine.

Baseball games will be allowed up to 1000 spectators, instead of the originally planned 250.

 

May 5 Update 

Australia

At the Reserve Bank of Australia’s meeting today, the Reserve Bank of Australia decided to maintain the current policy settings, including the targets for the cash rate and the yield on 3-year Australian Government bonds of 25 basis points.

The Australian Government has released its draft legislation, the Privacy Amendment (Public Health Contact Information) Bill 2020 (Bill), to support the COVIDSafe app and provide ongoing privacy protections. The Bill will reinforce the protections set out in the Determination made by the Minister for Health under the Biosecurity Act 2015 on 25 April 2020, placing the protections into primary legislation through amendments to the Privacy Act 1988. Under the determination, it is a criminal offence to collect, use or disclose COVIDSafe app data for a purpose that is not related to contact tracing. The draft Bill also clarifies the enforcement mechanisms for the penalties that are already in place against misuse of data from the COVIDSafe app.

Victoria: the Victorian Government has announced an additional $491 million in tax relief for businesses in that state. Businesses which are eligible for the JobKeeper program will be exempt from payroll tax and the WorkCover levy on JobKeeper payments for their employees who aren’t working.

Canada 

Alberta: The provincial government has announced a 3-stage “safely-staged COVID-19 relaunch”, which began on May 1 and continues over an indeterminate period of time.  The provincial government has launched a voluntary, secure mobile contact tracing application to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The app, ABTraceTogether is now available from the Apple App Store and Google Play

British Columbia: The provincial government has amended the Employment Standards Regulation to extend the temporary layoff period to 16 weeks in any period of 20 consecutive weeks for COVID-19-related reasons.

Manitoba: The provincial government has permitted certain businesses to begin operations, subject to continuing limitations.

Newfoundland and Labrador: The public health emergency in the province has been extended until May 16, 2020.

Nova Scotia: The provincial government has announced the easing of some public health restrictions around COVID-19.

Ontario: The provincial government has permitted certain businesses to begin operations, provided that those businesses follow the proper health and safety guidelines.

Prince Edward Island: The state of emergency in the province has been renewed until May 31, 2020.

Quebec : The provincial government has opened a telephone line allowing people to request a COVID-19 test within 24 hours. Testing will then be administered based on a list of priorities and, where it will not be possible to test within 24 hours, people will be referred to a center where their symptoms will be evaluated and a decision made with respect to their subsequent testing. The provincial government has lifted measures that had restricted access to many territories/regions.

Colombia 

As of April 30, the Colombian President issued Decree 611 which states that officers working for the National Health Institute will be entitled to be paid surcharges for overtime and/or work on holidays and Sundays.  The limit for overtime will be 100 hours per month. If working time exceeds this limit, hours over the limit will be recognized in compensatory time (one business day for every eight hours of overtime).  The Decree also states that the required authorization from the Ministry of Labor to work overtime may only be granted once the entity has the budget.

Hong Kong  Gatherings: The limit of eight people in a group to be applied to all public gatherings starting from 8 May. Restrictions on their operations such as temperature checks on patrons will remain in place until 21 May. Cinemas, Mahjong-tin kau premises, beauty parlours and massage premises, gaming centres, fitness centres, playgrounds, bars  and pubs could resume services accordingly on 8 May. However, bars and pubs can only operate at half capacity, host no music shows and close dance floors, while seating is limited to four people at each table.  Saunas, clubs or nightclubs, karaoke establishments and partyrooms will remain closed to 21 May. School re-opening: Schools will reopen in stages. Secondary 3 to 5 students will resume classes on May 27; primary 4 to secondary 2 students will resume classes on June 8; kindergarten K3 to primary 3 pupils will resume classes on June 15; K1 and K2 kindergarteners will not resume classes this school year. Mask distribution: The government will distribute reusable masks for each person holding a Hong Kong identity card, named "CU MASK". Citizens can register online from 6 May to 6 June. The government will send out masks within two weeks. The Government will also distribute disposable masks free of charge. Each household will receive ten masks. There are 30 million masks in the first batch, which are expected to be distributed as soon as in June. No registration is required. Amusement places subsidy set: A scheme that provides a $100,000 one-off subsidy to licensed billiard establishments, public bowling alleys and skating rinks opened for applications. The Places of Amusement Licence Holders Subsidy Scheme aims to provide immediate financial relief to eligible licence holders whose businesses have been hard-hit by the COVID-19 epidemic and the Government’s social distancing measures. Holders of a valid Places of Amusement Licence issued under the Places of Amusement Regulation on March 28, 2020, are eligible to apply. Catering business subsidy set: The Food and Environment Hygience Department announced that applications for the Catering Business (Social Distancing) Subsidy Scheme, under the second round of the Anti-epidemic Fund, will start from 5 May. The subsidies ranging from $250,000 to $2,200,000 to eligible licence holders of general restaurants, light refreshment restaurants, marine restaurants and factory canteens in operation according to the floor area of the premises as specified on the licence. Applicants should undertake that there will be no redundancy of staff for three months on receipt of the first tranche of subsidy and another three months on receipt of the second tranche. They should also undertake that not less than 80% of the subsidies for respective months would be used to pay salaries of staff working at the premises.
Hungary 

As of 4 May, the curfew-type restrictions have been lifted across the country (shops may be open without time limit; services may operate without any restriction; restaurants, cafés may host customers at their terraces), except for the territory of Budapest and Pest county where the restrictions remain in effect.

India 

Extension of lockdown: Following the extension of the national lockdown, the State governments of Karnataka, Delhi, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh (including Noida) have also issued orders with revised guidelines to extend the lockdown in the respective states till 17 May 2020.

Bangalore: The Bangalore municipal body has made the wearing of masks mandatory in all workplaces with 5 or more people.

Karnataka: The government has permitted operations of certain industries and IT/ITES companies in urban areas and all industries in rural areas outside Containment Zones. The permitted activities include data centres as well. Eligible companies are required to submit a self-declaration of adhering to standard operating procedure before starting operations.

West Bengal: The government has permitted certain additional activities over and above the essential goods and services allowed earlier. These include inter-alia industrial activities – however, the requirement is that such activities should obtain prior permission via email to [email protected].

Tamil Nadu: To streamline the issuance of passes, the government of Tamil Nadu has launched an online portal called TN e-Pass (https://tnepass.tnega.org/#/user/pass). The portal can be accessed by individuals and organisations to apply for e-passes for movement of people / employees.

Indonesia  Following the publication of the regulation temporarily prohibiting the use of transport to control transport during the return to the hometown, the Ministry of Health issued Circular Letter No. SR.04.03/II/6689/2020 on Air Transportation Implementation to Prevent COVID-19 from Spreading that requires, among other things:
  • all passengers to use masks and maintain physical distancing;
  • all passengers that are employees or officials of government offices or private offices that are on duty must present an assignment letter from their superiors;
  • all passengers must hold a health certificate stating that they are free of COVID-19 (issued by a government hospital, health facility or port health office) and have undergone rapid test screening with a negative result.
Ireland 

The Irish Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business was announced on Friday, 1 May.  The roadmap sets out a decision-making framework for the Irish Government, and includes a process for engaging with unions, employers and other representative groups to build a co-operative approach to re-opening workplaces and other facilities.  The Government will assess every three weeks whether Ireland can enter a less restrictive containment phase.  Should conditions deteriorate, it may be necessary to re-impose restrictions.  Read more here

On 4 May 2020, the TWSS (Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme) moved into the Operational Phase. During the Operational Phase Revenue will calculate the average Revenue net weekly pay and the maximum wage subsidy for each employee and provide these to employers for use in their payroll process. Revenue will refund the applicable wage subsidy having regard to the maximum wage subsidy and the level of gross pay reported by the employer for each eligible employee.  At a later date, Revenue will reconcile the amount of the employer wage subsidy refunds from 26 March with the maximum wage subsidy applicable to each employee. This may involve recouping refunded amounts from employers where overpayments have been made.

Malaysia  Compulsory COVID-19 testing for foreign workers: The government has made it mandatory for all foreign workers to be tested for COVID-19. While originally announcing that the cost of these swab tests would be borne by employers, the government later clarified that the Social Security Organisation (Socso) would bear the cost of the tests for foreign workers who are registered with and contributing to Socso. The government say that 60% of foreign workers in the country contribute to Socso.
Morocco 

Temperature testing: The Moroccan data privacy authority (CNDP) has released a Deliberation No. D-106-EUS/2020 of 23 April 2020 relating to temperature testing as a condition of access to the workplace.  The CNDP considers that due to the exceptional circumstances of the health emergency, the employer could, under the responsibility of the occupational doctor: 

  • measure the temperature of its employees, self-employed persons, subcontractors and visitors provided that it ensures their information by way of notice in the workplace entrance
  • refuse access to the workplace of any person who refuse to carry out the test and
  • establish a temperature history chart solely for prevention purposes.

The implementation of the above temperature testing must be notified to the CNDP.

Health and safety guidance: On 4 May 2020, the Moroccan Labour Ministry released Guidance cards summarizing the health and safety measures for the following roles:

  • Cashier 
  • Chauffeur
  • Construction site worker 
  • Abattoir worker 
  • Food packaging worker 
  • Call centre operator  
Taiwan 

The MOEA has announced a subsidy program for persons who are affected by COVID-19 but not insured under the social insurance programmes.  Under the scheme, households earning less than twice the average living wage in their region may apply for a subsidy of NT$ 10,000 per month. Individuals who have already received other subsidies such as a one-time NT$ 30,000 grant by the MOEA for those who earn less than 1.5x the average living wage at their place of residence are not eligible. This new programme will be open to an estimated 340,000 uninsured people as well as 1.4 million farmers and fishers.

As a response to the migrant worker dorm outbreaks in Singapore, the Ministry of Labor issued guidelines regarding migrant workers in light of COVID-19.

 

May 4 Update 

Australia 

Services Australia (formerly Centrelink), Australia’s social security agency, will soon stop back-paying jobseeker payment claims to a recipient’s first contact with the agency. From 8 May, the government will remove the “intent to claim” provisions that allow people claiming a Services Australia payment to be paid from the date they register with the agency, rather than from when they complete their application.

In the specific States/Territories:

  • Queensland: the Queensland Government has confirmed that from 11 May, kindergarten students, prep students and years one, 11 and 12 students should return to on-site learning. From 25 May, where practical, all Queensland schools will be operating with all other students to return to school. People who are concerned about returning their children to school can continue with remote learning.
  • NSW: the NSW Government has announced a further easing of restrictions with on-site property auctions and inspections to recommence from next weekend (9-10 May). Real estate agents will be required to limit the number of people viewing properties and attending auctions, and to follow stringent cleaning guidelines.

Colombia 

Ministry of Labor issued Newsletter 35 of 2020 that states that all training certifications issued to employees who perform job duties at heights, that would have expired on March 12, 2020 or from the declaration of Sanitary Emergency, shall be automatically extended for up to 1 month after the emergency is over.

The National Apprentices Service (“SENA” per its acronym in Spanish) issued Resolution 1-0477, 2020 in which it extended the term for:

  • Employer's obligation to engage apprentices until May 10, 2020.
  • The suspension of all the proceedings’ terms except for: (i) sanctioning actions for breaches of contract which will be done virtually and (ii) scheduled hearings regarding corruption and public management control.
France 

New Decree No. 2020-508 of 2 May 2020 temporarily adapts the deadlines for consulting and informing the Social and Economic Committee in order to deal with the consequences of the spread of the covid-19 epidemic.

By way of derogation, the time limits applicable when the information or consultation of the CSE relates to the employer's decisions aimed at dealing with the economic, financial and social consequences of the spread of the covid-19 epidemic are as follows:

  • Mere information and consultation: 8 days instead of one month
  • Information and consultation with assistance of an expert: 12 days in case of central CSE or 11 days otherwise, instead of 2 months
  • Information and consultation in the event of the intervention of one or more experts in the context of consultation taking place at the level of both the central and one or more plant CSE: 12 days instead of 3 months
  • Minimum period between the transmission of the opinion of each plant CSE to the Central CSE and the date on which the latter is deemed to have been consulted and to have provided a negative opinion: 1 day
Hong Kong  Public services resume May 4: The Education Bureau and the Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department (AFCD), Home Affairs Enquiry Centres, the Estate Beneficiaries Support Unit, the Information Services Department, Government Records Service and Civil Aviation Department will resume normal opening hours starting May 4. The Immigration Department announced that aside from its Smart Identity Card Replacement Centres (SIDCC) service and passenger immigration clearance service, it will also resume full public services on May 4. School and public programmes will remain suspended until further notice. IT vendors list enrolment opens: Information Technology service providers can apply to enrol for the IT Service Providers Reference List of the Distance Business Programme from 9am on May 4. The commission explained that to support enterprises to continue their business and services during the epidemic, the programme provides funding support for enterprises to adopt IT solutions for developing distance business. Under the programme, for each IT solution and relevant training expenses for the employees, the funding ceiling is $100,000. One-off subsidy to cinemas: The Government has also rendered support to cinemas by providing a one-off subsidy of $100,000 per screen to each cinema licensed as a place of public entertainment with commercial operation in March 2020. The maximum subsidy for a cinema circuit is $3 million. Fitness centre subsidies to open: The Fitness Centre Subsidy Scheme launched by the Home Affairs Bureau under the second phase of the Anti-epidemic Fund will be open for applications from May 4 to June 3. The scheme aims to provide a one-off subsidy of $100,000 to each fitness centre to tide businesses over the financial difficulties arising from their closure pursuant to the Prevention & Control of Disease (Requirements & Directions) (Business & Premises) Regulation.
India 

The MHA has extended the national lockdown for two weeks from 4 May 2020 to 17 May 2020).  Under the extension, the MHA has released revised guidelines as per which districts of the country have been classified into three different zones

  • green zone (0 cases or no confirmed case in the last 21 days),
  • red zone (districts identified by health ministry by considering the total active cases, rate of doubling, surveillance feedback, testing scale, etc), and
  • orange zone (districts which are neither green nor red). Currently, there are 130 red, 284 orange and 319 green zones.

Irrespective of the zone categorization, the following activities are prohibited in India until 17 May 2020

  • domestic and international air travel
  • hospitality services (except those housing police, stranded tourists and those providing quarantine facilities)
  • inter-state travel
  • shopping complexes
  • cinema halls
  • religious, social and political gatherings.

The following activities are permitted on the basis of zones they fall into

  • Green zone- all activities are permitted except those specifically prohibited across India (as discussed above).
  • Red and Orange non-containment zones- private offices (with 33% staff-level), e-commerce for essential services, construction activities, factories producing IT hardware, individual and vehicular movement for permitted activities, cabs with 1 driver and 2 passengers, inter-district movement for permitted activities only, etc.
  • Containment zones - only limited activities are permitted like movement for supply of essential goods and medical emergencies, contact tracing, door-to-door special surveillance, etc.

The States of Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh have further extended the lockdown till 17 May 2020. 

Tamil Nadu's State government has ordered to defer the payment of taxes and dues to the urban local bodies (all corporations including Greater Chennai Corporation, municipalities, and town panchayats) till 30 June 2020. It has also ordered the deferral of renewal of D&O trade licenses arising up to March 2020 for 3 months till 30 June 2020, without levying any penalty in view of the COVID-19. 

In all zones, domestic and international air travel, inter-state travel, are prohibited. Further, in orange zones, inter and intra-district plying of buses is not allowed. In green zones, public buses with 50% capacity is permitted.

Indonesia 

On 2 May, the Supreme Court issued Circular Letter No. 2 of 2020 on the Amendment to Circular Letter of the Supreme Court No.1 of 2020 on Guidelines for Performing Tasks during the Prevention of the Spread of COVID-19 Period by the Supreme Court and Lower Courts, which among other things:

  • extended the official assignment (tugas kedinasan) to work-at-home by the supreme court and lower courts until 21 April 2020 which would then be subject to a further evaluation if deemed necessary;
  • prohibits judges and court civil servants (aparatur peradilan) from traveling outside of their cities of domicile or areas of duty, as well as from returning to their hometowns. However, they are required to be prepared to return to their offices at any time on work days if instructed to in order to perform urgent tasks which require their physical presence.
Malaysia 

Conditional Movement Control Order (Conditional MCO):   Malaysia’s MCO that has been in place since 18 March was replaced by a Conditional MCO on 4 May.   Under the Conditional MCO:

  • almost all sectors of the economy and businesses are permitted to resume on-site operations
  • the concept of “essential services” under the previous phases of the MCO no longer applies.
  • certain activities are still prohibited, but mostly non employer-related. 

The law providing for this is the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures with Infected Local Areas)(No. 5) Regulations 2020.  The Regulations have effect from 4- 12 May 2020. The operation of businesses is subject to the conditions and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), which will be issued from time to time by the National Security Council, and is industry/sector-specific. Full details are available on the National Security Council's website

Businesses that involve mass gatherings and physical contact where social distancing would be difficult to control will not be permitted to resume operations. These include cinemas, karaoke outlets, night clubs, theme parks, markets, and all forms of exhibitions. A complete list of authorised and non-authorised businesses will be made available in the coming days.

All employers will be required to organise daily temperature checks for employees. Where possible, employers are also encouraged to allow employees to work from home, or implement rotating shifts.

HR Ministry encourages all employers to test workers for COVID-19: The Human Resource Ministry is encouraging all employers to ensure their workers are tested for COVID-19. The COVID-19 test is available for free under the Social Security Organisation’s Prihatin Screening Programme.
Portugal

The state of emergency in Portugal is to be lifted gradually from 3 May and exceptional measures have been taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic while some companies restart their activity.  Resolution of the Council of Ministers no. 33-A/2020, 30 April established the following rules:

  • Citizens remain subject to a general duty of isolation, being able to circulate on public roads to specific purposes, such as buy essential goods and go to work;
  • Teleworking remains mandatory, regardless of the kind of contract, whenever the role allows so;
  • Retail stores and service establishments with an area of more than 200 meters shall remain closed, except for bookstores and music stores or home delivery;
  • Restaurants and similar establishments will remain closed, except for cooking intended for consumption outside the establishment or home delivery;
  • Establishments open to the public must observe specific hygiene and safety measures (e.g. minimum distance of 2 meters between two people; maximum rate of occupation of 0,05 people per square meter; periodical cleaning and disinfection of areas; provision of alcohol-based sanitizer for employees and customers).
Taiwan 

The CECC (Center for Disease Control) has relaxed visiting restrictions for long-term care facilities. Under the new rules, elderly residents may have one group of max. three visitors per day. The visits must be coordinated with the facility management beforehand and are subject to social distancing guidelines.  The CECC is also starting to relax other guidelines, e.g. it is expecting to allow up to 250 spectators for local Chinese Professional Baseball League games, in addition to players, coaches, cheerleaders, CPBL staff, referees and broadcasting crew.

The CECC has also issued more detailed social distancing and hygiene guidelines. These are also part of a new initiative launched by the CECC aimed at giving the public options to spend their free time while complying with social distancing guidelines. This initiative will focus on promoting outdoor activities, such as physical activities and outdoor concerts, and will be an inter-ministerial co-operation.

The MOEA (Ministry of Economic Affairs) launched a SME Relief and Revitalization Counter as a one-stop shop for information regarding COVID-19 relief measures.  The MOEA has also announced that the planned stimulus coupons would not only be issued electronically but also in physical form. The plan is to provide NT$1000 in stimulus coupons to every Taiwan national, to be spent at night markets, shops and restaurants in a bid to help revive the economy. In order to be able to spend the coupons, holders must first spend a certain amount of their own money.

The Ministry of Culture is launching phase two of its aid program for artists. This is mainly an expansion of the aid program's budget, as well as raising the cap on loans, which is in line with the other ministries' subsidy programs (40% wage subsidies for employees if revenue drop of 50% or more and no employees were let go / wages were not decreased by more than 20%). In other news, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched a website detailing the Taiwan approach to COVID-19, including a timeline, the legal basis for the measures and the rationale behind a lot of them.

The coming into effect of the Law for the Promotion of Employment of the Middle-aged and Elderly has been postponed due to COVID-19. The law was supposed to come into effect on 1 May 2020, however, due to COVID-19 a number of measures intended to facilitate re-employment have already been taken. Therefore, the law will come into effect after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

UAE 

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) has announced that it is conducting random inspections on private sector companies to monitor their compliance with precautionary measures currently in place to combat the spread of Covid-19, including social distancing and sanitization requirements.

 

May 1 Update 

Australia 

The Australian Government has today announced a set of principles for sport and recreation, which determine how sport will be able to recommence in Australia. The Government has also approved $205 million in aged care funding and adopted the aged care code, which sets out rules and rights for people visiting aged care, and for people who are used to receiving regular visitation as part of their care.

The Fair Work Commission has registered the Fair Work Commission (Miscellaneous Measures) Rules 2020 (Rules Amendment). The Rules Amendment amends the Fair Work Commission Rules 2013 with effect from 1 May 2020. Importantly, the changes include altering certain rules that required a statutory declaration to be lodged with the Commission, to instead require the lodging of a signed, but not witnessed, declaration.

In the specific States/Territories:

  • NSW: The Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 has been amended to set out the minimum requirements for all planning panels holding public hearings and meetings using telephone and video conferencing, to ensure that the planning system continues during the pandemic.
  • Tasmania: The Tasmanian Government has announced it will lift certain lockdown measures in the north-west region of Tasmania from Monday, 4 May. The state-wide restrictions in place in terms of personal movement and the operation of certain businesses, will still apply.
  • ACT: ACT has announced a slight easing of restrictions. The definition of household units will be expanded/clarified to include children. Household units will now be allowed to visit each other, so adult children can visit their parents.

Canada 

The federal, provincial and territorial governments released a set of common principles for restarting the Canadian economy. The governments have agreed that in advance of reopening the economy, a region must demonstrate the following:

  • COVID-19 transmission is controlled, so new cases are contained at a level that our health care system can manage.
  • Sufficient public health capacity is in place to test, trace, isolate, and control the spread of the virus.
  • Expanded health care capacity exists to support all needs, including COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients.
  • Supports are in place for vulnerable groups, communities, and key populations. This includes the protection of seniors, residents of group living facilities, workers in close quarters, homeless people, and Indigenous people and those living in remote locations, health care workers and other essential workers, and inmates.
  • Support and monitoring of workplace protocols are in place to keep Canadians safe at their jobs, and prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19.
  • Restrictions on non-essential travel are eased and managed in a coordinated manner.
  • Communities are supported in managing local disease activity, including in child care, schools, and public transportation, and industry and economic sectors are engaged to support the health of Canadians, reduced viral activity, and protection of the economy as it restarts.

British Columbia: The state of emergency in the province has been extended to May 12, 2020.

Manitoba: As of May 4, a variety of non-essential health-care and retail businesses will have the option to reopen under strict guidelines. All businesses and venues will be required to continue following social distancing and stringent cleaning practices to protect both employees and customers.

Newfoundland and Labrador: The province is providing compensation for private sector employers for continuation of pay to employees who were required to self-isolate for 14-days due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions. This includes individuals who are self-employed. Employers should apply for any available federal funding under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program. The maximum amount of funding under the provincial program will be $500 per week for each employee (to a combined maximum of $1,000 per week for each employee when receiving both federal and provincial funding). The amount paid under this program will depend on federal funding received.

Northwest Territories: The state of emergency and public health emergency in the territory have both been extended to May 12, 2020.

Nunavut: The public health emergency in the territory has been extended to May 14, 2020.

Ontario: The province has released “sector-specific” labour guidelines to ensure workplaces can reopen safely when the time comes.

Quebec: The public health emergency in the province has been extended to May 6, 2020.

Saskatchewan: The state of emergency in the province has been extended to May 11, 2020.

France 

The Ministry of Labour and the URSSAF (the organisation that collects social security contributions) have confirmed changes to the new social regime for partial activity payments as from 1st May: 

The following does not change: 

  • The rule is that the employer still pays 70% of the gross salary to employees in partial activity and the State reimburse the company on the basis of 70% of the gross salary, i.e., 100% of what is paid to the employee up to 4.5 times the minimum wages/ SMIC (i.e., € 31.97 per hour).
  • However the employer can decide to pay more than 70% of the gross salary (but will still be reimbursed by the State 70% of the gross salary, up to 4.5 times the minimum wages/ SMIC).
  • Until now, when the employer paid more than 70% of the gross salary to the employees by collective agreement or by unilateral decision, this additional contribution is subject to the same social regime as the 70% gross allowance (i.e., not subject to social security contributions, but subject to the CSG and CRDS at a rate of 6.70% after a 1.75% deduction).

The following does change from 1 May:

  • Executive Order dated 22 April 2020 provided that, as from 1st May 2020, the additional contribution (i.e., what is paid beyond 70% of the gross) paid in excess of € 31.97 per hour (70% of 4.5 times the minimum wages/SMIC) will no longer be exempted from social security contributions and will be treated as salary (i.e., fully charged).
  • Therefore:
    • If the total salary paid to the employee (mandatory part + additional contribution) is less or equal to € 31.97 per hour, the whole salary is exempted from social security contributions, but subject to the CSG and CRDS
    • If the total salary paid to the employee (mandatory part + additional contribution) exceeds € 31.97 per hour, the portion of the additional contribution paid beyond € 31.97 per hour is subject to full social charges.
Germany 

The government has decided to further relax lockdown rules. Certain institutions may open again, e.g. churches, mosques, synagogues, playgrounds, museums, zoos. These changes have to be implemented at local state level; therefore some deviations may apply between the different states. Further changes will be discussed on 6 May 2020.

The government has extended global travel warnings until 14 June 2020. All non-essential tourist travel should be avoided. Persons travelling abroad must usually self-isolate themselves for 2 weeks upon their return.

About 750,000 companies have applied for short time work (furlough) in March and April 2020, covering potentially up to 10,000,000 employees, which would be nearly one quarter of all employees in Germany. The actual number of employees affected by short time work will be known only in the next few weeks when companies actually claim short time work benefits from the employment agency for March and April.

South Africa 

Regulations have been issued under section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Regulations), setting out a list of the businesses permitted to operate under Alert Level 4 which applies from 1 May 2020.  Employees required to perform essential or permitted services will need to be issued with permits by their employer. The Regulations also contain some additional measures that employers must implement to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace, most notably, the requirement to develop a workplace plan.

All businesses that are permitted to operate must appoint a COVID-19 compliance officer and develop a plan for the phased return of employees to the workplace prior to re-opening the workplace, which plan must be available for inspection. The plan must set out which employees are permitted to return to work, what the plans are for a phased return of employees to the workplace, what the health protocols are, and the details of the COVID-19 compliance officer. The size of the business will determine the level of detail required and therefore smaller businesses can have a basic plan reflective of the size of the business whereas large and medium size businesses would require a more detailed plan in accordance with the requirements in Annexure E of the Regulations.

The Regulations provide that employers must adopt measures to promote physical distancing of employees, including enabling employees to work from home or minimizing the need for employees to be physically present at the premises. The employer must also provide adequate space and restrict face to face meetings. Special measures should also be adopted for employees over the age of 60 and employees with any known or disclosed health issues, conditions or comorbidities which may increase their vulnerability to COVID-19. The employer is also required to provide hand sanitizer at the entrance to the premises.

US 

On April 30, the Federal Reserve announced that it is expanding the loan options and increasing the maximum size of businesses that are eligible for support under the Main Street Lending Program. Changes include:

  • Creating a third loan option, with increased risk sharing by lenders for borrowers with greater leverage (lenders would retain a 15 % share on loans)
  • Lowering the minimum loan size for certain loans to $500,000; and
  • Expanding the pool of businesses eligible to borrow: businesses with up to 15,000 employees or up to $5 billion in annual revenue are now eligible

Updates regarding the Program, including the official launch date and the time and date at which the Main Street SPV will begin purchasing participations in MSNLF Loans, MSPLF Loans, and MSELF Upsized Tranches, will be made available on the Board’s Main Street page. The announcement includes term sheets for each facility and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) providing more information regarding eligibility and conditions.

 

April 30 Update

Australia 

The Australian Government has announced 200 projects worth more than $215 million dollars are being supported through the Manufacturing Modernisation Fund. Grants totalling $35 million will go to 59 companies for large scale projects worth over $177 million. A further $13.3 million in grants will go to 141 small scale projects worth over $38 million.

The Australian Government has also extended the deadlines for submission of modern slavery statements under the Modern Slavery Act. To support entities impacted by COVID-19 to meet their obligations, the Australian Government has introduced a three month extension for reporting for all entities whose reporting periods end on or before 30 June 2020. This extension only changes the deadline for submission of modern slavery statements and does not alter the reporting periods for entities, which remain unchanged. The Australian Border Force has also introduced guidance for reporting entities about how they can address the impact of COVID 19 in their modern slavery statements and the key actions they can take to reduce the risk of vulnerable workers and supply chains becoming exposed to modern slavery as a result of COVID 19. A link to the guidance is provided here.

In the specific States/Territories:

NT: The NT Government has announced a roadmap for easing restrictions in the territory.

  • From midday Friday 1 May, outdoor activities where social distancing can be maintained will be allowed (including exercising outdoors, parks, playgrounds, pools, non-contact sports, outdoor gatherings (including religious gatherings), weddings and funerals).
  • Stage 2 will commence when the NT Government decides it is safe to do so, and is anticipated to commence from 15 May. Stage 2 will see some indoor activities allowed, as well as cafes, restaurants, beauty therapy clinics and certain other businesses reopening. These activities in stage 2 will be subject to a two hour time limit. Environmental health officers will be conducting checks to ensure compliance.
  • Stage 3 will commence when the NT Government decides it is safe to do so, and is anticipated to commence from 5 June. Stage 3 will see the two hour limit on activities removed, and all remaining restrictions on gaming areas and cinemas lifted. All team sporting competitions will return with spectators, but physical distancing requirements will remain. A separate plan will be developed for events with greater than 500 people.
  • Prior to resuming operation all businesses and organisations are to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place. A guide will be available to assist the development of a tailored plan to apply the principles specific to each place.

Victoria: Victoria is expanding its hotel accommodation scheme (where frontline health workers can stay in a hotel) to frontline emergency service workers and community workers.

China 

Beijing announced that from April 30, 2020 it no longer requires individuals arriving from other low risk areas to be isolated at home for 14 days (this restriction was implemented in January). If such individual is in the middle of a quarantine period due to previous policy, they may stop their isolation immediately. And if the individual from low risk area needs to stay at a hotel in Beijing, a nucleic acid test certificate is no longer required and a green light shown on the App Jiankangbao is sufficient to prove health status.

Beijing will continue to require all individuals arriving from abroad to be isolated in a location assigned by the government first for nucleic acid testing and 14 days’ quarantine. After completion of the first 14 days’ quarantine, the individuals shall go back home and complete an additional 7 day’s quarantine period at home.

The Beijing High People's Court and Beijing Labor Disputes Arbitration Committee jointly issued Interpretation on Implementing Rules for the Trial of Labor Dispute Cases during Period of Prevention and Control of the COVID-19 (the “Interpretation”). Below are several points mentioned in the Interpretation:

  • If a newly recruited employee was unable to be on board immediately after 2020 Spring Festival as agreed in the offer letter/employment contract due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the commencement date of employment shall be the date when the employee actually provides service to the company.
  • Unless both parties agree to reduce salary in advance, the employers shall pay employees full salary, if it arranged them to work from home or work flexibly during this period.
  • The national law stipulates that if the employee is isolated due to he/she is a patient or suspected patient with coronavirus or close contact during the period of receiving treatment in isolation or the medical observation due to quarantine measures or other emergency measures implemented by the government, he/she is entitled to be paid with normal salary. The Interpretation sets forth if the employer can prove the employee due to his/her own reason has seriously violated the epidemic prevention measures issued by the government and was therefore unable to provide service to the company due to medical observation or medical treatment, the employer may treat it as absence without pay.
  • If the company enters into suspension of business or operation due to COVID-19, its employees will not be supported to claim normal salary during the suspension period.  
  • Employer may terminate the employment relationship unilaterally without paying severance if the employee conceals his/her infected status or suspected symptoms, and refuses to take a test, compulsory quarantine or medical treatment, or refuses to comply with government's epidemic prevention and control arrangement, causing significant public impacts or serious consequences.
Colombia 

On April 28, the Ministry of Health issued Resolution 686 from 2020 that sets out rules for the electronic payment of the special pension contribution during may and April of 2020.  According to Decree 558, April and May pension contributions (usually 16%) will be 3% for those employers who apply for this benefit. 

Moreover, this resolution also confirms that during these 2 months the contribution to the Solidarity Pension Fund (1%-2% per employee) does not apply when the pension contribution is 3%.

Read the resolution here (Spanish).

Hungary 

The government has announced that curfew-type restrictions will be lifted, save for Budapest and certain cities around Budapest:

  • Shops may be open without any time limit (but respecting the time period for the elderly)
  • Services may operate without any restriction
  • Terraces and gardens of restaurants, cafes and hotels may be open
  • The curfew-type restrictions will be also lifted in several steps
  • In Budapest and its region curfew-type restrictions remain effective which make it unreasonable to re-open shops
Spain 

On 29 April, a new Royal Decree Law 16/2020 on procedural and organizational measures to address the COVID-19 in the field of the Administration of Justice was published on the official Gazette. It comes into force as from 30 April 2020.

Some important measures affecting employment litigation include:

  • The period from 11 to 31 August 2020 is declared as a working period for all judicial proceedings (August traditionally was a not working month for most judicial proceedings). Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays are excluded from this provision.
  • The time frames and limitation periods provided for in the procedural laws that were suspended due to the declaration of the state of alarm will be recalculated as from the beginning, and therefore the first day of the calculation will be the next working day after the removal of the suspension of the corresponding procedure.  This provision does not apply to procedures that were exempted from the suspension included on the Royal Decree Law 463/2020.
  • Deadlines for appeals are extended.
  • Preferential treatment is given to certain labour proceedings: processes for dismissal, mandatory recoverable paid leaves, for application of the MECUIDA Plan, for challenging the temporary suspension of employment contracts / reduction in working hours measures (ERTE) and those related to working remotely.
  • Challenges to temporary suspension of employment contracts / reduction in working hours measures (ERTE) regulated in article 22 of Royal Decree Law 8/2020 will take place through the collective conflict proceedings provided that it affects more than 5 employees and the “Ad Hoc”representative commission will be legitimated to initiate the collective conflict proceedings.
  • Telematic observance of the procedural acts is the preferential means during the period of the state of emergency and up to 3 months after it is over.
UAE 

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) has issued a statement reminding private sector employees located onshore in the UAE (i.e. not in any free zone) to ensure that employee salaries are paid on time via the Wage Protection System (an electronic salary system applicable onshore in the UAE). The statement also re-iterates the requirement that private sector employees formalise any agreements with employees in relation to Early Leave (as summarised in the 6 April update), salary reductions or unpaid leave via the official supplementary form/annex issued by MOHRE, which is available on its website and app.

As a reminder, the General Pension and Social Security Authority (GPSSA) has announced that it will allow subscriber private sector companies to defer the payment of subscriptions to the GPSSA for their staff for three months, starting as of March and ending in May 2020 (subject to possible extension). The Abu Dhabi Retirement and Pensions Fund (ADRPF), which manages pensions on behalf of Abu Dhabi based and employed UAE nationals, has announced similar measures for its subscriber private sector companies. As per UAE legislation, every qualifying UAE and GCC national working in the UAE must be registered by their employer with the GPSSA (or the ADRPF, for UAE nationals working in Abu Dhabi), the federal body responsible for administering the UAE state pension. Expatriate employees working in the UAE are not entitled to a state pension.

US 

On April 29, 2020, the CDC issued “Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes” which provides a general framework for cleaning and disinfection practices. View the guidance here.

On April 29, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration issued deadline relief and other guidance under Title I of ERISA to help employee benefit plans, plan participants and beneficiaries, employers and other plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries, and other service providers impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. A Department of Labor notice, jointly issued with the Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service, extends certain time frames affecting participants’ rights to healthcare coverage, portability, and continuation of group health plan coverage under COBRA, and extends the time for plan participants to file or perfect benefit claims or appeals of denied claims. The department also issued a set of Frequently Asked Questions on health benefit and retirement benefit issues to help employee benefit plan participants and beneficiaries, plan sponsors, and employers impacted by the coronavirus outbreak understand their rights and responsibilities under ERISA. See the News Release here.

 

April 29 Update 

Australia  

The Australian Government has offered independent schools early funding if schools return to face to face teaching by June. Non-government school authorities will be eligible for up to 25% of their total annual recurrent funding early, in late May and early June, provided they open campuses for term two, have a plan to fully reopen classroom teaching by 1 June, and commit to achieving 50% of their students attending classroom-based learning by 1 June.

The Family and Federal Circuit Courts have set up a special COVID-19 list to deal with urgent applications that have emerged during the lockdown.

The Fair Work Commission has published a JobKeeper disputes benchbook to assist those lodging or responding to applications for the wage subsidy.

Canada 

Northwest Territories: Effective immediately, essential service workers and those supporting them; infrastructure workers employed by the Government of Northwest Territories, Municipal Governments, Indigenous Governments and Organizations; and corrections officers returning to the NWT are subject to new restrictions. These individuals were previously exempt but now have to adhere to self-isolation requirements when entering the territory unless they are only remaining in the territory for less than 36 hours. 

Prince Edward Island: The provincial government has released a “Phased Approach to Relaxing COVID-19 Public Health Restrictions” which is comprised of four phases to be implemented between May 1, 2020 and June 12, 2020 and beyond.

Quebec: The provincial government has announced a plan for the progressive reopening of certain businesses in Quebec throughout the month of May. Retail stores with an outside entrance for customers, as well as their supply chains, outside of the Greater Montreal Area can reopen on May 4, 2020.  Retail stores with an outside entrance for customers, as well as their supply chains, within the Greater Montreal Area can reopen on May 11, 2020. Malls must remain closed. The construction industry and its supply chain will be able to resume all activities on May 11, 2020. The manufacturing sector will be able to reopen effective May 11, 2020 with restrictions on the number of employees, and May 25, 2020 without restrictions on the number of employees. Notwithstanding the foregoing, any worker who is able to work remotely must continue to do so.

France 

Options for resuming court hearings have been communicated for the Labour Court of the Parisian area, such as:

  • on 11 May for all hearings (in Boulogne, Billancourt and Créteil)
  • not before 18 May for conciliation and judgment hearings, earlier for emergency proceedings (in Paris and Bobigny)
  • no information provided for Nanterre

More details at this link (French), which will be updated regularly.

Hong Kong 

Public services to resume on May 4: The Department of Justice’s public services, the Government Logistics Department’s collection office, the Lands Department's offices, the Marine Department, The Rating & Valuation Department, The Civil Engineering & Development Department, Water Supplies Department, the Planning Department, the Drainage Services Department, the Registration & Electoral Office’s enquiry counter and offices, and the Building Department’s public counter   will resume normal from May 4. Meanwhile, the Independent Commission Against Corruption's headquarters and regional offices will also resume normal services from May 4.

Vehicle subsidy: Applications for the $1.3 billion in subsidies earmarked for registered owners of goods vehicles and green minibus operators under the Anti-epidemic Fund opened. A one-off non-accountable subsidy of $10,000 will be provided to each registered goods vehicle owner for each goods vehicle.

Cross-boundary goods vehicle drivers who conduct nucleic acid tests in Hong Kong can apply for the subsidy on an accountable basis, with the maximum amount being $350 per test.

A one-off non-accountable subsidy of $30,000 per green minibus will be provided to each holder of a Passenger Service Licence-Public Light Bus (Scheduled) Service who has been approved to operate a relevant green minibus route package.

India 

Kerala: The government in Kerala has waived the rent of April, May and June months for all IT/ITES companies (occupying up to 10,000 sq.ft. of space) operating from the government owned IT Parks. Annual rent escalation of 5% will not apply for the financial year 2020-21.

Karnataka: The government has ordered that the industries eligible to operate/resume operations, should submit a self-declaration (in the prescribed format) to the concerned District Industries Centre confirming the adherence to Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).

Telangana: pursuant to the request from the Industry Associations, the government has ordered that electricity bills during the lockdown will be collected as per the actual consumption only, and the fixed charges for the same period shall be deferred till 31 May 2020 without any penalty and interest. It is also clarified that those industries which pay the bills within due date shall get 1% rebate on billed amount

Indonesia 

The Financial Services Authority (Otoritas Jasa Keuangan – “OJK”) has issued Regulation No.14/POJK.05/2020, which among other things, extends the time limit for the submission of periodic reports by Non-bank Financial Services Institutions ( “Lembaga Jasa Keuangan Non-Bank - LJKNB”) during the COVID-19 outbreak emergency.

The deadline for LJKNB to submit their reports to the OJK and publish them has been extended:

  • for fourteen working days from the usual deadline for submitting monthly and quarterly reports;
  • for one month from the usual deadline for submitting semi-annual reports; and
  • for two months from the usual deadline for submitting annual reports.

The Director General of Tax has issued Regulation No. PER-06/PJ/2020 of 2020 on the procedures for the submission, receipt and processing of Tax Returns (Surat Pemberitahuan Pajak – “SPT”)  for the 2019 Tax Year. Under this regulation, SPTs for Income Tax (Pajak Penghasilan – “PPh”) can be signed using among others, digital or electronic signatures, with i) Electronic certificates, ii) verification codes sent by the Directorate General of Tax or iii) other types of electronic signature determined by the Directorate General of Tax.

SPTs for PPh for the 2019 Tax Year had to be submitted by e-filing, mail, expedition or courier services by 31 March 2020 for individual taxpayers or by 30 April 2020 for company taxpayers.

Exemptions from administrative sanctions can be can be given to individual taxpayer who submit their annual SPT for PPh for the 2019 Tax Year after the deadline, as long as they submit their SPT no later than 30 April 2020.

Morocco 

The draft decree no. 331.20.2 on employer financial aid referred to in our 20 April update (and repeated below) has been published in the Moroccan official gazette and entered into force on 27 April 2020.

Employer financial aid: On 13 April 2020, a draft decree no. 331.20.2 was adopted by the Moroccan government aiming to define the employers who are considered as facing difficulties due to COVID-19 and who could be eligible to benefit from the exceptional financial aids for April, May and June 2020.  The decree defines an employer who is facing difficulties as:

  • An employer whose activity has been temporarily suspended by an administrative decision taken on the basis of the decree 293.20.2 of 24 March 2020 declaring the sanitary urgency with the national territory due to the propagation of the COVID-19;
  • An employer whose declared benefits has been decreased at least to 50% during April, May and June 2020 in comparison with the declared benefits of the same months of the last business exercise 2019. In addition, the declared employees whose employment is suspended and who are duly registered with social security entity (CNSS) in February 2020, should not exceed 500 employees.

Employers who are do not satisfy the above conditions could apply for an individual financial aid with a special committee which would be put in place in order to examine such derogative applications.   

Russia 

Under Presidential Decree No 294 dated 28 April 2020, the lockdown period has been extended until 11 May 2020.  The lockdown restrictions do not apply to employees of certain organisations (e.g. organisations providing the population with food and essential goods).  The period during lockdown will be treated as non-working days with the retention of full pay, so employers must pay normal remuneration during this period whether or not an employee is working.  However, it is recommended that employees continue to work remotely.

South Africa 

The Department of Employment and Labour has issued a COVID-19 Direction on Health and Safety in the Workplace which sets out specific measures that employers are required to take to protect their employees in the workplace from COVID-19. There will also be sector specific measures and guidelines issued in respect of various sectors and an employer will need to adhere to those sector-specific guidelines in addition to the measures set out in this Directive.

Read about the most important provisions here. 

Spain 

Order ISM/371/2020 regulates the economic activities that can benefit from the moratorium on payment of social security contributions provided for in Article 34 of Royal Decree Law 11/2020.

The moratorium will apply to:

  • Companies and self-employed workers whose economic activity is not among the activities suspended due to the state of emergency declared by Royal Decree 463/2020 of 14 March,
  • and are included in the codes of the National Classification of Economic Activities (CNAE-2009) established by the new Order.

The Spanish Confederation of Business Organisations (CEOE) has expressed its disagreement with this Ministerial Order on the basis of the following: "The hierarchy of regulations requires that lower-ranking regulations (a Ministerial Order) comply with the mandates and provisions of higher-ranking regulations (a Royal Decree-Law). This is a constitutional duty that the Ministerial Order is not fulfilling in this case".

The government has announced a set of measures for the progressive return to “new normal”, and a new Royal Decree may be published later today.  

Taiwan 

The Ministry of Labor announced a loan program for employees affected by COVID-19 who will be eligible for subsidised loans up to NT$100,000. The first two years are capped at the interest rates set by the central bank +1%, currently 1.845%. The first six months are a grace period. Starting month 7, the loan amortization starts. Interest payments start after the first year.

The Bureau of Foreign Trade extended the export prohibition for facemasks until end of June 2020. Depending on the progression of the Taiwan-local epidemic, this prohibition may be extended further.

Ukraine 

On 22 April, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine adopted a Resolution on the mechanism of paying partial unemployment benefit to individuals employed by small and medium sized businesses. This mechanism details the previous rule that employees, whose working time was decreased due to COVID-19 related quarantine, are entitled for the partial compensation of the lost salary, to be provided by the state, through the employers to the employees.

The Resolution came into force on 28 April, and establishing the following:

  • Partial unemployed benefit is to be paid to the individual only under the main employment and not to be paid under the  secondary employment (e.g. second or further employment, which cannot be defined as the main one – usually part time);
  • Partial unemployment benefits are not applicable to the employees for whom downtime (furlough) was introduced;
  • The employer will be obliged to refund partial unemployment benefit if the employee is being dismissed within 6 months (or within the period equal to the payment of benefit, if it is less than 180 calendar days) after the last period of benefit payment -  due to redundancy, upon mutual agreement, in case of violation of labor law by the employer.
US 

On April 27, the Trump administration unveiled a blueprint for expanded coronavirus testing.

States continue to release reopening plans, as well as extensions and amendments of existing executive orders. Recent developments include:

  • On April 26, 2020, Governor Cuomo outlined a phased reopening plan for New York.
  • On April 27, 2020, Governor Abbott announced phase one to open Texas. Under Phase I, certain services and activities are allowed to open with limited occupancy, and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is issuing minimum standard health protocols for all businesses and individuals to follow. The Governor's announcement is accompanied by Texans Helping Texans: The Governor's Report to Open Texas outlining the new protocols, guidance, and recommendations. The report also includes a series of Open Texas Checklists that outline DSHS' minimum standard health protocols for all Texans, as well as industry-specific protocols. See Executive Order (GA-18).
  • On April 27, 2020, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Ohio's “Responsible RestartOhio plan,” with certain businesses able to restart on May 4 and May 12 if they can meet mandatory safety requirements for customers and employees. General safe business practices that all businesses must follow as they reopen include: 
    • Requiring face coverings for all employees, and recommending them for clients and customers at all times
    • Conducting daily health assessments or self-evaluations of employees to determine if they should work
    • Maintaining good hygiene at all times such as hand washing and social distancing
    • Cleaning and sanitizing workplaces throughout the day and at the close of business or between shifts
    • Limiting capacity to meet social distancing guidelines
  • On April 27, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy announced his plan, “The Road Back: Restoring Economic Health Through Public Health,” to restart New Jersey. The plan outlines six key principles and benchmarks to guide the process of reopening.
  • On April 27, 2020, Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer laid out a plan - the MI Safe Start Plan - to reopen the economy by region and in phases, with companies and industries that are at the lowest risk for the spread of coronavirus, and regions that are least impacted by the virus while having adequate hospital facilities to handle an outbreak, opening first. On April 24, the Governor issued an extension of her “Stay Home, Stay Safer Order” through May 15, 2020. Executive Order 2020-59 requires employers who operate in person to provide non-medical grade face coverings to their workers who perform in-person work. In addition, employers with in-person operations must have a written “COVID-19 preparedness and response plan” that is consistent with CDC and OSHA safety guidance.
  • On April 27, 2020, Iowa’s Governor Kim Reynolds signed a new proclamation continuing the State Public Health Emergency Declaration until May 27. The proclamation loosens social distancing measures in 77 Iowa counties effective May 1 and permits certain establishments to reopen in a limited fashion with public health measures in place.
  • On April 27, 2020, Colorado and Nevada joined California, Oregon and Washington in the Western States Pact, a group of Western state governors working to coordinate reopening efforts.

On April 27, 2020, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that a broad liability shield will be a top Republican priority for the next COVID-19 relief bill. Business groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, have expressed concern about a potential wave of employee lawsuits amid reopening

 

April 28 Update 

Australia  

The Australian Taxation Office has announced an extension of time for employers who wish to enrol for the initial JobKeeper payments to 31 May, an extension from 30 April. For the first two fortnights (30 March – 12 April, 13 April – 26 April), the ATO will now accept the late payments of the minimum $1,500 per fortnight as long as they are paid by 8 May.

NSW: The NSW Government has announced that from Friday 1 May, groups of two adults (and their children) will be able to visit other households for social gatherings.

Canada 

Applications for the 75% Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) are now available for employers on the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website.

New Brunswick: The provincial government announced the first phase of New Brunswick's recovery plan and the loosening of some public health restrictions.

Ontario: To provide additional support for frontline workers fighting COVID-19, the province is providing temporary pandemic pay of $4/hour worked on top of their regular wages. In addition, the province will be providing monthly lump sum payments of $250 for four months to eligible frontline workers who work over 100 hours per month. The pandemic pay will be effective for 16 weeks, from April 24, 2020 until August 13, 2020.

The provincial government released “A Framework for Reopening our Province”, which contemplates a 3 stage process to begin following a consistent two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases.

Quebec: The public health emergency in the province has been renewed until April 29, 2020.  The provincial government passed an order that allows persons working in the health and social services network to be redeployed to perform other duties or functions, despite any provision in an applicable collective agreement.  A plan for the gradual reopening of businesses will be announced Tuesday, April 28, 2020 at 1p.m.

Hong Kong 

 

LawTech Fund applications set: The Government announced the establishment of a LawTech Fund to help law firms and barristers' chambers procure and upgrade IT systems and arrange lawtech training courses for their staff.  The LawTech Fund will be open for applications from April 28 and cater to small and medium-size law firms as well as barristers’ chambers.   Applications will be accepted for two months and those eligible can receive a reimbursement of up to $50,000. 

Game centre subsidies open: The Amusement Game Centres Subsidy Scheme and the Mahjong/Tin Kau Licence Holder Subsidy Scheme under the Anti-epidemic Fund opened for applications. The two subsidy schemes provide immediate financial relief to licence holders or persons-in-charge of premises whose businesses have been hard-hit by COVID-19 and have been ordered to close under the Prevention & Control of Disease (Requirements & Directions) (Business & Premises) Regulation.  A one-off subsidy of $100,000 will be given to each eligible operator of an amusement game centre licensed under the Amusement Game Centres Ordinance, eligible operators of e-sports venues that have been duly exempted or applied for but not yet obtained exemption from the same ordinance, and eligible operators of Internet computer services centres registered with the Home Affairs Department’s Office of the Licensing Authority.

For the Mahjong and Tin Kau licence holders scheme, a one-off subsidy of $100,000 will be provided to each eligible holder of a relevant licence issued under the Gambling Ordinance.

India 

To maintain uninterrupted supply of food, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade has instructed State authorities to not call for closure of food processing units during the lockdown. Further, to maintain operational viability, instructions have been issued for keeping the manufacturing facilities open, allowing movement of workers and operators, and inter-state movement of goods, etc.

Under the MHA guidelines, the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) has released Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for MSMEs to comply with at workplace.

Madhya Pradesh: Under the MHA guidelines to open selected activities from 20 April 2020, the government of Madhya Pradesh has allowed industrial units located in Special Economic Zones (SEZ), MPIDC / DIC, and Export Oriented Unit (EOU), etc to function. In this regard, the District Crisis Management Group is vested with the authority to take the decision on the capacity at which the units can function and the area in which the movement of workforce will be allowed, etc.

Odisha: Under the MHA guidelines, the government of Odisha has released a list of Industries / MSMEs allowed to operate and the SOP to be followed.

Jaipur: Authorities in Jaipur have ordered that all the units and workplaces located in SEZ, EOU, food parks, etc should make arrangements (to the extent feasible) for their workers to stay in the workplace premises. Further, vehicles should be arranged for transportation purpose.

Rajasthan: Government of Rajasthan has released a format of authorisation letter for IT/ITES companies in which application can be made for operation of services.  The Government has relaxed the working hours limit for factories from 8 hours to 12 hours in a day. This is subject to an overtime limit of 24 hours in a week, along with the overtime payment.  

Italy 

On 26 April, a new Presidential Decree was published in Italy to adopt measures aimed at further containing the spread of the COVID-19 and reactivating the Italian economy.

The Decree allows for the reopening of a number of activities from 4 May 2020, and contains recommendations for businesses on home working, social distancing and sanitization of the workplace.   There are also new measures on quarantine on entry into Italy and the option of business travel without the need for quarantine for up to 72 hours (with the option to extend for special reasons for up to 48 hours).   

Read full details of the Decree here.  

Hungary 

As part of the export subsidy program of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eximbank (state-owned bank) provides the following new products for Hungarian companies:

  • Preferential loan for investments and financing of current assets
  • Credit protection and customer insurance program for the maintenance of commercial bank loans and for the protection against delayed payments from the export markets
Israel 

Measures were introduced on 19 April to ease restrictions to allow employers in non-essential services to exceed the threshold that is the higher of 30% of employees or 10 employees in a work place.  These  restrictions shall not apply to workplaces and businesses that meet the rules of the 'purple badge' standard, which will be able to employ greater proportions of personnel.  Read more about the rules that apply to purple badge employers here

On 25 April, the government announced that certain other businesses are allowed to re-open under certain conditions, including shops, restaurants (for take-out and delivery), hairdresses and beauty salons and mental health services.   

Spain 

Royal Decree 492/2020 of 24 April extends the state of emergency declared by Royal Decree 463/2020 of 14 March from 00:00 hours on 26 April 2020 until 00:00 hours on 10 May 2020, and will be subject to the same conditions established in Royal Decree 463/2020 of 14 March and its amendments.

Order SND/370/2020 of 25 April eases certain restrictions for children: 

  • Children and a responsible adult are allowed to circulate on the streets or in public spaces.
  • Such circulation is limited to one daily walk, lasting a maximum of one hour and at a distance of no more than one kilometer from the child's home, between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.
Taiwan 

Taiwan nationals who wish to donate their mask quota to foreign countries who are in need of aid may now do so by giving notice to the government online. The current quota is 9 masks per 14 days.

The tax authorities for the northern districts have announced a lottery for people who file their taxes electronically. This is to promote e-filing during the pandemic as a way to social-distance.

The CECC announced a slight relaxation on home quarantine regulations. Individuals under quarantine may now apply for leave on humanitarian grounds in order to attend a funeral of or visit a first or second degree relative. Such a leave may be granted but would include numerous stipulations, such as max duration of one hour, ban on the use of public transportation and minimum social distance that is required at all times.

UAE 

The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre free zone (DMCC) has issued best practice guidelines (Guidelines No. 1 of 2020) (Guidelines) for employers based in the DMCC to consider when looking to implement business contingency measures in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic. The Guidelines are intended as guidance only. Employers are encouraged to implement the below measures in the following order:

  • remote working;
  • placing employees on paid leave;
  • agreeing a temporary reduction to an employee’s basic salary; and
  • agreeing a period of unpaid leave with the employee.

As per the Guidelines, employers are encouraged to protect an employee’s end of service gratuity from any agreed temporary reduction in the employee’s basic salary. End of service gratuity is, as per the UAE Labour Law, to be calculated on an employee’s basic salary as at the date of termination of the contract. However, as per the Guidelines, end of service gratuity should continue to accrue according to the employee’s basic salary prior to the temporary reduction and, in the event that an employee is terminated while the lower amount remains in effect, the gratuity should be based on the employee’s basic salary prior to the reduction.

 

April 27 Update

Australia 

Safe Work Australia will develop "nationally-consistent, industry-specific" COVID-19 OHS guidance, based on a set of safe work principles agreed by National Cabinet last week.

The Australian government has launched Covidsafe, an app that traces every person running the app who has been in contact with someone else using the app who has tested positive for coronavirus in the previous few weeks.  The app is voluntary and individuals can elect to participate in the scheme.

The Australian Government has provided an update on JobKeeper, noting the "one-in, all in" is a key feature of the wage subsidy scheme and "will be made clearer in the rules". Once an employer decides to participate in the JobKeeper scheme and their eligible employees have agreed to be nominated by the employer, the employer must ensure that all of these eligible employees are covered by their participation in the scheme. This includes all eligible employees who are undertaking work for the employer or have been stood down. The Australian Government has also clarified the approach to making JobKeeper payments to businesses that use service companies to engage employees, charities, religious practitioners and international aid organisations.

The FWC has granted a joint bid for coronavirus-driven changes to the award covering non-teaching staff in non-government schools (Educational Services (Schools) General Staff Award). The changes are in our update of 24 April, and permit employers to direct non-teaching staff to cut hours by up to 25%, and direct workers "where necessary" to perform any duties within their skills and competency, regardless of classification, provided they are safe and the employee is appropriately licensed and qualified.

In the specific States:

  • Queensland: The Queensland Government have lifted some social distancing measures. From Saturday 2 May, people in Queensland are allowed to spend time outside with members of their household or one other person. Persons in Queensland may also now go for drives within 50km of home, visit national parks and shop for non-essential items.
  • Western Australia: The West Australian Government has also eased certain social distancing restrictions from Monday 27 April. People in WA can gather in groups of 10 either outdoors or indoors (including for weddings), as long as they abide by 1.5 metre physical distancing requirements. Non-contact recreational activities such as private picnics, fishing, boating, hiking and camping would also be allowed to resume. Open homes and display villages would also be permitted, as will boot camps and group exercise, provided they comply with the 10-person limit.
  • Northern Territory: Public parks will open for activities like fishing and camping from midday Friday 1 May, but national parks like Kakadu, or those within designated biosecurity zones, will remain closed.
Denmark 

Measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 are in place until at least 11 May in Denmark.  Many questions relating to the restrictions are addressed in this guidance published by the Danish police.  Read the guide here. 

France

Decree No. 2020-471 of 24 April 2020 providing derogations from the principle of suspension of deadlines in the field of labour and employment was published on 25 April.

Effective from 26 April, this decree contains the list of the categories of acts, procedures and obligations, for which the deadlines, suspended on 12 March 2020 are resumed for reasons of safety, health protection, safeguarding employment and activity, and securing labour relations and collective bargaining, including:

  • Validation or approval by the labour authority of the collective agreement relating to the employment safeguard plan    
  • Validation or approval by the labour authority of the employment safeguard plan for companies in insolvency       
  • Approval of the mutually agreed termination
  • Notification of the decision of validation by the labour authority of a collective mutually agreed termination agreement
  • And various other decisions from the labour administration     

Read the text of the Decree here (French). 

Colombia 

On April 26, Bogota’s Mayor issued Decree 121 of 2020 setting out additional conditions for those industries authorized to start their activities as from April 27, 2020:

  1. Authorized industries must register to the Safety Mobility Plan: www.bogota.gov.co/reactivacion-economica.  Employers must register their employees, protocols and safety measures to protect employees from infection, among other things, on this platform.
  2. Employers must receive government authorization before starting their operation.
  3. Employers who do not comply with the measures registered as their Safety Mobility Plan may incurred in monetary sanctions or even imprisonment of up to 8 years.
  4. Companies that provide mobility services or deliveries must register number plates for their authorized vehicles at: [email protected].
  5. Bikes and motorcycles must use a transporting cabin.  
Hong Kong  Aid for food producers: The government will provide a subsidy of $10,000 to each local primary producer, including owners of vegetable farms, hydroponic farms, flower farms and nurseries, marine fish culture farms, pond fish farms, fishing vessels and fish collector vessels, but excluding livestock farms. It will also provide a one-off interest-free deferral of loan repayment for a year to loan borrowers under the Fisheries Development Loan Fund of the second round of the Anti-epidemic Fund. Additionally, to support wholesale traders operating in fresh food wholesale markets who provide a stable food supply to Hong Kong, the Government will provide a subsidy of $40,000 to each eligible trader. The ceiling of the grant for each wholesale trader under the same business registration operating multiple stores is $200,000. Food & Environmental Hygiene Department subsidy schemes: Applications for Food & Environmental Hygiene Department subsidy schemes under the second round of the Anti-epidemic Fund will start on April 27. They are the subsidy schemes for commercial bathhouse licence holders and places of public entertainment licence holders as well as the subsidy scheme for tenants of cooked food/light refreshment stalls at the department's markets. Each licence holder of a commercial bathhouse will be provided with a one-off subsidy of $100,000. While each public entertainment place licence holder will be provided with a one-off subsidy of $100,000 and $20,000 for each temporary licence holder. Each tenant of cooked food/light refreshment stalls at markets will get a one-off subsidy of $50,000.
India 

The Central government allowed certain relaxations from the lockdown from 20 April 2020.  However, as a precaution, the Tamil Nadu government announced a complete lockdown in Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai from 26 April to 29 April and in Salem and Tiruppur from 26 April to 28 April.  However, essential services like – hospitals, water supply, electricity, banks, print and electronic media, etc will remain operational during the lockdown.

Through a separate order, the Tamil Nadu government has further exempted the following activities from the lockdown:

  • all facilities in the supply chain of essential goods, whether involved in manufacturing, wholesale or retail of such goods, through local stores, large brick, and mortar stores or e-commerce companies including food processing units such as bread factories, milk processing plants, flour mills, dal mills etc., located in urban areas
  • facilities for export / import such as pack houses, inspection and treatment facilities for seeds and horticulture produce, and research establishments dealing with agriculture and horticulture activities. 

The Tamil Nadu government has released a list of industries that are classified as continuous process industries. These industries include- refineries, large steel plants, (including TMT bar manufacturers), large cement plants, continuous process chemical industries, including paints, sugar mills, fertilisers, float glass plants, large foundries with continuous process, tyre manufacturing plants, and large paper mills. Such industries are exempted from the lockdown, subject to obtaining approval from the State government. Further, the government has allowed skeletal staffs to work for essential maintenance of all closed industrial units.

The District Administration of Gurugram has released a Standard Operating Procedure for resuming operations of industries and organisations.

The Delhi government has clarified that no relaxation will be permitted for selected activities from 20 April 2020 (as mentioned in MHA guidelines) until further reassessment on 27 April 2020.

In Madhya Pradesh, the State government has ordered the following exemptions for factories relating to weekly hours, daily hours, interval of rest etc.,: 

  • no worker shall be allowed or required to work in a factory for more than 12 hours in any day and 72 hours in any week
  • the periods of work of workers in a factory each day shall be so fixed that no period shall exceed 6 hours and that no worker shall work for more than 6 hours before he has had an interval for rest of at least 30 minutes; and
  • overtime wages shall be paid at twice the ordinary rate of wages.
Indonesia  

The Minister of Communication and Informatics has issued Decree No. 159 of 2020, under which, among other things, telecommunications operators must contribute to facilitating and take the steps required in response to a request from the government / ministry / institution / task force to accelerate the management of COVID-19 in support of the government’s efforts to deal with COVID-19 which include the use of telecommunications infrastructure, systems and technology for among other things:

  • health surveillance (tracing, tracking, warning);
  • providing access to telecommunications and internet services;
  • the dissemination of information; and
  • public awareness.

These contributions, facilitation steps and measures include but are not limited to the following:

  • providing information and data;
  • providing applications;
  • providing products and solutions that support the Indonesian president's policy on having everyone work from home, study at home, and worship at home;
  • Short Message Service blasts; and
  • providing unpaid for calls to emergency service numbers.
Japan  The central government of Japan has announced that the central government plans to extend the period of the state of the emergency based on the consultation with the experts.   The length of the extension has not yet been announced. 
Philippines  The Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) has been further extended to May 15, 2020. There were no changes to Immigration and Labor rules.
Taiwan 

The Ministry of Transport and Communication announced an update that will provide information on how crowded tourist areas are using a traffic light system, as well as implementing crowd control measures at these locations. The update is scheduled to roll out on Tuesday (tomorrow) ahead of the long Labor Day weekend.

The Ministry of Labor slightly expanded its part-time public sector job program in order to include persons who have been insured under relevant insurance programmes within the past year. Previously, persons were only eligible if they earned less than minimum wage. Under the new rules, priority will be given to persons depending on their needs and income. Under the programme, public-sector jobs are offered at minimum wage (NT$158 per hour) for up to 80 hours per month, totalling NT$12,640 per month. The programme is expected to offer up to 60,000 part-time jobs

UAE 

The Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management has announced a partial reduction to the restrictions on movement (as outlined in our 6 April update) in the emirate of Dubai starting from Friday 24 April, to coincide with the start of the Holy Month of Ramadan.

Public transport (bus and metro services), restaurants and cafés (excluding buffet and shisha), retail businesses (shopping malls, high-street outlets and souqs), wholesale businesses and maintenance shops will now be allowed to operate under certain conditions. Family entertainment facilities, including cinemas, will not be allowed to operate. Hotels will be permitted to operate but may not open pools, gyms, saunas or massage parlours.

Importantly, a maximum of 30% of the workforce of all organisations will be allowed to work from their offices while the rest will be required to work from home. Office employees will also be exempted from the 22:00 to 06:00 curfew, during which movement restrictions are in place. Companies have been advised to constantly monitor the number of employees and visitors entering and leaving the workplace every day.

Other than office workers, only certain sectors (and their employees) are exempted from movement restrictions during the curfew. These include shopping malls, financial services, food delivery services, healthcare services (including medicine manufacturers and providers of healthcare supplies), water and electricity services, telecommunications services, media services, airports, airlines, ports, shopping outlets, public and private security services, those in the construction sector and hotels.  

Shopping malls, markets and commercial outlets may open daily to the public from 12:00 to 22:00.

Ukraine 

On April 22, 2020 the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine extended quarantine in Ukraine until May 11.

The measures related to COVID-19, introduced earlier with connection to the quarantine largely remain effective.   However some changes have been made. The respective Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine introduces the following:

  • Blood donors may use public transport on the basis of a donor certificate or a certificate, issued to the donor at the place of medical examination or blood donation;
  • During quarantine and 30 days after cancellation of quarantine, employees who under normal circumstances should undergo regular medical examinations, can continue working with expired medical examination;
  • The "Procedure for carrying out anti-epidemic measures related to the self-isolation of persons" has been adopted. This procedure establishes rules related to the mobile application, to be used for self-isolating individuals; checks of identification documents in public places;

 

April 24 Update

Australia 

The Australian Government has announced they have agreed to National COVID-19 Safe Workplace principles aimed at getting Australians back to work. These principles are to be released shortly.

The Australian Government has also provided clarity on physical distancing requirements at schools, noting the 1.5 metre distancing rule in classrooms (and the four square metre rule per person) is not a requirement of the expert medical advice in classrooms.

In the specific States:

  • Queensland: The Queensland Parliament have passed legislation giving the Queensland Government the power to make regulations allowing the witnessing of documents remotely by way of video conferencing.
  • Western Australia: The West Australian Government has announced a relief package of $154 million to support tenants, landlords and the construction industry impacted by the coronavirus crisis. The package includes $100m in land tax relief for eligible commercial landlords.
  • Victoria: The Victorian Parliament have passed legislation for temporary changes, including the introduction of judge-alone criminal trials, virtual meetings for state and council politicians, WorkCover extensions and a ban on evictions and rent increases, with a sunset clause of six months.

An FWC full bench will grant a joint bid for coronavirus-driven changes to the award covering non-teaching staff in non-government schools, unless it receives opposing submissions by 4pm 24 April. The application seeks to vary the Educational Services (Schools) General Staff Award and will permit employers to direct non-teaching staff to cut hours by up to 25%, and direct workers "where necessary" to perform any duties within their skills and competency, regardless of classification, provided they are safe and the employee is appropriately licensed and qualified. Applying to non-teaching staff such as bus drivers, maintenance workers and other support staff whose workload has been significantly reduced as a result of COVID-19, there are safeguards on the award changes, including a 12-week limit on hours reductions, obligations to "discuss the reason behind the direction" and notify the union upon giving five days’ notice, and the requirement to comply with the award's consultation and redundancy provisions for any larger reduction. Other safeguards stop employers from reducing the pay of employees directed to perform the work of a lower classification, while requiring them to pay higher-level classification rates to those asked to perform higher-level duties.

Canada 

Ontario: The provincial government has extending all emergency orders, including the emergency order requiring the closure of non-essential places of business, until May 6, 2020.

Saskatchewan: The “Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan” has been released, setting out five phases for businesses and workplaces to reopen over a period commencing May 4, 2020 and continuing for an indeterminate period.

Chile  A number of measures have been introduced in Chile to protect employment and pay, as well as in relation to employers' health and safety obligations in the workplace.  Read our summary of the most important employment related measures here. 
China 

The State Council has encouraged state-owned real estate companies to exempt 3 months’ rent for small and micro enterprises in service industry in the first half of the year in its executive meeting two days ago.

As a response to the above, Beijing government announced yesterday that if micro, small and medium-sized enterprises lease property owned by a state-owned company controlled by Beijing government, it will be able to enjoy rent-free for February. And these state-owned real estate companies plan to continue to exempt the rent for them for March and April.

Hong Kong  The Subsidy Scheme for Beauty Parlours, Massage Establishments & Party Rooms ("BMP Scheme") under the second round of the Anti-epidemic Fund will be open for applications in early May. The collection and vetting of applications will be conducted through an online platform. A one-off tiered subsidy will be paid to each eligible beauty parlour or massage establishment depending on its scale of operation, at $30,000, $60,000 and $100,000 respectively; while a one-off subsidy of $40,000 will be paid to each eligible party room.
India 

Some media reports had indicated that State governments may take legal action, including imprisonment of company CEOs, if COVID-19 positive employees are found at factory premises, and the factory premises would be sealed for 3 months in such cases, etc. However, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued a clarification that these are misplaced apprehensions. It has been emphasized that there are no such rules under the National Directives on COVID-19 Management (National Directives) and the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the workplaces.

The MHA has further reiterated / clarified that: 

  • workplaces should follow the appropriate safeguards prescribed in the National Directives and the SOP
  • exemptions already provided earlier (before 15 April 2020) are not curtailed, unless the exempted activity falls within a containment zone, and
  • no separate / fresh licenses are required for resumption of permitted activities during the lockdown.

Given the lockdown, the labour ministry has extended the validity of licenses (whose renewal is due in the months of March, April, and May 2020) granted under the contract labour and inter-state migrant worker laws till 31 May 2020. 

The government of Andhra Pradesh has ordered industries to pay the full salaries (without any deduction) and to not terminate employment (including contract / casual labour) during the lockdown. 

Indonesia  The Financial Services Authority (Otoritas Jasa keuangan - OJK) has issued Regulation No.16/POJK.04/2020 which allows public companies to hold their General Meeting of Shareholders (Rapat Umum Pemegang Saham – RUPS) electronically in order to facilitate the effectiveness and efficiency of holding the RUPS of public companies under the current policy on state finances and the financial system’s stability issued for the management of COVID-19 in Indonesia. The RUPS can be held electronically using an e-RUPS provided by an e-RUPS provider or a system provided by the public company.   When convening its RUPS electronically, a public company must:
  • provide information regarding the plan to hold the RUPS electronically in the notification of the RUPS agenda to the OJK, the announcement of the RUPS, and the summons to the RUPS; and
  • hold a physical RUPS attended by at least:
    • the RUPS leaders;
    • one member of the Board of Directors or one member of the Board of Commissioners; and
    • capital market support professionals who assist the holding of the RUPS.
The venue of the RUPS held electronically is the venue of the RUPS is held physically.

Hungary 

Further restrictions are expected on the free movement of people (lockdown of certain places) for the long weekend of 1-3 May 

Malaysia  Further extension of the Movement Control Order (MCO): The Movement Control Order (“MCO”) which was due to end on 28 April has been extended to 12 May. No changes directly relevant to employers or businesses have been announced for this fourth phase of the MCO. Status of existing approvals to operate during MCO: The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) has confirmed that approvals granted to businesses to operate on-site under the previous phases of the MCO would automatically continue to be valid for the upcoming fourth phase.
Singapore 

On 23 April, the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”) published a news release which sets out the further measures to help companies during the extended circuit breaker.   The announcement included the following: 

  • confirmation that the Job Support Scheme (“JSS”) wage subsidy of 75% for all sectors based on a monthly wage cap of SGD 4,600 will be extended for the month of May 2020 and extension of the foreign worker levy (“FWL”) rebate of $750 for each S Pass or Work Permit holder employed as of 1 May 2020 and waiver of such FWL due in May 2020;
  • a reminder to employers that they must act responsibly and treat all their employees regardless of nationality, fairly and responsibly; and
  • a statement that companies should not implement extended no-pay leave or other wage-saving measures without engaging or seeking the consent of employees. The MOM will investigate valid complaints and may suspend JSS/FWL payouts for these companies until investigations are completed. Where there is evidence of irresponsible or unfair treatment, employers may be denied future employment support (including JSS, FWL rebate and waiver) and have their work pass privileges curtailed.

Read the announcement here.  

Taiwan 

The previously announced 20% rent reduction for state-owned properties for the full year of 2020 was expanded to also cover cases of rent for land rights and operating royalties in case of entrustment. This rent reduction does not require an application.

The Central Bank amended loan terms regarding SME loans. The interest rates the Central Bank is offering to commercial banks for Central Bank backed SME loans was reduced from 0.25% to 0.1%. The interest rate caps for SMEs is unchanged at 1% for loans up to NT$2 million and 1.5% for loans up to NT$6 million. As such, this measure provides a margin increase for banks in order to facilitate more loans for SMEs.

US

The EEOC updated its Technical Assistance Questions and Answers to provide that businesses may choose to administer Covid-19 testing before allowing employees to enter the workplace because an individual with the virus “will pose a direct threat to the health of others.”

On April 23, 2020, the Treasury and US Small Business Administration released guidance emphasizing that companies must “certify in good faith” the economic need for a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program. According to the guidance, “[i]t is unlikely that a public company with substantial market value and access to capital markets will be able to make the required certification in good faith, and such a company should be prepared to demonstrate to SBA, upon request, the basis for its certification.”

On April 23, the House passed a $484 billion interim emergency bill (passed by the Senate earlier this week) that includes expanded funding for small businesses and hospitals, and money for coronavirus testing. President Trump is expected to sign it into law.

 

April 23 Update 

Australia 

The NSW Government has amended NSW regulations to allow video conferencing technology to be used in the witnessing of certain documents, including Wills, Powers of Attorney and statutory declarations. To facilitate the witnessing of NSW statutory declarations during COVID, the categories of people who are authorised to witness documents has also been expanded in line with federal legislation.

The Queensland Government has relaxed funeral restrictions to allow for 20 people at a funeral. Physical distancing restrictions remain.

Belgium 

The Federal Minister of Work has extended the duration of application of the simplified “coronaprocedure” to apply for temporary unemployment for force majeure until 31 May 2020 inclusive, see our previous alert for more details.  

Canada 

Foreign nationals are prohibited from entering Canada if they have COVID-19 or have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or have reasonable grounds to suspect they have such signs and symptoms

Prince Edward Island: The provincial government has announced a phased-in approach to easing back on public health measures in Prince Edward Island could begin as early as May 1.

Quebec: The provincial government has announced that it will:

  • present a plan next week for the gradual reopening of schools and businesses
  • be recommending the wearing of masks in workplaces, especially in cases where it is not possible to respect the 2 metre social distancing rule.
Colombia 

The National Government is preparing the health and safety guidelines that companies (depending on their specific economy sector) must comply with once they are allowed progressively to start operations back again.

France 

Executive Order No. 2020-460 of 22 April 2020 on various measures taken to deal with the covid epidemic-19, published on 23 April 2020 contains various employment related provisions  including changes to the partial activity scheme.  

Read our full report here.  

Germany 

The heads of the parties forming the coalition in Germany agreed several changes last night (yet to be approved by the government and parliament):

  • Short time work benefits will be increased from 60% of net salary (67% for employees with children to 70/77% after four months and to 80/87% after seven months, provided employees have reduced their working hours at least by 50%. The changes will be limited until 31 December 2020.
  • If employees take a secondary occupation – no matter what industry - during short time work, the income from the secondary occupation will only be set off from the short time work allowance to the extent the income from the short time work and the secondary occupation exceed the normal salary before the begin of the short time work. So far this exemption applies only to secondary occupations in critical industries (eg medical, supermarkets etc).
  • The VAT for restaurants etc will be decreased to 7% from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021.

All changes are yet to be approved by the government and the parliament.

Smaller shops are allowed to open again in most states in Germany. Many states have imposed an obligation to wear masks in shops and public transport.

Occupational health and safety measures: Federal Minister of Labour, Mr Heil, set out employer's obligations in more detail on 16 April 2020 and has established guidelines for (physical) cooperation.   These requirements must be complied with by the employer under its duty of care to the employees; a violation can lead to liability for damages.  The central requirement is the minimum distance of 1.5 m, which must be observed both at the workplace and in communal facilities and on means of transport. If this is impossible for practical reasons,  respiratory masks should be used, which must then also be provided or at least financed by the employer. Likewise, these requirements apply not only to contacts between employees but also to contacts with customers. Furthermore, it is recommended to shift office work (as before) to working from home if possible and to limit business trips and all physical meetings to absolutely essential areas.   In this respect, a distinction is made between technical measures (conversion of offices; disinfection; distance signs; working from home), organisational measures (shift planning; working time and break planning) and personal measures.  It is also emphasised that even in the case of minor symptoms, presence at the workplace should be avoided.   

Some of the measures require consultation with the works council.You can find an overview of the measures here.

Hungary 

The Government issued a Decree announcing certain measures affecting banks, insurance companies, investment firms, and other companies working in the financial sector:

  • The National Bank of Hungary (the regulatory body of the financial sector) may – under duly justified circumstances and for the period of the state of danger – allow for the above actors not to comply with their data reporting, notification obligations, if the state of danger poses an obstruction, until such obstruction exists. Obstruction of compliance with said obligations is deemed duly justified if it is due to the state of danger. This provision does not affect the data reporting, notification obligations under AML legislation, or if such obligations relate to serious risks threatening the activity of affected financial actors.
  • The deadline to perform notification and declaration obligations of the above financial actors towards their clients is prolonged for 30 days after the end of the state of danger
  • If the performance of certain client obligations (submission of documents and declarations, cancellation and notification obligations) – relating to contracts concluded with the above financial actors – were not possible during and due to the state of danger, then the performance of said obligations, if performed within 30 days after the end of the state of danger, are deemed to have been made in time.

The Government authorized local governments to issue restrictions on the free movement of people (lockdown of certain places) for the weekend of 25-26 April.

Netherlands 

On 21 April 2020 the Dutch government announced that the lockdown will be extended until 20 May.   Social distancing and other measures remain in force until then, with a few exemptions.  Certain businesses are closed by government order, while others are allowed to open but every sector is required to draft a protocol to be approved by the government before opening.  Read full details of the extended lockdown rules here.   

The Dutch government is researching whether they can use tracking apps to monitor the virus. This will include apps that for example notify users when they have been near another user who later tests positive for the virus, and an app that enables users to keep their doctor up to date on their symptoms without leaving their home. Further information will follow.   

Update on NOW Regulations relevant to group companies: On 21 April 2020, the Minister of Social and Economic Affairs announced proposed legislation so that for groups with less than 20% loss in turnover, it will be possible for the individual operating companies to apply for a subsidy for their salary costs on the basis of the decrease in turnover of the individual operating company.  Read more about the proposed law here. 

Russia

Under Presidential Decree of 2 April 2020 No. 239 "On measures to ensure the sanitary and epidemiological welfare of the population in the Russian Federation in connection with the spread of the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19)", the period from 4 to 30 April 2020 has been declared "non-working" days with the retention of full pay.  To continue business activities, many employers with the necessary technological capabilities have de-facto transferred their personnel to temporary remote work.

The temporary transfer to remote work is not explicitly regulated by the Russian Labour Code. Read our article here about options for arranging a temporary transition to remote work during the shutdown period.   

Spain 

Royal Decree Law 15/2020 of April 21 on urgent complementary measures to support the economy and employment was published in the official Gazette on April 22. This new regulation includes a set of measures aimed to reduce the operating costs of small, medium-sized companies and self-employed, to strengthen business financing, taxation, to facilitate the adjustment of the economy and to protect employment and citizens.

The Decree includes important employment measures including updates to the rules on remote working, working hours, temporary suspension of employment, contracts/reduction of working hours measures, postponement of the payment of social security.   

Read our full alert on the employment measures here.  

UAE 

The DIFC free zone has published a Presidential Directive effective from 21 April 2020 under which employers may impose business contingency measures without employee consent (subject to providing the employees with a minimum of five days’ advanced notice in writing):

  • Impose reduced working hours;
  • Impose vacation leave;
  • Impose unpaid leave;
  • Reduce remuneration on a temporary basis;
  • Restrict workplace access; and
  • Impose remote working conditions and requirements including imposing means of measuring an employee’s engagement and productivity during remote working.

For the period in which the Directive remains in place (an end date has not yet been specified), DIFC employers are required to maintain a list of any employees who are terminated and / or any employees who are surplus to the company’s requirements. The DIFC has announced that it will create a virtual labour market, and the relevant employees may have their information registered with the market with their consent.

The Directive also confirms that employees who are required to take sick leave as a result of being infected with COVID-19, or as a result of being quarantined by a competent authority (such as the Dubai Health Authority) shall be entitled to sick leave on full pay and that this shall not be deducted from their statutory sick leave entitlement. The business contingency measures as outlined above cannot be applied to someone who is on COVID-19 related sick leave unless any applied to them before they commenced such sick leave.

The Directive also includes measures relating to the protection of an employee’s end of service gratuity accrual and states that an employer may delay cancellation of an employee’s residence visa following termination (the DIFC Employment Law states that this must be cancelled within 30 days of the termination date). Employers in the retail, service or hospitality industry who provide employees with accommodation as part of their employment contract, are required to continue to provide accommodation to those employees until the cancellation of their residence visa.

Separately, a circular has been issued by the Dubai Economic Department setting out measures that business should take in preparation for the first stage of the lifting of the current lockdown measures. While official guidance as to when the current lockdown will be lifted has not yet been issued, the circular sets out a strict list of guidelines and protocols that businesses should be aware of, and comply with, in advance of reopening, including specific guidance for those in the retail, construction and manufacturing sectors.

US 

The CDC issued general business FAQs which build on the Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers and Guidance for Critical Infrastructure Workers.

On April 22, President Trump signed an executive order restricting certain categories of immigrants from entering the US for 60 days. The order contains exemptions for medical and other essential workers to combat the outbreak, spouses and minor children of American citizens, and certain other aliens.

On April 21, the US Senate passed a $484 billion interim emergency bill that includes expanded funding for small businesses and hospitals, and money for coronavirus testing. The House is expected to pass the bill this week, and President Trump has said he would sign it into law.

 

April 22 Update 

Australia 

The Australian Government announced it would extend the exemption on mutual obligations (the requirements for jobseekers to attend job appointments and undertake certain job searching activities) for job seekers until 22 May 2020.   During this time, employment services remain open and available to support jobseekers to prepare for and find available jobs.

The Australian Government will spend $94 million on a fuel reserve to bolster the national stockpile. Australia’s strategic fuel reserve will be held initially in the United States.

Canada 

Canada: The government has launched a calculator on the Canada Revenue Agency website so businesses can determine the amount they can expect to claim through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. Businesses will be able to apply for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy as of Monday, April 27, 2020.

Manitoba: The state of emergency in the province has been extended for 30 days, until 4:00 p.m. on May 18, 2020.

Quebec: The Quebec government has pledged $100 per week for essential-service workers in low-wage jobs (such as grocery store cashiers). Applications for the program will open on May 19, 2020 and will be retroactive to March 15, 2020.

Colombia 

On April 21, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued Resolution 1296 of 2020 setting out rules on visas, passport and Colombian nationality requests during the health emergency, the key points to note are:

  1. Foreigners who are under a regular immigration status in Colombia are able to apply through the Ministry’s platform for an electronic visa.
  2. During the health emergency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will not issue visas for foreigners who are abroad Colombia.
  3. Foreigners abroad Colombia who are holders of Visitors visa (only for working purposes) or of a Migrant or Resident visa, will have their visas’ term suspended.
  4. The issuance of passports and the resignations and requests of Colombian nationality proceedings are also suspended.
Hong Kong 

Extension of social distancing 

The government has announced that the social distancing measures that have been in place will be extended from 24 April to 7 May. In particular:

1. Catering business premises with food or drink for consumption on site, requirements on all Premises (the requirement for the number of customers in the catering business premises at any one time must not exceed 50% of the normal seating capacity of the premises is suspended effective 24 April): 

  • Tables 1.5m apart or effectively partitioned
  • No more than 4 persons each table
  • Must wear mask except when eating/drinking
  • Screen body temperature
  • Provide hand sanitizer

Other requirements

  • Suspend karaoke and mahjong-tin kau activities
  • Any premises that are exclusively or mainly used for the sale or supply of intoxicating liquors for consumption in that premises (i.e. bars/clubs) must be closed
  • Any part of a catering business premise that is exclusively or mainly used for the sale or supply of intoxicating liquors for consumption in that part must be closed

2. Scheduled premises

Amusement games centre, bathhouse, fitness centre, place of entertainment, place of public entertainment, “party room”, club or nightclub, karaoke establishment, mahjong-tin kau premises, beauty parlour, massage establishment must be closed

3. Scheduled premises : Club-house

  • Suspend karaoke and mahjong-tin kau activities
  • Must wear mask where applicable and except when eating/drinking
  • Screen body temperature
  • Provide hand sanitizer

4. Group gathering of more than 4 persons

Prohibited in any public place unless exempted

Support for education sector

The Education Bureau issued a circular memorandum to tutorial schools, inviting them to apply for a relief grant under the Anti-epidemic Fund. The bureau said a total of about $120 million has been allocated from the fund to provide a one-off relief grant of $40,000 to each eligible tutorial school. These tutorial schools must be registered under the Education Ordinance, have been operating in the three months before the class suspension - November, December and January - and be in operation on the application date.

Designated centres under the Financial Assistance Scheme for Designated Evening Adult Education Courses, which offer evening secondary school courses for adult learners, are also eligible for the grant.

Additionally, the fund will also provide relief grants to school-related service providers who have been affected by the prolonged class suspension, incurring an expenditure of about $419 million. Beneficiaries will include operators of catering outlets at primary schools, secondary schools and post-secondary institutions and lunchbox providers of primary and secondary schools.

School bus drivers, school private light bus drivers and escorts, or nannies, as well as instructors, coaches, trainers and operators of interest classes engaged by schools, will also benefit from the relief grants.

Separately, the bureau announced earlier that it would provide a one-off relief grant of $80,000 to each private school offering full and formal curriculum.

The grant has been disbursed progressively to schools under the English Schools Foundation, international schools, private independent schools, and other private secondary day schools and private primary schools.

Hungary 

The Hungarian government has issued detailed provisions of the changes to the wage subsidies which contains the following:

Wage subsidy for employment in reduced working time: 

  • Working time may be reduced with 15-75 % (instead of 30-50 %) therefore the subsidy can be requested in case of at least 2 hours of employment per day (instead of 4 hours). 
  • The employer only need to maintain the employment of the employees affected by the subsidy
  • The government decree uses the definition of base salary (instead of absence fee), i.e. the maximum amount of the subsidy is based on the base salary of the employee
  • If the reduced working time does not exceed 50 % of the original working time, the agreement on individual development time is not mandatory
  • The application procedure is simplified (e.g. the affected employment agreements are amended with the government decree, separate amendments are not necessary, the reasons of the application for the subsidy is not required to be detailed)
  • The wage subsidy is extended for other groups of employees (e.g. temporary agency workers, employees in home office, etc.)

Wage subsidy for research and development employment

  • The employer does not need to maintain its headcount number

The government has also issued a decree with regards to the management of the economic crisis which contains the following:

  • In order to ensure health insurance for employees during unpaid leave, as of 1 May the employer shall pay medical service contribution HUF 7,710 (i.e. approx. EUR 20) per month after the employees on unpaid leave
  • The fringe benefits on the so-called “SZÉP card” paid from 22 April until 30 June 2020 are exempted from social contribution tax and also the limit of the fringe benefits which can be provided to the employees on SZÉP card is increased
  • Postponement of the submission of annual reports and payment of taxes (e.g. corporate tax, SME tax, local tax on economic activities, etc.) until 30 September 2020
  • Those who provide accommodation services are exempted from the tax on tourism as of 22 April until 31 December 2020
  • Reduction of social contribution tax (from 17.5 % to 15.5 %) and simplified contribution to public revenues (from 17.5 % to 15.5 %)
  • Facilitation in tax procedures (e.g. deferral of payment, payment in instalments, reduction of tax depts)
India 

Uttar Pradesh: The Labour Commissioner has directed all employers to pay wages with holidays during the lockdown.

Karnataka: The government has made it mandatory for the public to download and use ‘Argoya Setu’ mobile application. This application provides alerts / warnings, etc. when a person comes in contact with (or is in close vicinity of) COVID-19 positive individuals.  Karnataka State government has ordered all Industrial Associations to raise awareness about the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) issued in the revised guidelines of the MHA among all industries/associations (excluding those in containment zones) before they resume operations.   Under the revised MHA guidelines, the Karnataka police department has ordered all commercial, private, and industrial establishments to remain closed (unless specifically exempted) from 20 April 2020 to 3 May 2020 in the city limits of Bangalore.  Some exemptions to this order include – banks, telecommunications and broadband services, IT and ITES establishments (for essential services only), e-commerce of essential goods, private security agencies, manufacturing units of essential goods or those manufacturing units which require continuous process, etc.

Noida: Given the increase in COVID-19 hotspot zones, the District Magistrate has ordered that no commercial activities will resume in Noida from 20 April 2020.

Maharashtra: the State government has clarified that the revised guidelines (which allowed certain activities to resume operations from 20 April 2020) will not be applicable in the Mumbai and Pune. 

Noida: The District Magistrate has ordered the closure of Delhi-Noida border amidst the surge in COVID-19 cases.

Indonesia  The Department of Manpower, Transmigration and Energy of the DKI Jakarta Province has issued Circular Letter No. 3590/SE/2020, which requires all companies to implement the DKI Jakarta Governor’s Announcement Number 6 regarding the temporary suspension of office activities. Under the Circular Letter, businesses in the health, energy, staple needs and financial and payment system sectors may continue to have their employees work away from home while still implementing the protocols for the prevention of COVID-19 in a disciplined manner. Companies engaged in these businesses must report the prevention methods they are using in their companies to the relevant Departments and Sub Departments of Manpower, Transmigration and Energy in their areas. The report has to be submitted from 23 March 2020 to 22 April 2020 at the latest.
Mexico 

On 21 April, a new decree was issued by the Ministry of Health ordering that non-essential activities are suspended until 30 May, 2020.  For the municipalities with low or no transmission of COVID-19 only,  the sanitary measures will remain in force until 18 May.

Taiwan 

The Legislative Yuan approved an additional NT$150 billion for the special COVID-19 budget, bringing the total budget to NT$210 billion. This budget is used both for actual prevention, as well as economic relief measures.

The Ministry of Finance extended the filing deadline for tax return attachments, such as audit reports, until July 31st.

The Ministry of Finance also announced that an early tax refund can be received if taxes are filed before June 1st.

The Financial Supervisory Commission announced incentives for private banks in bailout efforts for businesses. These incentives include a reduction in the hedge deposits required for when lending to SMEs as well as rewards for securing central bank loans for clients. Additionally, processing fees for workers and small firms will be waived.

Facemasks under the rationing system can now be ordered at convenience stores using self-service kiosks.

 

April 21 Update 

Australia 

The Australian Taxation Office has updated its advice on the JobKeeper (wage subsidy) scheme, stating in its guidance that if an employer opts to participate in JobKeeper, it should "nominate all the employees they are entitled to claim for".

The NSW Government has announced that from 11 May, NSW students will be asked to return to school for one day a week.

The Australian Government has announced that certain elective surgeries will re-commence in Australia on Monday or Tuesday next week (27 or 28 April). ACT and WA are the states/territories that will recommence certain elective surgeries on Tuesday 28 April, whilst all other states/territories will recommence them on Monday 27 April. The restrictions on elective surgeries will be eased on about 25 per cent of activity in elective surgery in Australian private and public hospitals and will be reviewed on 11 May. The surgeries/procedures that will be re-commencing are:

  • All Category 2 procedures (being those procedures for patients needing treatment within 90 days, where their condition causes pain but is unlikely to deteriorate quickly/become an emergency);
  • Selected Category 3 procedures (including IVF, screening programs, post cancer reconstructions, certain dental procedures, procedures for children under the age of 18, joint replacements, cataract and eye procedures, endoscopies and colonoscopies).
Brazil

São Paulo's Governor has extended quarantine until May 10 and the Rio Governor has extended quarantine until April 30. 

The Supreme Federal Court has ruled that Provisional Measure 936 (salary reduction and suspension of the employment agreement) is valid, see our April 16 update, below.  Therefore there is no need to consult the Union before implementing salary reduction / employment suspension measures.

Canada 

Canada and the United States have agreed to extend the current border measures for another 30 days, to May 21, 2020.  Effective April 20, 2020, anyone in an airport or airplane where you cannot maintain physical distancing is required to wear a non-medical face mask.

Manitoba: The public health orders have been extended to May 1, 2020.  The penalties for violating The Emergency Measures Act will increase to a maximum of $100,000 and/or one year imprisonment for individuals and a maximum of $1,000,000 for corporations.

New Brunswick:  The state of emergency in the province has been extended to April 30, 2020.  The government has amended the Employment Standards Act to provide for an unpaid emergency leave in situations of declared emergency, notifiable disease, notifiable event, or other threat to public health.  Gardening and agricultural retailers can reopen, and restaurants with a liquor licence can sell liquor for take-out or delivery.

Nunavut: The state of emergency in the territory has been extended to April 30, 2020.

Quebec: The minimum wage in Quebec has been increased by 60 cents to $13.10 per hour, effective May 1, 2020.

China 

Beijing has announced that if micro, small and medium-sized enterprises do not lay off employees or lay off very limited number of employees only amid the outbreak of Covid-19, 100% of the previous year's unemployment insurance premiums will be returned to them.  If the micro, small and medium-sized businesses face temporary difficulties with their business and operations but are likely to recover in the near future, the authority may return RMB 9,906 per person to the enterprises.

Colombia 

President Duque has decided to extended the national mandatory furlough until May 11.  The exception to this restriction will be for those companies in the manufacturing and construction sector, which may begin operations as from April 27, 2020, provided that they comply with all health and safety rules and recommendations.

Hong Kong 

The Cinemas Subsidy Scheme under the second round of the Anti-epidemic Fund is open for applications from today to April 30 to support cinema operators. The scheme will provide a one-off subsidy of $100,000 per screen to each cinema licensed as a place of public entertainment with commercial operation in March. The maximum subsidy for a cinema circuit is $3 million

Under the Anti-epidemic Fund, the Government will also provide rental assistance from May to the tenants of local creative landmark PMQ as well as subsidies to the printing and publishing sector for participation in the next Hong Kong Book Fair.

Short Term Tenancies (STT) and waivers for varying the terms of land grants for business and community uses under the department have been granted 50% rental or fee concession from October 2019 to September this year.  Under the new round of support measures, the 5,000 eligible STT tenants and waiver holders already enjoying the previous concession, such as catering facilities, shops, workshops, public fee-paying car parks, and welfare facilities, will see their rental or fee concession rate increase to 75% from April to September.  The 75% concession arrangement will be extended to businesses not covered previously, such as depots for public transport operators, public utilities, petrol filling stations, driving schools and advertising facilities, effective for the same period.   If these tenants and waiver holders are ordered to close or have chosen to close due to the Government’s orders or other restrictions for safeguarding public health under the relevant regulation, they may further apply to the department for full rental or fee concession for the duration of the closure.  The department will issue written notifications to eligible STT tenants and waiver holders on the above concession measures and their implementation details.          

Additionally, to help development projects with construction progress affected by the epidemic, the department will offer extensions of the Building Covenant period at nil premium for up to six months for leases with the covenant not yet discharged as at April 8.

The department will issue a practice note and upload it onto its website by the end of the month to announce the application arrangements for lessees.

India 

Telangana:  Under the extension of the national lockdown, the Telangana government has further extended the State-specific lockdown till 7 May 2020.

Punjab: as COVID-19 has resulted in a shortage of labour, the State government has relaxed certain provisions of Factories Act, 1948 relating to working hours to allow optimum utilisation of the workforce. These relaxations include- (i) change in the maximum permitted working hours in a day from 9 hours to 12 hours; (ii) change in total spread-over limit for a day from 10.5 hours a day to 13 hours. However, it is clarified that for the additional hours, workers shall be paid twice the rate of ordinary wages. These relaxations will be effective for a period of 3 months from the date of this notification (i.e. 20 April 2020).

Maharashtra:  The government has extended the deadline for submitting the consolidated annual returns under the local shops and establishments law up to 31 July 2020. 

Indonesia  On 20 April 2020, the Minister of the Utilization of Civil Servants and Bureaucratic Reform issued Circular Letter No. 50 of 2020 on the Adjustment of the Work System of Civil Servant. The Circular Letter covers several additional matters including until when civil servants will work from home, which has been extended from previously until 21 April 2020 to now until 13 May 2020.
Japan 

The Japanese state of emergency introduced on 16 April will remain in force until May 6 and the government has strongly encouraged employees to work from home.  The Japanese government has not issued any guidance on returning to work at the moment.

Singapore 

It has just been announced that the Circuit Breaker measures which we reported on previously are being extended to 1 June and the definition of “essential services” is expected to be tightened.  Further details to follow.  

Taiwan  The Central Epidemic Command Center published videos to assist businesses in implementing the social distancing guidelines. Additionally, the CECC outlined its contingency plan for the outbreak in Taiwan. The plan has three stages: the transition, warning and control stage. Taiwan is currently in the transition stage with sporadic community transmissions and a few control measures. The warning stage is defined as three separate clusters of community infections within one week or more than 10 locally transmitted cases with unclear sources in one day. This would result in restrictions of movement and closures of public spaces. In the control stage, defined as a rapid increase in domestic cases and no possibility to conduct full contact tracing anymore, a full lockdown would be issued.
Ukraine 

On April 13, the Parliament of Ukraine adopted a draft law on changes to the State Budget of Ukraine for 2020.  The law was signed by the President of Ukraine on April 18, 2020 with the following changes introduced:

  • The Fund for combating COVID-19 and its consequences is created. This Fund allocates money during the quarantine period and 30 days after it ends. The fund is to be distributed to the following causes (among others):
    • the procurement of goods, works and services necessary for the implementation of the preventive measures, including the procurement of health services under the guaranteed medical assistance program;
    • additional payments to the salary of medical and other workers directly involved in the eradication of the coronavirus epidemic, as well as to the salary of certain categories of workers supporting the vital functions of the population;
    • providing monetary aid to citizens, including elderly people, in connection with the negative consequences of the spread of coronavirus;
    • providing one-time financial assistance to family members of medical and other employees of health care institutions who died from COVID-19 (the procedure and amount of financial assistance will be adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine);
  • Amendments to the Article 471 of the Law of Ukraine On employment of the population (partial unemployment benefit), namely:
    • The period for receiving partial unemployment benefit has been changed (for the eligible employers). The aid is now provided for the period of reduction of production not only within the quarantine, but also for 30 days after cancellation of quarantine;
    • Partial unemployment benefit is provided if the employer pays a single contribution to the compulsory state social insurance for the 6 months preceding the date of reduction of production (Previously, the condition was that the employer should have been debt free 5 years before the moment of reduction of production).
    • Partial unemployment benefit for the quarantine period shall be paid by the employer from the first day of reduction of production within the term of reduction of production, but not more than 30 calendar days after the quarantine period has expired;
    • The amount, procedure for granting and repayment of funds aimed at financing partial unemployment benefit for the quarantine period will be determined by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.
  • Amendment to the Law of Ukraine On mandatory state social insurance in case of unemployment. Employees who were dismissed during quarantine under mutual consent of the parties (settlement) or on their own initiative - will receive unemployment benefit for a maximum of 270 days.  (Previously – unemployment benefit for those employees who resigned/signed mutual consent termination would be paid for not more than 90 days).

US 

On April 20, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the end of the temporary period of non-enforcement of paid leave protections under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The Wage and Hour Division has provided various guidance on the requirements of the law, including Q&A, fact sheets, required workplace posters and other resources.

States continue to issue orders addressing the COVID-19 crisis. For example, on Friday, April 17, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order No. 202.19 which, in relevant part, suspends New York’s mini-WARN Act’s 90-day advance notice requirement for certain workers who were terminated but later rehired under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  The Executive Order provides that where employees were terminated in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis but are later rehired under a loan through the PPP, the employer is not required to provide 90-days’ notice of a subsequent termination (i.e., when the PPP loan’s 8-week period runs), so long as the employer (i) provided appropriate notice of the first termination, and (ii) the employer provides notice of the second termination as soon as practicable following rehire.  This Executive Order waives this requirement through May 17.

 

April 20 Update 

Australia 

From today, 20 April, employers will be able to enrol in the Australian Government's JobKeeper (wage subsidy) scheme, using an online form on the Australian Taxation Office website.

The Australian Government has announced the plan to introduce a mandatory code of conduct to govern the relationship between digital platforms and media businesses. The preparation of this code will be led by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and will likely require digital platforms to pay news outlets for hosting their content.

China 

Beijing:  Beijing's Government has withdrawn its pre-approval requirement for business resumption (which was implemented in early February due to the outbreak of Covid-19).   Except certain industries where business may not yet be resumed including theatre, cinema, large scale sports venues, etc., all other companies may resume business based on the individual business need and to the extent permitted by disease control and prevention restrictions.   The Beijing authorities will no longer require businesses to sign a separate Commitment Letter on Disease Control before the business resumption. 

However, a general requirement for all companies is to ensure that the space between two employees shall be no less than 1 metre and the usable area for each employee shall be no less than 2.5 square metres.

Denmark 

The Danish salary and wage compensation scheme has been extended from the original end date of 9 June, to 8 July (inclusive).  

Hong Kong 

Employment support scheme: Hong Kong government’s Finance Committee met on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 April to discuss and approve further details surrounding the Employment Support Scheme.  The Committee approved the terms of a government paper published last week which clarifies certain additional details. However, while the paper provides some clarity around the scope of the undertaking not to make redundancies and payment tranches, several questions remain unanswered e.g. whether an employer can apply only for part of its workforce, whether there will be a limit on the number of applicants, whether other cost-cutting measures falling short of redundancy will permitted.  Read our summary of the latest details here.   

On 18 April 2020 the Hong Kong government launched the Hotel Sector Support Scheme as part of its Anti-epidemic Fund.  Read full details here. 

Catering subsidy: The Hong Kong government’s Finance Committee has also approved the terms of a government paper published last week which clarifies certain additional details in relation to the one-off subsidy for the catering sector.  Read full details here. 

The Club-house Subsidy Scheme, which provides a one-off subsidy of $100,000 to eligible club-houses, is now open for application. The deadline for application is May 18. Upon submission of the completed application form and supporting documents, the disbursement of subsidies could generally be made in around two weeks.

The Travel Agents & Practitioners Support Scheme is also open for applications.

The Subsidy Scheme for the Refuse Transfer Station Account Holders for Transporting Municipal Solid Waste, which offers a one-off subsidy of $8,000 to each of the eligible private municipal solid waste collectors operating in the first quarter, was also endorsed.  To ease the application procedures, the Environmental Protection Department will post cheques to recipients of this special subsidy in about a week after the funding endorsement.

Meanwhile, the total guarantee commitment of the Special 100% Loan Guarantee under the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme has been increased to $50 billion. The maximum loan amount per enterprise has been increased to $4 million and the principal moratorium arrangement has been extended to the first 12 months.  The Special 100% Loan Guarantee will start receiving applications from April 20 and the application period has been extended to one year.

Hungary 

The Hungarian Government has announced that provision of the wage subsidy for employment on reduced working time will be amended as follows:

  • The category of eligible applicants will be extended
  • The subsidy can be requested in case of at least 2 hours of employment per day (instead of 4 hours) and the maximum reduced working time will be increased to 75 % of the original working time (instead of 70 %)
  • The application procedure will be simplified
  • The wage subsidy will be extended for other groups of employees (e.g. temporary agency workers)
  • The employers will be entitled to apply for a loan for the maintenance of jobs (with 0.1 % interest, for 9 months’ salary)

Further details will be issued in the following days.

India 

E-commerce: The MHA (Ministry Home Affairs) has clarified that exemptions granted to e-commerce companies for movement with necessary permission is revoked. However, the MHA has also confirmed that e-commerce activities related to delivery of essential goods will continue to operate without any prohibition.

Haryana: Following MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) guidelines, the government of Haryana has issued guidelines for the resumption of commercial activities within and outside of containment zones. Under the guidelines, applicants (who are permitted to resume operations) should apply on the SARAL Haryana portal (https://saralharyana.gov.in/) to obtain permission to resume operations and apply for intra-state passes, apply on the central government portal (https://www.egovernments.org/) for vehicle passes for interstate movement; provide an undertaking (in the prescribed format) of its compliance/implementation of the National Directives and SOPs prescribed by the MHA, etc.   The Haryana government has also set out details of the relevant authorities who can issue passes to applicants (depending on the number of passes), along with details of an oversight committee and grievance redressal mechanism for industries.

Andhra Pradesh:  The Andhra Pradesh government has issued operational guidelines on preparing workplaces for prevention of COVID-19 in the State. These guidelines provide details regarding the industries allowed to operate during the lockdown period, detailed guidelines for safe operations in order to follow social distancing, monitoring procedure regarding adherence to prescribed guidelines.

Dadra and Nagar and Daman and Diu: The Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar and Daman and Diu has extended the lockdown till 3 May 2020. Further, it is clarified that only the activities that are permitted under the MHA guidelines will be allowed to operate from 20 April 2020.

Kerala: Pursuant to the MHA guidelines, the Kerala government has released revised guidelines for the containment of COVID-19 in the State. In the guidelines, the government has categorized districts into regions – Red (complete lockdown till 3 May), Orange A (lockdown till 24 April with partial relaxation), Orange B (Lockdown till 20 April with partial relaxation), Green (lockdown till 20 April with relaxation thereafter). Depending which category in which the district falls, the government will permit activities accordingly.

Mumbai and Bangalore: The Municipal Corporation of Mumbai and Bangalore has published a list of containment zones, where no industrial/commercial activities will be permitted, to contain the spread of infection in the community.

Gujurat: The Gujarat government has declared Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Bhavnagar, and Rajkot as COVID hotspot zones – therefore, activities in these zones will not be relaxed from 20 April 2020. The labour department in Gurjurat has ordered the following exemptions for factories relating to weekly hours, daily hours, interval of rest , etc- i) no adult worker shall be allowed or required to work in a factory for more than 12 hours in any day and 72 hours in any week; ii) the periods of work of adult workers in a factory each day shall be so fixed that no period shall exceed 6 hours and that no worker shall work for more than 6 hours before he has had an interval for rest of at least half an hour; iii) no female workers shall be allowed or required to work in a factory between 7:00 PM to 5:00 AM; iv) wages shall be in a proportion of the existing wages.

Indonesia 

The Minister of Health has declared the imposition of Large Scale Social Restrictions (LSSR) in several regions in Indonesia, including West Sumatra province under Circular Letter No. HK.01.07/Menkes/260/2020 and Tegal municipality under Circular Letter No. HK.01.07/Menkes/258/2020.   

In Tegal municipality, the mayor plans to impose LSSR in two phase for 30 days, from 23 April until 23 May 2020.

In West Sumatra, the Governor plans to impose the first phase LSSR for 14 days the extension of which will depend on a further evaluation.

Ireland 

Amendments to the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) were announced last week, below is an overview of the payments now available under the TWSS: 

  • Tapering of payments made under the TWSS will apply to cases where the gross pay paid by the employer and the subsidy exceed the previous average net weekly pay. This is calculated by subtracting the amount paid by the employer from the previous average net weekly pay. This is to ensure that no employee would be better off under the scheme
  • Payments under the TWSS will be increased from 70 percent to 85 percent where an employee has an average net weekly pay of less than EUR 412.  Where an employer pays an increased top up payment to employees (beyond the outstanding 15 percent) to bring an employee’s pay up to EUR 350 net per week, then tapering will not be applied to the subsidy. 
  • The subsidy is capped at EUR 350 per week for employees with an average net weekly pay of between EUR 412 and EUR 500.
  • The subsidy is capped at EUR 410 per week for employees with an average net weekly pay of between EUR 500 and EUR 586.
  • A tiered approach to subsidy payments will apply in respect of employees with an average net weekly pay of over EUR 586 per week, as follows:
    • A subsidy up to EUR 350 per week is payable where the gross amount paid by the employer equates up to 60 percent of the employee’s previous net weekly pay.
    • A subsidy up to EUR 205 per week is payable where the gross amount paid by the employer is between 60 percent and 80 percent of the employee’s previous net weekly pay.
    • No subsidy is payable where the gross amount paid by the employer is over 80 percent of the employee’s previous average net weekly pay.
  • The new subsidy rates and tapering will become fully operational for payroll submissions with pay dates on or after 4 May 2020 at the earliest.
  • The TWSS is available with immediate effect (from 16 April) in respect of employees whose average net pay was over EUR 76,000 per annum, but whose salary has been reduced below this threshold since the outbreak of the pandemic.  The tiered approach set out above will apply in such circumstances. 
  • No subsidy will be available for employees whose current net pay exceeds more than EUR 960 per week.
Morocco 

Extension of health emergency: The health emergency has been extended in Morocco for an additional month (from 20 April to 20 May) by decree no. 330.20.2 of 18 April 2020.

Employer financial aid: On 13 April 2020, a draft decree no. 331.20.2 has been adopted by the Moroccan government aiming to define the employers who are considered as facing difficulties due to COVID-19 and who could be eligible to benefit from the exceptional financial aids for April, May and June 2020. The draft decree defines an employer who is facing difficulties as:

  • An employer whose activity has been temporarily suspended by an administrative decision taken on the basis of the decree 293.20.2 of 24 March 2020 declaring the sanitary urgency with the national territory due to the propagation of the COVID-19;
  • An employer whose declared benefits has been decreased at least to 50% during April, May and June 2020 in comparison with the declared benefits of the same months of the last business exercise 2019. In addition, the declared employees whose employment is suspended and who are duly registered with social security entity (CNSS) in February 2020, should not exceed 500 employees.

Employers who are do not satisfy the above conditions could apply for an individual financial aid with a special committee which would be put in place in order to examine such derogative applications.  This draft decree has not yet been published in the Moroccan official gazette and therefore has not yet entered into force.

Preventative measures for employers: The Health Ministry has issued some preventive measures to be set up by all the employers who are still running their business, in particular to:

  • Ensure that employees are consistently informed with respect the evolution of COVID-19 and government measures;
  • Ensure that all health and safety measures are put in place (disinfection of work surfaces, hand gel, masks, etc);
  • Limit meetings to essential ones and recording the names of participant for every meeting;
  • Limit travels between cities to the essential ones and provide the concerned employees with an authorization in order to justify its travel to authorities;
  • Encourage the telework;
  • Prepare a response plan in order to react to any COVID-19 case discovered in the workplace;
  • Prepare an urgency plan in order to ensure the continuity of the activity in the event of discovering a COVID-19 case in the work place.

Masks: Since 7 April 2020, wearing masks is mandatory for all individuals authorized  to leave their houses including employees. Non-compliance with this governmental requirement is sanctioned by imprisonment from one to three months and fines from MAD 300 to MAD 1,300 or one of the said sanctions.

Tracking app: On 13 April 2020, the Moroccan government decided to roll out a tracking application of COVID-19 cases. The government expects that this application could be operational from early next month (May 2020).

Poland 

On 16 April 2020, the Polish Parliament passed the Anti-Crisis Shield 2.0 law that modifies aspects of the existing law and introduces a number of new measures.  The most important provisions concerning labour law include:

  • Changes to the date for granting subsidies for a standstill and/or reduced working time for micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises
  • Wider scope of entities entitled to receive subsidies   
  • Reduction of the period of protection against termination during the receipt of subsidies  
  • Changes relating to the reduction of working time
  • Changes to health and safety training
  • Changes to the exemption from the obligation to pay social security contributions
  • Extension of employers’ rights including the ability to put employees on standby outside normal working hours
  • Changes to the right of non-Polish nationals to stay and work in Poland
  • Changes to the standstill allowance

Read our full alert here

Masks: From 16 April 2020, everyone in Poland is obliged to cover their noses and mouths when not at home.  This does not apply to those working in buildings, factories, establishments and markets if they do not provide direct service to customers.  If employees do provide direct services to customers, the employer must provide them with masks.  

South Africa 

The Minister of Employment and Labour has made amendments to the COVID-19 Temporary Employee Employer Relief Scheme (TERS) Directive relating to annual leave.  The Directive has been amended to make provision for the payment of benefits to employees who have been required to take statutory annual leave in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1997 during the national lockdown. The employer is required to claim these benefits from TERS and then pay the employees in respect of the annual leave that they were required to take. Alternatively, the employer may retain these amounts provided that it credits the employee with the leave days proportionate to the value of the benefit.

The amended Directive also urges employers to pay employees the equivalent of their TERS benefits in advance in the event that the funds have not been received by the employer on their payment date, which funds the employer can then retain once payment is received.

Businesses claiming from the TERS will no longer need to open a separate TERS bank account but can use their existing bank accounts to receive TERS benefits to be distributed to employees.

Spain 

The Spanish president has confirmed that he will request Parliament to issue a new extension of the state of emergency until 10 May at 00:00. It is still unknown if confinement measures will be relaxed after 26 April.

Taiwan  The Ministry of Economic Affairs has announced an expansion of its existing economic relief measures. In particular,
  • Wage subsidies of 40% up to NT$20,000 per month for three months for companies in the manufacturing or technical services sector who have experienced a 50% or more drop in revenue in addition to a one-time working capital subsidy of NT$10,000 per employee.
  • Tenants of state-owned properties in various industrial and processing zones can apply for payment deferrals for up to 12 months on rent and or a 20% reduction on rent. Additional reductions apply for public facility maintenance fees and sewage treatment connections.
  • Businesses with up to 50% drop in revenue can now apply for up to 30% reduction in water and electricity bills, capped at NT$20k for water and NT$300k for electricity.
  • Expansions on existing government backed loan schemes for adversely affected businesses of all sizes. The new maximum loans for SMEs are NT$150 million and NT$500 million for large enterprises.

Additionally, the Central Bank expanded its system for small loans and is working on simplifying the application process. Under this scheme the Central Bank facilitates loans up to NT$500k for small businesses that are not required to issue invoices at low interest rates (currently 1%). Under the new process, the Central Bank no longer requires financial statements, instead using a simplified scoresheet in order to make these loans more easily available to these small businesses.

US 

Guidelines for Opening up America Again: On April 16, President Donald Trump released Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, a proposal for “reopening” the state that governors may follow at their discretion. The proposal includes suggested criteria for regions or states to satisfy before proceeding to a phased “opening,” core state preparedness responsibilities, and responsibilities of individuals and employers during these proposed phases.  Suggested employer responsibilities for all phases include:

  • Develop and implement appropriate policies, in accordance with Federal, State, and local regulations and guidance, and informed by industry best practices, regarding:
  • Social distancing and protective equipment
  • Temperature checks
  • Testing, isolating and contract tracing
  • Sanitation
  • Use and disinfection of common and high-traffic areas
  • Business travel
  • Monitor workforce for indicative symptoms. Do not allow symptomatic people to physically return to work until cleared by a medical provider.
  • Develop and implement policies and procedures for workforce contact tracing following employee COVID+ test.

Additional employer responsibilities apply to each phase.

Interim OSHA guidance to evaluate employer health and safety standards: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued interim guidance to advise compliance safety and health officers to evaluate an employer’s good faith efforts to comply with safety and health standards during the coronavirus pandemic. The guidance recognizes that current infection control practices may limit the availability of employees, consultants or contractors who normally provide training, auditing, equipment inspections, testing, and other essential safety and industrial hygiene services. Similarly, business closures and other restrictions may preclude employee participation in training and access to medical testing facilities may be limited or suspended. The guidance provides that, during an inspection, compliance safety and health officers should assess an employer’s efforts to comply with standards that require annual or recurring audits, reviews, training or assessments, including if the employer:

  • Explored all options to comply with applicable standards (e.g., use of virtual training or remote communication strategies);
  • Implemented interim alternative protections, such as engineering or administrative controls; and
  • Rescheduled required annual activity as soon as possible.

The guidance states that employers unable to comply with OSHA requirements because local authorities required the workplace to close should demonstrate a good faith attempt to meet applicable requirements as soon as possible following the re-opening of the workplace.

OSHA tips for manufacturing employers:  OSHA also issued an alert listing safety tips employers can follow to help protect manufacturing workers from exposure to coronavirus. Similar lists have been provided for other industries such as pharmacy, retail and delivery workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

EEOC guidance: On April 17, the EEOC issued further guidance with respect to COVID-19, specifically providing two additional FAQs regarding employee return-to-work protocols. First, the EEOC provides guidance on the type of inquiries that employers can make regarding employee health as it relates to coronavirus, noting permissible inquires may include “tak[ing] temperatures and asking questions about symptoms (or require self-reporting) of all those entering the workplace,” provided that such is consistent with CDC or similar regulations.  The EEOC counsels that “[e]mployers should make sure not to engage in unlawful disparate treatment based on protected characteristics in decisions related to screening and exclusion.”

Second, the EEOC provides guidance on the use of personal protective equipment and other accommodations.  The EEOC explains that an employer may require use of PPE such as masks and gloves, and also implement “infection control practices” like regular hand washing and social distancing. The EEOC notes that should an employee request a variance from any such protocol as an accommodation, the employer will need to engage in the interactive process, as with any other accommodation.

State legislation: States continue to enact legislation in response to COVID-19. For example, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recently signed legislation (S. 2374 ), which expands protections of the Family Leave Act to allow employees forced to take time off to care for a family member during the COVID-19 outbreak with up to 12 weeks of unpaid family leave in a 24-month period without losing their jobs. Governor Murphy also signed S. 2353 / A. 3938 to exclude from severance requirements under the state’s WARN law mass layoffs that result from the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

In addition, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order N-51-20, which ensures that certain food workers, including grocery and agricultural workers, receive paid sick leave for COVID-related reasons.  The purpose of this executive order is to ensure that the paid leave provided for under FFCRA extends to food workers who otherwise might exempted under the FFCRA, which does not apply to employers with more than 500 employees, among others.  In addition, the executive order requires that workers in food facilities be permitted to wash their hands at least every 30 minutes

 

April 17 Update 

Australia    

The Australian Government has announced that NBN Co (the operator of the National Broadband Network, an Australian national open-access data project) will provide $150 million in financial relief to internet providers so they can assist Australian families and businesses in accessing the NBN during this period. This will include:

  • $50 million in funding to help low-income families with school-aged children to access the internet for educational purposes;
  • $50 million to support households experiencing financial hardship (financial relief will be provided by NBN Co to internet providers so that they can maintain NBN connections for households that are unable to pay some or all of their bills);
  • $50 million to support small and medium businesses (relief measures will include waiving wholesale monthly costs paid by internet providers for businesses facing COVID-19 related financial hardship).

Businesses Forced to Close

WA: The WA Government has announced that WA schools will reopen for the start of term 2 (Monday 27 April), but has given parents the choice whether to send their children to school. The plan will be reviewed at the end of week 3 of the term.

Canada

Manitoba: The government has amended the Manitoba Employment Standards Code to introduce a Public Health Emergency Leave, a temporary job-protected leave for employees who are unable to work due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Entitlement to this leave begins on March 1, 2020.

Northwest Territories: The state of emergency and public health emergency in the territory has been extended to April 28, 2020.

Prince Edward Island: The province has declared a state of emergency for the period of April 17, 2020 to April 30, 2020, and extended the public health emergency for 30 days.

Quebec: The public health emergency in the province has been extended to April 24, 2020.

Saskatchewan: The premier of the province has announced that Saskatchewan would be slowly starting to reopen its economy next week

Colombia 

As of April 16, the state of emergency declared on March 17, 2020  ended and was not extended. However, note that the Colombian President may declare another state of emergency for other 60 days during 2020.

France 

Decree No. 2020-435 of 16 April 2020 on emergency measures for partial activity has been published which provides details for the methods for the calculation of the partial activity indemnity for specific category of employees such as:

  • employees with working time computed in days or hours over the year (forfait jours / forfait heures)
  • flight crew 
  • freelance journalists
  • sales representatives (VRP)
  • domestic staff
  • artists, technicians and workers in the live and recorded entertainment industry and models.

In addition, the decree of 16 April 2020 also specifies the methods for calculating the allowance for employees who receive variable compensation or compensation paid on a non-monthly basis.

It also provides for the nature of the sums that shall be excluded from the salary to be considered for the calculation of the partial activity indemnity. 
Hong Kong  HKMC Insurance Ltd announced today that the Special 100% Loan Guarantee under the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme will start receiving applications from April 20. The loan guarantee was introduced in the 2020-21 Budget to ease the cash flow problems of enterprises adversely affected. Enterprises that have been operating for at least three months as at end-December 2019 and have suffered at least 30% decline in sales turnover in any month since February 2020 compared with the monthly average of any quarter in 2019 are eligible. An interest rate of the Prime Rate minus 2.5% per annum will be charged and all guarantee fees will be waived. The maximum loan amount per enterprise is the total amount of employee wages and rents for six months or $2 million, whichever is lower. If an enterprise does not have employees nor a rented office, the calculation can be replaced by half of the maximum monthly net income in 2019. Enterprises may also apply for an optional principal moratorium for the first six months to alleviate instant burden on repayment.Subject to funding approval by the Legislative Council Finance Committee, the maximum loan amount per enterprise will be increased to $4 million and the principal moratorium arrangement will be extended to the first 12 months.

Hungary 

The Government has issued a decree to put a company under state supervision for the first time. The current state of emergency enables the Government to issue such measure. The company in question is a major packaging manufacturer in Hungary. A government official will represent the Hungarian state. The competence of the person acting as supervisor may revoke the mandate of executive officers and supervisory body members and may appoint new company officials; may terminate contracts of monetary value; order company officials. The supervision remains effective until the end of the state of danger.

The Government designated 10 additional companies as vital Hungarian companies in the field of food and pharmaceutical industry. The list now comprises of 104 companies that are assisted in their continuous and safe operation by the Hungarian army. It does not mean state supervision over these companies.

The Government authorized the local governments to issue restrictions on the free movement of people (lockdown of certain places) for the weekend of 18-19 April.

India 

Following the extension of national lockdown, the Government of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu has also extended the state lockdown from 30 April 2020 to 3 May 2020.   

By way of an addendum to the revised guidelines (dated 15 April 2020, see below), the Ministry of Home Affairs has, among other things, allowed several services to operate during the lockdown by way of an exemption. These services includes- Non-Banking Financial Institutions (NBFCs) including Housing Finance Companies (HFCs), Micro Finance Institutions (MFCs), and Cooperative Credit Societies. 

The Greater Chennai Corporation has ordered the use of face mask compulsory for any person stepping out of their homes for permitted works and needs. 

South Africa 

There have been a number of updates to the Regulations in South Africa in respect of the extension of the lock-down until midnight on 30 April 2020, including:

Mining: Mining operations must be conducted at a reduced capacity of not more than 50% during the lock-down and thereafter at increasing capacity as determined by the Minister responsible for Mineral Resources and Energy.

The following conditions apply to the starting and increasing of capacity:

  • (a) a rigorous screening and testing program must be implemented as employees return to work;
  • (b) the mining industry must provide quarantine facilities for employees who have tested positive for the COVID-19;
  • (c) data collected during the screening and testing program must be submitted to the relevant authority;
  • (d) mining companies must make arrangements to transport their South African employees from their homes to their respective areas of operations;
  • (e) workers from neighbouring Southern African Development Community countries must be recalled to their place of employment at the end of lock-down in their respective countries in accordance with these Regulations and regulations applicable in those countries; and
  • (f) the monitoring and impact assessment of seismicity through the Council for Geoscience must be intensified with immediate effect.

Call Centres (see relevant Directive here).  Call centres that provide health, safety, social support, government and financial services to international markets are now an essential service which may operate during the lock-down under the following conditions:

  • Only necessary personnel who provide these essential services are entitled to leave their places of residence.
  • The CEO, or his or her designate, must identify the essential staff in writing.
  • All regulations and directions in respect of hygienic workplace conditions and the potential exposure of employees to COVID-19 must be adhered to, including but not limited to the following—
    • Each call centre must conduct a risk assessment in the call centre to identify, mitigate and eliminate potential exposure to Covid-19 transmission;
    • The social distance standard of at least one and a half square metres between any two employees must be maintained in all call centres and their precincts;
    • Arrangements for employees relating to clocking-in and the use of canteen facilities must be organised to maintain social distance;
    • The number of persons at any time in any room must be limited with due regard to social distancing, personal hygiene, disinfection and other safety measures.
    • There must be proper ventilation.
    • Dispensers of alcohol-based hand sanitiser must be provided and displayed prominently in the call centre premises for use by all persons within the call centre and its precinct.
    • Each employee must have access to his or her own dispenser.
    • Surfaces and equipment in the call centre and its precinct must be cleaned and disinfected before the start of a new shift and at least every four hours.
    • Access points with biometric contact must be disabled.
    • Employees may not share equipment, stationery, utensils or similar items.
  • Employees should monitor themselves for symptoms of Covid-19 infection (coughing, chills, sore throat, shortness of breath, body pains, diarrhoea, fever) and report their symptoms to a supervisor or occupational health practitioner before entering the call centre in order for a decision to be made on whether the employee may attend work.
  • Employees must be advised that they should report during the course of a shift whether they are exhibiting any of the symptoms stated above. If they report this, they may not be permitted to stay on the premises. They must be sent for self-quarantine and provided with a surgical mask.
  • Designated and adequately trained health and safety officers must take each employee’s temperatures using appropriate equipment or instruments at the start of a shift and every four hours after the shift commences. Records of the temperatures of each employee must be kept. Any employee whose temperature is 37,5 degrees or above should immediately be moved to an isolated observation room for a second measurement. If the second test measurement also exceeds 37,5 degrees, the employee must be returned home for quarantine, provided with a surgical mask and not be permitted to enter or stay on the premises.
  • Designated health and safety officers must check with employees, when they enter the premises, whether they have experienced the above symptoms in the past 24 hours. Employees who state that they had or who demonstrate having any of the symptoms referred to above must not be granted entry to the premises.
  • In terms of the guidelines published by the Department of Health or the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, employees who are suspected of having COVID-19 must be immediately isolated from the other employees and reported to the Department of Health.
  • No facility should have more than one third of its normal workforce during the period of the lockdown.
  • Employees should as far as possible remain within the premises during work hours.
  • Call centres must implement any additional requirements for employees regarding personal protective equipment, including, but not limited to, face masks, as may be directed by the National Department of Health.
  • A copy of these Directions must be prominently displayed in the premises of each call centre and a copy given to each employee.
  • The CEO or his or her designate must report in writing on a weekly basis to the Business Processing Enabling South Africa (“BPESA”) on the following—
  • staff numbers;
  • staff wellness;
  • service activity;
  • compliance; and
  • the measures taken to limit numbers, ensure personal hygiene and disinfection and enforce social distancing.
  • The BPESA must provide a consolidated report in writing on a weekly basis to the Ministers.
  • Law Enforcement Officials and Inspectors may inspect the call centre premises at any time during which the centre is in operation.

Taiwan 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the second automatic 30 day extension for all visitor visas, visa exempt entries and landing visas for foreign nationals who entered on or before March 21st. This extension does not apply to over-stayers and the total period of stay may not exceed 180 days. The National Immigration Agency has also extended its voluntary departure program for over-stayers until June 30. This program gives leniency towards over-stayers who turn themselves in by not detaining them, not issuing an entry ban and only giving the minimum fine.

The Small and Medium Enterprise Administration (SMEA) announced that foreign SME owners are eligible for government subsidized and backed low-interest loans in connection with COVID-19. These loans are only open to companies registered in Taiwan which are not branch offices. The SMEA also has an English-language service hotline under the number 1988 for business owners who have questions regarding these. Korean or Japanese may also be available upon request. The loans are up to NT$150 million at a capped interest rate of 1.845% and the interest for the first year is covered by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Due to the popularity of the online facemask ordering system, facemask availability at pharmacies and health clinics will be reduced to six days a week in order to lower the burden caused by facemask distribution to these locations (no more deliveries on Sunday). A quick reminder, there is currently a facemask mandate on all public transportation as well as many government facilities, such as the post office. Adults can buy 9 facemasks every 14 days using their NHI card number. There is an online ordering system, which allows delivery to convenience stores and certain supermarkets. Starting next week, people will also be able to order the facemasks at the major convenience store chains

Ukraine 

On April 13, the Parliament of Ukraine adopted amendments to the Law of Ukraine On protecting the population from infectious diseases, which were signed into law by the President of Ukraine on April 16, 2020 and introduce the following:

  • Terms, including "self-isolation", and "observation" are defined 
  • Confirmation that sick leave certificates are to be issued to individuals in self-isolation/ observation/ in temporary health care facilities (with payments to be covered in a usual way) 
  • Conditions for leaving the quarantine zone are set out 
  • For the period of quarantine and 30 days after it expires 
    • Personal data can be processed without the consent of the person. The data which can be processed without consent includes: health data, place of hospitalization or self-isolation, surname, first name, patronymic, date of birth, place of residence, work (study). Such data can be used exclusively for the implementation of anti-epidemic measures. Within 30 days after the end of the quarantine, such data shall be depersonalized and if this is not possible – destroyed 
    • Temporary health care facilities (specialized hospitals) can be established by public authorities and local self-government bodies for the implementation of measures against the spread of coronavirus.  Such temporary facilities do not need to meet additional requirements related to the licensing conditions of activities and the possibility of using the premises and property of other institutions and facilities 
    • Health care institutions may conclude contracts with health care workers who have the appropriate special education and meet the qualification requirements.  Even if an individual is already employed by the medical facility, full time without the possibility of working for another facility, they can be employed under the contract for COVID-19 related measures.
UK The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”) was originally planned to apply for a 3 month period from 1 March 2020 to 31 May 2020. Following the extension of the lockdown period on 16 April, the Treasury announced today (17 April) that the CJRS would be extended until the end of June 2020.
US 

On April 16, President Donald Trump released Guidelines for Opening Up America Again. The plan includes criteria each region or state should satisfy before proceeding to a phased opening, core state preparedness responsibilities, and responsibilities of individuals and employers during all phases, and in each specific phase of the opening. The guidelines provide that they are implementable on a statewide or country basis at Governors’ discretion. Employer responsibilities for all phases include:

  • Develop and implement appropriate policies, in accordance with Federal, State, and local regulations and guidance, and informed by industry best practices, regarding:
    • Social distancing and protective equipment
    • Temperature checks
    • Testing, isolating and contract tracing
    • Sanitation
    • Use and disinfection of common and high-traffic areas
    • Business travel
  • Monitor workforce for indicative symptoms. Do not allow symptomatic people to physically return to work until cleared by a medical provider.
  • Develop and implement policies and procedures for workforce contact tracing following employee COVID+ test.

Additional employer responsibilities apply to each phase.

   

 

April 16 Update 

Australia 

The Australian Government has advised that social distancing restrictions will not be lifted for at least 4 weeks and only after there is more extensive testing, greater tracing capability and the ability to quickly lockdown areas of outbreaks.

Changes have been made to Fair Work Regulations to reduce the mandatory consultation period for enterprise agreement changes from seven days to 24 hours. This means employers are required to give only 24 hours’ notice of any proposed variation before it can be put to a vote by workers. Employers will still need to meet the essential conditions required under the “genuine agreement” test that is ultimately determined by the Fair Work Commission. Employees will also still be able to vote down a proposed change to agreements. These changes will revert to the usual 7 day period automatically in six months.

The Government has also agreed to pay airlines to keep a minimal domestic schedule of flights in the air. Virgin Australia will resume flying tomorrow and continue the routes for at least the next eight weeks.

The Government has also agreed on a set of seven national principles for school education, including that:

  • State and Territory governments and non-government sector authorities are responsible for managing and making operational decisions for their school systems respectively, subject to compliance with relevant funding agreements with the Commonwealth; and
  • the health advice consistently provided is that attendance at a school campus for education represents a very low risk to students.

In the specific States/Territories:

  • NSW
    • The NSW Government has announced that schools will remain open for essential workers during Term 2 (which begins on 27 April). The Government has also announced that from week three onwards there will be more face-to-face contact for students.

Belgium 

On 15 April 2020, the Belgian National Security Council announced its decision to extend the national quarantine measures from 19 April until 3 May 2020.

The simplified fast-track “coronaprocedure” (see 23 March update below), will remain applicable until 31 May 2020 inclusive. 

Brazil 

A reminder that two Provisional Measures are in force due to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Provisional Measure 927:

  • gives more flexibility for employers to grant vacations
  • allows the employer to implement “bank of hours” of 18 months
  • allows employers to suspend postpone the payment of FGTS for 3 months
  • allows employers to postpone the payment of vacations bonus
  • gives more flexibility for employers to put employees on home office.

Provisional Measure 936 allows:

  • the suspension of the employment agreement of the employees up to 60 days
  • reduction of working hours and workload proportionally. The government will pay a special benefit to assist during such period.
  • There are some legal requirements (e.g. a specific range of salary that allows the implementation without a CBA, obligation to notify the Union and Ministry of Economy, etc.).

There is a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of this law (as it allows both procedures without Union’s approval) and the judgment of this lawsuit is scheduled for today.

Canada  

The federal government announced its intention to work with provincial governments to boost wages for essential workers who are earning less than $2500 a month. The goal is to put a program in place as soon as possible.

The eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit is being expanded by relaxing the criteria to allow the following people to qualify:

  • People who make $1000 or less a month.
  • Seasonal workers whose jobs will not be available
  • People who have run out of Employment Insurance since January 1, 2020.

The federal government announced its intention to institute a moratorium, through the remainder of 2020, on solvency payment requirements for federally-regulated defined benefit plans

British Columbia: The state of emergency in the province has been extended to the end of day, April 28, 2020.

Quebec: In addition to the other businesses now being deemed essential, the housing construction and associated activities (renovation work, surveying, building inspection and the construction industry supply chain sector) can also reopen as of April 20th, but only with respect to the delivery of residential units slated for no later than July 31, 2020.

Saskatchewan: The state of emergency in the province has been renewed.

Colombia 

On April 15, the Ministry of Labor issued Law Decree 558 of 2020, which regulates the temporarily decreased payment for the Social Security Pension System.   During May and June, 2020 Pension contribution will be 3% (rather than 16%), where 2.25% will be assumed by the employer and 0.75% assumed by the employee.  For independent contractor contribution will be borne solely by the contractor.

On April 15, Ministry of Justice issued Law Decree 564 of 2020, which provides the term for statute of limitations to exert rights or judicial actions will be suspended according to the date the Judiciary Superior Council defines.  Currently terms are suspended as to April 26, 2020.

As of April 15, 2020 the Ministry of Treasury issued Law Decree 568 of 2020, in which establishes the COVID-19 solidarity tax fund, as follows:

  • As of May 1, 2020, pensioners as well as public officers (except for health occupations and public force officers), who earn COP $10,000,000 (USD $2,500) or more will be taxpayer of the COVID-19 solidarity tax fund, according to a progressive rate that ranges between 15% and 20%.
  • Those pensioners as well as public officers  who earn up to COP $10,000,000  may decide on paying a Voluntary solidarity contribution that ranges between 4% and 12%, according to the monthly income.
France 

Three new Executive Orders have been published: 

Executive Order No. 2020-428 of 15 April 2020 on various social measures to deal with the covid-19 epidemic which: 

  1. confirms that partial activity is available to senior executives (cadres dirigeants) if the closure of the establishment is total.
  2. reduces the timeframe for the negotiation and conclusion of collective agreements - so that it is easier to conclude these - until 24 June 2020 (unless the health emergency is extended), where the sole purpose of the agreement is to deal with the economic, financial and social consequences of the spread of the covid-19 epidemic as well as the consequences of the measures taken to limit this spread.  The new timeframes include:
  3. opposition period reduced to 8 days for industry and professional collective agreements
  4. time limit for requesting employee consultation is reduced to 8 days and the deadline for obtaining signatures from representative trade union organisations is reduced to 5 days for company or establishment collective agreements.
  5. time limit for consulting staff in undertakings with less than 11 employees is reduced to 5 days
  6. time limit for CSE members to indicate whether they want to negotiate and whether they are mandated by a union in a company of at least 50 employees without a union delegate is reduced to 8 days.

Executive Order No. 2020-427 of 15 April 2020 laying down various provisions on time limits to deal with the covid epidemic-19 which confirms that: 

  1. the suspension of administrative deadlines is not applicable to mutually agreed terminations, therefore the normal 15 calendar day reflection period still applies and the labour administration can render an express decision to validate the termination.
  2. timeframes for social plans to be validated / approved by the labour administration have not been suspended.  Social plans have been added to the list of acts, procedures and obligations for which, for reasons of protection of the fundamental interests of the Nation, security, protection of health, public health, preservation of the environment and protection of children and young people, normal time limits remain in place. 

Executive Order No. 2020-430 of 15 April 2020 relating to imposed paid leave or RTT in the civil service during the period of the health emergency.  This provides for rules similar to those applicable in the private sector to impose paid leave and/or RTT to employees of the civil service

Germany 

On 15 April 2020, the German Federal Chancellor and the heads of government of the German Federal States announced future regulations regarding the Corona pandemic:

  • Shops with a sales area of up to 800 sqm and all car / bicycle dealers and bookstores may reopen as of 20 April 2020, in Bavaria in many cases only as of 27 April 2020. Provided special hygiene requirements are met (e.g. limitation of the number of customers present, ensuring the minimum distance of 1,5 meters).
  • Economic activity without significant public traffic remains permitted, but a hygiene concept based on an adapted risk assessment must be implemented. Unnecessary contacts in the workforce and with customers must be avoided and, if contact is necessary, the risk of infection must be reduced by special protective measures (e.g. masks).
  • The existing measures regarding the containment of COVID-19 are extended until 3 May 2020 (Restaurants, cultural activities, sports facilities etc. will remain closed; Accommodation is only permitted for necessary and non-touristic purposes).
  • Further measures:
    • Major events remain prohibited until 31 August 2020.
    • Further loss of working hours of employees due to childcare is likely as schools and kindergartens remain closed. After 3 May 2020, the opening of schools will only take place gradually.
    • It is expected that currently closed companies from the service sectors with physically close interaction, such as hairdressers, provided they apply special hygiene measures, may reopen gradually after 4 May 2020.
    • The government offers support to restore global supply chains.

Amendment of court procedure due to COVID-19: The government is considering whether to allow hearings before labour courts by video conference in the event of a pandemic situation. Alternatively, courts are allowed to exclude the public from the hearing. So far hearings must take place in the physical presence of the judges and the parties and hearings are usually public.

Hong Kong 

Fitness Centre Subsidy Scheme:  The Home Affairs Bureau said a subsidy scheme will be launched under the Anti-epidemic Fund to provide relief to fitness centre operators.  The Fitness Centre Subsidy Scheme aims to provide a one-off subsidy of $100,000 to the operator of each affected fitness centre. More than 1,600 fitness centres are expected to benefit from the subsidy. The bureau appealed to the Legislative Council Finance Committee for early approval of the subsidy.

Rent concession: The Government Property Agency is writing to eligible tenants under its purview to notify them of the implementation of the Government's latest rental concession measures. One of the measures enhanced the rental reduction for eligible businesses or organisations renting government premises from 50% to 75% for April to September this year.

The scope of the enhanced 75% rental concession will also be expanded to benefit more businesses or organisations such as regulators' offices for public transport operators and advertising signboards leased by the agency. Tenants of government premises that are required to completely cease operation due to the Government's implementation of anti-epidemic measures will receive a full rental waiver during the closure period.

Recycling Fund: The maximum monthly rental subsidy for each recycler under the One-off Rental Support Scheme will be increased from $25,000 to $37,500 while the maximum total rental subsidy for the 12 months will be increased from $300,000 to $375,000.

The Recycling Fund has allocated $50 million in additional funds to raise the scheme’s subsidy level. The fund has now earmarked up to $250 million in total funding to fight the virus and help the recycling industry ride out difficult times. The Advisory Committee on Recycling Fund agreed to strengthen support under the scheme by increasing the rental assistance from 50% to 75% for the subsidy period from April to September.

Hungary 

The fringe benefits on the so-called “SZÉP card” paid until 30 June 2020 will be exempted from social contribution tax and also the limit of the fringe benefits which can be provided to the employees on SZÉP card will be increased. 

To ensure health insurance for employees during unpaid leave, as of 1 May the employer shall pay medical service contribution HUF 7,710 (i.e. approx. EUR 20) per month after the employees on unpaid leave. 

Businesses providing accommodation services will be exempted from the tax on tourism until 31 December 2020. 

A new legislative proposal has been submitted on the termination of the civil servant status of employees employed in cultural areas such as museums, libraries, etc.

It will be mandatory to provide electronic payment for those traders who have online cash registers effective as of the beginning of next year.

India 

Following the extension of the national lockdown until 3 May 2020, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has released revised guidelines on the measures to be taken during the extended lockdown period. As per the guidelines, among other things, all industrial and commercial activities (other than those specifically permitted) are ordered to be closed during the lockdown. In the guidelines, exemptions are granted to a number of activities, including but not limited to: 

  • all health services
  • agriculture and related activities
  • banks and ATM’s, IT vendors for banking operations, banking correspondents, IRDAI and insurance companies
  • print and electronic media
  • IT/ITES services (with up to 50% strength), e-commerce companies
  • private security services
  • manufacturing and other industrial establishments with access control in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and Export Oriented Units (EOU), industrial estates, and industrial townships, manufacturing of IT hardware, etc.   

The revised MHA guidelines also provide national directives for COVID-19 management including workplace management, which provides, among other things:

  • that all workplaces shall make adequate arrangements for temperature screenings and sanitizers
  • one hour gaps between shifts to ensure social distancing
  • prohibit large meetings
  • sanitize places between shifts
  • encourage use of ‘Arogya Setu’ amongst employees, etc.    

MHA Order dated 15 April with revised consolidated guidelines 

MHA Order Annex Standard Operating Procedure for Social Distancing for Offices, Workplace, Factories and Establishments.   

Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation has allowed a grace period of 30 days (i.e. 16 April 2020 to 15 May 2020) for filing of Electronic Challan cum Return (ECR) to the employers of those establishments which have disbursed the wages for March, 2020 to their employees.

Travel restrictions:

  • As per the revised MHA guidelines, all domestic and international flight services, train services, metro and bus services, and inter-district and state movements (except for those permitted), etc are strictly prohibited till 3 May 2020.   
  • The revised MHA guidelines also prescribe a standard operating procedure (SOP) for social distancing for offices, workplaces, factories and establishments. As per the SOP, transportation facility should be provided to workers coming from outside and the vehicles designated for transportation should be allowed to work only with 30-40% passenger capacity, vehicles entering the workplace should be disinfected. 
Indonesia  The Minister of Transportation has issued Regulation No. 18 of 2020 to among other things, control passengers transportation during the preparation for journeys, during the journeys and upon arrival at the destination, including among others, the following:
  • operators of passenger transportation must during a journey among other things, provide hand sanitizers for passengers and periodically check and supervise the health of the passengers; and
  • during a journey, if the distance is up to 500 kilometers, passenger busses must limit stops before the terminal to only one for 30 minutes and maintain physical distancing.

Further, the Regulation also limits what can be carried to and from an area where Large Scale Social Restrictions apply as follows:

  • application-based motorcycle transporters may only carry goods except for public interest services and their own personal interests;
  • city train passengers are limited to 35% of capacity and must maintain physical distancing;
  • passenger ships are limited to 50% of capacity and must maintain physical distancing;
  • airport slot times for air transportation are reduced based on an evaluation; and
  • passenger ships may carry cargo if among other things, it is for logistics to support the management of COVID-19.
Portugal 

In relation to the support measures previously approved (in particular, the exceptional support for preserving employment contracts), Order no. 94-A/2020, 16 April has been published stating that the companies benefiting from these measures must keep supporting documents for three years.

 

April 15 Update

Australia

The Australian Government is providing a waiver of spectrum tax – which stations pay to broadcast their signal – to commercial television and radio broadcasters. The Australian screen content quota for Australian drama, children's programs and documentaries has also been suspended for 2020. $50 million will also be invested in a Public Interest News Gathering program targeted at regional journalism.

In the specific States/Territories:

Victoria: Term two of school begins in Victoria on 15 April 2020. The State Government has instructed state schools to move to online learning and announced guidance that parents should only send their children to school if their children are vulnerable, have special needs, or if the children’s parents are working.

Victoria has announced a $500 million package for landlords and renters.

  • $80 million in rent assistance: to be eligible for rent assistance tenants must have engaged in mediation with landlords to reduce rent, but still be under financial stress, with their rent comprising more than 30 per cent of their income. Those who earn less than $100,000 per year, and have less than $5000 in savings, will be eligible for assistance of up to $2000. Rent assistance payments will be paid directly to landlords.
  • $420 million in land tax relief for landlords: landlords, both commercial and residential, will be eligible for land tax concessions if they’ve done a deal with tenants to reduce rent. They will be eligible for a 25 per cent land tax discount, and deferral of the rest of the tax until March 2021.
Canada 

Canada: If asymptomatic travellers returning to Canada cannot describe a credible quarantine plan, they are required to quarantine in a hotel.

Manitoba: The government of Manitoba will be extending the public health orders issued on March 30 for two weeks. The orders that were to expire on April 14 are now extended to April 28, 2020.

Northwest Territories: The government of the Northwest Territories has ordered the closure of certain non-essential businesses, effective April 11, 2020.

Ontario: The government of Ontario has extended state of emergency in the province for a further 28 days – until May 12, 2020.

Hong Kong 

The Chief Executive has confirmed that employers who apply for the Employment Support Scheme worth HK$80 million can only spend the subsidies on employees and not other expenses such as rent, adding that they cannot lay off staff during the six months they are receiving the subsidies. Employers have to select one month from January, February or March for calculation of salary subsidies and that the employee figures have to be from March.

Full details of the Scheme are expected to be finalized by this Friday.
Hungary 

The government introduced the following special taxes in the framework of the management of the economic crisis:

  • Special tax on banks to be paid in three equal instalments in the course of this year: until 10 June, 10 September and 10 December.
    • The base of the tax is the amount of the two-year prior balance sheet total of the bank exceeding HUF 50 billion (ca. EUR 142 million).
    • The tax rate is 0,19%. Tax assessments must be prepared until 30 June 2020.
  • Special tax on the following retail trade (not wholesale trade) activities: retail of motor vehicles, vehicle parts; retail of motorbike parts; non-specialized grocery stores; retail of food, drinks and tobacco; petrol retail; retail of IT products; retail of household articles; retail of cultural and recreation goods; retail of not elsewhere classified goods (e.g. clothes, shoes, medicines, perfumes, watches and jewellery, used items); retail activities at marketplaces; non-store or market related retail (e.g. online shopping, mail order services).
    • The base of tax is the net turnover of the entity performing the above retail activities.
    • The tax rate is progressive as follows:
      • the rate is 0% if the net turnover does not exceed HUF 500 million (ca. EUR 1.4 million);
      • the rate is 0.1% for the amount of net turnover exceeding HUF 500 million (ca. EUR 1.4 million), but not higher than HUF 30 billion (ca. EUR 85 million);
      • the rate is 0.4% for the amount of net turnover exceeding HUF 30 billion (ca. EUR 85 million), but not higher than HUF 100 billion (ca. EUR 285 million);
      • the rate is 2.5% for the amount of net turnover exceeding HUF 100 billion (ca. EUR 285 million).
India 

The Prime Minister of India has announced a further extension of the national lockdown until 3 May 2020. All restrictions that have been imposed in various sectors and activities will continue to remain effective, and all States and UTs are accordingly advised to strictly implement the restrictions orders during the extended lockdown period.

The Government of Andhra Pradesh has also extended the state lockdown till 3 May 2020. 

The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has ordered that all scheduled international and domestic services will remain closed until 3 May 2020. However, this restriction will not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA. 

Karnataka: The Department of Labour has ordered all public and private companies to pay full wages to their employees during the lockdown. Further, it is ordered that employers should not reduce wages or terminate employment (including of casual/contract employees).

Indonesia  The Minister of Finance has issued Regulation No.28/PMK.03/2020, which among other things grants VAT incentives to certain parties (including government institutions and hospitals) for importing or acquiring Taxable Goods, acquiring Taxable Services, and using  Taxable Services from outside the Indonesian customs area in the customs area which are needed for the management of COVID-19 during the April 2020 tax period until the September 2020 tax period. The Financial Services Authority (Otoritas Jasa Keuangan – “OJK”), under its Letter No. S-7/D.05/2020 of 2020, has extended the reporting deadlines for Non-Bank Financial Services Institutions (Lembaga Jasa Keuangan Non Bank – “LJKNB”). According to this Letter, the OJK understands that a number of LJKNBs have applied policies under which their employees work from home due to the COVID-19 situation. This has the potential to become an obstacle to LJKNB businesses complying with their obligation to submit periodic reports to the OJK in a timely manner.
Ireland

Irish Government announce increase to wage subsidy scheme

The Irish Minister for Finance announced today, 15 April 2020, that for incomes that are less than approximately €24,400 per year, the Irish government will increase the subsidy available to employers under the temporary wage subsidy scheme from 70% to 85%.

The Minister also said that the Irish government would be introducing "flexibility" on how the subsidy is paid. This comes after the government’s announcement on Friday the 10th of April that quarantine measures in place in Ireland would be extended  until 5 May 2020. Regulations empowering Gardaí to enforce restrictions on public movement have also been extended until the 5 May 2020.

Further clarity and detail on the exact amendments to the legislation are expected later today.

Italy 

On 10 April a new Presidential Decree was published to adopt measures aimed at further containing the spread of COVID-19.  Under the Decree, the lockdown has been extended up to 3 May 2020, except for the activities listed here.   

Poland 

The following changes are currently being discussed in the Polish Parliament, but are not yet final (and the final law may be different): 

  • Changes concerning the start date for granting subsidies for a standstill and/or reduced working hours for micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises

The subsidies will be granted for three months from the month in which the application is submitted, previously it was "from the date".  This may allow for the earlier receipt of subsidies and greater savings.

  • Changes to the exemption from the obligation to pay social security contributions

Employers with monthly income not exceeding PLN 15,681 (300% of the average monthly wage) that currently register up to nine people for insurance purposes may take advantage of the exemption from the obligation to pay social security contributions in full for three months.

The new proposal is that employers who currently register between 10 and 49 people for insurance purposes can take advantage of the exemption of 50% of the total amount of unpaid contributions. The exemption covers the period from 1 March 2020 to 31 May 2020.  This may allow for additional savings in employment costs.

  • Changes to health and safety training

Initial training in health and safety at work may be carried out completely via electronic means of communication. Exceptions to this rule include instructions for workers in jobs and positions where there is an exposure to danger.

  • Changes to the obligation to cover nose and mouth

From 16 April, everyone in Poland will be obliged to cover their nose and mouth in public space. More details will be known this afternoon.

Spain 

The Spanish Government has published a guide to good practice in workplaces to prevent COVID- 19 coinciding with the return to workplaces, on April 13, of those employees in non-essential activities who cannot work remotely.  The guide reconciles the most essential measures of hygiene and social distancing to be applied before, during and after attending the workplace.

South Africa 

In light of the extension to the lockdown in South Africa the Judge President of the Labour Court has issued a further Directive, which you can read here.  This is identical in substance to the initial Directive regarding the closure of the Labour Courts, with the date of the closure now being extended to 30 April 2020.

In this respect, no matters will be allocated for hearing from Tuesday 14 April until 30 April 2020 (inclusive); matters already allocated will not be heard and will be removed from the roll and no Judges will be available at Court to consider any matter nor will any member of staff be available to receive any documents. With regard to urgent Court matters, parties must alert the Registrar of the Court explaining in full detail why the matter is considered to be so urgent that it must be considered during the lockdown. The Registrar will then contact the Judge on duty who will inform the Registrar whether or not s/he will consider the matter, in which case the matter will be heard telephonically.

Sweden

The Swedish government has proposed to temporarily expand the system for short-time work. The proposed change implies that the employer can now reduce working hours for employees by up to 80 percent, and that the state shall bear the majority of the cost. The extended support will be valid for three months from 1 May 2020.

The new and higher level of short-time work means that costs are reduced even more for employers.  If the new level of short-time work is applied the wage cost for the employer will be reduced by over 70 percent, while the employee can retain almost 90 percent of their normal salary. Combined with the reduced employer contributions, the employer's salary costs can be reduced by up to 86 percent during the period May to July 2020.

Moreover, the government will allocate resources equivalent to 130 employees to the Swedish Tax Agency to control companies that have received support for short-time work. This will be done through, for example, more unannounced checks of employee ledgers.

Taiwan 

The Ministry for Health and Welfare announced subsidies and incentive payments for medical care workers and hospitals pursuant to Article 2 of the Special Act on COVID-19 Prevention, Relief and Restoration. Under this scheme, workers may receive incentives of up to NT$10,000 per day depending on their work. Hospitals and clinics shall receive subsidies for the provision of negative pressure isolation wards, ICU beds, as well as incentive payments for setting up quarantine stations and conducting COVID-19 testing and more. Additionally, the ministry will award up to NT$10,000,000 to hospitals and clinics for outstanding performance in epidemic prevention.

UK

On 15 April the Government updated its guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and issued a Treasury Direction under ss.71 and 76 of the Coronavirus Act 2020, which provides the underlying legal framework for the CJRS.

The Treasury Direction makes one major change to the operation of the CJRS: The relevant date is now 19 March 2020 rather than 28 February 2020. In order to claim employers must have had a PAYE scheme on or before 19 March. Employers can claim in respect of employees that were on the PAYE payroll on or before 19 March and which were notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19 March.

Employers can still rehire employees whose employment terminated after 28 February and place them on furlough.

US 

On April 13, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced an interim enforcement response plan for the coronavirus pandemic. The plan provides directions and guidance to OSHA Area Offices and compliance safety and health officers for handling coronavirus-related complaints, referrals, and severe illness reports. It also includes procedures for addressing reports of workplace hazards related to the coronavirus. OSHA will prioritize fatalities and imminent danger exposures related to the coronavirus for on-site inspections.

 

April 14 Update 

Australia 

The Australian Government has announced the Rules for the JobKeeper Payment (Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Rules 2020). These Rules set the formal criteria for employers receiving the JobKeeper subsidy. The Rules largely reflect what the government had previously announced, and which we have outlined in our previous updates below. Notably, the Rules state that employers will need to pay eligible employees in advance of payment of the subsidy and that employees will need to obtain employee consent to have that employee participate in the program.

The Australian Government has introduced national guidelines on bills/charges that state and territory governments have direct control over, including water company bills and council rates. Broadly, the guidelines apply to households and small businesses and provide for flexible payment options, no disconnection of services for those under financial stress and waivers for late fees and interest.

The Australian Government has announced an education package targeted at universities. Prices will be discounted for six-month, remotely delivered diplomas and graduate certificates in nursing, teaching, health, IT and science provided by universities and private tertiary educators. According to the Government, the 20,000 places offered for the first time in these short courses will offset university losses from international students and allow greater flexibility. The Government will also guarantee that $18 billion budgeted to go to universities this year for domestic students will arrive regardless of any fall in enrolments.

Businesses Forced to Close

In the specific States/Territories:

  • NSW
    • The NSW Government will provide relief to renters and landlords affected by COVID-19. The $440 million package will provide relief for renters and landlords affected by Government-enforced COVID-19 restrictions. It'll give a six-month moratorium on new forced evictions if the tenant is in rental arrears because of coronavirus. It'll apply to tenants who have lost equal to or greater than 25 per cent of their income. The Government is aiming to provide relief to landlords by waiving land tax or providing a rebate of up to 25 per cent if they're accommodating tenants under financial stress.
  • Queensland
    • Schools will be open for vulnerable students and children of essential workers in Term 2 (starting 20 April) with teachers and other staff still attending school. Other students will learn remotely until May 22. Kindergartens will be open for children of essential workers.
    • Community kindergartens in Queensland will be free up until June, after a $17 million funding announcement from the State Government.
    • Queensland has increased border measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. The state’s chief medical officer posted a list of “Covid-19 hot spots” in NSW. Anyone who returns to the state from those locations will be forced to quarantine for 14 days. The list of hotspots is provided here.  
  • WA
    • The WA Government announced they would introduce new legislation addressing residential and commercial tenancies, including:
      • A six-month moratorium on evictions for residential tenancies.
      • A code of conduct for commercial tenancies.
      • A freeze on rent increase and no interest on rent arrears.
  • Victoria
    • The state of emergency, which was due to expire at midnight on April 13, will now expire on May 11.
  • Tasmania
    • In the north-west region of Tasmania, new restrictions have been imposed. Under the restrictions, all remaining retail businesses will be required to close from midnight 12 April 2020, except for those providing:
      • Essential services such as medical services, pharmacies, supermarkets, green grocers, food take-away, service/petrol stations, bakeries, laundromats and dry cleaners, newsagents, rural services and general stores, bottle shops, IT repairs, car repairs (but new and used car sales are closed), veterinary services, animal and pet food supplies and banks; and
      • Trade supply stores open to trade customers only.

Canada 

Canada:  The Canadian Parliament and Senate have approved (on Saturday evening) the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy, which provides a 75% wage subsidy to eligible employers for up to 12 weeks, retroactive to March 15, 2020. Read full details here

Ontario: The orders declaring a public emergency, prohibiting certain public events, and requiring the closure of certain establishments have been renewed until April 23, 2020 (from April 13, 2020).

Quebec: The Quebec government has expanded its list of essential businesses, effective April 15, 2020, to include: mining operations; products, parts and other equipment necessary for transportation and logistics services; landscaping and landscape maintenance (including nurseries, garden centres and businesses selling swimming pools); and service stations, vehicle maintenance and repair, tow truck firms, trucks and specialized equipment and roadside assistance.

Colombia 

The President announced that independent contractors and employers will be allowed to suspend the payment of pension contributions for up to three months.

In addition, the President announced that the National Government will be granting/financing the payroll of those small to mid-size enterprises for those employees who earn up to 5 minimum monthly legal wages (approx. USD $1.100). 

 

On April 12, the Ministry of Health issued Law Decree 538 which sets out medical staff conditions:

  • All healthcare workers (including trainees), must be prepared and available to provide their services to strengthen and support providers of health services.  This call up is mandatory.   Exceptions to this are: (i) pregnant woman, (ii) being 70 years old or more, (iv) when in the same family unit, both parents work in health and have minor age children, (v) head of the household with minor children, older adults or people with disabilities, (vi) having a chronic disease or condition that is a high risk for COVID- 19.
  • Medical staff registration will be suspended until the sanitary emergency is over.
  • Health workers who provide their services to patients with possible or diagnosed COVID-19 and are exposed to risk of contagion are entitled to a one-time temporary economic support, during the term of the health emergency. The Ministry of Health will define the recognition amount as a base income proportion in average of each occupational profile. This payment will not have salary nature.
  • COVID-19 has been declared a direct labor risk for medical staff.  This implies that for medical staff who are diagnosed with COVID-19, the labor risks manager will recognize all medical and economic benefits, pursuant to labor risks regulations.
  • Those enrolled to the subsidized healthcare regime who have been confirmed with COVID-19, will receive a one-time compensation payment.
Denmark 

In the coming week, Denmark will slowly start to exit from the lockdown by opening daycare centers and schools from 0-5th grade.  Some business will slowly start to open with restrictions from the government.  Hairdressers, bars, cafes and restaurants will however still stay closed until 10 May.

France 

The lockdown in France has been extended until 11 May under the existing conditions.

Germany 

Changes to the Working Time Act (effective immediately):  Under German law, the maximum daily working time is 10 hours. The government has now issued a decree which allows to increase this maximum daily working time to up to 12 hours for certain activities (including, but not limited to, (i) producing and packaging of fast moving consumer goods and medical products, (ii) medical services, (ii) services required to maintain public order and  (iii) services required to maintain the functionality of data networks and computer systems).

For these activities, the prohibition to work on Sundays does not apply either. Also, the mandatory resting periods are reduced for these activities. The weekly working time is still limited to 60 hours, but it may be increased in exceptional cases if the extension cannot be avoided through organizational measures.

This new law is limited until 31 June 2020.

Proposed changes to procedural aspects of works council law: Under current German law, works council members need to meet in person to vote on resolutions. Also, under the current law, reconciliation boards (which decide in a binding way when works council and company do not agree on issues which are subject to co-determination laws) need to meet in person to elaborate and vote on issues which are subject to co-determination rights. The administration has proposed legislative changes which would allow works council meetings and / or meetings of the reconciliation board to take place via telephone conference / video conference. This new law would apply retroactively as of 1 March 2020 and it is limited until 31 December 2020. It is expected that the new law will be passed next week. Please note that this does not have any impact on the requirement that a works agreement between the works council and the company and / or a ruling of the recon board requires a wet-ink signature in order to be valid.

Hungary 

The government has issued several decrees concerning the management of the economic crisis which include the details of wage subsidies previously announced by the government:

Employment on reduced working time (as of 16 April 2020)

  • The conditions of the subsidy – among others – are:
    • The employee is employed from at least the proclamation of the state of emergency (11 March 2020), is not under notice and does not receive any other subsidy
    • The employee and the employer agree on (i) the reduced working time and (ii) personal development time for the period of the subsidy
  • The employer undertakes – among others – to maintain the headcount number for the period of the subsidy plus one month, and not to order overtime for the period of the subsidy, etc.
  • The employer shall introduce that the economic reason of the reduced working time is in direct and strong relation with the state of emergency and duly demonstrate that the employment of the employee is of importance for the national economy
  • The maximum period of the subsidy is 3 months, the amount is 70 % of the monthly net absence fee (but maximum twice the net minimum wage) after deduction proportioned for the downtime.

Support of the employment of research and development employees (as of 15 April 2020)

  • The conditions – among others – are:
    • The employee is employed from at least the proclamation of the state of emergency (11 March 2020) and is not under notice
    • The employer undertakes:
      • To maintain headcount number ,
      • To continue to employ the employee,
      • Not to reduce the employee’s salary, etc.
  • The maximum period of the subsidy is 3 months, the maximum amount is HUF 318,920 (approx. EUR 900)

Amendment of the employment provisions (as of 11 April 2020)

  • The employer may unilaterally order a working time cycle of 24 months which may increase flexibility of working time utilization
India 

Lockdown extension: authorities in the States of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana have extended the lockdown till 30 April 2020.  Further, the Prime Minister, in a speech today on 14 April has said that the nationwide lockdown would be further extended till 3 May 2020. The orders and guidelines related to the extended nationwide lockdown are awaited.

Authorities in the States of Delhi and West Bengal have ordered everyone to wear face masks while in public places (including workplaces). 

The Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry has relaxed and granted extensions on various deadlines under its schemes and activities. Some key relaxations include - extension of Foreign Trade Policy; extension of export obligation period, etc. Further, with respect to SEZ (special economic zones) developers / co-developers / units, relaxations have been granted on the requirement  to file Quarterly  Progress  Report (QPR), SOFTEX forms (to be filed by IT/ITES units), Annual Performance Reports (APR) by SEZ units, etc.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has ordered that visas and e-visas of foreigners stranded in India due to the travel restrictions (which have expired or would be expire during the lockdown till 30 April 2020) would be extended till 30 April 2020 on ‘gratis’. For this, the foreign nationals would need to make an online application to avail the visa-extension.            

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has clarified that contribution made only to ‘PM CARES Fund’ and not the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund or State Relief Fund for COVID-19, shall qualify as CSR activity (given that the latter is not included in Schedule VII of the  Companies  Act,  2013).

Indonesia

The president has issued Decree No. 12 of 2020, declaring the spread of COVID-19 a national disaster. In addition, under the Presidential Decree, governors, regents and mayors when determining policies for their respective regions must pay attention to the central government’s policies.

The Minister of Industry has issued Circular Letter No. 7 of 2020, to provide guidelines for submitting applications for licenses for industrial activities during the public health emergency. The Circular Letter states among other things that industrial companies and industrial estates companies may continue their business activities if they hold a license for operational and industrial activities mobility (izin operasional dan mobilitas kegiatan industri) such as for the operation of factories and offices, after submitting an online application to the Ministry of Industry’s official website (siinas.kemenperin.go.id). The license in the form of a Written Statement for operational and industrial mobility will remain effective for as long as the public health emergency due to COVID-19 continues.

Malaysia 

Status of approvals to operate granted in Phases 1 and 2 of the Movement Control Order (MCO).  The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) has announced that businesses that were granted approvals to operate on-site during Phases 1 and/or 2 of the MCO would be able to continue operating in Phase 3 without having to submit a fresh application. However, MITI encouraged the businesses to submit a new application if they wish to obtain the approval letter in the new format. The new format contains a QR code which makes it easier for the authorities to check the details of the business if needed.

South Africa 

The lockdown in South Africa has been extended from what was initially a 21-day period, to a 5 week period. The lockdown is now scheduled to end on 30 April 2020 (as opposed to the original 16 April deadline).

notice has been issued by the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) under which the Department has prescribed an increase in the maximum amount of earnings on which an assessment of an employer shall be calculated for the purposes of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, 1993. The amount of ZAR484 200.00 per annum was announced in the Government Gazette and will be with effect from 1 March 2020.

The Unemployment Insurance Fund has announced in a statement that it will relax its usual processes in order to minimize the necessity for physical contact during the national lockdown. New claim applications can be sent via email or fax. This procedure will only be implemented during the lockdown period. 

In terms of section 57(1) of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, 1993 the DEL has invited comments from the public on the Minister's intention to increase monthly pensions with regards to accidents which occurred before 31 March 2020 as well as occupational diseases which were diagnosed before 21 March 2020. The increase of 4.6% is intended to take place with retrospective effect from 1 April 2020. Those wanting to comment have 60 days from the publishing of the Notice in which to do so.  

The Financial Sector Conduct Authority has issued a Directive which relates to the performance of essential services in the financial sector. The Directive states that the head of any financial institution whose employees are classified as essential service workers in terms of the Disaster Management Act must, among other things, limit the number of employees working onsite to as few as possible; take precautionary measures to reduce their employees’ risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus; and establish protocols for temperature screening of anyone entering the business’s premises. A workplace coordinator must be appointed by financial sector employers who will be responsible for issues related to COVID-19’s impact on the workplace and responding to authorities who request information. The Directive will remain in force for the duration of the lockdown.

Taiwan 

The Ministry of Labor announced a part-time working program for workers who are adversely affected by COVID-19, such as those who were let go, furloughed or have had their working hours reduced. Under the program, they can apply for up to 80 hours of work per month at the hourly minimum wage of NT$158 for a maximum of NT$12,640 per month. Applications are accepted at employment service institutions. Workers who earn less than the minimum wage of NT$23,800 are eligible. They must additionally have been insured under Taiwan's labor insurance or employment insurance programs for at least 2 months within the past 6 months.

The Ministry of Finance has announced a general extension for filing taxes. The new deadline is 30 June 2020. This applies to both individuals and businesses. Additionally, if the taxpayer, their representative or appointed CPA responsible for filing taxes is in isolation or under quarantine on 30 June, they can apply for an additional 20 day filing extension. Note that businesses and individuals who are adversely affected by COVID-19 can apply for up to 12 months deferral on tax payments or pay their taxes in 36 monthly instalments.

The CECC (Center for Disease Control) announced that starting 15 April, facemasks for children will also be available through the online ordering system.        The CECC also announced amendments to home quarantine requirements for travellers returning to Taiwan. Inbound travellers will now be asked about their home quarantine living situation in order to determine if they live with at-risk individuals, such as elderly family members or persons with underlying conditions. In this case, travellers may be asked to instead stay at subsidized quarantine hotels in order to minimize the risk for those they are living with. Fines of up to NT$ 150,000 may be imposed for the provision of false information.     

UAE 

As per an update from the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development on Monday 13 April, Abu Dhabi has placed restrictions on travel for workers as part of the measures to tackle the spread of Covid-19. Companies must limit employee travel to within the emirate and workers will also not be allowed to enter Abu Dhabi from other emirates. 

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) has announced that it is reviewing labour relations with countries refusing to cooperate with evacuation measures undertaken by the UAE to repatriate private sector expatriate employees. As per an update on WAM (the official news portal of the UAE) the measures being considered include the halting of any memoranda of understanding between MOHRE and the concerned authorities of non-cooperative countries, as well as the introduction of restrictions or quotas on future recruitment.

US 

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) published Unemployment Insurance Program Letter (UIPL) 17-20, which provides further guidance to states as they implement the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), including the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program.

The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued interim guidance for enforcing OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements (29 CFR Part 1904) as it relates to recording cases of COVID-19. Under OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements, COVID-19 is a recordable illness, and employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19, if the case: 1) Is confirmed as a COVID-19 illness; 2) Is work-related as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; and 3) Involves one or more of the general recording criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7, such as medical treatment beyond first aid or days away from work. The guidance notes that in areas where there is ongoing community transmission, employers other than those in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations (e.g., emergency medical, firefighting and law enforcement services), and correctional institutions may have difficulty making determinations about whether workers who contracted COVID-19 did so due to exposures at work. Accordingly, the guidance provides that OSHA will not enforce its recordkeeping requirements to require these employers to make work-relatedness determinations for COVID-19 cases, except where: (1) There is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related; and (2) The evidence was reasonably available to the employer. Employers of workers in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations and correctional institutions must continue to make work-relatedness determinations pursuant to 29 CFR Part 1904. 

Earlier this month, the DOL released temporary regulations providing guidance on the newly enacted Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Read our alert here.

 

April 9 Update

Canada  

The Federal government announced the following changes to the Canada Summer Jobs Programs:

  • employers involved in the program will now receive a subsidy of up to 100% to cover the costs of hiring students
  • the timeframe for job placements will be extended until the winter, and
  • businesses will be able to hire students part-time.

New Brunswick: Employers in New Brunswick whose businesses have been impacted by COVID-19 can now apply to the provincial government for loans for working capital. The new loans are to support New Brunswick-based companies. A total of $50 million has been allocated for two distinct loan programs for working capital.

Newfoundland and Labrador: The Labour Standards Act has been amended to provide for a Communicable Disease Emergency Leave, entitling employees to a leave of absence from employment without pay for an unspecified period of time where the employee will not be performing the duties of his or her position because of one or more prescribed reasons related to a designated communicable disease, such as COVID-19.

China

The PRC State Council has published a Code on How to Deal with Asymptomatic Infected Cases. Asymptomatic infected individuals are those who: 

  • tested positive for COVID-19 but display no clinical symptoms after being medically observed for 14 days and
  • tested positive but display no symptom during the incubation period.

Since asymptomatic infected individuals can pass on the virus, the government requires medical institutes and every level of authority to strengthen the monitoring of asymptomatic cases through COVID-19 testing for: 

  1. people who have had close contact with COVID-19 patients during the period of medical observation 
  2. people who were involved in infection clusters 
  3. people who were exposed to COVID-19 during the tracking of infection sources 
  4. people who have had travel history or residence history in epidemic areas inside or outside China, and
  5. people who were identified in epidemiological investigations and random screening.

In addition, the medical institutes shall report within two hours via the internet to the government after discovering any asymptomatic infected individual. County-level disease prevention and control authorities should complete investigations into each case within 24 hours, record close contacts and submit investigation report of the case via infectious disease report information management system.

Hong Kong 

On 8 April 2020, the Hong Kong government announced a HK$137.5 billion package of relief measures to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes an HK$80 billion Employment Support Scheme to encourage employers to retain staff through the provision of a wage subsidy of up to 50% of the employee's (capped) monthly salary, which is expected to benefit 1.5 million employees, as well as one-off grants for the hardest hit sectors.    

Read our detailed summary of the scheme here.  

Hungary 

The government has announced its economic crisis management plan which includes the followings:

  • The state undertakes to pay 70 % of the employees’ salary in case of reduced working hours for three months
  • 40 % wage subsidy for the research and development sector for three months
  • Establishment of new workplaces
  • Reduction of social contribution tax with 2 % as of 1 July
  • During unpaid leave, the employee is still entitled to social security
  • The sick leave certificates may be submitted electronically by the employees
  • Reduction of the contributions of and increase the total amount of the so-called “SZÉP” card (fringe benefit)
  • Postponement of annual reports until 30 September
  • Loans and state guarantees for small and medium-sized enterprises and large enterprises, different loan and guarantee programs
  • Development tenders for companies
  • Support of tourism, creative industry, health industry, agriculture, construction, food industry, transport and logistics
  • Suspension of tax on tourism until the end of the year
  • Reinstatement of 13th month pension as of January 2021
  • Family allowance expiring at the end of the school year to be extended until the end of the state of emergency

The detailed regulation of each point of the crisis management plan is expected to be issued in the following days.

The following new regulations are applicable as of 9 April:

  • The Prime Minister announced the extension of the curfew-type restriction (originally in effect until 11 April) for an indefinite period. Mayors may impose further restrictions for weekend of Easter.
  • The Minister of Finance announced a special tax for banks to be paid in three instalments in the course of this year: until 10 June, 10 September and 10 December. Further details to be announced.
India 

The Supreme Court of India, in a recent judgment relating to COVID-19, has remarked that “Disobedience to an order promulgated by a public servant would result in punishment under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code. An advisory which is in the nature of an order made by the public authorities attracts Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code. We trust and expect that all concerned, viz. governments, public authorities and citizens will faithfully comply with the directives, advisories and orders issued by the Union of India in letter and spirit in the interest of public safety.” Therefore, the Supreme Court is taking a view that the advisories should also be read as a mandatory orders. Based on this, all the Central and State government advisories till date (in relation to reduction of salaries, paid leaves, non-removal of workmen from employment, etc.) would be deemed mandatory by the authorities.       

The Karnataka Government ordered on 31 March 2020 an extension of the directions/orders issued by it on 23 March 2020 which, amongst other things, advised employers to not terminate any worker due to the lockdown and also sanction paid leave for the period of closure. 

Indonesia 

On 8 April, the Governor of West Java proposed to the Minister of Health (MOH) to declare Large Scale Social Restrictions in the five municipalities of Bogor city and region, Bekasi city and region and Depok city. The MOH should make the decision on whether to approve the proposal or not within the next two days. 

Italy 

On 8 April, the Italian Government issued the Law Decree no. 23, which among other things deals with measures for employers who suspend or reduce their activities due to Covid-19.

The key change to note is that the ability to benefit from the Ordinary Wages Guarantee Fund (“Cassa Integrazione Ordinaria – CIGO”), Ordinary Allowance (“Assegno Ordinario”) and Exceptional Ordinary Wages Guarantee Fund (“Cassa Integrazione in deroga”) has been extended to employees hired after 23 February up to 17 March 2020.

Poland 

On 31 March, the Polish Parliament enacted a package of “anti-crisis shield” special acts introducing measures aimed at counteracting the adverse economic consequences of the pandemic, including subsidies for employers (see 3 April update, below). 

According to the latest interpretation of the rules for granting subsidies from the Labour Office in Warsaw, branches of foreign companies in Poland are not eligible to apply for the subsidies to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus crisis. 

Having said that, this is a very controversial interpretation of the rules, the statement has no binding force, the final wording of the anti-crisis package is still under the review by the Polish government and this interpretation has not been confirmed by the Polish government.  So for the time being, we recommend that foreign companies continue to try and apply for the subsidy.  

Spain 

The April 7 edition of the Spanish Official State Gazette, published Royal Decree Law 13/2020 of April 7, temporarily allows agricultural activity to be made compatible with subsidies and unemployment benefits and considers periods of isolation, infection or restrictions on leaving the municipality due to the COVID-19 as a situation comparable to an accident at work.

Temporary contracts in the agricultural sector:

  • The regulation provides for the temporary hiring of employees in the agricultural sector through extraordinary measures of employment flexibility, necessary to ensure the maintenance of agricultural activity during the state of alert, being temporarily applicable until June 30, 2020.
  • The beneficiaries of the measures may include people whose homes are near the workplace and who are:
    • unemployed or have stopped working;
    • affected by the measure of suspension of the employment contract or reduction of the working hours (ERTE);
    • migrant workers whose work permit expires in the period between the entry into force of the alarm state and June 30, 2020;
    • or are young third-country nationals who are in a regular situation and are aged between 18 and 21.
  • The remuneration of these employees will be compatible with a series of unemployment benefits and public aid provided for in the regulation.
  • The regulation comes into force the day after its publication in the BOE (April 8, 2020) and will remain in force until June 30, 2020.

Situation comparable to an accident at work due to confinement:

  • Royal Decree Law 13/2020, of 7 April, modifies and develops the provisions on the exceptional consideration as a situation assimilated to an accident at work of the periods of, contagion or restriction on leaving the municipality where the workers are domiciled as a result of the COVID-19 virus.
  • If it is proven that the infection of the disease was contracted with exclusive cause in the performance of the work in the legally established terms, it will be qualified as an accident at work.
  • This protection extends to those employees who are forced to move from one location to another to provide services when:
    • the competent authority has agreed to restrict the departure of people from the municipality where those employees are domiciled and they have been expressly denied the possibility of moving;
    • they cannot carry out their work from home for reasons not attributable to the company for which they provide their services; and 
    • are not entitled to receive any other public benefits.
Taiwan 

The Ministry of Transport and Communication outlined domestic travel guidelines including limiting public venues to around 50% of their regular maximum capacity and disinfection requirements. These guidelines are expected to be officially declared in the upcoming days.

The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced that all drinking hotels (a specific kind of bar where you rent a room) and dance halls will be closed due to the pandemic. For now, closures will be limited to these two specific types, however further venue types may be added in the future.        

The CECC also announced further rules regarding home quarantine. Effective immediately, individuals who gather at the home of somebody who is under quarantine will be subject to fines of up to NT$ 200,000. In case of such a gathering, the person under quarantine will be subject to fines of up to NT$ 300,000.

Turkey 

A new law is expected to be introduced by the Turkish Parliament in the coming days to address measures to maintain employment relationships during the crisis, including restricting unilateral termination of employment contracts by the employer for at least 3 months, unless there is a just cause under Turkish Labour Law (e.g., immoral, dishonourable or malicious conduct or similar behaviour).   Instead of termination, employers will be entitled to ask employees to take unpaid leave during the period during which termination is restricted, which currently requires employee’s consent.  Employees who are forced to take unpaid leave, as well as those who have been dismissed since 15 March 2020 and are not entitled to benefit from unemployment allowance, would receive a daily allowance of TRY 39.24 during this period. This allowance will be paid from the state-owned unemployment insurance fund.

When the new law is approved, the restriction is expected to continue for a term of three months, extendable to six months by the President- starting from its effective date.

US 

On April 9, 2020, the EEOC posted an updated and expanded technical assistance publication addressing questions arising under federal equal opportunity laws related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The publication, "What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws" expands on a previous publication that focused on the ADA and Rehabilitation Act, and adds questions-and-answers to respond to common inquiries.

On April 9, 2020, the Federal Reserve announced the terms of both expanded and new "Main Street" lending facilities to enhance support for small and mid-sized businesses that were in good financial standing before the crisis by offering 4-year loans to companies employing up to 10,000 workers or with revenues of less than $2.5 billion. See the Federal Reserve press release for more details and term sheets.

The CDC recently issued new Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19. The guidance provides that, to ensure continuity of operations of essential functions, critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented. These include pre-screening, regular monitoring, wearing a mask, social distancing, and disinfecting and cleaning work spaces. The guidance also outlines other considerations (e.g., employees should not share headsets or other objects near the mouth or nose) and what to do if the employee becomes sick during the day.

 

April 8 Update

Australia

Pandemic Leave and Annual Leave Changes to Awards come in to Operation: The Fair Work Commission has determined to temporarily amend 99 modern awards to provide an entitlement to unpaid ‘pandemic leave’ and flexibility to take annual leave at half pay.  These variations will be in force between 8 April 2020 and 30 June 2020, and will take effect in relation to a particular employee from the start of that employee’s first full pay period that starts on or after 8 April 2020. 

Employees covered by any one of the 99 modern awards will be entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid leave (pandemic leave) if the employee is required to self-isolate and is therefore prevented from working or the employee is unable to work due to measures taken by government or medical authorities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

An employer and employee may agree that employee can take to take up to twice as much annual leave at half the rate of pay. The agreement must be recorded in writing and retained. The rate of pay must include any leave loading and the period of any leave taken in these circumstances is to be taken as normal service for the purposes of service related benefits.

JobKeeper Legislation Passed: The Australian Parliament will today pass legislation giving the Commissioner of Taxation the ability to implement JobKeeper (wage subsidy) payment rules.  These rules have not been released yet. The amendments will require that employers who qualify for the JobKeeper scheme and are entitled to a JobKeeper payment in relation to an employee must ensure that the “wage condition” (not yet specified) is satisfied and ensure that the employee receives the minimum payment of $1,500 per fortnight (or the amount payable to the employee for work performed in that fortnight where that amount is greater), before tax.

Changes to Fair Work Act: The Federal Government has passed short-term amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) to give effect to the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme announced on 30 March 2020 and provide employers who have qualified for this scheme with greater flexibility in dealing with issues arising in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.  An employer who qualifies for the JobKeeper Scheme will be authorised to take the following actions in relation to eligible employees:

  • give a reasonable direction to stand down (or work less days or hours) provided that the stand down is implemented in a safe manner and the eligible employee cannot be usefully employed because of changes to the employer’s business attributable to Covid-19 or Government initiatives to slow the transmission of Covid-19;
  • give a reasonable direction to undertake alternative duties within the employee’s skill and competency where the employer has a reasonable belief that the direction is necessary to continue the employment of one or more employees.  Such duties must be safe and reasonably within the scope of the employer’s business operations; and
  • give a reasonable direction to work from an alternative location (ie from home) where the employer has a reasonable belief that the direction is necessary to continue the employment of one or more employees.  The new location must be safe, suitable and reasonably within the scope of the employer’s business operations.  If the new location is not the employee’s home, it must also be within a reasonable distance of the employee’s normal place of work.

There are procedural requirements, including the provision of at least three days’ notice and consultation obligations, that must be satisfied prior to such a direction being given. 

The employer can also request that an employee work altered hours, request that an employee take annual leave (which an employee cannot unreasonably refuse) and agree that an employee taken annual leave at the rate of half pay.

As already announced, eligible employers must also ensure that eligible employees receive a minimum payment of $1,500 per fortnight (before tax) in accordance with the JobKeeper scheme.  An employer is not authorised to vary an employee’s base rate of pay for hours worked under these amendments.

While the exact details relating to eligibility criteria are yet to be confirmed, guidance issued to date indicates that an employer will be eligible where it has experienced (or will experience) a decrease in turnover of 30% for businesses with an annual turnover of less than $1 billion, or 50% for businesses with an annual turnover of more than $ 1 billion.

These amendments (including the arrangements made in accordance with these amendments) will cease to have effect from 28 September 2020.

Bahrain 

Effective 19.00 Thursday, 9 April, additional COVID-19 precautionary measure have been announced, which include the option for non-essential businesses in both the retail and industrial sectors are allowed to resume work and provide goods and services directly to customers, provided certain conditions are met, including:

  • Employees and visitors are required to wear a face mask
  • Remote working to be maintained, if and when possible
  • The number of employees to be limited at any certain location, office and employees are instructed to adhere to social distancing measures.  

An English version of the announcement, with full details of the new measures is here.  

The Ministry of Labour and Social Development in Bahrain (in collaboration with the Social Insurance Organization (SIO)) have launched an electronic registration portal for employers in the private sector, to allow employers to register their Bahraini employees banking details, following the Government of Bahrain’s initiative to pay the salaries of Bahrainis for a period of three months (i.e. April, May and June 2020) according to the maximum salary stipulated in the Social Insurance Law.  The SIO have issued a detailed step-by-step guidance for accessing the Portal, available here.  

Canada

The federal government released more details about its proposed 75% Emergency Wage Subsidy Program:

  • To qualify for the wage subsidy in March, businesses will only have to demonstrate a decline in revenues of 15% for the month of March
  • Business may also use the months of January and February as the reference period to determine revenue decreases

The proposed 75% Emergency Wage Subsidy Program remains subject to debate and approval by Parliament. We will continue to provide updates on the proposed 75% Emergency Wage Subsidy Program.

The federal government also introduced measures concerning ferries and commercial passenger vessels that, among other things:

  • Prohibit all commercial marine vessels with a capacity of more than 12 passengers from engaging in non-essential activities, such as tourism or recreation.
  • Prevent any Canadian cruise ship from mooring, navigating, or transiting in Canadian Arctic waters (including Nunatsiavut, Nunavik and the Labrador Coast).
  • Require ferries and essential passenger vessel operators to:
    • Immediately reduce by 50% the maximum number of passengers that may be carried on board; or
    • Implement alternative practices to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

New Brunswick: WorkSafeNB has announced that workers’ compensation assessment premiums related to employer payrolls for March, April and May will be deferred for ‎three months without interest charges.‎

Quebec: The Quebec government has extended the public health emergency until April 16, 2020

Saskatchewan: The Saskatchewan government has ordered the closure of various non-essential businesses, and restricted the operations of many other businesses, effective April 4, 2020 and continuing until there is no longer a public health threat.

Hong Kong 

Closure of premises:  During a period of 14 days from 10 April 2020 to 23 April 2020, the following premises have been ordered to close:

  • bars or pubs
  • any part of a catering premises that is exclusively or mainly used for the sale or supply of intoxicating liquors for consumption in that part
  • amusement game centres
  • bathhouses
  • fitness centres
  • places of amusement
  • places of public entertainment 
  • party rooms
  • beauty parlours
  • bars/nightclubs, karaoke establishments, mahjong-tin kau premises
  • massage establishments (except hospital, maternity home, military hospital, medical treatment, physiotherapy, Chinese medicine and chiropractic premises)

The government will introduce a HK$137.5 billion relief package, of which HK$80 billion will be ringfenced to fund a wage scheme for coronavirus-hit industries.  The government has not yet issued a formal press release but the following details have been reported in local media: 

  • Wage subsidy:  The government will provide a wage subsidy to partially fund employee wages provided that employers pledge not to lay off workers. The scheme will be paid over 6 months in 2 instalments, the first of which will be paid not later than June. Individual payments will be capped at 50% of salaries and up to HK$9,000 per month.
  • Employment Insurance Scheme: The scheme will provide support to employers in the catering, construction and transportation industries (which are not fully covered by the Mandatory Provident Fund). It will also provide a one-off grant to self-employed MPF contributors and relax the upper limit of assets under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme to the unemployed for a period of 6 months.
  • SME Financing Guarantee Scheme: The government plans to introduce special 80% and 90% loan guarantees to the current SME Financing Guarantee Scheme. In addition, the government plans to lower the threshold for listed companies.
  • Others: The reduction in water bills and sewage charges will be extended. Medical registration fees will be waived in the next 3 years.
Hungary 

The following new regulations are applicable as of 8 April:  The Hungarian National Bank has announced that it will provide resources in the amount of HUF 3,000 billion (ca. EUR 8 billion) to protect the financial system, including the following:

  • the third of this amount will be dedicated to loans offered to micro, small and medium enterprises;
  • the minimum reserves requirement for banks is reduced to 0%;
  • paid dividends to the State in the amount of HUF 250 billion (ca. EUR 700 million).
India 

The Industries Department in Chennai has ordered that following industries: steel, refineries, cement, chemicals, fertilizers, textiles (excluding garmenting), sugar mills, glass, foundries, tanneries, paper, tyre, and common affluent treatment plants, shall remain operational during the period of lockdown.  Further, the skeletal staff for essential maintenance of all closed industrial units are also permitted to operate during the lockdown.

The High Court of Telangana has extended the lockdown for the functioning of the High Court and District Courts till 30 April 2020. It is clarified that at the High Court level, only extreme urgent matters namely bail applications, stay application, fresh admissions such as PILs will be taken up, and at the District Courts level, extremely urgent criminal and civil matters such as bail applications, remand, extension of remand, interim injunctions etc will be entertained. 

Indonesia 

Following the publication of Circular Letter of the Minister of Health on the Implementation of Large Scale Social Restrictions (LSSR) in the Jakarta area, the Governor of Jakarta, through his press conference, has officially announced that the LSSR in Jakarta area will apply effective from 10 April 2020 for 14 days and is extendable. No written policy has been issued with regard to this matter. The Minister of Industry issued Circular Letter No. 4 of 2020, which allows industrial or industrial estate companies to continue their business activities under several conditions, including among others the following:

  • industrial and industrial estate companies must among other things, prohibit any unhealthy workers being involved in any activities, limit the number of workers using public facilities, provide healthy food supplements for workers and clean the work area more frequently with disinfectants; and
  • workers must among other things, use masks and hand gloves while working in factories, keep a physical distance from each other of one meter and implement a clean and healthy lifestyle. In addition, workers who have just returned from a country or city with where COVID-19 is known to be transmitted within the last 14 days must report to their employers.
Ireland 

Restrictions on public movement: The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) Regulations grant the Gardaí powers to enforce restrictions on public movement. People may not leave their residences without a “reasonable excuse”.  A person who refuses to comply with an instruction of a garda who is imposing social distancing rules will be guilty of an offence which may lead to imprisonment for up to 6 months.  The Regulations come into effect on 8 April and will remain in operation until 12 April 2020.

Malaysia 

Government wage subsidy scheme: Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of the updated government wage subsidy programme on 6 April 2020, further details have become available.   Although targeted at assisting small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the programme is not strictly limited to employers that fall within the general definition of SMEs. Instead, the programme is open to all employers, with the amount of the subsidy dependent on the number of employees. The following are the latest available details:

  1. Applications can be submitted online at prihatin.perkeso.gov.my.
  2. Eligible employees are those earning up to RM4,000/month.
  3. Employers with more than 200 employees are entitled to claim a wage subsidy of RM600/month for 3 months for up to 200 eligible employees.
  4. Employers with 76-200 employees are entitled to claim a wage subsidy of RM800/month for 3 months for up to 200 eligible employees.
  5. Employers with up to 75 employees are entitled to claim a wage subsidy of RM1,200/month for 3 months for up to 75 eligible employees.
  6. In order to qualify for the programme, employers with more than 76 employees must have experienced at least a 50% drop in revenue from January 2020 compared to subsequent months. This condition does not apply to employers with 75 employees or less.
  7. The subsidy is only available to employers registered with the relevant authorities prior to 1 January 2020, and limited to Malaysian employees registered with the Social Security Organisation.
  8. Employers who participate in the programme must retain the services of the eligible employees for at least 6 months, ie for the 3 months when receiving the subsidy, and for a further 3 months thereafter.
  9. The subsidy is for the period commencing 1 April 2020. Applications start 9 April 2020 and are open to 15 September 2020, subject to the funding limit fixed by the government.
Netherlands  

Further details on the NOW Regulations under which employers can apply for funding for salary costs have been announced by the Dutch government.  Read our updated note here

South Africa 

A number of benefit relief funds have been created to offer assistance to small and medium size businesses that can demonstrate that they have suffered economic harm as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Read more about the various schemes here.  

Spain 

Clarifications by the Public Employment Service regarding the submission of collective applications:   The provincial director of the Public Employment Service (SEPE), has issued a document with clarifications on the submission of collective applications for unemployment benefits as well as a basic guide for the submission of applications. The documents are available at the following links:

The SEPE recommends that:

  • applications are submitted via the website as the alternative methods (by e-mail to [email protected] and [email protected]) require an encrypted Excel with the password sent by another means, guaranteeing the data protection.
  • Excel documents cannot be submitted in PDF form, nor contain images or links, and that if, during submission of the collective applications, there are registration problems beyond the employer's control, submission outside the established five-day period will not be subject to sanction.

Finally, the SEPE provides a link with information for employers and another link with FAQ questions for employers related to the Covid-19 crisis.

Taiwan 

The Ministry of Labour announced extended economic relief measures for self-employed and employees adversely affected by COVID-19 including up to NT$ 30,000 cash payments and low interest government backed loans for up to NT$ 100,000. These are part of the second special budget package proposed by the Executive Yuan. Legislative Yuan approval is still pending. The application term for these measures will commence within two weeks of the Legislative Yuan approving the new budget.

US

On April 6, 2020, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued additional guidance concerning the implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), established by section 1102 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The FAQs address a number of employment issues, including whether the Act’s exclusion of compensation in excess of $100,000 annually applies only to cash compensation and not to non-cash benefits, whether payments to independent contractors should be included in calculations of the eligible borrower’s payroll costs, how borrowers should account for federal taxes when determining its payroll costs, and more.

 

April 7 Update 

Australia 

The Federal Government is proposing to make three key changes to the Fair Work Act, Australia’s primary labour law legislation, which are reported to have been approved by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the peak union body and are likely to be in force for six months.  These proposed changes will:

  1. Enable employers to activate a “JobKeeper enabling stand-down” to alter their employees’ hours of work, provided that the employee cannot be usefully employed at their full hours as a result of the pandemic and the measures taken by the government to stop the spread of COVID-19.

An employee’s hours can only be changed if:

  • the pandemic means that there is no work for that person to do compared to what they would usually do, or there is a limitation in the work that they would do; and
  • the alteration of hours is reasonable in all the circumstances.  
  • Allow employers to alter the usual duties and location of employees’ work, provided that it is safe and reasonable to do so, and that any changes are still within the employee’s skills and competency and the employer’s usual scope of work.  These alterations can be done at the employer’s direction, but only if such changes are necessary to ensure the employee’s continuing employment.
  • Enable employers and employees to agree to vary the days worked, and/or agree to take annual leave (provided the employee retains a leave balance of two weeks) while the employer is claiming the JobKeeper subsidy and paying it on to the employee.  This must be by agreement, but an employee cannot “unreasonably refuse”, and any refusal can be arbitrated by the Fair Work Commission, the national employment tribunal.  

Changes made under each of the three powers will be reviewable by the Fair Work Commission. These proposed changes are expected to be considered by Federal Parliament tomorrow (8 April 2020), and more detail released at that stage. 

The Australian Government has outlined a mandatory code that will apply to commercial tenancies. The key elements are:

  • It will apply to commercial tenancies where the tenant or landlord is eligible for the JobKeeper program, they are in a position of distress and have a turnover of $50 million or less;
  • The landlord must not terminate the lease or draw into a tenant’s security, and the tenant must not terminate the lease;
  • The code will be implemented through a combination of waivers or rent and deferrals or rent, and deferrals must be covered over the balance of the lease term and in no less period than 12 months;
  • The code will be overseen by a binding mediation process run by states and territories.

In the specific States/Territories:

  • NSW
    • The NSW Government is providing alternative accommodation for NSW healthcare workers choosing to self-isolate during the pandemic.
  • Victoria:
    • Victoria’s schools reopen next Wednesday 15 April (with a pupil-free day on 14 April), but the Victorian Government has advised that schools will only be open for those children who cannot learn from home. All government primary, secondary and special schools will otherwise move to remote learning.
    • The Australian Government and the States have agreed that year 12 students will finish high school this year.

The Australian Taxation Office is making it easier for people to claim working-from-home expenses during the pandemic. The ATO has said it will review this new method after the financial year.

Brazil 

The governor of the State of São Paulo has announced that quarantine period will be extended to April 22.  All public services shall remain suspended and restaurants (only delivered is allowed), companies and offices shall remain closed - the exception is for essential services only (drugstores, supermarkets).  The governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro extended the quarantine period until April 17.

Canada

Alberta: The government of Alberta has made several temporary amendments to its Employment Standards Code, including the following:

  • Employees caring for children affected by school and daycare closures or ill or self-isolated family members due to COVID-19 will have access to unpaid job-protected leave. The 90-day employment requirement is waived and leave length is flexible.
  • Increasing the maximum time for a temporary layoff from 60 days to 120 days to ensure temporarily laid off employees stay attached to a job longer. This change is retroactive for any temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 that occurred on or after March 17.
  • Removing the 24-hour written notice requirement for shift changes, and the two weeks’ notice for changes to work schedules for those under an averaging agreement.
  • Removing the requirement to provide the group termination notice to employees and unions when 50 or more employees are being terminated.

British Columbia:  The government of British Columbia is offering an Emergency Benefit for Workers. The benefit will provide a one-time $1,000 ‎payment to people who lost income because of COVID-19. B.C. residents who receive federal Employment Insurance, or the ‎new federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit, are eligible. Applications for the one-time payment will open soon.‎   The government of British Columbia announced that, for everyone in the province on income assistance or disability assistance who is not eligible for the emergency federal support programs, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, the Province will provide an automatic $300-monthly COVID-19 crisis supplement for the next three months.

Nova Scotia:  The state of emergency for the province of Nova Scotia has been renewed until 12:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 19, 2020.  The government of Nova Scotia announced a $20 million Worker Emergency Bridge Fund to help the self-employed and those laid-off workers who do not qualify for Employment Insurance. The Nova Scotia government will provide a one-time, $1,000 payment, to bridge the gap between layoffs and closures and the federal government's Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Ontario: The government of Ontario reduced the scope of the List of Essential Workplaces that are permitted to continue operations. As such, further workplaces were required to close effective 11:59p.m. on April 4, 2020.  Read more here

Prince Edward Island: The government of Prince Edward Island announced the COVID-19 Special Situations Fund, which will provide up to $1,000 to Islanders who have experienced urgent ‎income loss as a result of COVID-19 and are not eligible for other federal and provincial funding support.

Quebec: The government of Quebec announced that it is extending the closure of non-essential businesses from April 13, 2020 until May 4, 2020.

Saskatchewan :The state of emergency for the province of Saskatchewan has been renewed for a further two weeks from April 1, 2020.

Colombia 

The Colombian President, Ivan Duque, decided to extend national mandatory lockdown until April 26 at 23:59.

Hong Kong 

The Government has announced that it is extending the entry restriction on non-Hong Kong residents and quarantine and airport transit measures until further notice. The measures took effect at midnight on March 25 and were set to end on April 7.  All non-Hong Kong residents coming from overseas countries and regions by plane will be denied entry to Hong Kong; while non-Hong Kong residents coming from the Mainland, Macau and Taiwan will be denied entry if they have been to any overseas countries and regions in the past 14 days.  In addition, all transit services at Hong Kong International Airport will be suspended; and all travellers coming from Macau and Taiwan, including Hong Kong and non-Hong Kong residents, will be subject to a 14-day compulsory quarantine, which is the same as the arrangements for people arriving from the Mainland.

Indonesia 

The Minister of Health (MOH) has declared under Decree No. HK.01.07/MENKES/239/2020 that it has approved the Governor of DKI Jakarta’s proposal to implement Large Scale Social Restrictions (LSSR) in the Jakarta area for the longest incubation period and is extendable if there is still evidence of the virus spreading. The MOH’s approval letter will be formally delivered to the Governor as of today and subsequently, the Governor is authorized to issue an implementing regulation for the LSSR. The Minister for the Utilization of Civil Servants and Bureaucratic Reform has issued Circular Letter No. 41 of 2020, which, among other things, prohibits civil servants and their families travelling outside the region and returning to their hometowns and urges those in their surrounding environment to do the same during the Ed-al Fitr Holidays or any other events which involves travelling outside of the region, until Indonesia is declared COVID-19 free. No prohibition is regulated for employees of private entities. The Head of the Capital Investment Coordinating Board (Badan Koordinasi Penanaman Modal – BKPM) has issued Decree No. 86 of 2020, on easing business licensing in certain business sectors (ie the medical device industry and the pharmaceutical industry) in relation to the handling of the Covid-19 outbreak including:

  • a reduction in or relief from business licensing requirements;
  • an acceleration in the business licensing procedure; and
  • the provision of special assistance services.
Japan 

In response to the announcement of the state of emergency that will be effective midnight April 8, the Tokyo governor has provided an overview of the emergency measure that will apply across the city. With respect to restricting the movement of people, the following measures have been announced: 

  • Residents are asked to stay at home except when it is necessary to leave the house (e.g. for any medical need, to buy food, and to travel for work purposes)
  • Businesses to be categorized into three groups:
    • Businesses that will be asked to close,  e.g. Universities, department stores, movie theaters,  gymnasiums and night club
    • Businesses that may be asked to close depending on the type of business e.g. primary school and high school will be asked to close.  Nursing facilities will be asked to set up prevention measures for COVID -19.  
    • Essential business: these business can continue to operate by setting up prevention measures for COVID -19 e.g. factories, hospitals, transportation service, restaurants,  government office, and financial institution. 

However, a more detailed categorization is currently the subject of consultation with the Japanese government, so the categories may change.    

Mauritius

In an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Mauritius, the government has extended the sanitary curfew until 15 April 2020.   This note addresses some common questions during this challenging situation. 

Read the briefing note by Jurisconsult Chambers here 

Mexico 

Further clarification of the scope of essential services:  On the afternoon of Monday 6 April 2020, the Ministry of Health published, in the Federal Official Gazette, technical guidelines to clarify certain activities considered as essential under the decree dated 31 March 2020, pursuant to which non-essential services were suspended.  

The scope of the following activities were clarified:

  1. “Activities that could have irreversible effects when suspended”: This refers to companies that produce steel, cement and glass; as well as companies providing information technology services to ensure the continuity of computer systems of the public, private and social sectors. In this regard, the companies that produce steel, cement and glass must maintain a minimum activity that avoids irreversible effects in their operation and must inform to the Ministry of the Economy, within a period not exceeding 24 hours as from the publication of the guidelines, the total number of workers that are essential for their purpose.   Companies that produce steel, cement and glass that have contracts in force with the Federal Government will continue with their activities to allow them to meet short-term commitments exclusively for the projects of Dos Bocas, Tren Maya, Felipe Angeles Airport and Corredor Transísmico; as well as their existing contracts, considered essential, for Petróleos Mexicanos and the Federal Electricity Commission.
  2. “Courier services”: These activities include companies and electronic commerce platforms. 
  3. “Activities necessary for the conservation, maintenance and repair of the critical infrastructure that ensures the production and distribution of essential services, as electricity”: It is provided that coal mines must maintain a minimum activity that meets the demand of the Federal Electricity Commission. For such effects, coal mines must inform to the Ministry of the Economy, within a period not exceeding 24 hours as from the publication of the guidelines, the total number of workers that are essential for such purpose.

Likewise, coal distribution companies must maintain their transport and logistics activities in order to satisfy the demand of the Federal Electricity Commission, employing a minimum number of workers for this purpose.    

Philippines 

The enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in force in the whole of Luzon, Philippines has been extended until April 30. Non-essential businesses have to remain closed. Public transportation is still suspended.

Spain 

The General Directorate of Employment of the Employment Ministry (Dirección General de Trabajo del Ministerio de Trabajo, Migraciones y Seguridad Social) has a issued a note in response to several questions made by CEOE (Spanish employers' organization), related to Covid-19 employment measures.

Taiwan 

The CECC (Centre for Disease Control) is urging everyone who visited crowded areas during the holiday to conduct self-health management (measuring and recording temperature twice daily, conducting social distancing and wearing masks when social distancing is impossible).

In addition to TRA, HSR and intercity buses, local transportation companies have also started issuing face mask mandates including the Taipei MRT and bus system. Fines of up to NT$ 15,000 will be given to people who do not wear masks on public transportation. Furthermore, food services on TRA and HSR were stopped. Finally, temperature checks will slowly be implemented on local public transportation as well.  The CECC announced a regulation requiring all vendors and service providers who deal with customers to wear face masks. The new regulation will be published in the next two to three days and may also require the general public to wear face masks at restaurants and at night and traditional markets.

The central government announced plans to extend its economic relief package for businesses and individuals to around NT$ 1 trillion.

COVID-19 government assistance for adversely affected, disadvantaged seniors and children will be extended with beneficiaries expected to receive NT$ 4,500 before the end of the month without the need for an application. The target group was also extended to include certain low and middle-income households not previously covered.

The CECC is recommending businesses who are unable to adhere to the social distancing guidelines to temporarily close. Currently, the social distancing guidelines are in phase one of implementation, with no fines imposed on violators. Depending on how the pandemic progresses in Taiwan, such businesses may face fines if they continue to be open and are unable to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

The CECC is also requiring individuals who completed 14-day home quarantine to undergo a subsequent seven day self-health management period to combat transmission by asymptomatic cases. This took effect on Sunday and applies to everybody who entered the country on or after March 19.

The ban on international transit through Taiwan was extended until April 30.

US

Over the past week, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has issued guidance with respect to the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) that was implemented as part of the recent CARES Act. The SBA’s guidance includes information with respect to the affiliation rule for purposes of determining employer eligibility of loans, as well as other information with respect to determining benefit eligibility and forgiveness.  

On April 6, 2020, OSHA issued a new poster highlighting infection prevention measures every employer can implement to protect workers’ safety and health during the coronavirus pandemic. Safety measures include encouraging sick workers to stay home; establishing flexible worksites and staggered work shifts; discouraging workers from using other workers’ phones, desks and other work equipment; and using Environmental Protection Agency-approved cleaning chemicals with label claims against the coronavirus.

On April 5, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) published Unemployment Insurance Program Letter 16-20 providing guidance to states for implementation of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Under PUA, individuals who do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation and are unable to continue working as a result of COVID-19 (e.g., self-employed workers, independent contractors, and gig workers) are eligible for PUA benefits. This provision is contained in Section 2102 of the newly enacted CARES Act. Similarly, on April 4, the DOL published its Unemployment Insurance Guidance Letter 15-20  providing guidance to states for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). Under FPUC, states will administer an additional $600 weekly payment to certain eligible individuals who are receiving other benefits.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that citizens should wear "non-medical, cloth masks" to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Previously, the CDC had recommended that only those with Covid-19 symptoms wear masks.

On April 1, 2020, the DOL released temporary regulations providing guidance on the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA created two new emergency paid leave requirements in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) entitles certain employees to take up to two weeks of paid sick leave. The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA), which amends the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. 2601 et seq. (FMLA), permits certain employees to take up to twelve weeks of expanded family and medical leave, ten of which are paid, for specified reasons related to COVID-19. See our alert summarizing key provisions and view DOL guidance here.

 

April 6 Update

Australia 

The Australian Government has made changes to some temporary visas to support essential industries during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Temporary Skilled Visa Holders: who have been stood down, but not laid off, will maintain their visa validity and businesses will have the opportunity to extend their visa as per normal arrangements.  Businesses will also be able to reduce the hours of the visa holder without the person being in breach of their visa condition.
  • Working Holiday Visa: working holiday makers who are working in “critical sectors” will be exempt from the six month work limitation with the one employer and eligible for a further visa to keep working in these critical sectors if their current visa is due to expire in the next six months.
  • International Students: international students are able to work up to 40 hours per fortnight.
  • New Zealanders who are on 444 visas and arrived before 26 February 2001 will have access to welfare payments and the JobKeeper payment. Those who arrived after 2001 have access to the JobKeeper payment. They do not have access to jobseeker or other welfare payments.
  • Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme: workers can extend their stay for up to 12 months to work for approved employers.

In the specific States/Territories:

  • NSW: The NSW Government has changed some details around gatherings:
    • Social distancing must still be observed in these instances.
    • Food auctions: People who are providing livestock or crops through auctions can now attend those auctions.
    • Truck drivers can now stop at truck stops. Previously, they had been closed.
    • Caravan parks throughout New South Wales can be used by overnight travellers and by people working in the local area, as well as people whose primary places of residence are temporarily unavailable.
    • Funerals: 10 people can now attend a funeral in NSW, in addition to funeral staff and minsters. Previously, it was a total of 10 people including staff.
    • The NSW Government is also making 21 TAFE courses fee-free.
  • Victoria: Victoria’s frontline health workers will have free hotel stays if they need to self-isolate during the coronavirus crisis. The State government will provide $20m to buy hotel rooms, enabling up to 8,000 frontline workers who may test positive for Covid-19 or have unexpected and unprotected contact with a suspected patient, to self-isolate, away from family and flatmates, at no cost. The service will be available to healthcare professionals and other workers such as cooks and cleaners who directly engage with patients.
  • Queensland: The Queensland Government is investing $17.5 million for accommodation for Queensland health staff that is close to their workplace.
Austria

Over the weekend, the Austrian government introduced a new law with the effect that employees who are identified as part of a “special risk group” must now work from home or where this is not possible must be placed on garden leave with full payments and the employer will be reimbursed by the government. 

Employees belonging to this special risk group will be identified by the obligatory health insurance authority in Austria and receive a notification to this effect.  With this notification, the employee must consult a doctor who then determines on a case by case basis whether or not the employee actually is exposed to a high risk at the workplace, and if so, provides the employee with a confirmation that must be presented to the employer.

Hong Kong 

The Inland Revenue Department announced that it has extended tax deadlines. The deadlines for tax payments and submission of objections and holdover applications as well as submission of tax returns and information that fall between March 23 and May 2 have been automatically extended to May 4. The department encouraged the public to use its electronic services to handle their tax affairs or send their documents to the department by post.

Hungary

The following new regulations shall be applicable as of 6 April:

  • the validity period of residence permits and permanent residence permits is automatically extended until the 45th day after the end of state of emergency;
  • masks and other protective equipment (originating from outside the EU) are exempt from customs and VAT if they are provided free of charge;
  • the prohibition for trucks (freight transportation) to operate at the weekends and on holidays is suspended.
India 

Gujarat: Labour and Employment department has:

  • ordered that due to the lockdown, the provisions of Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 and the Inter State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Condition of Service) Act, 1979 regarding license renewal shall not apply to contractors whose license renewal falls in the months of  March, April, and May 2020, up to 15 May 2020.
  • extended the due dates under the Factories Act 1948 for carrying out tests, examination and inspection up to 15 May 2020.

West Bengal: Pursuant to the MHA Order related to migrant workers, the Government of West Bengal has ordered that all the employers, be it of industries, shops, or commercial establishments, shall make payment of wages to their workers at the workplace on the due date, without any deduction for the period their establishment are closed during the lockdown.

Mumbai: Regional Provident Fund Commissioners in Mumbai (Kandivali, East) has ordered employers to make Provident Fund contributions for their employees on full wages on or before 15 April 2020. 

Indonesia 

The Governor of DKI Jakarta has issued Announcement No. 9 of 2020 on the Use of Masks to Prevent the Transmission of COVID-19. Under the Announcement, all DKI Jakarta citizens are called on to among others to always use a mask when engaging in activities or just being outside of their houses, without any exceptions, use double layered cloth masks that are washable and not buy or use medical masks and understand that these types of mask are prioritized for health workers.

The Minister of Tourism and Creative Economics has issued Circular Letter No. 2 of 2020 on Follow-up Calls on the Prevention of the Spread of Covid-19 (“Circular Letter 2/2020”). Under Circular Letter 2/2020, the Minister calls on all agencies in the economic and tourism sectors to among other things do the following:

  • ensure public awareness of the Standard Operating Procedure of a good business operation and according to the Minister of Health protocols, through among others, social media and print media;
  • make efforts to support the operation of businesses such as by purchasing catering from hotels and restaurants affected by the lack of tourists, to be distributed to families who work from home, underprivileged families and doctors and nurses in working hospitals;
  • apply prevention efforts so that businesses and industries do not terminate employees but do coordinate with their local Manpower offices (Dinas Ketenagakerjaan).
Malaysia 

The Government announces additional RM10 billion stimulus targeted at SMEs, in addition to the RM250 billion package announced at the end of March.

The highlight for employers is the increase in the wage subsidies. In the original programme, the government made available a wage subsidy of RM600 per month per employee for employers with a 50% drop in income since January 2020, up to a cap of 100 employees.

The following are the changes under the expanded wage subsidy programme: 

  1. Employee cap raised to 200 employees per employer. 
  2. For employers with more than 200 employees, wage subsidy of RM600 per employee per month for 3 months. 
  3. For employers with 76-200 employees, wage subsidy of RM800 per employee per month for 3 months.
  4. For employers with up to 76 employees, wage subsidy of RM1,200 per employee per month for 3 months. 
  5. Mandatory retention period of employees is increased to 6 months. 

The government also encouraged landlords to provide SME tenants with rental discounts of at least 30% for the April-June 2020 period, and announced that landlords would be given tax breaks for the amount of the reductions. COVID-19 deemed to be an occupational disease:  The Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) has announced that COVID-19 is deemed to be an occupational disease, as workers may be affected due to the nature of work which increases their infection risk (eg frontline healthcare workers), or may be affected because of exposure to infected persons while performing their work tasks. SOCSO therefore clarified that employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 and claim compensation from SOCSO.   Employees who have been infected out of and in the course of their employment would also be covered under the Employment Injury Scheme. Additionally, individuals who have been infected from other sources and sustain permanent disablement, injury, or death, would be entitled to compensation through the Invalidity Pension Scheme.

Netherlands 

As of 6 April 2020, it is possible for employers to apply for funding based on the NOW regulations. 

Read full details about the funding scheme, and how to apply, here (also mentioned in our 1 April update, below).  

Click here for an English version of the application questions.  Our Dutch team would be happy assist you in completing your application, speak to your normal contact or email [email protected]

Singapore

The Singapore Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced, on 3 April 2020, elevated measures meant to act as a circuit breaker to break the increasing trend of community spread of COVID-19 in Singapore by significantly reducing the movement of, and interaction between, people in public and private places. The measures will be put in place from 7 April 2020 to 4 May 2020, and may be further extended if necessary.

These measures will involve the closure of most physical workplace premises except for those providing essential services and in selected economic sectors which are critical for Singapore's local and the global supply chains.

Continue reading here for the key highlights of these measures relevant to the suspension of activities at workplaces.

South Africa 

The Information Regulator has issued a guidance note on the Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013 (POPIA). The guidance note outlines the conditions for lawful processing of personal information which public and private bodies and their operators must comply with when they process personal information, and the necessary limitations on the right to privacy in light of the need to effectively manage the spread of COVID-19 in South Africa.

Although all the provisions of POPIA are not yet in effect, the Regulator is encouraging proactive compliance with POPIA.

In the employment context, the guidance note provides that in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic an employer may request specific information on the health status of an employee and may compel an employee to undergo testing in order to comply with the obligation of an employer to maintain a safe working environment.

Spain 

The Spanish Government has announced that the state of emergency will be extended until April 26.  However, in principle, the restrictions on all non-essential activities are not due to be extended beyond April 9.

Royal Decree-Law 11/2020 of March 31, adopted urgent additional measures in the social and economic sphere to address COVID-19 and amends Royal Decree-Law 8/2020, of March 17, to correct and adjust a few issues that were unclear in the original decree-law.  The employment and labor measures introduced by Royal Decree-Law 11/2020, are as follows:

  1. Moratorium on contribution payments: The Social Security General Treasury is allowed to grant interest-free six-month moratoriums, to any companies and self-employed workers that so request and meet the requirements and conditions to be laid down in a ministerial order. The moratorium will last for the period between April and June 2020, in the case of companies, and in the case of self-employed workers, between May and July 2020, provided the activities they carry on have not been suspended by reason of the state of emergency.
  2. Deferral of contributions: Companies and self-employed workers, provided they do not have any other deferral in effect, may apply for deferred payment of their social security debts between April and June 2020 and 0.5% interest is applicable.
  3. Application of the undertaking to maintain employment to companies in the scenic arts, musicals, filmmaking and audiovisual sectors: The undertaking to maintain employment under Royal Decree-Law 8/2020 will be assessed by reference to the specific characteristics of the various sectors and the applicable labor and employment legislation, and consideration will be given to the specific characteristics of companies that have a high level of variation or seasonal changes in employment or a direct relationship with specific events or shows.  In particular, in the case of temporary contracts, the undertaking to maintain employment will not be considered to have been breached where the contract terminated due to expiry of the stipulated term or the completion of the project.
  4. Other employment and social security measures:
    1. An extraordinary subsidy for absence of activity is created for individuals under the special system for household workers and an exceptional unemployment benefit subsidy for temporary contracts that have come to an end.
    2. There are provisions on the benefit for sick leave (temporary incapacity) in the exceptional situation of complete confinement.
    3. The requirements for eligibility for the benefit for ceased operations are amended.
    4. The compatibility of the subsidy for the care of minors affected by cancer or other serious illnesses and the unemployment benefit or benefit for ceased operations while the state of alarm is in force.

Royal Decree-Law 10/2020, establishes the obligation to take recoverable paid leave, between March 30 and April 9 2020 (inclusive), for workers providing services at public and private companies and institutions, whose activities have not been halted by the declaration of the state of emergency.    Excluded from its scope of application are:

  1. Workers who provide services in sectors classed as essential in the annex to the royal decree-law.
  2. Workers who provide services in divisions or lines of production with activities classed as essential in the annex.
  3. Workers hired by (i) any companies that have applied for or are implementing a temporary layoff with suspension of contracts and (ii) any that have been authorized to carry out a temporary layoff with suspension of contracts while the recoverable paid leave is in place.
  4. Workers on sick leave or whose contracts have been suspended on any of the other grounds in the law.
  5. Workers who may continue carrying on their activities as normal by teleworking or using any remote working mechanism.

The terms of the recoverable paid leave are summarized below:

  1. Workers will retain entitled to the compensation they would have earned ordinarily, including basic salary and pay supplements.
  2. The recovery of working hours may take place between the day following the end of the state of emergency and December 31, 2020. This recovery must be negotiated in a consultation period commenced for this purpose between the company and the workers’ legal representatives, which is allowed to last for up to 7 days.
UAE 

Early Leave scheme for expats to leave UAE: The MOHRE (Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation) has just introduced an initiative to enable expatriate employees to leave the UAE and return to their home countries (“Early Leave”). This Early Leave will take the form of unpaid leave, provided that the employee’s other entitlements remain in place.

We understand that employers will be required to arrange for signature of a leave form available through the MOHRE website which will be temporarily added to the employee’s work contract and will specify the duration of the leave. At the moment it appears that employers will be responsible for funding a return ticket for the relevant employee(s), a copy of which the employee(s) will need to present as evidence to MOHRE. An employee’s leave will end once they are back in the UAE and all the precautionary measures and medical checks have been carried out upon their arrival. This initiative has only just been implemented and we await further guidance as to how this will work in practice.  

Increased movement restrictions have been introduced for employees in Dubai: Dubai has extended the nightly disinfection program to 24 hours a day from 8 pm on 4 April 2020.  Residents are permitted, singly, to make a trip for essential supplies such as medicine and food but should wear gloves and masks.   In Dubai this is supported by an online application for a movement permit. Employees working in certain sectors (full details here) are exempt from travel restrictions and may leave home to travel to work as required, but must retain their EID, a letter indicating the purpose of the travel and a copy of the relevant trade license which can be appended to the letter.  

This extension of the movement restrictions effectively prevents offices in Dubai that are running on a skeleton staff from remaining open and operating the 30% rule (20% under Dubai Economic Department guidance) unless they fall within the designated sectors and operations (the essential sectors are repeated under MOHRE legislation to alleviate the 30% rule).  The movement restrictions then operate in addition to the MOHRE guidance on workplace operations and effectively close all but essential support operations for the population in Dubai.  

Read full details in our alert here.  

UK

Immigration: The Home Office has now confirmed that the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) can apply to those sponsored under Tier 2. If a sponsored employee is placed onto the JRS, once the scheme has ended, the individual’s salary must return to the same level pre-furlough, as listed on their Certificate of Sponsorship.

Job Retention Scheme:  The Government has issued updated guidance on the JRS and ACAS has updated its Coronavirus advice for employers and employees. The updated guidance provides additional information and clarification which will be important for employers who are placing employees on furlough on a grant under the JRS.  Read further details in our alert here

 

April 3 Update 

Australia 

The Australian Government has expanded those able to conduct religious services over the Easter period. Places of worship are not open, but priests and others formally involved in conducting services will now be classified as essential workers.

The Australian Government is developing an industry code of practice for commercial tenancies that will be mandatory under state and territory laws. The Australian Government has provided some initial clarity that the code of practice will be mandatory where a commercial tenant has a turnover of less than $50 million and they are a participant in the JobKeeper program.

Local government workers are not eligible for the JobKeeper (wage subsidy) program. Any support necessary for those workers will be provided by state and territory governments.

ASIC has raised concerns regarding real estate agents who are advising tenants to apply for an early release of their superannuation if they are unable to pay their rent. They have advised that financial advice must only be provided by qualified and licensed financial advisers, not by real estate agents who neither hold the requisite licence, nor are an authorised representative of an Australian Financial Services Licensee. Real estate agents face fines of up to $126,000 for individuals or $1.26m for companies.

In the specific States/Territories:

  • NSW: The NSW Government has announced a $750 million small business support fund which will offer grants of up to $10,000 for eligible businesses. Eligible businesses will need to have between one and 19 employees, a turnover of more than $75,000 and a payroll below the payroll tax threshold of $900,000.
    • In NSW, rents for commercial tenants with fewer than 20 employees in government-owned properties have been suspended until the end of September.
  • ACT: The ACT Government will provide a land tax and residential rates rebate to landlords who reduce their rents by at least 25%. The government will provide a 50/50 matching arrangement with landlords where they will be provided with direct tax relief to the equivalent of around $100 per week, or $1,300 over the quarter. With landlords matching that, residential tenants are expected to save up to $200 a week in rent if they are impacted by COVID-19.   For commercial tenancies, depending on the level of hardship commercial tenants are facing, landlords will be eligible to apply for a waiver or rebate on their commercial rates, tied to the rental relief passed onto their tenants.
  • Queensland: The Queensland Government is providing relief for businesses who rent premises from the state government.
Brazil

Provisional Measure 936/2020 was published on April 2.  To maintain employment and income, guarantee continuity of business activities and soften the social impact of the crisis, the Emergency Employment and Income Maintenance Program was implemented that includes the following measures:

  • proportional reduction in working hours and wages, by 25%, 50%, or 70%, for up to ninety days;
  • temporary suspension of the employment contract for 60 days, which can be consecutive or split in 2 periods of 30 days, during which time the employer must maintain all benefits granted to its employees;
  • preservation of Employment and Income Benefit, all employees subject to reduced working hours or suspension of the employment contract will be entitled to the Benefit, which will be based on the monthly unemployment insurance amount that the employee would be entitled; and
  • Monthly Emergency Benefit in the amount of R$ 600,00, for a period of three months, for the employee with an intermittent employment contract signed until April 2nd, 2020.
Canada

British Columbia: The government of British Columbia has passed legislation protecting individuals from liability for damages resulting from an individual becoming infected by COVID-19 as a result of the person’s operating or providing an essential service, subject to certain restrictions and limitations

New Brunswick: The government of New Brunswick has extended the state of emergency in the province until April 16, 2020

Nunavut: The government of Nunavut has extended the public health emergency in the province until April 16, 2020

Saskatchewan: The government of Saskatchewan has passed a Self-isolation Support Program to provide financial assistance to employees and self-employed persons who are not eligible for direct support being provided as part of the Government of Canada’s support programs

France 

The maximum hours of partial activity have been increased up to 1,607 hours per year instead of 1,000 until now. Applicable until 31 December 2020.

Hungary 

The following new regulations are applicable as of 1 April:

  • The prime minister has announced that healthcare employees will receive an additional amount of approx. EUR 1,500 during this year
  • The details of the proposal of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry concerning the crisis management plan for the government has been issued and it contains the following:
    • Measurements for six sectors (i.e. financial, commercial, industrial sector, tourism and catering, traffic and logistics, food industry and agriculture)
    • Support of employees, e.g introduction of temporary part time work, salary subsidy from the state, exemption from the payment of income tax and other employment contributions
    • Reduction of the tax burden of the employers (e.g. exemption from local business tax, car tax, property tax)
    • Facilitation of the import of manpower and international freight traffic

The government is expected to issue its crisis management plan on 7 April.

Poland 

On 31 March, the Polish Parliament enacted a package of “anti-crisis shield” special acts introducing measures aimed at counteracting the adverse economic consequences of the pandemic, including key employment measures covering:

  • Subsidies during standstills and reductions of working time
  • Subsidies for micro, small and medium-sized employers
  • Changes to the rules medical examinations
  • Changes to the arrangements for flexible working time and less favorable conditions of employment
  • Changes concerning permits for overseas nationals. 

Read the full report, covering the significant employment and other measures here.

Portugal 

Following the renewal of the state of emergency, by Decree of the President no. 17-A / 2020, of 2 April, the Portuguese Government has approved a new set of measures to mitigate the risk of contagion and spread of the disease, through Decree no. 2-B / 2020, of April 2.

In relation to employment matters:

  • As a consequence of the limits on movement of citizens during the Easter period, which forbids circulation outside the municipality of residence between 9 and 13 April, employees who need to travel in the exercise of their duties must carry a statement issued by the employer certifying that they are performing their professional activities.
  • The powers of the Authority for Work Conditions have been reinforced, making it possible for a Labor Inspector, whenever there is evidence of an unlawful dismissal, to suspend the effects of the same, by written notification to the employer.
South Africa 

The Department of Employment and Labour has made a speech addressing employers who are not adhering to Coronavirus COVID-19 measures during the national lockdown.  The Department stated that it would be conducting inspections at various businesses and businesses may be shut down if it is found that employers are not complying with the health and safety standards set out in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the COVID-19 regulations.  Read the speech here.  

Ukraine

On 2 April, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine adopted Resolution No 255 which introduces new measures for prevention of spread of COVID-2019 across Ukraine (some of these measures and restrictions were previously introduced by local or regional state administrations). The Resolution comes into force from the date of its publication (as of today, 3 April, this has not yet been published).   The measures include the following (among others):

  • From April 6 to the end of quarantine (April 24, with the possibility of prolongation) it is prohibited:
    • to be in public places without a respirator or protective mas ;
    • to travel/walk in a group of more than two persons (exception are: service/official necessity and to accompany persons under 14 years old).
  • It is prohibited until the end of quarantine:
    • for persons under 14 years old, to stay in public places without the accompaniment of legal guardians;
    • visiting parks, squares, recreation areas, forest parks and coastal areas (exceptions are: service necessity and walking with pets (one person per pet));
    • visiting sports and playgrounds;
    • to carry out mass events  (exception: events necessary to ensure the work of state authorities and local self-government bodies);
    • visiting institutions and facilities providing palliative care, social protection, social services to families/persons that are in difficult life situations and institutions and facilities accommodating: children, elderly citizens, war and labour veterans, persons with disabilities and other persons in accordance with the law (exception: visiting is allowed to institutions and facilities providing emergency help);
    • to be on the street without identification documents (passport, driver license), or documents confirming special status (residency permits);
    • leave places of observation (isolation).
  • The activities of those businesses that may operate during quarantine has been extended. Among others, operations may now continue for:
    • businesses that sale parts for vehicles including for agricultural machinery;
    • financial institutions.
  • Self-isolation and hospitalization procedures due to COVID-2019 have been adopted;
  • For all businesses which are allowed to continue operations, it is recommended:
    • to introduce shift work of and/or remote work in real time via the Internet;
    • to keep distance not less than 1.5 metres in the checkout and cash desk areas between persons (except for the buyer and cashier) and/or install appropriate safety screens between buyer and cashier;
    • to maintain a distance of at least 1.5 metres between visitors who are waiting for permission to enter the premises;
    • companies, that may carry out activities according to the Resolution of Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, may introduce round-the-clock and/or extended regime (schedule) of work without separate agreement on such regime
US 

On April 1, 2020, the National Labor Relations Board announced that it would not extend the two-week moratorium on elections, and that elections will resume at the NLRB on April 6, 2020. The temporary suspension of board-conducted elections was ordered on March 19 in view of the “extraordinary circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

States continue to issue stay-at-home / shelter-in-place order, with new orders in Florida, Georgia and Mississippi, for example, scheduled to take effect on April 3, 2020. Our Knowledge group is tracking state and local COVID-19 orders, currently numbering over 1,400. For additional details or if you have any questions regarding federal, state or local requirements and their implications, please contact any member of the DLA Piper US Employment group, your DLA Piper relationship attorney, or email [email protected]

 

April 2 Update 

Argentina 

On April 1, Decree 332/2020 created a Work and Production Emergency Assistance Program for employers and employees hit by the health emergency, which consists of the following benefits:

  • Deferment or reduction of up to 95% of contributions to the Social Security System. This benefit is only applicable for employers with up to 60 workers. Where this limit is exceeded, a Preventative Crisis Procedure will apply (this is an economic assistance program for companies that due to lack of work or force majeure reasons needs to dismiss 10%, 15% o 5% of their workers (percentages depends on total headcount)).
  • Compensatory wage paid by the National Government for private sector under the terms of Law No. 14,250 (as amended), for companies with up to 100 workers.  The Decree establishes certain standards and criteria to determine the amount of this payment (section 8).
  • Additionally, a non-contributory sum in respect of the social security system will be paid (REPRO Health Emergency Assistance). This benefit will have a minimum of $6,000 and a maximum of $10,000.
  • Comprehensive system of unemployment benefits: workers who meet the requirements set out in Laws Nos. 24,013 and 25,371 will have access to unemployment benefits in accordance with the considerations set out in article 11 of the law.

Some workers / activities are excluded from the benefits set out in this Decree including essential activities and workers.

Australia 

The Australian Government has announced $1.6 billion in funding to provide free childcare for the next six months. Priority will be given to parents who have an essential job (anyone still working) or those in the vulnerable category. The money will be paid to the centres (50% of the childcare centre fees, plus the aforementioned JobKeeper wage subsidy). The funding will apply from 6 April and after-school care and vacation care should also be covered.

The Fair Work Commission, Australia’s national workplace relations tribunal, has moved on its own initiative to introduce two weeks' unpaid "pandemic leave" for millions of award-covered workers who are required to self-isolate. It is also proposing to allow employers and award-covered employees to agree to take up to twice as much annual leave at half the rate of pay.

In the specific States:

  • WA has announced that from 11:59pm on Sunday 5 April, there will be a hard border closure into WA. A number of specific exemptions will be implemented:
    • The exemptions are currently being finalised but they will include people who perform work functions like health services, emergency services workers, transport, freight and logistics, specialist skills not available in WA, national or state security and governance, and courts and judicial services.
    • There will also be exemptions for fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers and their families. However, strict 14-day self-isolation measures will need to be followed when they first enter Western Australia.
  • Tasmania has restricted greyhound and horse racing immediately, while TAB and U-Bet stores will be forced to close from 6pm tomorrow night. Garage sales and sex work will also be banned from tomorrow evening. Farmers markets can continue but stallholders will only be allowed to sell fresh produce, meaning food trucks will be banned.
  • NSW
    • The NSW Government has called on local manufacturers will redeploy spare capacity to manufacture medical equipment and hygiene products that are urgently needed. Businesses can register their interest to manufacture urgently needed goods via the NSW Covid-19 Emergency Supplies registration portal.
    • The NSW Police Commissioner says NSW’s coronavirus social-distancing laws will last for 90 days.
    • New rules have been introduced to allow construction sites to operate on weekends and public holidays.
Canada 

Canada

  • The Minister of Finance has provided limited additional guidance regarding the government’s proposed 75% wage subsidy, and Parliament has been recalled to consider those measures. Read more here

British Columbia

  • The British Columbia government has extended the state of emergency in the provide through April 14, 2020
  • WorkSafeBC published its guide to assist employers with preventing ‎exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. Read more here. 

Ontario

  • The City of Toronto introduced additional penalties and tougher guidelines for physical distancing.
  • The Ontario government has proposed to adjust the list of essential businesses that are permitted to continue operations, with a view to expanding the number of workplace closures.
  • The Prince Edward Island government has ordered self-isolation for 14 days for those infected with COVID-19, those who have come into close contact with someone infected with COVID-19, those who are experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, and others

Quebec

  • The Quebec government announced restricted access to four (4) more regions across Quebec, bringing the total to 12.
  • The Quebec government has extended the public health emergency until April 7, 2020
EU wide 

The European Commission has set out a measure for temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE), designed to help protect jobs and workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The EU measure is designed to provide financial assistance, in the form of loans from the EU to Member States, of up to EUR 100 billion in total. These loans will help Member States address sudden increases in public expenditure to preserve employment by covering the costs directly related to the creation or extension of national short-time work schemes, and other similar measures in place for the self-employed as a response to the current coronavirus pandemic.

Following a request by a Member State for financial assistance, the Commission would consult the Member State to verify the extent of the increase in public expenditure that is directly related to the creation or extension of short-time work schemes and similar measures for self-employed. This consultation will help the Commission to properly evaluate the terms of the loan, including the amount, the maximum average maturity, pricing, and the technical modalities for implementation.  On the basis of the consultation, the Commission would present a proposal for a decision to the Council to provide financial assistance.  Once approved, the financial assistance will take the form of a loan from the European Union to the Member State requesting support.

The Commission's proposal for a SURE instrument will need to be approved by the European Council of Ministers.

This measure will be temporary, its duration and scope limited to tackling the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

SURE factsheet 

SURE Q&A 

France 

A new raft of executive orders dated 1 April 2020 has been published today: 

  • Executive order with emergency measures regarding staff representatives: 
    • extending the deadline to elect the CSE
    • allowing meetings with the CSE by teleconference, videoconference or instant-messaging
    • providing the ability to inform the CSE about imposed paid leaves and RTT granted by the Order of 25 March at the same time as the implementation of such measures and then consult with the CSE within the next month 
  • Executive order amending the deadline and the conditions to pay the exceptional bonus of EUR 1,000 net (up to 31 August 2020 instead of 30 June 2020)
  • Executive order relating to the postponement of the ballot to measure the representation of trade unions in companies with fewer than 11 employees and to the extension of the mandates of the Labour Courts’ judges
  • Executive order adapting the performance of the tasks of the occupational health services to health emergencies and amending the system of prior applications for partial activity authorizations
Hungary 

The following new regulations are applicable as of 2 April:

  • As of today, foreign citizens are not permitted to enter the territory of Hungary via passenger transportation (excluding freight transport; under individual exemption by the police; the duration of transit for citizens of a neighboring countries; humanitarian purposes);
  • healthcare professionals, government officials, police, tax & customs and army personnel are not authorized to leave the country without the express approval of the relevant Minister;
  • the National Bank of Hungary paid dividends to the Hungarian state in the amount of ca. HUF 250 billion (ca. EUR 688 million) which gives more room for maneuver for the Government against the COVID-19 pandemic.
India 

The Home Secretary has requested all states and union territories to strictly implement the MHA order and allow only the exempted services (as mentioned in the MHA guidelines - see earlier updates, below) to operate during the period of lockdown.

Pursuant to the MHA order related to exodus of migrant workers, the Revenue & Disaster Management Department in Chennai has ordered inter-alia that, all employers of industries as well as shops and commercial establishments shall make payment of wages (without any deduction) to their workers at the workplace, for the period their establishment are under closure during the lockdown.

Indonesia 

The Minister of Law and Human Rights has issued Regulation No.11 of 2020 on Temporary Restrictions on Foreigners Entering the Territory of the Republic of Indonesia (MOLHR Reg 11/2020).  MOLHR Reg 11/2020 temporarily prohibits foreigners from entering or transiting through Indonesian territory. The prohibition does not apply to:

  • foreigners holding a Limited Stay Permit or Permanent Stay Permit;
  • foreigners holding a Diplomatic Visa or Official Visa;
  • foreigners holding a Diplomatic Stay Permit or Official Stay Permit;
  • those entering for medical aid and medical support, food and humanitarian reasons;
  • conveyance crews; and
  • foreigners who will work on national strategic projects.

The above foreigners may enter Indonesia if they satisfy the following requirements:

  • a health certificate in English from the health authority of their country;
  • they are coming from a region or country which has been free from the COVID-19 virus for 14 (fourteen) days; and
  • a statement of willingness to enter quarantine for 14 (fourteen) days imposed by the government of the Republic of Indonesia.

Foreigners who hold a Visit Permit that has expired and cannot be extended, are granted an emergency Stay Permit automatically without submitting an application to the Immigration office. Meanwhile foreigners who hold a Limited Stay Permit or Permanent Stay Permit that has expired and cannot be extended, are being granted an emergency Stay Permit automatically without submitting an application to the Immigration office.

Malaysia 

The Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures Within Infected Local Areas)(No. 2) Regulations 2020 have been gazetted. These Regulations will have effect during the extended MCO period from 1-14 April 2020.  One major change from the initial MCO period is that during the extended MCO period any movement is limited to a radius of 10 kilometres from a person’s residence. Movements for the performance of official duties or in relation to essential services are exempted, but the employer must provide an authorisation letter.  The definition of “essential” services has also been updated to the following services (including activities and processes in the supply chain of such services):

  • Food 
  • Water 
  • Energy 
  • Communication and internet 
  • Security and defense 
  • Solid waste and public cleaning management and sewerage 
  • Healthcare and medical including dietary supplement 
  • Banking and finance 
  • E-commerce 
  • Logistics confined to the provision of essential services.

Mandatory quarantine at government facilities from 3 April From 3 April 2020, all entrants to Malaysia (including citizens, foreigners with long-term visas, and diplomats and diplomatic and consular staff) at all entry-points will be sent to designated government quarantine centres for a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

New Zealand

New Zealand has just completed week 1 of a 4 week (extendable) lockdown under Alert Level 4.

 

The Wage Subsidy - see below - was modified on 27 March to include the previously distinct Leave Scheme.  The criteria now requires that businesses must retain employees who are named in the application for the Wage Subsidy for the period of the Subsidy.  

 

The Wage Subsidy is to support businesses that face laying off staff or reducing hours because of COVID-19.  Employers who claim the Wage Subsidy will have their details published. 

To qualify for the wage subsidy:

  • the business must be registered and operating in New Zealand;
  • employees must be legally working in New Zealand;
  • the business must have experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue over the period of a month when compared with the same month last year, and that decline is related to COVID-19;
  • the business must have taken active steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19; and
  • the business must retain the employees named in the application for the period of the subsidy.

The COVID-19 Wage Subsidy will be paid at a flat rate of:

  • $585.80 for people working 20 hours or more per week
  • $350.00 for people working less than 20 hours per week.

This will be paid as a lump sum and covers 12 weeks per employee. This means NZ$7,029.60 for a full-time employee and NZ$4,200 for a part time employee. Businesses accessing the Wage Subsidy scheme must undertake 'best endeavours' to pay employees 80% of their pre-Covid-19 incomes, and the subsidy can assist with this.  The subsidy is for wages only and at least the full amount of the subsidy is to be passed on to employees. It is to help keep staff employed while you are considering changes the business may need to make while the disruption continues, and to ensure future viability of the business. The original proposal capped the maximum payment to an employer at NZ$150,000 but that cap has now been removed.

The $6.25 billion Business Finance Guarantee Scheme was launched on 2 April, providing loans of up to $500,000 for businesses with annual revenues between $250,000 and $80 million, for up to three years – 80% guaranteed by the Government.

Singapore 

The Singapore Government implemented the Infectious Diseases (Workplace Measures to Prevent Spread of COVID-19) Regulations 2020 on 1 April.  The Regulations mandate that from 2 April 2020 to 30 April 2020 (inclusive) employers must:

  • provide the facilities necessary for every worker of an employer or a principal, each as the case may be, to work in the worker’s place of residence in Singapore; and
  • direct every worker to work in the worker’s residence in Singapore,

unless it is not reasonably practicable to do so.

The Regulations also include strict obligations on employers in relation to workers who attend a workplace, including obligations in terms of social distancing, managing employees and visitors with symptoms, temperature checks, ventilation of the workplace and maintaining contact details of all who enter the workplace to enable contact tracing to take place, among other things. 

Read full details here. 

Any person who contravenes the requirements may be subject to a penalty on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both.

We recommend that employers immediately implement the measures set out above to minimize any risks of penalties being imposed, particularly given that the Ministry of Manpower may also issue stop work orders in the event of any non-compliance. 

Ukraine 

On the night of 1 April, the Ukrainian President signed Law 3275, which introduces the following key measures related to employment issues:

  • For the period of quarantine announced by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine where employers have to introduce temporary layoff, employees shall be entitled to at least two thirds of normal salary; 
  • The Labour Code has been amended (permanently) to include new working regimes: flexible working hours and remote (home) work. For remote working, a written form of labour agreement is mandatory (there were no specific provisions on this in the law up to now);
  • However, in the event of a threat of epidemic, pandemic and/or military, technological or similar nature, remote (home) working regime may be established by the employer by its executive order with no need to execute a written employment agreement;
  • The duration of the term to bring a claim in labour disputes has been extended for the period of quarantine;
  • Registration of a person as unemployed and payment of unemployment benefit takes place from the first day of that person’s application to the appropriate authority;
  • Quarantine measures are a reason for receiving partial unemployment benefit for employers from the State Fund of Compulsory State Social Insurance in Case of Unemployment based on decision of State Employment Service of Ukraine (full details are not yet available);
  • Until expiration of quarantine, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine may suspend the issuance of work permits, in certain regions of Ukraine or for certain types of businesses.
US

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “FFCRA”) takes effect on April 1, 2020. The Act generally requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide all employees, regardless of their tenure with the company, with 10 days of paid sick leave if an employee is “unable to work (or telework)” due to enumerated COVID-19-related reasons. Read our alert here for more details about employee entitlements, rate of compensation, posting requirements, COVID-related paid FMLA leave to care for a child, and available employer payroll tax credits. You can find further guidance and materials issued by the Department of Labor at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/.  Finally, on April 1, 2020, the US Department of Labor announced a temporary rule issuing regulations pursuant to the FFCRA.

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Public Law 116-136, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act, which is likely to provide significant relief to small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses. The legislation will offer new small business assistance loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, provide for modifications to the SBA 7(a) loan program and support grants to organizations assisting small businesses affected by COVID-19.  Read more about the Act or view / register for webinars by visiting our Coronavirus Resource Center.

Numerous jurisdictions and governmental/judicial agencies have issued thousands of laws, orders, regulations and guidance related to COVID-19, including stay-at-home / shelter in place directives and information regarding operations of state and federal courts, and these numbers are growing daily.  The firm’s Knowledge Department has created a state and local COVID-19 resource site which includes a database covering all 50 states plus DC and Puerto Rico and over 1,400 different orders. The database is sortable by state, information type, topic, sector and date.  For additional details or if you have any questions regarding these new requirements and their implications, please contact any member of the DLA Piper US Employment group, your DLA Piper relationship attorney, or email [email protected].

 

April 1 Update 

Argentina 

Argentina is under mandatory lockdown and isolation as of March 20.  On March 29, lockdown was extended to April 11.   Individuals must now remain in their houses.  During the mandatory isolation period, employees are exempted from attending their workplace, except for the activities considered essential (full list here). 

The Security Ministry has been instructed to ensure that people who continue to work comply with the distance and isolation measures issued, and it has also been empowered to refrain and give notice to the corresponding authorities in accordance with sections 205, 239 and related of the Criminal Code.

Crowded events are banned. Non-essential activities or business shall close their doors until the mandatory isolation period is over.

The Labor, Employment and Social Security Ministry has issued guidelines to ensure proper implementation of the isolation and social distancing program, as follows:

  • Employees are exempt from attending their workplace and may work remotely from their place of isolation - when possible. Employees who are able to work from their place of isolation, are entitled to full salary.  Employees who are unable to perform their activities remotely, will be entitled to receive a non-remunerative basic amount, which will not be taken into account for the purposes of social security contributions.

With respect to workers unable to perform tasks during isolation, employers shall not withhold, contribute or pay contributions, except for:

  1. Contributions and payments to the National Health Insurance System (Obra Social):
  2. Employer: 6%.
  3. Worker: 3%
  4. Contributions to the INSSJP
  5. Employer: 1.58%.
  6. Worker: 3%

Tax authorities (AFIP) shall provide the necessary measures to verify the correct implementation of this provision.

  • Employees performing the activities described as essential will be consider as “essential staff”.
  • The reorganization of working schedules for the purpose of ensuring the continuity of essential activities under adequate health conditions -in line with the protocols established by the health authority- shall be considered as a reasonable exercise of the employer's powers. Likewise, the need to hire personnel within the mandatory isolation period must be considered extraordinary and temporary, according to section 99 of the Labor Contract Law (temporary employment contract). Salaries of those workers hired within this period will have a 95% reduction of the proportion provided for in section 19 of Law No. 27,541 (employer contributions) that is allocated to the Argentine Integrated Social Security System.

On March 31, the National Government banned wrongful and lack of work dismissals for a 60-day period. Also, employee suspensions based on force majeure reasons or lack or reduction of work have been banned for 60 days. Bear in mind that any dismissal or suspension violating dispositions herein will be null.

Given that public circulation is restricted, employees can only attend to their workplaces with an authorization issued by the National Government only for those individuals excluded from mandatory isolation (Decree No. 320/2020).  

  • Also, it has been recently issued the following provisions: Eviction proceedings have been called off until September 30.
  • The validity of lease agreements expiring within March 20 and September 29, is extended until 30 September.
  • Lease prices will be freeze until September 30. Within this period tenant shall pay the price set as of March 2020, and any differences with the lease stipulated amount, will be paid by the tenant in 3 or 4 installments since October 2020.

Accordingly, travel restrictions have been set out for a 15-day period.

Australia

The Government has taken further action to stop hoarding and profiteering of essential goods. This enables the Australian Border Force to require that goods already in their custody be surrendered for provision to the National Medical Stockpile, or destruction if the goods are defective. The Government has also determined a requirement that stops price gouging, by preventing people who have purchased essential goods at retail to on-sell them at extortionate prices, which is set at 120% of the price for which they were purchased.

The Government has also created a $170m support package for freight exporters. Under the deal the government will fly the freight out of Australia and fly medical equipment back in to Australia. The support package includes $110 million to coordinate flights from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth to deliver fresh produce to China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

States have introduced tougher restrictions on the movement of people.

  • Queensland will toughen its border shutdown laws from 12.01am Friday, April 3, 2020, barring all non-Queenslanders from entering the state unless they have been granted an exception. Under the previous rules, people could cross the border provided they self-isolated for 14 days afterwards.
  • WA is now also limiting indoor and outdoor gatherings to 2 persons only (with certain exceptions).
  • Victorian children living in state care have been temporarily banned from visiting their families due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Australian Securities Exchange has released a listings compliance update in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, suggesting that all listed entities should update or withdraw earnings guidance where necessary.

Canada

Manitoba

  • Announced the closure of non-essential services from April 1 to April 14, 2020
  • Announced it is amending its Employment Standards Regulation to temporarily suspend the 8 out of 16 week threshold for layoffs to be deemed terminations. This applies to layoffs occurring after March 1.

Ontario

  • The orders declaring a public emergency, prohibiting certain public events, and requiring the closure of certain establishments have been renewed until April 13, 2020 (from March 31, 2020)

Quebec

  • The order declaring a health emergency in Quebec has been renewed until April 7, 2020 (from March 29, 2020)
Chile 

On 31 March, the Congress approved a bill to protect employee's jobs. This bill is expected to be enacted immediately by the Government. This law authorizes the following regime:

  1. General suspension of employment agreements in sectors in which the authority has declared a shutdown which impedes the parties to comply with the obligations of the employment agreement (not applicable for companies that can provide home working).  In these cases the company remains obliged to contribute to social security and the employee receives the benefits of the unemployment insurance.  Employees who have agreed the continuity of the employment agreement with payment of all or part of salary, do not qualify for this benefit.
  2. Authorization to suspend the employment agreement by mutual consent of the company and each employee, prior consultation to unions, in case the company has suffered an impact due to the crisis.  This can be agreed at any time, except when the shutdown has been declared, and at that moment, the employees become entitled to receive the benefits of the unemployment insurance while the company remains obliged to contribute to social security.
  3. Companies that are going through verifiable financial hardships, are authorized to agree with its employees, prior consultation to unions, a reduction of working time and wages, of up to 50%, and at the same time, entitle employees to receive benefits of the unemployment insurance.
  4. The Law prohibits termination of employment agreements invoking force majeure for the Covid-19 crisis.  Also the Law allows the reversal, by mutual agreement of the parties, of any termination of the employment agreement executed after March 19 and up to the day of enforcement of the law.

The regime in 1. and 2. will be applicable for 6 months after the enactment of the law and 3. for a maximum term of 5 months.

The bill on telework (Law 21,220) comes into force today.  For more details, see the 31 March update for Chile, below.  

Colombia 

The government has issued new rules on entitlement to employment benefits for employees whose income has been reduced / employment terminated as a result of the pandemic. 

Decree 488 of 2020 sets out the general rules for these benefits (Spanish). 

External Circular 13 sets out the withdrawal of annual severance (Spanish). 

Resolution 853 sets out the rules for unemployment protection benefit (Spanish).  

EU wide  The European Commission announced today that it has developed a concept of short-time work to help companies keep their workers and allow them to go back to full work as soon as the lockdown is over. This initiative is intended to help the countries the most hit by the pandemic.  More details are expected on Thursday, 2 April.  
Germany 

Around 500,000 companies have applied for short time work in March: 20 times more in the record month during the financial crisis in 2008.  

On April 1, the Federal Ministry of Economics announced a new package of measures to support start-ups in the corona crisis. The package of measures will include in particular the following elements, which will be implemented gradually:

  • Strengthening venture capital investors (at fund level) to provide additional capital to portfolio companies facing liquidity constraints.
  • Support of financing rounds for defaulting fund investors ("secondary market").
  • Support of young start-ups without venture capitalists in the shareholder circle and small medium-sized enterprises.
Hong Kong 

All beauty parlours, clubhouses, nightclubs karaoke, mahjong tin-kau and karaoke establishments are temporarily closed for 14 days from 6pm on 1 April.

Retail: The government will verify the details of businesses applying for the Retail Sector Subsidy Scheme under the Anti-epidemic Fund. Applicants’ businesses should also have commenced before January 1. It will examine the business registration certificates and other supporting documents submitted by the applicants, including a recent photograph of the shopfront, a rental receipt and a water or electricity bill to consider whether an application is eligible. It will not make a decision solely based on the nature of business, as stated in the business registration certificate. Additionally, the Government will verify the business registration information submitted by the applicants with the administrative records from the Business Registration Office. Construction:  The anti-epidemic fund broadens its scope to support the construction industry, allowing workers in the industry and related companies to receive subsidies under the influence of the epidemic to meet the additional costs of strengthening epidemic prevention equipment. Under the new arrangement,  minor works outside the construction site, such as decoration, repair and maintenance, and for a specified period of time as registered construction workers under the Construction Workers Registration Ordinance, and companies under professional societies or associations Small and medium engineering consulting companies on the membership list are covered.   Eligible workers will receive $1,000 each, while qualified consultants will receive $ 20,000 each. The new arrangement is expected to benefit about 240,000 additional construction workers and about 400 small and medium-sized consultants. The implementation details will be announced shortly.

Hungary 

The following new regulations are applicable as of 1 April:

  • Details of the Government Decree on judicial vacations (which also affects the proceedings in front of the Labour Courts) have been issued today and in addition to the extension of deadlines, it contains the following:
    • No court hearings will be held during the preparatory phase
    • Audio and video court hearings will be held during the merit phase
    • The parties cannot request court hearings during appeal procedures
    • Simplified rules for petitions in case the party who acts without legal representative
  • The Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry proposed a crisis management plan for the government, including e.g. the following: job search allowance for longer period, working capital loans for enterprises, divided payment of the employment related contribution and taxes (between employers, employees and the state). It is expected that these proposals may be included in the crises management plan of the government which will be issued next week.  
  • According to the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the publication of the age, sex and underlying chronic diseases of deceased coronavirus victims is unlawful as the victims may be identified.  
India 

Due to COVID-19 and the lockdown order, many migrant workers have been returning to their homes in different cities / States. This was resulting in overcrowding of bus terminals, railway stations, etc. To mitigate the risk of disease transmission, the MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) has issued an advisory to the district administration on the manner of handling quarantine of migrant workers who are at different stages of their travel back home.     

The Ministry of Tourism has launched an online portal to support the foreign tourists stranded in India due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The portal can be accessed here- http://strandedinindia.com/.      

Haryana: The Chief Minister of Haryana has requested all industrialists & entrepreneurs of the state to not retrench or remove any employee for their absence during the period of lockdown, and give them 15 days of salary/wages in advance to take care of their daily needs.   

Bangalore:  Under the lockdown ordered by the MHA (until 14 April 2020), the Police Department in Bangalore has ordered all ‘commercial and private establishments’ and industrial establishments to be closed down till 14 April 2020. However, some exceptions are provided for essential services, which includes inter-alia- ration shops; banks, insurance offices and ATM’s etc; print and electronic media, telecommunications, internet services, broadcasting and cable services, IT/ITES services (which are required only for essential services), manufacturing units of essential commodities (such as, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals and the like), production units which require a continuous services (subject to State government approval), etc.

Ahmedabad:  Under the MHA order, the authorities in Ahmedabad have further extended the lockdown and ordered the closure of all public places till 14 April 2020.   

Indonesia 

The Indonesian Government has issued Government Regulation No. 21 of 2020 on Large Scale Social Restrictions in Order to Accelerate the Handling of COVID-19 (“GR 21/2020”).  Large Scale Social Restrictions are defined as restrictions on certain activities to prevent the further spread of COVID-19,  including :

  • school and work days off;
  • restrictions on religious activities; and
  • restrictions on activities in public places and facilities

The enforcement of large scale social restrictions should be recommended by the governor/regent/mayor and determined by the Minister of Health, while taking into account the considerations of the Head of the Task Force for the Acceleration of COVID-19 Management.

The Government has also issued Presidential Regulation No.11 of 2020 on the Declaration of a Public Health Emergency due to COVID-19, which among others declares the following:

  • COVID-19 a disease causing a public health emergency;
  • a public health emergency due to COVID-19 as a management effort in accordance with the prevailing laws and regulations.      
Malaysia 

Under the Movement Control Order (MCO), the following employment measures have been announced:

  • Employers must continue to pay all wages and fixed allowances during the extended MCO period, unless allowances are related to work attendance or travel.
  • Employers cannot impose mandatory annual leave. Employers can offer employees the option of taking paid leave, partially-paid leave, or unpaid leave, but this can only be done with employee consent.
  • Employers are not prohibited from carrying out retrenchments, as it remains within the prerogative of the employers to do so. However, any such action must be genuine and fair. Employers will continue to be bound by applicable legal principles in relation to retrenchments, and must notify the labour office 30 days before the termination date.
  • If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, the employer must order all employees who were in close contact with the infected person to self-quarantine at home for 14 days. The employer must find out from the infected employee which colleagues s/he came in close contact with. Employers must carry out a disinfection of the work premises.
  • If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, the employer can place the other employees on paid leave. This cannot be taken from their annual leave entitlements, and cannot be unpaid leave.   
Mexico 

The Decree announcing the state of emergency sets out the following:

  1. The immediate suspension from March 30 to April 30 of non-essential activities in the public, social and private sectors.
  2. Only the following activities may continue to function:
    1. those activities that are necessary to attend the health emergency such as labor activities related to medical, paramedical, administrative and support of the National Health System, as well as those that feed, support and supply such activities, including pharmaceutical, (production and distribution); manufacturing of material, medical equipment and health technologies, hazardous residues and cleaning and sanitizing of medical units at all levels;
    2. public security and protection, legislative and judicial activities;
    3. financial activities, energy, gas, gasoline, distribution of water, food and nonalcoholic beverages, and food markets,
    4. telecommunication and information; messenger services, transportation (air, water and road) as well as those activities that its suspension may have irreversible effects to its ongoing.
  3. In places where activities are considered essential, there are restrictions of gathering more than 650 persons.
  4. Those who do not work in essential activities are to stay at home until April 30th.
  5. People over 60 years or more, or other groups at risk such as pregnant or breastfeeding women, disabled persons, persons with chronic diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, immunosuppression, should not attend to work even if they work in essential sectors.
  6. The Ministry of Labour will determine a phased return to work activities after 30 April.
  7. Censuses involving physical interaction are suspended
  8. All these measures will be conducted respecting human rights.
Morocco 

The Moroccan entity in charge of social security (CNSS) has issued today a press release to inform employers about the deadline for registration of employees, who are temporarily not working, on the portal covid19.cnss.ma, which is:  3 April 2020 at 23:59.   Registration is necessary to permit employees to benefit from compensation relating to March 2020.

Registration of employees who are temporarily not working relating to April will begin on 10 April 2020.

Netherlands 

On 31 March, the Dutch government published details of the new regulations on short-time working (‘NOW-regulations’), through which employers who experience a loss in turnover of at least 20% during a consecutive period of 3 months in the period from 1 March to 31 July 2020, may receive government funding for their salary costs.

If there is a loss of turnover during that period, employers will receive government funding for up to 90% of their salary costs over 1 March to 31 May 2020 (up to a maximum amount, see below).

Before 1 June 2020, the Dutch government will decide on the possibility to request a 3-month extension of the government funding.  Specific details have not been published yet.

Read full details of the scheme here.  

Philippines 

Labor Advisory No. 13-A dated 1 April 2020 clarifies Labor Advisory No. 13.

Payment of holiday pay under Labor Advisory No. 13 is deferred until the emergency situation has abated and normal operations of the establishment resumed.   Businesses that have totally closed or ceased operations are exempt from payment of the holiday pay.

Taiwan 

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications has issued a facemask mandate for all trains and intercity buses starting today. This affects both high speed rail (HSR) and regular trains (TRA). They have started taking temperatures at all HSR and TRA stations as well as many intercity bus stations.             

UAE 

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) has issued a new Ministerial Resolution (No. 279 of 2020) (Resolution) containing guidance for onshore based employers as to employment related measures they can take in response to the global Covid-19 outbreak, including in relation to paid leave, unpaid leave, reductions in salary and redundancies. The Resolution is effective 26 March 2020 and the measures introduced will remain in place while other precautionary measures in relation to Covid-19 remain active.

It remains to be seen whether similar guidance will be issued across the various free zones in the UAE. Importantly, the provisions of the Resolution only apply to non-national employees, who are not afforded the same protections as UAE nationals under existing UAE legislation. 

Read full details of the guidance here

US

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Public Law 116-136, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act, which is likely to provide significant relief to small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses. The legislation will offer new small business assistance loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, provide for modifications to the SBA 7(a) loan program and support grants to organizations assisting small businesses affected by COVID-19.  Read more about the Act or view / register for webinars by visiting our Coronavirus Resource Center.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “FFCRA”) takes effect on April 1, 2020. The Act generally requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide all employees, regardless of their tenure with the company, with 10 days of paid sick leave if an employee is “unable to work (or telework)” due to enumerated COVID-19-related reasons. Read our alert here for more details about employee entitlements, rate of compensation, posting requirements, COVID-related paid FMLA leave to care for a child, and available employer payroll tax credits. You can find additional guidance and materials issued by the Department of Labor at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/

 

March 31 Update 

Australia 

The Australian Government has also introduced a partnership with the States and private hospitals, assisting to integrate the private hospital system into the public health system.

Whist the Government has not directed its closure, a large Australian airline has sought a $1.4 billion loan from the Australian Government.

States have also introduced tougher restrictions on the movement of people.

  • Western Australia: from midnight Tuesday 31 March, further restrictions will be placed on travel within WA. Western Australians will not be permitted to leave their boundary to assist in reducing the spread. Exceptions apply for travel for work, freight or medical emergency.
  • Victoria: firearm purchases for sporting or recreational purposes have been temporarily banned. Queensland and WA have also put restrictions on firearms by not categorising the industry as essential services. Victorian residents can also leave their house for only essential reasons.
  • NSW
    • Introduced tougher restrictions on movement of people. Anyone who leaves their house without a “reasonable excuse” can be given an $11,000 fine under strict new measures. Reasonable excuse includes essential purposes such as obtaining groceries, exercising, medical or compassionate care, and working or studying that cannot be done from home.
    • Pharmacists will also be able to dispense some prescription medicines without a prescription.
Canada

Canada: 

  • The federal government has introduced a federal wage subsidy. Businesses are eligible if their revenues have decreased by at least 30% because of COVID 19. Charities and non-profits are also eligible for the subsidy. The number of ‎employees is not a factor in determining eligibility. The subsidy will cover up to 75% of an employee’s salary on the first $58,700; up to $847 a week.‎ Technical documents on how to apply and additional details are still to come.
  • Operators of passenger flights and railways must conduct, at the boarding gate, a health check of every passenger (crew members exempted) to verify whether the passenger exhibits a fever, a cough, or breathing difficulties before the passenger boards

Alberta: 

  • Certain non-essential places of business have been ordered to close, effective March 27, 2020

British Columbia: 

  • The government has announced a list of essential businesses. Order for the closure of all non-essential business is likely imminent.
  • An amendment has been made to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, permitting disclosure of personal information inside or outside Canada in certain circumstances where disclosure is necessary for the purposes of communication, support of a public health response, or coordinating care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Northwest Territories :

  • A state of emergency has been declared in the territory, effective March 27, 2020

Ontario: 

  • The government has introduced penalties to combat price gouging and hold offenders accountable for raising prices significantly on the necessary goods Ontarians need to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19.
  • A regulation has been passed to designate COVID-19 as an infectious disease for the purposes of the infectious disease emergency leave provisions of the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000.

Quebec:

  • 8 regions of Quebec will be subject to police roadblocks at all entrances to the region where access is ‎now limited to essential travel only‎.

Saskatchewan: 

  • The government has ordered the closure of many non-essential businesses, effective March 26, 2020.

Yukon: 

  • A state of emergency has been declared in the territory, effective March 27, 2020
  • Employment Standards Act has been amended to provide employees with a 14 day unpaid leave of absence if (a) the employee is subject to a health protection measure, or (b) the employee is required to care for the employee’s child or a family member while the child or family member is subject to a health protection measure.
Chile 

There is an indefinite night quarantine from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM across Chile, while certain sections of the capital and five cities are in 24 hour quarantine. Only essential services remain entitled to operate during quarantine, as well as businesses related with the main economic sectors of the country, health and food supply. 

The Labor Directorate has issued interpretative rulings, stating that companies that cannot provide work to employees due to quarantine and where the employees cannot work from home, are in a situation of force majeure, due to which the employer is exempted from paying wages.  However, the rulings also have clarified that the employer cannot terminate the employment agreements on grounds of force majeure.  Such companies, can, however, invoke the needs of the company to make reductions in force (which oblige the company to pay severance compensation based on time served).  Even though these decisions are not mandatory for the private sector, they are closely followed by companies since Courts usually use similar criteria, and the labor inspectors are obliged to follow the interpretation of those rulings during company inspections (see Dictamen 1283/006 (3/26/2020) and Dictamen 1239/005 (3/19/2020)).

The Chilean Congress has rushed to pass a bill on telework (Law 21,220) after several years of discussion, due to the pandemic. This law was included in the March 27 Official Gazette edition and will enter into force on April 1.  The main rules include:

  • the company must provide equipment and connection to the employee,
  • the safety standards will be defined by the authority in the following 30 days and the company is obliged to verify that it has met those standards, without violating the employee’s right to privacy,
  • the work can combine home-office and working on the company's premises,
  • employees will have a disconnection right of no less than 12 hours,
  • the home-office agreement must include clear regulations on means of control and supervision of employees,
  • any party can return to full office service at any time, by means of a written communication given with 30 days' notice, if the telework was agreed after the employment agreement was executed (i.e. not if the employee was hired from the beginning to provide service from home).

If companies have employees working in home-office before April 1, they will have 3 months to adapt to the new regulations.

Congress also passed Law 21.221 which changes the dates of several elections programmed in the first part of 2020. Especially important, is the change of the date for the referendum of a new Constitution, initially programmed for April 26 and rescheduled for October 25, 2020.

Finally, Congress has also delayed discussion of the bill submitted by the Chilean Government, which seeks to authorize the following regime during the pandemic:

  • general suspension of the employment agreements in those areas in which the authority has adopted measures that impede work (except by mutual agreement of the parties), in which case the company remains obliged to contribute to social security and the employee receives the benefits of the unemployment insurance and
  • allows companies that are going through verifiable financial hardships, the right to agree with its employees a reduction of working time and wages, of up to 50%, and at the same time, entitle employees to receive benefits of the unemployment insurance.

The discussion of this important bill is expected to resume on March 31.   

Czech Republic

Cross-border movement has been extended until 12 April 2020.  Preventive measures (including temporary closure of most of the shops) has been extended until 11 April 2020.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is finalizing the employment support program.

The Czech National Bank has recently decreased the base interest rate from 1.75% to 1%.

The Ministry of Finance proposes a six-month moratorium on payments of mortgages, consumer loans, and commercial loans.

Hong Kong 

For gatherings of more than 4 people in a public space, the Government will consider skipping warnings and directly fining violators HK$2,000 in the coming days.

The Government is due to hand out tens of billions of dollars to help those suffering during the public health crisis in a second round of relief measures, with retail sales statistics due to be released later on Tuesday expected to record their biggest fall since records began.

Hungary 

The following new regulations are applicable as of 31 March:

  • Yesterday the Hungarian Parliament accepted the act authorizing the Government to govern with government decrees for the duration of the state of emergency. The Act is in effect as of today with the following rules:
    • the Government may suspend the application of certain acts, derogate from certain legislation and to take extraordinary actions (in order to protect the health and safety of citizens);
    • the Act prolongs the effective period of the Governmental Decrees containing measures with respect to COVID-19 until the end of the state of emergency;
    • no elections or referendums may be held during the state of emergency.
  • As of today a new Governmental Decree issued detailed rules of the judicial vacations ordered on March 14. The main provision of the Decree – further to containing detailed rules for several types of procedures – is that if the deadline in civil and administrative litigious and non-litigious procedures passes in the term between March 15 and April 15, then the deadline extends by law until April 30.
  • The Minister of Finance and the co-chair of the Confederation of Hungarian Employers and Industrialists agreed to co-operate in the financial action group against the coronavirus.
  • As of today the age, sex and underlying chronic diseases of deceased coronavirus victims will be published.
India 

The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has ordered all establishments to pay full stipend to apprentices engaged in their establishments (i.e., trainees specifically engaged under the Apprentices Act, 1961) under both designated and optional trade during the period of lockdown. For establishments under the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS), the stipend shall be reimbursed by the Government for the lockdown period as per the NAPS guidelines.

Chief Labour Commissioner has requested the regional heads of the labour department to strictly take up the issue with principal employers, contractors/vendors and all public/private enterprises in case distress calls are received from workers/employees in their region, complaining about termination or non-payment of salaries.

Due to the lockdown, intra-country movement has been heavily restricted, and hence, employees may be stranded in (remote) locations. Recognizing this, the District Magistrate in Noida has ordered companies to provide the names of the employees (entitled to receive the salary) on the letter heads, so that the employees can be permitted to visit the workplace by showing their name, address and identity cards in order to collect their salaries.  

In Rajasthan, the Industries & MSME department has advised all industrial and commercial establishments to transfer salaries (without any deductions for the period of lockdown) to the banks accounts of their employees through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) using online means. In cases where salary transfers are not possible through online means, movement passes could be issued to the concerned staff  to ensure hassle free distribution of salaries. 

Mexico 

The Mexican Government has announced a state of emergency.  The exact terms will be published tomorrow but on the labor side, all non-essential activities should be stopped until April 30.  Essential activities (to be defined) may continue to operate. The age for seniors to stop working has been lowered to 60 years old.

The Government shall also close except for essential activities.  We will share more information when the decree has been published.   

Philippines 

Department of Labor and Employment Advisory No. 13 dated 30 March 2020 clarifies the rules on holiday pay rates for April 9, 10 and 11: 

  • If the worker does not work on April 9 (Maundy Thursday and Day of Valor, s/he shall still be paid 200% of the daily wage (200% because it is a double holiday: Maundy Thursday and Day of Valor), provided the employee was present or on leave with pay on workday prior to start of the quarantine on 17 March 2020
  • If the worker works on April 9, s/he will be paid 300% of the daily wage for 8 hours of work
  • If the worker works more than 8 hours on April 9, s/he will be paid additional 30% above the holiday hourly rate for overtime
  • If April 9 is also the worker’s rest day, s/he will be paid an additional 30% above the holiday rate (300%) for 8 hours of work
  • If the worker works more than 8 hours on April 9 which is also the worker’s rest day, s/he will be paid an additional 30% above the holiday hourly rate for overtime
  • If the worker does not work on April 10 (Good Friday), s/he shall still be paid 100% of the daily wage), provided the employee was present or on leave with pay on workday prior to start of the quarantine on 17 March 2020
  • If the worker works on April 10, s/he will be paid 200% of the daily wage for 8 hours of work
  • If s/he works more than 8 hours on April 10, s/he will be paid additional 30% above the holiday hourly rate for overtime
  • If April 10 is also the worker’s rest day, he will be paid an additional 30% above his holiday rate (200%) for 8 hours of work
  • If the worker works more than 8 hours on April 10 which is also worker’s rest day, s/he will be paid an additional 30% above his holiday hourly rate for overtime
  • If the worker does not work on April 11 (Black Saturday), the “no work, no pay” principle shall apply
  • If the worker works on April 11, s/he will be paid an additional 30% of the daily wage for 8 hours of work
  • If the worker works more than 8 hours on April 11, s/he will be paid additional 30% above the hourly rate for overtime 
  • If April 11 is also the worker’s rest day, s/he will be paid an additional 50% above the daily rate for 8 hours of work
  • If the worker works more than 8 hours on April 11 which is also the worker’s rest day, s/he will be paid an additional 30% above the holiday hourly rate for overtime 
South Africa 

A communication has been issued by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority that acknowledges the effect that COVID-19 has had on employers and employees and attempts to provide assistance to employers in financial distress who are unable to make the contributions to the relevant pension funds during this time.

According to the communication, employers who are in financial distress as a result of COVID-19 can agree with the retirement fund to which they ordinarily make contributions on behalf of their employees to a temporary suspension, postponement or reduction of those contributions which may not be viewed as an act of non-compliance in terms of the rules of that fund, subject to certain conditions being met.

Taiwan 

Starting April 9, there will be changes to the facemask rationing system:

  • People will now be eligible to buy 9 masks per 14 days, instead of 3 for every 7 days (children's masks will remain at 10 per 14 days)
  • Masks will still be available at designated drugstores and pharmacies for NT$5 per mask, however people can buy the mask on any day during the 14 day period and will no longer be bound to specific days according to their NHI card number
  • A small exemption will be made for Taiwan nationals regarding the export prohibition on face masks - starting April 9, Taiwan nationals will be allowed to send 30 masks every 2 months to first and second degree relatives abroad. This exemption also applies to foreign nationals residing in Taiwan if the relative they are sending masks to is a Taiwan national

The CECC announced a physical social distancing regulation requiring a physical distance of 1m outdoors and 1.5m indoors. For now, the CECC will not be imposing fines on individuals who fail to maintain this distance, instead opting for public education.

UK

From 30 March, remote right to work checks will be temporarily acceptable. The checks must be performed in a specific format set out below:

  1. Ask the worker to submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email
  2. Arrange a video call with the worker – ask them to hold up the original documents to the camera and check them against the digital copy of the documents
  3. Record the date you made the check and mark it as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”
  4. If the worker has a current Biometric Residence Permit or has received their pre-settled/settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you can check their right to work using the online “right to work” portal which can be accessed here  

Once the COVID-19 pandemic measures end, a retrospective check of the original document must be made. A copy of the retrospective check must be made and marked as follows:

“The individual’s contract commenced on [insert date]. The prescribed right to work check was undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19.”

The retrospective check must be carried out within 8 weeks of the COVID-19 measures endings and both checks must be retained on file in order to hold a statutory excuse.

 

March 30 Update

Australia 

The Australian Government has announced wage subsidies available where:

  • an employer with an annual turnover of less than $1 billion has experienced a decrease in turnover of more than 30%; or
  • an employer with more than $1 billion in annual turnover has experienced a decrease in turnover of more than 50%.

Where eligible, the employer will receive up to $1,500 per fortnight per employee for the period from 1 March 2020 for a period of six months.  The subsidy is available where the employee remains working and where the employee has been stood down. This amount must be passed on to the employee through ordinary payroll processes and will be administered by the Australian Tax Office (ATO).  Payments to employers will commence 1 May 2020. Employers who wish to participate in the scheme must register with the ATO.  Employees who receive the above payment will not be eligible for social security benefits.

Australia has also now moved to restrict social gatherings to no more than 2 people.  The level of enforcement of this rule varies across each State and Territory.  In New South Wales and Victoria, fines may be applied for breach of the regulations.

Changes have been introduced to the Clerks – Private Sector Award to make it easier for employers to reduce employees’ hours of work and direct employees to take leave, similar to those introduced to the Hospitality Award.  Similar changes have been proposed to the Restaurant Industry Award.

Belgium

Extension of the quarantine measures: On 27 March, the National Security Council of Belgium decided to extend the national quarantine measures by two weeks, until 19 April included.   If deemed necessary, these measures can afterwards again be extended for another two weeks, until 3 May included, but this will in essence depend on the effects of the current measures on the spread of the virus in Belgium.

Colombia 

As of 23 March, the Colombian President issued a Decree under which the following benefits will last as long as the events that gave rise to the Economic, Social and Ecological Emergency continue:

  • Any employee whose monthly income is reduced will be able to withdraw from their annual severance payment savings (cesantia) an amount to compensate for the salary reduction. The only requirement is a salary reduction certificate from the employer.
  • The employer may disclose with only 1 day's notice, the date on which the employer will grant to the employees early, collective or accumulated vacation.
  • The labor risks manager (ARL by its acronym in Spanish) will allocate at least 15% of the resources contributions to the promotion and preventative actions for employees and companies, but especially for those employees who develop activities for tackling the COVID-19 breakout.
  • Employees from marginalized sectors who have made contributions to a Compensation Fund for 1 year, continuous or discontinuous, during the last 5 years will receive an economic allowance of 2 monthly minimum legal wages paid in 3 equal monthly instalments.
  • The 6 month term for nationals from outside Colombia to certify their continuation in the Social Security System will be suspended.
Denmark  In relation to the salary/wage compensation scheme, the Danish Business Authority has launched an online service for submission of applications for salary/wage compensation. All private-sector businesses fulfilling the requirements for obtaining salary/wage compensation from the Danish State can now submit their applications to the Danish Business Authority using an online application form available at www.virksomhedsguiden.dk.  The closing date for applications is 30 June 2020.  For full details of the scheme and how to apply, read here
Finland 

The Finnish Government has decided to isolate the Uusimaa region from the rest of the country until 19 April.  Employees may still leave from or arrive into the region to work, but need a certificate from the employer confirming their right to cross the border of the region as the police control the traffic. 

It is anticipated that restaurants, bars and cafes across Finland shall be closed as of 30 March and only take away will be possible which decision will affect the employers in the sector.

Currently, public events and public gatherings of 10 people or more is forbidden until further notice.  To the extent possible, it is advisable to take the limit of 10 people into account at workplaces when planning remote working and requiring employees to attend workplaces.

France 

Executive Order  n° 2020-346 on partial activity dated 27 March 2020: 

The Order provides that for the employees on a “forfait jours” working time arrangement, the determination of the number of hours taken into account for the partial activity allowance is calculated by converting a number of days or half-days into hours. The terms of this conversion will be determined by decree.

The Order also covers the case of employees who are not subject to the legal or contractual provisions relating to working hours, for whom the terms and conditions for calculating the allowance and payment will be determined by decree.    This suggests that senior executives and sales representatives (VRP) are eligible to partial activity.

It should also be noted that the Order provides that the consent of protected employees is no longer required as soon as the partial activity affects all employees of the company, establishment, department or workshop to which they are assigned or attached.

The Order opens the benefit of partial activity to foreign companies who do not have an establishment in France and who employ at least one employee carrying out his/her activity in the national territory; the benefit being reserved solely for companies covered by the French social security system and unemployment insurance.

Moreover it was confirmed that the indemnity paid to employees during partial activity is only subject to CSG-CRDS. This social regime is also applicable to the additional compensation paid by the employer beyond 70% of the gross salary, pursuant to a collective agreement or a unilateral decision
Germany 

Over the past few days, the German Bundestag has adopted a far-reaching bundle of measures to address the consequences of the global Corona pandemic, including:

  • Suspension of the obligation to file for insolvency with retrospective effect as of 1 March 2020 for companies proven to have suffered significant financial damage from Covid-19. This regulation applies for the time being until 30 September 2020. In addition to the suspension of the obligation to file for insolvency, there will be liability relief for managing directors for payments made after they have become insolvent.
  • Creation of substantial simplifications for the holding of general meetings of the stock corporation (AG), partnership limited by shares (KGaA), the European Company (SE) as well as for general meetings of the GmbH and several other forms of companies. Essential aspects for the AG, KGaA and SE are, among other things, the possibility for the company's Management Board to enable online participation in the Annual General Meeting even without an authorisation in the Articles of Association. In addition, for the first time, the possibility of a general meeting without being present was created.
Hungary 

The following new regulations are applicable as of 30 March:

  • Hospital commanders will assist each hospital to provide and protect the necessary medical resources for the treatment of COVID-19  
  • The Hungarian Parliament has accepted the act which gives the government authority to govern the country with government decrees, to suspend the application of certain acts, to derogate from certain legislation and to take extraordinary actions (in order to protect the health and safety of citizens) for indefinite period of time until the termination of state of emergency. Long negotiation and discussion preceded the act as it provides wide competences for the government. (Further clarification will follow later once the details are known.)
India

Under Finance Minister’s proposal to amend the PF laws (see 27 March update below), the Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme 1952 (EPF Scheme) has been amended to include pandemic/epidemic as a ground for withdrawal of PF accumulations.  If a member of the EPF Scheme who is employed in an establishment/factory located in an epidemic/pandemic-affected area, makes an application for withdrawal of PF, the authorities can permit a non-refundable advance to be given to such member.  Such advance should not exceed the member’s ‘basic wages’ and ‘dearness allowance’ of 3 months or 75% of the amount standing to member’s credit in the PF, whichever is less.

On account of the lockdown, India was witnessing an exodus of migrant workers from different states to their hometowns. In relation to this, the MHA has inter alia directed:

  • the state and union territories to make adequate arrangements for temporary shelters, food etc. for the migrant workers;
  • all employers, be it in industries or in shops and commercial establishments to pay salary to their workers on the due date, without any deduction, for the period their establishments are closed during the lockdown.

A ‘Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund’ (PM CARES Fund) has been set up to deal with emergency situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has clarified that contribution to that PM CARES Fund will qualify as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity under item no. (viii) of the schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013.

While in the MHA Order several government offices were exempted from the lockdown requirement, like- police, municipal bodies, social welfare departments, etc. The Ministry of Home affairs have now specifically clarified that pension department (i.e. Employees Provident Fund Organisation) shall remain operational during the lockdown period with bare minimum staff.

In Karnataka and Punjab, the authorities have created websites which can be used to apply for curfew passes during the lockdown: 1. Karnataka- https://mygate.com/blog/ksp-clearpass-companies/; 2. Punjab- https://epasscovid19.pais.net.in/.

In Noida, the District Magistrate has ordered that all employers (whose establishments have been closed during lockdown) are required to give paid leaves to their employees/workers for the period of closure. Contravention of this order shall be punishable up to imprisonment.

In Punjab, the Principal Secretary of Labour Department, has advised all employers of industries, factories, shops, and commercial establishment etc, to not terminate employments, particularly of casual or contractual workers or deduct their wages/salary. Employers have also been advised to treat the employees Further, employers have been advised to treat employees/workers as if they are on ‘paid leave’ or as ‘on-duty’, if they remain absent due to the pandemic or if workplace is non-operational due to the pandemic.

As the lockdown in India continues to have far reaching effects for companies across sectors, law firm Trilegal has produced a note addressing some additional common issues that companies are currently facing while managing business continuity and employees.  Trilegal have kindly given us permission to link to their note here.   

Ireland 

Stay at home: The latest public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19

With effect from midnight on 27 March, for a two-week period until 12 April, everybody must stay at home in all circumstances, except for the following situations:

  • to travel to and from work, or for purposes of work, only where the work is an essential health, social care or other essential service and cannot be done from home. A list of essential service providers can be found here;
  • to take brief individual physical exercise within 2 kilometres of your home, which may include children from your household, as long as you adhere to strict 2 metre physical distancing;
  • to shop for food and household goods or collect a meal;
  • to attend medical appointments and collect medicines and other health products;
  • for vital family reasons, such as providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people;
  • for farming purposes, i.e. food production or care of animals; and
  • all public and private gatherings of any number of people outside a single household or living unit are prohibited
Malaysia 

Finance or HR personnel permitted to be in the office: As a temporary exemption to the nationwide Movement Control Order, the government announced that Finance or HR personnel would be allowed to be in the office on either 31 March or 1 April specifically for the purpose of processing payroll to pay salaries. However, only two people would be permitted to be in the office premises at any time. To facilitate employee travel, employers should prepare a release form or authorisation slip for the relevant employees. The document should include full particulars of the employer and employee.

Shorter operating hours during second phase of Movement Control Order (MCO):  During the second phase of the MCO (1-14 April 2020), hours of operation will be reduced for certain services. Eateries, markets, and petrol stations will only be allowed to operate from 8am to 8pm.

Morocco 

A number of measures have been taken by the Moroccan government through the "Comité de veille économique" to reduce the social and economic impact of COVID-19, notably by providing a monthly compensation to employees who are not working due to the closing of business.  Read more here for full details of the compensation procedure and measures. 

Portugal

Simplified lay-off regime: Rectification no. 14/2020 was published on 28 March clarifying that companies may not dismiss any employees due to redundancy during the application of the simplified lay-off and within 60 days after its term (Decree-Law no. 10-G/2020 only excluded dismissals due to redundancy of employees covered by the lay-off).

Russia 

On 25 March, President Putin addressed the nation and announced a series of measures aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 and reducing the negative impact on the Russian economy:

  • social payments to the Social Insurance Fund for small and medium-sized businesses were reduced from 30% to 15% 
  • a "reasonable tax" of 15% instead of 2% is to be imposed on all offshore income payments
  • a deferral of taxes, other than VAT, for small and medium-sized businesses 
  • a six-month moratorium on filing creditor applications for bankruptcy of companies and debt collection.

According to the Presidential Decree, the week from 30 March to 5 April will be a non-working week with full pay (with exceptions for employees of certain organisations e.g. organisations providing the population with food and essential goods).  

On 28 March, the Russian prime minister signed Order No. 763-Р, which temporarily prohibits, as of 30 March 2020, traffic through automobile, railway, pedestrian, river and mixed checkpoints across the Russian border, as well as through the land border with Belarus. The ban does not apply to the following categories:

  • diplomatic staff 
  • truck drivers of international road traffic, riverboat crews, train and locomotive crews of international railway traffic 
  • employees of intergovernmental courier communication 
  • and certain other categories.

On 29 March, the Moscow mayor signed a decree establishing a general self-isolation regime in Moscow. The self-isolation regime will be effective from 30 March 2020. It applies to all residents of the capital, regardless of age. However, it does not limit the right to enter or leave Moscow. According to the decree, people may only leave their places of residence in the following cases:

  • to obtain emergency medical care 
  • to go to work (if obliged to go to work) 
  • to make purchases in the nearest grocery store or pharmacy 
  • to walk pets at a distance of no more than 100 metres from the place of residence and 
  • to take out household waste.
Spain 

Royal Decree-Law 9/2020, in force as of 28 March, includes a number of employment measures in addition to those approved by Royal Decree-Law 8/2020 such as:

  1. Extraordinary measures for the protection of employment: force majeure and the economic technical, organizational and production-related grounds (“ETOP”) justifying temporary layoffs (ERTEs) allowed in Royal Decree-Law 8/2020 due to COVID-19, cannot be regarded as grounds justifying the termination of employment contracts or dismissal.
  2. Measures for speeding up the application process and payment of unemployment benefit: the process for getting unemployment benefits in temporary layoffs due to Covid-19 must be initiated by the employer on the employees' behalves. The employer must complete a collective application before the unemployment authority.  The request must be made within 5 days of the request of the ERTE of force majeure or from the notification to the labor authority of the decision of the company if it is an ERTE for ETOP causes.  If the ERTES is presented before the entry into force of this new regulation, the term is computed as from 28 March.  Failure to meet the deadline will be a serious breach of the employer.
  3. Suspension of the term of temporary contracts: the suspension of temporary contracts, including training, relevo and interim (interinidad) contracts, on the same grounds as temporary layoffs due to Covid-19 implies that the duration of these contracts will be interrupted, as well as the periods of reference equal to the suspended period.
  4. Restriction on the length of layoffs (ERTEs) based on Covid-19 due to majeure: layoffs cannot extend beyond the extraordinary situation period caused by Covid-19, so that their maximum length will be until the end of the state of emergency (“Estado de Alarma”) established by Royal Decree 463/2020, and any potential extensions. This measure applies to al ERTEs, with or without express resolution (i.e. silencio administrativo).
  5. Penalty regime and return of undue benefits: penalties will be imposed for applications filed by companies that contain misstatements or incorrect information and any application for employment measures that are not evidenced as necessary or are not sufficiently connected to the reasons given, and which give rise to the generation of undue benefits.  Undue benefits to employees for reasons not attributable to them, as a result of any of the breaches mentioned above, will result in a review by the authorities of the decision granting those benefits.  In such cases, in addition to any administrative or criminal liability applicable by law, the company will have to return to the relevant entity any amounts received by the employees, and deduct them from the unpaid salaries to which the employees would have been entitled, up to the limit of those salary amounts.  Where the unemployment entity finds any indication of fraud for unduly obtaining the unemployment benefits, it will notify the labor and social security inspection.
  6. Labor Inspection Plans: labor inspection plans of action, will review the grounds submitted in the applications and notifications of temporary layoffs based on Covid-19.
  7. Term: as from 28 March, 2020 and during the state of emergency (“Estado de Alarma”) and any potential extensions.
United Kingdom

On 26 March, the Government published detailed guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS) which is designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by COVID-19.   Under the JRS, UK employers with a PAYE payroll scheme as at 28 February will be able to "furlough" employees and claim from HMRC a grant of 80% of their monthly wage cost, up to a maximum of £2,500 plus the associated employer National Insurance Contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions. 

The Government also announced the outline of the Self-employment Income Support Scheme which will allow self-employed people and members of partnerships to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months.   

United Kingdom On 27 March, the Government implemented secondary legislation to relax the rules on carry-over of annual leave so that workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement due to COVID-19 will be able to carry up to 4 weeks of unused leave into the next 2 leave years. 

 

March 27 Update

Australia

The Australian Government is taking stricter action to restrict the movement of incoming travellers and to increase compliance checks on travellers who are already undertaking mandatory self-isolation period at home.

  • By no later than 11:59 pm Saturday 28 March 2020, all travellers arriving in Australia will be required to undertake mandatory 14 day self-isolation at designated facilities (for example, a hotel).
  • Travellers will be transported directly to designated facilities after appropriate immigration, customs and enhanced health checks.
  • Designated facilities will be determined by the relevant state or territory government and will ordinarily be in the city of entry where the traveller has cleared immigration, but facilities in other areas may be used if required.
  • The Commonwealth will provide support through the Australian Border Force and Australian Defence Force for these arrangements across Australia, and states and territories will meet the costs and determine any contributions required for travellers arriving within their jurisdictions.
  • Air and maritime crews will be required to continue to undertake the existing precautions they are following where they self-isolate in their accommodation if they enter Australia until their next work voyage.

The Australian Defence Force will begin assisting state and territory governments to undertake quarantine compliance checks of those who are required to be in mandatory isolation after returning from overseas.

Although the Government has not mandated any further businesses must close, thousands more Australian workers have been stood down across a range of industries and businesses.

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has announced that all campgrounds will be closed until further notice. (https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/)

China

From 28 March, 2020, China will temporarily prohibit foreigners from entering into China even if they hold valid visas and residence permits. Various visa-free policies are suspended. If the foreigners need to enter into China for crucial matters, they need to apply a special visa during this special period.

Shanghai announced that from 26 March, 2020, everyone arriving into Shanghai shall be under home quarantine or central quarantine for 14 days regardless of which country they are from.  (The restricted countries list we referred to in the 20 March update has been expanded from 24 countries to all countries).

Colombia 

President Iván Duque confirmed that the National Government is not planning to promote or support the mass layoff of employees.  The Colombian Government is promoting mechanisms to protect employment and guarantee the welfare of employees and their families.

For the first time in the history of the Colombian Constitutional Court, the courtroom is meeting virtually, to defend the Constitution and enable analysis of Government measures and decisions to mitigate the affects of COVID-19.

Bogota City Hall has adopted additional and complementary measures on the occasion of the declaration of public emergency.  Among other things, the Mayor declared:

  • mechanisms to prevent violence against women or other violation of their rights 
  • that it is the responsibility of each Health Promotion Entity to effectively monitor its affiliates in self-isolation, and strengthen the promotion and preventative actions recommended by the national and district government.
  • an extension to file and pay local tax returns (private property and vehicle taxes).
France 

As reported yesterday:

  • an Executive Order has been passed setting out emergency measures on paid leave, working hours and rest days.  Read our full report here.
  • a Decree modifying the calculation of compensation paid by the State to employers in the event of partial activity, and making the process more flexible, has been introduced.  Read our full report here.

It has just been announced that the lockdown in France will continue for 2 more weeks until 15 April.

Hong Kong 

Gatherings: The limit of four people in a group to be applied to all public gatherings, with 12 exemptions including workplaces, government functions, funerals and wedding ceremonies.  The proposal referred to in one of earlier updates to ban bars and restaurants from selling alcohol has not been adopted.  The government has also ordered a two-week closure of six types of places that attract large gatherings: gaming centres, saunas, places of amusement such as pool halls, fitness centres, cinemas and party rooms.

Bars and restaurants: Under the new arrangements, bars and restaurants will only be allowed to operate at half their capacity and the measures will last for at least two weeks.  Restaurants must check patrons’ temperature and provide hand sanitiser for them.  Spot checks will be carried out by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and violators in the catering industry will be subjected to a maximum HK$50,000 penalty and six-month jail. People who flout the public gathering law will be subjected to a HK$25,000 penalty and six-month jail.

Public facilities: The closure of public facilities will be extended to all outdoor sports centres managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department from 28th Mar (Sat). These include all parks, playgrounds, outdoor pitches and tennis and basketball courts.

Hungary

 As of 27 March:

  • The Hungarian Government has imposed a nationwide ‘curfew-like’ measure from March 28 to April 11.  This is not considered a curfew in the strict sense, as it only contains certain restrictions on going outside, which is permitted if there is ‘due cause’. When outside, a minimum distance of 1.5 meters must be kept between people. A wide-range of reasons may be deemed ‘due cause’, so the measure not as strict as it may seem.
  • The two main restrictions, however, are that: 
    • no one may be present inside hospitality-type premises (e.g. restaurants) except for taking away meals; and
    • people over the age of 65 may only visit pharmacies, markets, grocery shops, drugstores between 9 am and 12 pm. During this time period people under the age of 65 may not enter said facilities. It is the responsibility of the operator of said facilities to ensure compliance with this restriction. In spite of these measures the Government has yet to impose general lockdown on shops.

In addition, the Hungarian Industry Association has made a proposal to the deputy prime minister concerning the handling of the economic crisis. The proposal contains the following:

  • Derogation from the job description
  • Suspension of the employer’s obligation regarding the health and safety check in case of home office and suspension of the employer’s liability in case of a work accident in home office
  • Suspension of the restrictions of collective redundancy (e.g. 30-day prior notification of the collective redundancy)
  • Suspension of the restriction concerning the 15-day prior notification of the annual leave
  • Possibility to partly allocate in advance the vacation days of the employees due for the following years
  • Mitigation of the provisions of overtime, rest period, stand-by, on-call duty and scheduling of the working time
  • General exemption from social security liabilities in case of employees who are exempted from work, however receive salary.

The Hungarian Trade Union Association has harshly criticized the proposal and branded it as a “slave act”.

India 

The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for maintaining supply of essential goods during the lockdown period of 21 days (until 14 April 2020). Some of the operating guidelines inter alia provides for operation of warehouses storing essential goods, all facilities in the supply chain of essential goods (whether involved in manufacturing, wholesale or retail of such goods through local stores, mortar stores or e-commerce companies), transporters of essential goods, manufacturing units of essential goods (such as, drugs, pharmaceuticals), etc. The Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister announced INR 1.70 lakh crore as relief package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana for the poor, to help them during the COVID-19 outbreak period. Further, the current employees’ provident fund (PF) law is proposed to be amended to include ‘pandemic’ as a reason for a non-refundable advance, of 75% of the PF accumulations or 3 months of wages (whichever is lower). Under this package, for small establishments having up to 100 workers, the government proposes to pay both, the employer and employee’s share of PF contributions (12% each) into the PF accounts of wage-earners in the organised sector (who earn below INR 15,000 per month). Such contributions are proposed to be made by the government for the next 3 months

Travel restrictions: As per the SOP, the employees or persons engaged in the supply chain shall be allowed to commute on the basis of e-pass or any other certification issued by the concerned local authorities. In addition, such employee / person shall carry a valid photo identification card.

The District Magistrate (DM) in Noida has notified authorities who will issue identity cards for the movement of individual’s within the district. Further, vehicles carrying essential goods would not be stopped, however passes should be obtained from the authorities for the movement of such vehicles.

The DM in Noida has notified that online delivery services / e-commerce retailers/operators shall be allowed to operate without any pass from the District Administration during the 21 days lockdown period. Their company passes would be sufficient to carry out door to door supply.

In Karnataka, the Police Department has exempted online delivery services and other e-commerce operators, allowing them to operate during the lockdown period. However, these operators / retailers have to obtain passes for vehicles / persons from any of the 8 Deputy Commissioners of Police (L&O) in the Bengaluru City.

In Gurgaon and Delhi, the authorities have created websites for filing applications for movement passes. 1. Gurgaon- https://www.ggncurfewpass.in/; 2. Delhi-  https://epass.jantasamvad.org/epass/application/english/.

In continuation of the earlier order on travel and visa restriction, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has closed all scheduled international commercial passenger services till 14 April 2020. However, this restriction will not apply on international operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA.

Indonesia 

The Ministry of Finance has issued a regulation on Tax Relief for Taxpayers Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic (MOF Reg 23/2020). Under MOF Reg 23/2020, several kinds of relief are given by the government including to among others, employers in certain business fields and companies given Easing of Imports for Export Purposes (Kemudahaan Impor Tujuan Eksport - KITE) facilities.

Under MOF Reg 23/2020, the government will cover the income tax to be paid by employees with a regular and fixed gross income, which amounts to no more than 200 million Rupiah a year. There are over 440 business classifications that are given this relief, including among others fish oil producers, paper factories, ship and small boat industries and aircraft repair service providers.

This regulation will come into effect on 1 April 2020.

Japan 

From midnight on 27 March, the Japanese government has imposed an entry ban on foreign travelers coming from 21 European countries and Iran as part of stronger measures to contain the new coronavirus unless there are special circumstances.

Tokyo metropolitan governor and the governors of 4 neighboring prefectures (Kangawa, Chiba, Saitama and Yamanashi) recommended jointly that people stay home and avoid any unnecessary outings or travel this weekend and night time.  This recommendation is not binding and there are no penalties for not following the recommendation.

Some employment subsidies are being increased:

  • If the company has to reduce its business operation due to economic reasons due to COVID-19, under some conditions including creating a labor-management agreement and submitting a “plan” to the authority, the company may be able to obtain subsidies of 1/2 or 2/3 of compensation paid to employees (i.e., at least 60% of salary) up to JPY8,330 per day per person up to 100 days per year. 
  • There has been discussion about increasing this subsidy and the government appears to have decided to do so.  However, since this was just decided by the government, details appear to be not finalized or at least not officially announced by the government as of now.  A company must be paying at least 60% to the employees to qualify for the subsidy.   

Other subsidies available in Japan include: 

  • If the company introduces a telework arrangement/system as a measure to address difficulties caused by COVID-19, 1/2 of costs to implement the same (e.g., costs to consult with outside counsel, software, training) may be covered by the subsidy under some conditions (the cap subsidy is JPY1,000,000).   Further, if the company implements and facilitates the environment for employees to more easily take leave (e.g., creating special paid leave for COVID-19), 3/4 or 4/5 of costs to implement the same (e.g., costs to create or amend work rules) may be covered by the subsidy under some conditions (the cap subsidy is JPY500,000).
  • If a parent takes a leave of absence to take care of his/her child during the period of school closure due to COVID-19, and if the company pays normal salary during such leave (not consuming annual paid leave), the company may be able to obtain subsidies up to JPY8,330 per day per person.
Malaysia 

Economic stimulus package: The Prime Minister has unveiled an economic stimulus package valued at RM250 billion, with RM100 billion targeted at supporting businesses. Highlights for employers include the following:

  • The government will introduce a wage subsidy of RM600 per month for three months for employers with a 50% drop in business since 1 January 2020, for employees with monthly salaries below RM4,000. This comes with the conditions that the employer cannot terminate employment, impose unpaid leave, or cut salaries for three months after the implementation of the program.
  • The Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF) levy payable by employers is exempted for all sectors for six months starting April 2020.
  • Discounts of between 15-50% for electricity usage.
  • Free internet from April until the end of the nationwide Movement Control Order.
  • A one-off payment of RM500 to some 120,000 e-hailing drivers.
  • Additional allocation of RM4.5 billion for SMEs and micro-entrepreneurs.

The specifics of each of the above measures will be announced during the coming week.

Enhanced Movement Control Order (MCO) for two locations in Johor: On 26 March 2020, the government announced an Enhanced MCO in two locations in the State of Johor — Simpang Renggam and Kluang.  Under the Enhanced MCO, residents of those two areas are completely prohibited from leaving their homes for two weeks, no visitors will be allowed into those areas, and all business activities will be stopped.  Basic foodstuff and supplies will be delivered by the Social Welfare Department.

Philippines

Bureau of Immigration announcement as of 27 March 2020:  BI will temporarily allow foreign nationals with approved and implemented visas but awaiting release of the Alien Certificate of Registration Identity Card (ACR I-CARD) to depart the country. In lieu of the ACR I-CARD, the foreign national shall present to the immigration officer at the airport his passport with visa, official receipt of the ACR I-CARD Waiver Application Fee and Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC) with Resident Permit or Special Resident Certificate, as applicable.

Portugal

New regimes have been announced for a simplified lay-off scheme, payment of tax and social security and carer / assistance leave related to COVID-19: 

Simplified lay-off 

A new simplified lay-off regime will apply when there has been:

  1. Total or partial closure of the company or establishment, arising from the duty to close facilities and establishments, or  
  2. Total or partial cessation of the activity of the company or establishment resulting from the interruption of global supply chains, or the suspension or cancellation of orders or reservations, as a result of which the use of the company or unit will be reduced by more than 40% of its production or occupancy capacity in the month following the application of the measure, or
  3. An abrupt and sharp drop of at least 40% of the invoicing in the 30 days prior to the request before Social Security, with reference to [i] the monthly average of the two months preceding that period, or [ii] the same period of the previous year, or [iii] for those who started the activity within the last 12 months, the average of that period.

Where these conditions apply, companies may reduce the normal working period or suspend employment contracts. Under this regime, companies are entitled to:

  • Extraordinary financial support for maintaining employment contracts, 
  • Temporary exemption from the payment of contributions to Social Security.

Where normal working hours are reduced, the employee’s salary is proportionally reduced.  However, the employee will be entitled to a minimum amount equal to 2/3 of their normal gross remuneration, or the value of the national minimum wage (EUR 635.00), whichever is higher, up to three times the NMW (EUR 1,905.00).  If the salary falls below this amount, the employee will be entitled to compensation to the extent necessary to (in addition to remuneration) guarantee the minimum amount. This compensation is supported by Social Security (70%) and the employer (30%).

Where employment contracts are suspended, employees will be entitled to compensation corresponding to 2/3 of their normal gross remuneration, or EUR 635.00, whichever is higher, up to EUR 1,905.00.

A specific procedure applies to implement this measure, including consultation with employees’ representatives (if any), communication to employees and application before Social Security.

This measure lasts for one month, extendable monthly, up to three months, until June 30, 2020.

Employers are totally exempt from the payment of Social Security contributions in respect of the employees covered by these measures and members of statutory bodies.

Employers that benefit from these measures are also entitled to an extraordinary financial incentive to support the normalization of the company's activity corresponding to EUR 635.00 per employee.

While these measures are in place and up to 60 days following their term, the employer cannot terminate the employment contracts of the affected employees due to redundancy.

Exceptional and temporary regime for compliance with tax obligations and social contributions  

Decree-Law no. 10-F/2020, 26 March includes, among other tax related measures:

  1. A deferred payment scheme for 2/3 of contributions due by employers (those with less than 50 employees or more, under certain circumstances) and self-employed workers, corresponding to March, April and May;
  2. The extension of unemployment benefits and all benefits of the Social Security granting subsistence minimums whose concession period or renewal period ends before June 30, 2020, as well as the suspension of the revaluations of the conditions of maintenance of the same.

Exceptional carer / assistance leave

Decree-Law no. 10-K/2020, 26 March establishes an exceptional and temporary leave regime to provide assistance or care.

The following absences are deemed justified (with no obligation to maintain payment of salary):

  1. to care for a child or other dependent under 12 or, regardless of the age, with a disability or chronic disease, during school holidays.
  2. to care for a spouse or partner, ascendants (e.g. parent, grandparent or parent-in-law), for whom the employee is responsible, or covering social facilities which are suspended by the health authority, if there are no equivalent social facilities available.  Where 1 and 2 apply, employees may schedule holiday without needing the employer’s consent. 
  3. leave for voluntary firemen for providing assistance or transportation in the context of the COVID-19 disease pandemic, as requested by the fire department.
South Africa 

The government has confirmed that employees may be required by their employers to take annual leave during the lock-down but government has urged employers not to do this and to rather continue paying employees during this period, and if they cannot afford to, to rely on the financial assistance provided through the Temporary Employer / Employee Relief Scheme. Read more here

 

March 26 Update

Australia 

NSW has introduced on-the-spot fines of $1,000 for people breaching self-isolation rules and introduced new laws allowing police to fine (or jail) people for breaching social distancing requirements. Schools in Queensland will be pupil free from 30 March, schools in South Australia will be pupil-free from 4 April, and Western Australia schools will cease formal classes on Friday April 3.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has granted interim authorisation to Regional Express (Rex) allowing it to coordinate flight schedules with Virgin Australia and Qantas Airways on ten significant regional flight routes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Changes have been made to give employees early access to long service leave in NSW. The amendments to NSW’s Long Service Leave Act enable long service leave to be taken with less than the current one month's notice and in blocks of less than a month, where there is agreement between employer and employee. The amendments proposed will sunset initially after six months.

A joint application by Austalian Industry Group and Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has being made to the Fair Work Commission to allow reductions in working hours while keeping the same hourly rate of pay for up to one million workers covered by the Clerks Award. The Clerks Award covers employers in the private sector throughout Australia with respect to their employees engaged wholly or principally in clerical work, including administrative duties of a clerical nature, and to those employees. It is estimated the Clerks Award covers up to one million employees in Australia. If approved, the Award would be varied to:

  • allow employees and employers to agree to change ordinary hours of work whilst an employee is working at home;
  • give workers expanded options to help manage their job around things like schooling children from home during the day without an employer facing additional costs for work being conducted out of usual business hours;
  • enable a business with one weeks' notice to direct an employee to take annual leave if it decides to close-down its operations;
  • allow staff to work more flexibly across classifications, provided it is safe to do so and the employee has the necessary qualifications;
  • permit employers to direct employees to take annual leave;
  • increase flexibility in taking leave such as double leave at half-pay, where employers and employees agree;
  • enable employers to engage casual and part-time employees for shorter shifts; and
  • give employers flexibility to reduce hours for full and part-time staff, whilst allowing employees whose hours are reduced to take on another job or ask to engage in training or additional study.

The employees must vote on whether to reduce hours or not, and if there is a union involved in the workplace, they must be informed. The employee will still continue to accrue entitlements at their ordinary hours of work prior to the agreement to reduce hours.

Canada 

The federal government has introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, a taxable benefit of up to $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Alberta: Media reports are suggesting that the Alberta government will be ordering the closure of non-essential workplaces soon.

British Columbia: The province has defined essential services; and any business or service that has not been ordered to close, but is not identified on the essential service list, may stay open only if it can adapt its services and workplaces to the orders and recommendations of British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer.

Ontario: The Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board has allowed businesses to defer premium reporting and payments until August 31, 2020. No interest will accrue on outstanding premium payments for Schedule 1 businesses and no penalties will be charged during the six-month deferral period. Schedule 2 account balances will not accrue debit interest.

France 

The following new measures have been published:

  1. Executive Order on paid leaves, working time and days off provides that it is possible, by industry-wide or in-house collective agreement, to authorize the employer to impose paid leaves, even before the reference period, or modify the dates of paid leaves already agreed, within the limit of 6 working days, i.e., one week of leaves, with not less than one day notice.

Moreover the draft executive order provides that the employer can impose or modify the dates, with not less than one day notice, of RTT days, additional days off granted to employees under a “forfait jours” working time scheme, and days off allocated to the company time saving plan (CET). The maximum days the employee can impose in this context cannot exceed 10 days per employee.

The period of paid leaves/days off imposed or modified cannot be extended after 31 December 2020.

Based on the above provisions that should be effective in a few hours, the employer can either: 

  • impose paid leaves once the executive order is effective, but they need to have an industry-wide or in-house collective agreement providing for such possibility. This supposes to negotiate an in-house agreement with the trade union delegates or the CSE if any. This is limited to 6 working days/one week of paid leaves per employee.
  • impose RTT, days off for “forfait jours/heures” employees or days according to the CET, once the executive order is effective, within the limit of 10 days per employee. No industry-wide or in-house collective agreement is required to do so
  • Decree no. 2020-325 of 25 March 2020 on partial activity

This decree modifies the method of calculation of the compensatory allowance paid by the State to employers in the event of partial activity, and also makes the procedure for submitting applications for partial activity more flexible.

It confirms :

  • that the State will reimburse all payments made to the employees up to a limit of 4.5 times the SMIC
  • the extension of the duration of partial activity up to 12 months.
  • that the CSE can be consulted after the employees are place in partial activity, and its opinion is communicated within 2 months to the administration
  • the employer can place the employees in partial activity and then apply on the administration website within 30 days
  • the administration shall respond to the file within 48 hours, in the absence of response it is deemed to has accepted
  • the extension of the benefit of partial activity to employees under a “forfait jours / heures” working time scheme, even in case of reduction of working hours.

The provisions of the decree apply to application to the benefit partial activity addressed or renewed as of the date of entry into force of this decree, in respect of the placement in partial activity of employees since March 1, 2020.

Greece

On 23 March, the Government announced a general lockdown, permitting citizens’ movement only for specific purposes (i.e. employment, visits to doctor/pharmacies/food markets etc.) by carrying a relevant permit. 

Every employee is obliged to hold a “lockdown movement permit” to move for reasons of employment.  This permit is to be signed by the company’s legal representative and bear the company’s stamp and include the following data: the employee’s and the company’s details, the employee’s working place and working schedule. Further instructions as well as the statutory forms that could be used by companies are available here

Hungary 

The following new regulations are applicable as of 26 March:

  • Companies with certain activities are expected to receive exemption from payment of social tax and vocational contribution.  Further clarification on the activities will follow.
  • Prohibition of the export of hydroxychloroquine-sulfate which may be used in the treatment of coronavirus and medicines containing hydroxychloroquine-sulfate during the state of emergency. 
Ireland The Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill, currently before the Irish parliament,  will introduce amendments to redundancy payments legislation in relation to lay off and short time working.  It provides that employees placed on lay off or short time working will not be able to claim a redundancy payment where this is as a result of measures taken by the employer to comply with Government policy to limit the spread of COVID-19. 
Japan 

Last night, the Governor of Tokyo recommended that people work from home to the extent possible and avoid any unnecessary outings or travel this weekend.  This recommendation is not binding and there are no penalties for not following the recommendation but it will be persuasive and many people will heed to the recommendation.   

South Africa

The Regulations to regulate the 21-day lock-down that will take place from midnight tonight, 26 March to 16 April 2020 are here.  All businesses that will be allowed to provide essential services are required to seek approval from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition to trade during the period of the lockdown.  Such businesses are required to apply to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) Bizportal website at and obtain a certificate from CIPC that allows them to continue trading.

The application will be a simple declaration requiring minimal registration details, type of business/trade involved in, what trading name if any is used and whether it meets the requirements contained in the essential services list, the contact details of the person applying as well as the number of employees that will be working during the lockdown period. A certificate will then be emailed stating that the business is allowed to remain trading.

The certificate can then be used as evidence to authorities requiring same that indeed the business has been given government permission to trade and that its employees are able to have unrestricted movement ONLY in the course of that trade. Employees must carry their permission together with their identity documents at all time when travelling.

Attached is the latest Directive from the Department of Labour regarding the Temporary Employee / Employer Relief Scheme (TERS) and the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).  This appears to apply to COVID-19 in general and not just when South Africa is in the lock-down period, which commences at midnight tonight.  The Directive is valid for 3 months.  The Department of Labour appreciates the fact that employees may be required to take leave and there may be temporary closures as a result of COVID-19. The TERS fund will provide funding to businesses that cannot pay salaries as a result of COVID-19. If employees are put on unpaid leave or short-time as a result of COVID-19 then they may claim from the Unemployment Insurance Fund but the benefits are subject to a capped amount and the actual amount paid depends on various factors including length of service and whether an employee has claimed in the past.

We also attach a new Directive relating to the closure of the Labour Courts during the 21-day lockdown. The Directive states that the Labour Courts will not remain open during the lockdown and no matters will be heard save for urgent matters, which will be heard telephonically, if the Judge deems the matter to be urgent

Spain 

The labour inspectorate has issued guidelines that its inspectors must follow to apply the existing health and safety regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The criterion will vary depending on the sector activity and, in particular, on whether employees have a professional risk of exposure to virus – i.e. those working within health care, lab and funeral sectors – or not.  

Sweden 

The Swedish government has proposed a temporary reduction of social security contributions during the period 1 March – 30 June 2020.  Only pension contributions will be made on top of any compensation that is paid out during that period. The reduction is applicable for up to thirty employees and to a salary amount of SEK 25 000 per month, which means that the employer will get a reduction of maximum SEK 5300 per employee and month. The purpose is to make it easier for employers hit by a sudden loss of income while wage costs remain.

United Kingdom

The Chancellor has today announced a package of support for self-employed people which he says will benefit 95% of the self-employed population. The scheme will enable self-employed individuals who are adversely affected by COVID-19 to apply for a taxable grant of 80% of average monthly profits over the last 3 years (or fewer, if less than 3 years), up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. 

The Coronavirus Bill received Royal Assent and is now the Coronavirus Act 2020. The Act includes provision for (1) the modification of the statutory sick pay (SSP) regime, so that SSP is payable from the first day of sickness or self-isolation and can be funded by HM Revenue and Customs; and (2) creates ‘emergency volunteering leave’, which will enable emergency volunteers in health or social care to take unpaid time off work and receive compensation for loss of earnings. Although the majority of the Act is now in force, the SSP rule changes and the emergency volunteering leave provisions both require secondary legislation, and so will only take effect on a date appointed by the Government.

The President of the Employment Appeal Tribunal has announced that the EAT will not be conducting any hearings (including telephone or Skype hearings) from 25 March 2020 until 15 April 2020.  Any appeals lodged with the EAT during this period can only be lodged by email.

 

March 25 Update 

Australia 

To conserve essential medical goods, new rules have been released cancelling most elective surgeries at public hospitals, but there are exceptions. Category one surgeries (where a patient needs treatment within 30 days or their condition could deteriorate quickly) and some exceptional category two cases (patient needs treatment within 90 days. Conditions causes pain, dysfunction or disability but unlikely to deteriorate quickly and unlikely to become an emergency) will continue until further notice. Elective surgeries at private hospitals can continue until 11.59pm on April 1.

All international travel from Australia has now been banned (as of Wednesday 25 March). Virgin, Australia’s second largest airline, has stood down 80% of its workforce.

The Fair Work Commission, Australia’s industrial relations tribunal, has moved online and is no longer accepting hard copy applications in person or by post.

Canada 

The government has invoked the Quarantine Act to require (as opposed to suggest) that all travellers entering Canada after 11:59p.m. today (March 25, 2020) self-isolate for 14 days. Failure to comply can result in penalties of up to $1,000,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years.

Alberta

  • The Workers’ Compensation Board (i) has deferred all 2020 workers’ compensation premium payments, (ii) is refunding any 2020 workers’ compensation premium payments that have already been made, and (iii) is reducing 2020 workers’ compensation premium payments by 50% for small and medium employers.

British Columbia 

  • The City of Vancouver has passed a by-law to allow it to fine business up to $50,000 that are not compliant with shut-down or social distancing requirements
  • The B.C. Employment Standards Act has been amended to provide unpaid leave to employees who meet any one of the following criteria: (i) they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are acting in accordance with a medical practitioner’s direction (ii) they are in quarantine or self isolation (iii) the employer, due to the employer's concern about the employee's exposure to others, has directed the employee not to work (iv) the employee is outside the province and cannot return to British Columbia because of travel or border restrictions (v) the employee is providing care to a child or someone who is under the day-day care and control of the employee, including because of the closure of a school or daycare or similar facility. The leave will last as long as any one of these criteria apply to the employee.  Read more.    

Ontario

  • The government has published a list of essential workplaces that will be permitted to remain open after the closure of non-essential workplaces to take effect at 11:59p.m. on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.  Read more
  • The province has launched a toll-free line (1-888-444-3659) to provide support to Ontario businesses who have questions about the province's recent emergency order to close at-risk ‎workplaces‎.

Quebec

  • The government has ordered the closure of all “non-essential businesses” by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Read more.  
China 

From March 25, Beijing requires all individuals including those who are elderly, young, pregnant and patients arriving from abroad to be isolated in a location assigned by the government first for nucleic acid testing. If the special groups (elderly, young, pregnant and patients) are tested as negative, they will be able to go back home for the rest of the 14 day’s quarantine period.

Hubei government announced that from March 25 - traffic can resume in Hubei province - except Wuhan.  From April 8, 2020, Wuhan will resume its traffic and connection with outside.

Colombia 

National quarantine began today March 25.  Mobilization is restricted for all residents.  It is only allowed for those people who work in essential activities: healthcare, foods, essential public services, financial service, among others.

Denmark 

The restrictions in Denmark will now continue until 13 April (closure of all public institutions, including schools, daycare centers, cafes, bars, restaurants (except for take away), hairdressers, malls and all indoor sports facilities etc.

On 24 March, the Danish Government passed the Danish Act on Temporary Salary and Wage Compensation for employees in the private labour market.  Read more details about the scheme here.

Hungary 

The following new regulations are applicable as of 25 March:

  • Detailed rules on the moratorium on payments (until the end of 2020) regarding loan/credit agreements have been published. These are as follows:
    • the moratorium is also applicable to loans provided by employers to employees;
    • compound interest shall not be calculated to interests not payed during the moratorium;
    • after the end of the moratorium the repayment period is extended in a way that the amount of repayment instalments (together with the interest not payed during the moratorium) shall not exceed those originally set out in the loan agreements;
    • with respect to consumer credit agreements entered into after March 19, 2020, the annual percentage rate of charge shall not exceed the the Hungarian Central Bank’s base rate + 5%, applicable until December 31, 2020
Ireland 

On 24 March 2020, the government announced a National COVID-19 Income Support Scheme.  The scheme introduces a new wage subsidy support and enhanced payments available under existing supports.  Full details here

Mexico 

The Ministry of Health has issued a decree ordering measures to  prevent and control risks associated to Covid-19 among which employers are obligated to stop attendance at work of those aged 65 or above, and other groups at risk such as pregnant or breastfeeding women, disabled persons, persons with chronic diseases (i.e. high blood pressure, pulmonary pressure, renal insufficiency, lupus, cancer, diabetes mellitus, obesity, liver insufficiency or metabolic, and heart disease) with full pay and without affecting their labor rights.

New Zealand 

New Zealand will go into Alert Level 4 at 11.59 tonight, involving a lockdown for 4 weeks (extendable).  The Government is: 

  • Facilitating a 6-month deferred mortgage payment scheme to support mortgage holders whose incomes are affected by COVID-19, so that Kiwis don’t lose their homes during this period
  • An estimated $9.3 billion in wage subsidies for affected businesses in all sectors and regions,
  • Support for renters through a freeze on rent increases and end to no-cause evictions on top of existing support like the Accommodation Supplement and MSD grants to help with rent and hardship payments
  • Protecting the ability of public health services to respond to this global pandemic and access the resources they need through an initial $500 million investment.
  • Doubling the 2020 Winter Energy Payment for Superannuitants and main-benefit recipients from 1 May to 1 October to make sure the most vulnerable are able to heat their homes particularly during a time when over-70s are to remain at home.
  • A $25 per week increase to main benefits to protect our most vulnerable and those who lose their jobs, on top of the $10 a week wage indexation increase from 1 April.
  • The $6.25 billion Business Finance Guarantee Scheme to provide loans of up to $500,000 for businesses with annual revenues between $250,000 and $80 million, for up to three years – 80% guaranteed by the Government.
  • Business tax changes to free up cashflow, including a provisional tax threshold lift, the reinstatement of building depreciation and writing off interest on the late payment of tax
Russia 

A number of measures aimed at self-isolation have been taken by authorities:

  • since 18 March
    • people arriving in Russia from abroad must self-isolate for 14 calendar days from the date of arrival. Employers should assist their employees in complying with self-isolation;
    • foreigners and stateless persons have been barred entry into Russia;
    • the procedure for processing and issuing work permits has been suspended;
  • since 26 March, people in Moscow aged over 65 and those with certain medical conditions are required to self-isolate.

From 19 March small and medium-sized businesses may defer rent payments for federal property.

A temporary procedure for granting and paying sick leave was introduced on 20 March. Temporary rules were introduced for processing electronic sick notes, as well as for processing and paying sickness benefits in the event of self-isolation in connection with COVID-19.

Spain 

Various guidelines have been issued by:

  1. The Labour Ministry detailing the procedure to be followed by employers for the employees affected by temporary lay-off/reduction of working hours to get unemployment benefits, and;
  2. the Health Ministry including procedural instructions to entities specializing in health and safety at work (i.e. “Servicios de Prevención”) in relation to COVID-19.
UK 

Individuals currently in the UK on an imminently expiring visa who cannot leave due to travel restrictions or self-isolation should notify the UK government to receive a visa extension until 31 May 2020.  To do this, the individual must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) at [email protected] and include the following information:

  • Full name (including any middle names)
  • Date of birth (dd/mm/yyyy)
  • Nationality
  • Previous visa reference number (this can be found in the top right hand corner of the visa vignette or Biometric Residence Permit)
  • Reason why the individual is unable to leave the UK (ie border to destination country has closed, suspension of all flights to destination country etc)

The government will notify the individual of the extension and confirm no enforcement action will be taken against the individual, nor will the period be held against them in future visa applications

  • The UK government have temporarily waived the out of country application requirement for certain visa holders who are unable to leave the UK due to travel restrictions or self-isolation.
  • Where individuals are sponsored under a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa and are now required to work from home owing to the pandemic, the sponsor is not obligated to make a Sponsor Management System change of circumstance request. Other sponsor changes should however be reported as usual.
Ukraine 

Today the Government of Ukraine prolonged all quarantine restrictions until April 24, 2020. The full text of the Government decision is not available yet.

 

March 24 Update 

Australia 

The Fair Work Commission has released a decision varying the Hospitality Award in response to the impacts of COVID-19.  The Hospitality Award covers employers in the hospitality industry and will apply to various employees across the industry.

The changes are as follows:  

  • the employer can require employees to perform alternative duties, including within other classifications in the award, provided that it is safe for the employee to do so and they have any requisite licence or qualification;
  • employees’ hours of work can be reduced, as follows and after consultation with those employees:
    • full-time employees can be directed to work an average of 22.8 – 38 hours per week; and
    • part-time employees can be directed to work an average of 60%-100% of their ordinary hours of work
  • where an employee’s hours are reduced as above, they will continue to accrue leave entitlements as if their hours had not been reduced;
  • where an employee’s hours are reduced as above, if they take a period of annual leave or personal leave, payment for that leave shall be as if theirs hours had not been reduced;
  • the employer may direct an employee to take annual leave, with 24 hours’ notice and subject to considering an employees’ personal circumstances; and
  • the employer and employee may agree to the employee taking annual leave at half-pay (eg taking 2 weeks of accrued leave, over 4 weeks at half pay).

The above changes are in effect immediately and for three months.

The Australian government has just announced the following extensions to key business shutdowns (in addition to previous ones) from midnight Wednesday for:

  • Food courts in shopping centre not to operate (except for take away food)
  • Auction houses
  • Real estate auctions and homes open for inspections are not to occur
  • Markets (except food)
  • Beauty and nail salons, waxing ,tanning places, tattoo parlours, spas, massage premises (except for health e.g. physio)
  • Hairdressers/barbers remain open but must observe social distancing rules and wherever possible to restrict haircuts to 30 minutes or less
  • Arcades and amusement centres
  • Play centres  (indoor and outdoor)
  • Personal trainers/boot camps – outdoors only and restricted to no more than 10 people
Belgium 

The Belgian Federal Government and Regional Governments published a number of decrees today concerning COVID-19, including the following:

  • On a national level, a number of sectors are considered to be essential sectors (e.g. the retail sector, limited to food, food for pets, flowers and plants). These essential sectors have now been confirmed by decree.
  • Working from home (telework) is obligatory for all non-essential companies, regardless of size, for all personnel with a function that can be performed from home. For functions where telework cannot be applied, companies need to take the necessary measures to guarantee compliance with the “social distancing rules”, in particular that a distance of 1,5 meters should be kept between each person. Companies in an essential sector should nevertheless, insofar possible, apply the system of telework and social distancing.
  • The Walloon government has implemented a “compensation premium” of 5.000 EUR for companies that are partially or completely closed as a result of the measures against COVID-19 and that are active in specific sectors. A compensation premium of 2.500 EUR will be granted to a company that has to modify its closing days without having to close the whole week as a result of the measures against COVID-19 and which are in a specific sector. The compensation premium should be requested within 60 days after the date of complete or partial closure. The formalities to apply for the compensation premium still need to be determined.
Czech Republic 

Prohibition of movement was extended until 1 April 2020.

As of 25 March 2020, shops exceeding 500 sqm must be reserved for customers aged 65 and over between 8 am and 10 am.

The Government approved a compensation package for employers affected by Covid-19. Salaries paid out during the forced closed-down should be compensated for 80%, quarantine or child-care leave also for 80%, and salaries paid out during supplies reduction or reduced demand for products/services should be compensated for 50%. We expect details to be announced soon.

The Government also proposed that small entrepreneurs (individuals) do not have to pay minimum social security contributions from March until August 2020. The proposal must be approved by the Parliament.

France 

The new law to deal with the Covid-19 epidemic - see our 23 March update below - has now been published.  The text (in French) is available here.  

Hong Kong  A $1 billion package of relief measures for the aviation industry has been announced. It comprises a government waiver of $670 million for air traffic control charges in 2019-20 for the Airport authority, which will be passed on in full to the airport community and $330 million in contributions from the authority.   The relief package is expected to benefit more than 400 companies including airlines, aviation support and associated passenger services, airport retail tenants and restaurants, as well as airport staff. Further rental concessions will also be provided to retail and restaurant tenants at the airport.   Additionally, a training incentive will be provided to frontline airport staff while on unpaid leave.
Hungary 

The following regulations are applicable as of 24 March:

  • Special provisions for judicial enforcement proceedings for the term of state of emergency, e.g. suspension of personal consultations, suspension of traditional auctions, on spot procedures, evictions and seizures related to judicial enforcement proceedings
  • Suspension of enforcement proceedings before the tax authority
  • Continuation of child-care fee and child-care allowance expiring under the term of the state of danger until the end of the term of state of danger. Child-care allowance and child-care fee are social security payments from the state during maternity leave. These will be continued until the end of state of emergency. 
  • The limit for contactless payments related to regular transactions when paying with card is increased from HUF 5000 to HUF 15,000
  • Exemption from payment of social tax, vocational contribution and the proportional part of rehabilitation contributions from March to June for enterprises with certain activities (e.g. catering, accommodation service, taxi service, sport, entertainment and outdoor service, production of movie, video, TV programme and programming and broadcasting activities).
  • Employee’s social security liabilities are also capped (at HUF 7,710) from March to June in case of certain enterprises with certain activities
  • Exemption of small enterprises with certain activities from the payment of small-enterprises tax for the term of state of emergency 
India

The Indian government has notified COVID-19 as a disaster . The Indian government has clarified that the spending of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds for COVID 2019 is now an eligible CSR activity. Accordingly, funds can be spent by corporates for various activities related to COVID-19 under item nos. (i) and (xii) of schedule VII, relating to promotion of health care and sanitation, and disaster management.

Several State governments (such as, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Odisha, and Uttarakhand) have ordered a complete shut-down of various shops, commercial establishments, offices, factories, workshops, go-downs etc.  The duration of the closure orders differs based on location (see below).  These States have however allowed the continued operation of ‘essential services’. While the specific definition of ‘essential services’ would differ in each State, broadly, the common ‘essential service’ providers would include – drinking water services, banking services, food and groceries, hospitals and medical stores, telecom and internet, and in some locations, IT / ITES units dealing with critical and essential services and for whom working from home is not feasible, in some other locations, IT/ITES establishment which provide services to other ‘essential service’ providers.

Duration of operation of the orders – Karnataka (23 March 2020 to 1 April 2020); Maharashtra (23 March 2020 to 1 April 2020); Telangana (22 March 2020 to 31 March 2020); Andhra Pradesh (22 March 2020 to 31 March 2020); West Bengal (23 March 2020 to 27 March 2020); Tamil Nadu (24 March 2020 to 1 April 2020); Odisha (22 March 2020 to 29 March 2020); and Uttarakhand (22 March 2020 to 31 March 2020).

The Supreme Court of India has passed on order that the limitation period prescribed under general or special law for filing petitions / applications / suits / appeals / all other proceedings, shall stand extended with effect from 15 March 2020 till further order/s of the Court. Such extension would be granted regardless of whether general / special law permits the delay to be condoned. This order has been passed by the Supreme Court in light of the difficulties that litigants may face (in light of COVID-19) in the filing process.

In Pune, office of the Collector and District Magistrate has ordered (on 22 March 2020) the closure of all enterprises in the IT/ITES sectors and has directed their employees to work from home. However, the employees of IT/ITES sectors who are involved in supporting ‘essential services’ and cannot operate from home or remote locations, may continue to work in the offices –  subject to a cap of 20% of the employees who work regularly otherwise. In this order, all enterprises in the manufacturing sector have also been required to close down operations with immediate effect. The only exceptions to this prohibition are (a) if complete closure would lead to permanent damage to equipment or production facility, then such facilities could retain less than 10% staff; or (b) for manufacturing units involved in producing essential items such as pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, pest control, etc. – such facilities would be allowed to operate with the optimum staff required for the supply of essential services

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) has adjourned all the matters listed for hearing during the period 21 March 2020 till 1 April 2020, and dates of hearing of these matters would be notified later. Further, for the aforesaid period, only urgent matters will be listed for admission upon mentioning as per the roster being issued separately.

Indonesia  The Directorate General of Disease Prevention and Control of the Ministry of Health issued Decree No. HK.02.02/II/753/2020 and Guidelines on the Prevention and Control of COVID-19, which obliges all clinics and hospitals to report any probable and confirmed cases to the Government through the Public Health Emergency Operation Centre (PHEOC). DKI Jakarta Regional Government through its press release No. 1141/SP-HMS/03/2020 had limit the use of public transportations (ie. Jakarta Rapid Transit Bus (Transjakarta), Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT) and KRL Commuterline) starting from Monday, 23 March 2020 in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the DKI Jakarta area.   The Ministry of Law and Human Rights temporarily suspends working activities in their office area in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through its Circular Letter No. SEK-04.OT.02.02 of 2020.   The Ministry of Education issued Circular Letter No.3 of 2020, which urges all regional education institutions to among other things, cooperate and report to the nearest health agency on their handling of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, to postpone large gatherings and to implement a clean and healthy lifestyle.
Morocco 

The Moroccan government imposed mandatory quarantine on 19 March which restricts circulation outside homes.

Two decrees have been adopted to address the spread of coronavirus-COVID19. These have been published today in the Moroccan official gazette and no official translation is available. The main provisions are:

  • Providing legal ground for the Moroccan government to take all necessary measures to limit the spread of any contagious diseases or epidemics 
  • Provide for penalties and sanctions to those who do not comply with the Moroccan government decisions 
  • Suspension of all legal deadlines provided for in Moroccan legislation and regulations except for appeals of cases relating to detainees 
  • The scope of mandated quarantine and its exceptions 
  • The prohibition of any meetings or gatherings  
  • The closing of all businesses or other establishments which are open to the public until the emergency has ended 
  • The obligation for employers to provide employees with a certificate in order to attend work.

The guide published by the Ministry of Labour referred to in yesterday's update, around handling issues such as reduced working hours, sick leaves, holiday, etc., has been translated into English and is available here.  

Philippines

As of midnight 22 March, entry of all foreign nationals is restricted.  Issuance of entry visas is suspended. All previously issued visas (including 9g visas) are deemed cancelled.  Visa-free entry privileges are also suspended.  The only exceptions are for foreign spouses and children traveling with a Philippine national, foreign crew members and foreign government and international organization officials accredited to the Philippines.   

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has issued the following Department Orders and Labor Advisories: Department Order No. 210 – Guidelines for the Implementation of a program for Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers Program #Barangay Ko, Bahay Ko (“TUPAD #BKBK”) Disinfection/Sanitation Project dated 18 March 2020 under which the underemployed, self-employed workers, and displaced marginalized workers who have lost their livelihood or whose earnings are affected by the enhanced community quarantine are called to disinfect or sanitize their houses and immediate vicinity of their houses for ten (10) days.  In return, they will be paid wages equivalent to 100% of the prevailing highest minimum wage in the region and enrollment to group micro-insurance, among others.

Puerto Rico 

On March 23, the Governor of Puerto Rico announced that all flights -except for cargo- must land only in the main international airport, where passengers will be checked for symptoms. Any person arriving on the Island must self-quarantine for 14 days, at their homes or hotels. Additionally, the Governor announced an increase in available funds for unemployment benefits to private employees who are not able to work, a $1,500 incentive to businesses with less than 50 employees which have ceased operations, a $500 incentive to self employed individuals and a 90-day moratorium in the payment of credit cards and loans, including commercial and mortgage loans, subject to the terms of each financial institution.

On March 23, the Secretary of Labor also issued her second Opinion related to COVID-19, Opinion 2020-02. The Secretary encouraged employers to continue paying employees’ full salaries, even if they are not working, and stated that nothing impedes providing partial payments, payments in advance, special compensations and emergency bonuses, considering the economic condition of the business. The Secretary clarified that non-exempt employees may request time-off to be charged to their vacation leave, but employers cannot compel employees to use the vacation leave; however, if the non-exempt employee does not have any available leave to use, the employer is not obligated to provide any compensation if the employee is not performing any work. As to vacation leave, it was also pointed out that non-exempt employees accrue this leave since they have 6 months in the employment, even if their probationary period is longer; that it is accrued retroactively since the beginning of the employment period, and that employers have discretion to allow the employee to use it after 6 months of employment. As to sick leave, it is accrued since the beginning of the employment period and may be used regardless of how long the person has been employed. The Secretary encouraged employers to be flexible when granting leaves. Additionally, the Secretary requested businesses exempted from the general lockdown to evaluate which employees are really essential in order to avoid unnecessary contagion risks at the workplace.

It should be noted that the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, that provides for a paid sick leave and extends the Family Medical Leave Act in certain circumstances, applies to Puerto Rico and will become effective on April 2. Please refer to the USA updates for information on these special leaves.

South Africa 

Last night, the South African President announced a 21-day lock-down in South Africa from midnight on Thursday, 26 March 2020.

The purpose of the lockdown is one of  a number of measures that are being put in place to try to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19.  Read more here about the measures that the government has begun implementing to mitigate the effects that the nationwide shutdown will have on both employers and employees in South Africa, and the President has committed to deploying further measures as needed.

In addition to this, the Department of Employment and Labour and the Unemployment Insurance Fund has issued guidelines in terms of which employees can claim benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Fund up to a capped amount in the event that there are reduced working hours or short time as a result of COVID-19 or where an employee is in quarantine as a result of COVID-19.  

 

March 23 Update

Australia 

The Government has put in place measures which restrict the following facilities from opening from midday local time on Monday 23 March:

  • pubs, registered and licenced clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation);
  • gyms and indoor sporting venues;
  • cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs;
  • restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery; and
  • religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies).

In NSW, Queensland, Tasmania and NT, schools remain open and it is up to the parents to decide whether to send children to school. In Victoria and the ACT, schools are closed from the end of Monday for school holidays, one week earlier than previously anticipated.

The Australian government has also introduced a second stimulus package worth approximately $66 billion, which includes measures such as:

  • eligible income support recipients receiving $550 each fortnight as a coronavirus supplement.  This is available to those who have been made redundant and to those who have been stood down, provided they satisfy standard eligibility requirements;
  • the wage subsidy for small businesses (being businesses with turnover less than $50 million) increasing to a maximum cash refund payment of $100,000. The tax-free payment is worth 100% of the tax that small and medium-sized businesses withhold from their employees’ salary and wages up to a maximum amount of $100,000; and
  • loan guarantees for businesses with turnover less than $50 million, where the government will guarantee 50% of an eligible loan through participating banks and non-bank lenders to businesses disrupted. Loans will be used for working capital purposes and be unsecured and it will be for loans granted within six months starting 1 April 2020.

The Government has implemented measures allowing individuals in "financial stress" due to the Coronavirus (including those made redundant, and those who have had their hours of work cut by more than 20%) to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21.

Austria 

New developments due to the latest legal changes: 

Short-time work: Short-time work can now also be applied to apprentices and managers who are socially insured under the ASVG. Short-time work is thus possible for all employees, including executives, apprentices and ASVG-insured managing directors. - The only exceptions (as things stand at present) are GSVG-insured managing directors and board members, marginally employed and freelancers.  The application form has now also been updated and can be downloaded from the AMS homepage.  Together with the social partner agreement and a brief explanation of why this measure is necessary, this must be submitted to the responsible AMS regional office by e-mail. The application can be submitted retroactively for a period starting on 1 March 2020. 

In order to calculate the amount of the short-time work allowance, the AMS has provided an online calculator available here.  

Employment prohibition:  There is still no general employment prohibition in Austria. Only employees who can also do their work from home via telework are to be allowed to work from home. If the work can only be done at the workplace, this is still possible, where the business is not shut down by the government due to measures to restrict the spread of COVID-19 (e.g. shops, bars, restaurants, etc). However, the employer must take appropriate precautions to minimize the risk of infection and to ensure that a certain minimum distance (at least 1 meter) is maintained between employees.

Holiday usage:  If employees are unable to perform their work due to measures based on the COVID-19-Maßnahmengesetz (prohibition or restriction of the access to businesses), at the request of the employer, vacation and working-time credits must be used up to a maximum of 8 weeks - however, vacation claims from the current vacation year must only be consumed up to an amount of 2 weeks.   The employer therefore now has the possibility to unilaterally order the consumption of vacation and working time credits in the above-mentioned cases.

Company employee representatives: The period of activity of works councils or other company-based employee representatives as well as of persons representing the interests of disabled persons whose period of activity ends between 16 March and 30 April 2020 shall be extended until the corresponding body is constituted, which shall be elected after 30 April 2020 in compliance with the relevant deadlines.

Special care period: If schools and childcare facilities are closed and employees are not entitled to time off work to care for the child, a special care period of up to 3 weeks can be agreed. In this respect, employers are entitled to reimbursement of one third of the remuneration paid to the respective employee (capped with the maximum contribution basis - thus EUR 5,370.- gross). This now also applies in cases in which there is a duty to care for disabled persons who are cared for and taught in an institution for the disabled or an educational institution for disabled persons and this institution has now been closed.

The employer's application for reimbursement must be submitted to the Federal Accounting Agency within 6 weeks after the official measures have been lifted.

Forfeiture periods and period for contesting dismissals: The expiry of limitation and forfeiture periods relating to labour law claims which have already started to run before 16 March or which have started to run after 16 March shall be suspended until 30 April 2020.  The same applies to the periods for contesting dismissals in court - their expiry is also suspended until 30 April 2020.

Belgium

Introduction of a simplified “coronaprocedure” to apply for temporary unemployment: Employers can have recourse to temporary unemployment, i.e. temporary suspension of the employment contract of employees during which there is no obligation to pay normal salary for employers, but employees would instead receive unemployment allowances paid by the ONEM/RVA (the Belgian national employment agency).

Since the coronavirus outbreak, the ONEM/RVA has had to cope with a huge amount of applications for these temporary unemployment regimes, causing substantial delays in processing all applications.  To tackle this issue, on 20 March 2020 the Belgian Federal Government opened up a new so-called “coronaprocedure” to apply for temporary unemployment.

Under this new coronaprocedure, all situations in which work cannot be performed due to the virus outbreak, for whatever reason and regardless of the employee category (blue-collar or white-collar) will upon notification to the ONEM/RVA automatically be recognized as temporary unemployment, without being required to submit a justification file as before under the regimes of temporary unemployment for force majeure or economic reasons (see our previous update).

The coronaprocedure only applies temporarily, during the quarantine measures imposed by the Federal Government which currently apply until 5 April inclusive (but could be extended if deemed necessary by the authorities).

After the end of the quarantine measures, employers will still have recourse to temporary unemployment by following the “regular procedures”, i.e. for economic reasons, or for force majeure (conditions and application process differs depending on the type of unemployment – see our previous update for further detail on these procedures).

The Federal Government has taken the following support measures for employees/companies:

  • Families that have been impacted financially by the corona-virus can request a postponement of the payment of their mortgage until September. Companies can also request a postponement of the payment of any loans they have concluded until September.
  • Self-employed people can request a delay in payment of one year of the due social security contributions for the first and second quarter of 2020.
  • A postponement of the income tax, company tax, legal entities tax, and non-resident tax declaration of two months for self-employed and employees.
  • All companies with outstanding debts vis-à-vis the National Office of Social Security, VAT, income tax, company tax, can request a payment plan (e.g. agreeing to delay of payment deadline, payment instalments, etc.).
  • Companies and self-employed who have financial issues due to the corona measures can also request a bridging loan for existing debts.

The Flemish Government is implementing additional measures:

  • For companies with offices in the Flanders region: a premium of 4.000 EUR (in case of full closure) will be provided for companies that are obliged to close due to the corona-virus. If the company needs to remain closed after 21 days, an indemnity of 160 EUR per day will be provided. If a company is only forced to close during the weekend, a one-off premium of 2.000 EUR will be provided. If the company needs to remain closed after 21 days, an indemnity of 160 EUR per day is provided.
  • For employees on temporary unemployment who reside in the Flanders region: the payment of 202,67 EUR to employees who are temporary unemployed to ensure that the water and utility bills for one month are covered.
Brazil 

President Bolsonaro issued Provisional Measure 927 on March 22.  This brings greater flexibility for employers and aims to avoid massive terminations. The Measure is already in force but shall be voted on by the Congress within 120 days.  The main changes are:

  • Home working without previous agreement is allowed.   A written contract shall be made to provide work conditions and expenses that shall be reimbursed by the employer (phone, internet). The employee may be requested to work on site again after the pandemic 
  • Vacations may be granted as long as the employer gives 48 hours’ notice to the employee; Employees considered in the risk group will have priority for vacations 
  • Collective vacations are allowed - no need to send a prior notice to the union representatives 
  • FGTS deposits are suspended.  Such payments shall be made as of July 
  • Bank of hours to compensate the hours not worked during the pandemic period. Such hours shall be compensated during the next 18 months counting from the end of the pandemic period. 

The governor of the State of São Paulo declared state of emergency in all cities in the State. All public services shall be suspended and restaurants, companies and offices shall be closed from March 24. The exception is for essential services (drugstores, supermarkets). Quarantine was determined for the next 15 days.

Canada 

Federal: The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has provided guidance regarding privacy matters arising from the COVID-19 outbreak, recognizing that ``During a public health crisis, privacy laws still apply, but they are not a barrier to appropriate information sharing.``

Ontario:  The government has today announced that all non-essential businesses must close as of 11:59 pm on March 24.  All limitation periods and court filing deadlines have been suspended until further notice. Hospitals have been given powers to temporarily supersede provisions of collective agreements for hospital workers.  Effective March 19, 2020, revisions to the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 were made to provide for an unpaid leave of absence for infectious diseases.  More information available here.   

British Colombia: All bars and restaurants have been ordered to move to a take-out or delivery model, or to close.  The following personal service establishments have been ordered to close: nail salons, tattoo parlours, barbershops, beauty parlours, health spas and massage parlours to close

Quebec:  The provincial government has created a temporary aid package allowing businesses to apply for loans of more than $50,000 if they can show temporary cash flow issues due to COVID-19.  All restaurant dining rooms and malls have been ordered to be closed.  Gatherings of 2 or more people are now banned, except families of more than 2 people may gather in their homes, plumbers and electricians can go into people’s homes, and certain workplaces and public transit will continue to operate.

Manitoba: Declared a state of emergency in the province, effective March 20, 202

New Brunswick: Declared a state of emergency in the province, effective March 19, 2020

Newfoundland and Labrador: Declared a public health emergency in the province, effective March 18, 2020

Nova Scotia: Declared a state of emergency in the province on March 22, 2020

Prince Edward Island: Declared a public health emergency in the province, effective March 16, 2020

Saskatchewan: Declared a state of emergency in the province, effective March 18, 2020

Northwest Territories: Declared a public health emergency, effective March 18, 2020

Nunavut: Declared a public health emergency, effective March 20, 2020

Yukon: Declared a public health emergency, effective March 18, 2020   

Saskatchewan: The Saskatchewan Employment Act has been amended to provide that, during a public emergency period, employees on layoff will not trigger a deemed termination until they have been laid off for a period of 12 weeks within a 16 week period.   The Saskatchewan Employment Act has been amended to include an unpaid public emergency leave of up to 13 weeks

China 

From March 23, all international flights destined for Beijing will enter into China via airports in 12 other cities first, i.e. Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Taiyuan, Hohhot, Shanghai, Jinan, Qingdao, Nanjing, Shenyang, Dalian, Zhengzhou or Xi 'an. After completing a coronavirus test in one of these cities, passengers who test negative and pass custom checks, may take their original flight to Beijing.

Colombia 

The President of Colombia announced on national TV a national mandatory curfew for 19 consecutive days starting from March 25.   

The Ministry of Labor issued Resolution 803 of 2020 that states that only the Ministry of Labor as a national authority, can consider requests for mass layoffs.

The President is considering to authorize the withdrawal of the annual severance payment (auxilio de cesantía) for those employees who go on unpaid leave.

The Government created the Emergency Mitigation Fund (Fondo de Mitigación de Emergencias).  One of the purposes of this Fund is that in order to guarantee the continuity of those businesses that provide services of national interest, the National Government may invest in equity and/or debt instruments issued by private or public entities.

Decree 091 March 22, 2020 allows telecommuting of the personnel from public and private companies who are strictly responsible for the payment of social security, salary payments, home office support, or any need that is essential to guarantee employers and contractors to continue performing their activities. 

Finland

The Finnish labour and trade unions proposed several temporary measures to help businesses in the corona crisis. On Friday 20 March 2020, the Finnish Government approved most of the proposed measures. Currently, the measures are in force for a fixed-term of three months. Some of the proposed measures require changes to the current legislation and the normal legislative process will apply, which may take up to several weeks. Among others, the following measures were approved by the Finnish Government:

  • Temporarily reducing the private sector employers’ pension contribution by 2.6 percentage points.
  • Deferring TyEL insurance payments for three months.
  • Reducing the minimum negotiation times in a co-operation procedure from the current 14 days and 6 weeks to 5 days.
  • Extending the right to lay off to fixed-term employment contracts.
  • Reducing the lay-off notice period from 14 days to 5 days.
  • Clarifying the option to lay off employees before the conclusion of co-determination negotiations.
  • Allowing the cancellation of an employment contract during a trial period for financial and production-related reasons.  
  • Extending the obligation to re-employ to 9 months if the employee has been dismissed during the fixed-term changes of the labour law.
  • Cancelling the unemployment security deductible period. Layoff periods are not counted towards the maximum period of unemployment security. Entitling employees to daily unemployment allowance even in the case of agreed lay-off.
  • Shorten the employment condition relating to unemployment benefits to 13 weeks for an employment that has commenced on 1 January 2020 or after.
France 

An emergency bill to deal with the Covid-19 epidemic was passed yesterday but has not yet been published.  By means of Executive Orders, the Government will be able, on the basis of this bill and within three months, to implement new provisions notably on:

  • Partial activity (extend the use of partial activity to new categories of beneficiaries, increase the number of hours that can be compensated for employees and reduce the remaining amount paid by the employer, etc.)
  • Paid holidays:
    • to allow an in-house or branch collective agreement to authorize the employer to impose or modify the dates on which part of the paid leave is to be taken, up to a limit of six working days;  
    • to allow any employer to unilaterally impose or modify the dates of reduced working hours (RTT), days off granted in the context of “forfait jours” schemes, and rest days allocated to the employee's time-saving account
  • Working hours (providing derogation from the rules of public order and/or the provisions of collective agreements concerning working hours, weekly or Sunday rest.)
  • Employee savings (modify the deadlines and terms of payment of the premiums under the voluntary and mandatory profit-sharing schemes)
  • Adapt the arrangements for monitoring the health of employees (deferring medical visits in order to prioritize the monitoring of the health of employees whose activity is essential to the continuity of the nation's life)
  • Measures relating to the exercise of the CSE missions (adapt the CSE information and consultation procedures, in particular by facilitating the use of remote consultation tools such as videoconferencing)
Hong Kong 

Travel Ban on Non-Hong Kong Residents:  Today, the Hong Kong Government announced that it will ban non-Hong Kong residents coming from overseas countries or territories arriving at the airport from entering Hong Kong for 14 days starting from 25 March.

Non-Hong Kong residents arriving in Hong Kong from Mainland China, Macau and Taiwan who have been to overseas countries or territories in the past 14 days will also be banned from entering. Those who have not been to overseas countries or territories in the past 14 days may enter Hong Kong but will be subject to quarantine orders for 14 days.

Proposed Ban on Sale of Alcohol: Today, the Government also announced that it intends to prohibit the sale of alcohol in restaurants, bars and clubs.  The exact details and scope of the proposed ban have not been confirmed, but the Government has said it would impact around 8,600 establishments.  The Government has not given a targeted effective date but said that the ban would be implemented “swiftly”.

Closure of Government Offices: Yesterday, various Government departments announced that they will be closed for varying periods of time in response to the recent new wave of COVID-19 cases. The Immigration Department will provide limited services from 23 March including for urgent application and collection of Hong Kong travel documents, replacement of identity cards and first registration of identity cards for new arrivals to Hong Kong, application of foreign domestic helpers’ visa and extension of stay.

The Judiciary announced that the General Adjourned Period, which has been in effect since 29 January, will be extended for two weeks until 5 April.

No court hearings will be held except for fresh remand cases at the Magistrates' Courts. The courts may continue to deal with cases on paper if the presiding Judge or Judicial Officer considers them to be urgent and essential court business.

Court hearings originally scheduled for 24 March to 5 April will be adjourned and will not be held unless they are urgent and essential as directed by the court. 

Government Relief Programmes: The Hong Kong government has announced a HK$30 billion relief package to combat the impact of COVID-19. The exact details of the measures have yet to be announced, but they appear to be available only for businesses in the following sectors/groups:

  • retail
  • food and drink service providers
  • transport companies
  • students
  • arts and culture
  • guest houses; and
  • travel agents. 

Of the HK$30 billion, it is not clear how much has been ringfenced for guest houses and food/drink service providers. We can provide further updates when details of the measures have been announced.

Hungary 

The following announcements were made with respect to measures regarding COVID-19 on March 23, 2020:

  • Exemption for small enterprises from the obligation to pay contributions, and exemption from the small-enterprises tax if incurred before March 1, 2020. Exemptions are for the term of state of danger;
  • Evictions and seizures are suspended for the term of state of danger;
  • The collection of tax debts is suspended for the term of state of danger;
  • The entitlements for child-care fee, child-care allowance expiring under the term of the state of danger are prolonged until the end of said term.
India 

Due to the impact of Covid-19 on business, a few companies have reduced / are making arrangements to reduce workforce headcount and/or the salaries of employees.  The Ministry of Labour and Employment issued an Advisory to be circulated employers of all public and private establishments under which it is requested that employers of public / private establishments to extend their cooperation by

  • not terminating employments, particularly of casual or contractual workers
  • not reducing their salaries
  • deeming an employee to be on duty, in case she/he takes leave or if the establishment is made non-operational due to Covid-19.

This is an Advisory so not mandatory to be followed by employers.

While not confirmed through any official notification, a few newspapers have reported that the government is planning on providing unemployment benefits to a section of organised workers who may lose their jobs due to Covid-19.  Currently, employees in India are not entitled to receive any unemployment insurance / benefits from the government.

Gurugram (Haryana): The District Magistrate has ordered (DM's Order) a complete shutdown of all private corporate establishments and factories till 31 March 2020 (except essential services which includes media, medical centres, banking services, telephone and internet services, rail and transportation services, e-commerce of all essential goods (groceries, medical equipment, etc.) and production, transportation and supply chains of the same, IT / ITES and data centres needed for continuity of IT Services to the essential service providers, etc).  The DM's Order also permits factories and commercial entities to have security and fire-fighting personnel on-site. Given that the DM's Order has been issued under the powers granted to the State Government under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, it would be mandatory to comply with the directions issued under it (failing which there could be penal sanctions).

Karnataka: The Government has issued an advisory to all IT and Biotech companies in in the State to, inter-alia, observe work from home (except for employees working on 'mission critical and essential services'), have in place a self-regulatory mechanism to allow working from home, practice social distancing, maintain hygiene, to put business travel plans on hold, replace face-to-face meetings with video conferencing, etc. As this is structured as an advisory, the same is not mandatory to be followed by employers.

Gujarat: The Government has ordered lockdown in the territorial jurisdiction of 5 cities - Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, and Gandhinagar. However, this order is not applicable to certain essential-service providers, such as - groceries stores, hospitals and medical stores, telephone and internet services, rail and transportation services, IT/ITES and data centres needed for continuity of IT Services to the essential service providers, etc. An English version of this order is unavailable. This order on complete lockdown is applicable till 25 March 2020.

Rajasthan: The Department of Medical, Health and Family Welfare has ordered a complete lockdown of all public and private establishments. However, this order is not applicable to certain essential services like health and welfare, drinking water, IT services, etc. An English version of this order is unavailable. This order on complete lockdown is applicable till 31 March 2020.

Karnataka: The Director of Health and Family Welfare Services has ordered - (a) closure of all shops, commercial establishments, workshops, go-downs dealing with non-essential services; (b) labour-intensive industries to operate at 50% staff-levels, on rotation basis and after ensuring social distancing; and (c) all IT and Biotech units to WFH, except for staff dealing with critical and essential services. This order (issued under the EDA and other laws / regulations) shall remain in effect from 23 March 2020 till the midnight of 1 April 2020. However, essential services such as - food, ration shops, water, bank, telecom, electricity, etc., are excluded from the purview of the restrictions under the order.

Haryana: The Health and Family Welfare Department ordered (HDO) a complete lockdown in the territorial jurisdiction of revenue districts of Gurugram, Faridabad, Sonipat, Panipat, Jhajjar, Rohtak, and Panchkula from 22 March 2020 till 31 March 2020. Under the HDO, all shops, commercial establishments, offices and factories, workshops, go-downs etc., shall close their operations. However, this would not cover 'essential services' or private establishments providing such services, or which are linked to the containment efforts of Covid-19.   For reference, 'essential services' has been defined to include, inter-alia - electricity, water, bank, food, groceries, hospitals, medical stores, telecom and internet services, etc. 

National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi: The the Health and Family Welfare Department has ordered (NCT Order) a lockdown in the whole territory of NCT from 23 March 2020 till 31 March 2020. In the NCT Order, all shops, offices, weekly bazaars, commercial establishments, factories, workshops, go-downs, etc., have been directed to close their operations. However, certain services / establishments such as electricity, health, water, telecom, internet and postal services etc., are excluded from the applicability of the NCT Order.

The NCT Order also requires all persons to stay at home and to come out only for availing basic services within the vicinities of their homes. In this regard, the NCT Order provides that employees of private establishments (including contractual and temporary workers) who are required to stay at home as per the said Order shall be deemed to be 'on-duty' and be paid in full.

Jharkhand: The Department of Health, Medical Education & Family Welfare has announced a complete lockdown till 31 March 2020. As per this order all shops, commercial establishments, offices and factories, workshop, go-downs, weekly bazaars etc., shall close their operations. However, essential services like electricity, health, water, telecom, internet and postal services etc, are excluded from the applicability of this order. An English version of this order is unavailable.

Ireland 

New COVID-19 measures for immigration and travel: 

  1. Travel Restrictions: The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advises against all non-essential travel overseas until at least until 29 March 2020.  This includes Britain but does not apply to Northern Ireland. The Irish Health Authorities require anyone coming into Ireland to restrict their movements on arrival for 14 days.  This rule does not apply to individual returning to Ireland from Northern Ireland or any essential supply chain workers, such as pilots and maritime staff.
  2. Automatic Extension of Immigration Permissions: The Government has announced that it will automatically renew any immigration or international protection permissions to reside in the State that are due to expire between 20 March 2020 and 20 May 2020 for a period of 2 months.  The renewal of these permissions will be on the same basis as the existing permission and the same conditions attach.  In relation to persons with existing permission under Directive 2004/38/EC (Free Movement Directive), the automatic renewal is subject to the requirement that the person is complying with the requirements of the Directive.
  3. New permit applications: The Government has also announced its decision to temporarily cease accepting new visa applications as part of the combined efforts to tackle COVID-19. The measure took effect from close of business last Friday.  While it will still be possible to apply for an Irish visa online in the normal manner, these temporary measures mean that applicants will not be able to complete their application.  Any application made online will remain valid until the restrictions are lifted.  Certain priority/emergency cases will continue to be processed and may be applied for online in the usual way (e.g. emergency visas for medical professionals).
Italy 

Today a new Presidential Decree has been published in Italy to adopt measures aimed at further containing the spread of the COVID-19.  According to the Decree, starting from March 23 and until April 3, there is an obligation to suspend all production and commercial activities.

The suspension does not apply in the following cases:

  • industrial and commercial companies operating in certain specific fields (according to a chart attached to the Decree);
  • professional activities;
  • activities that provide utilities and essential services;
  • production, transportation, marketing and delivery of drugs, healthcare technology and medical-surgical devices;
  • production, transport and marketing and delivery of agricultural food products;
  • activities related to the chains authorized to continue production;
  • continuous production cycle plants;
  • aerospace and defense industry activities; other activities of strategic importance for the national economy.

All suspended production activities must follow the following rules:

  • they can continue, provided that they are organized remotely (working from home modality – smart working)
  • they can complete the tasks necessary for suspension up to March 25, 2020 and they can send the goods in stock
Mexico 

Starting March 23, the federal government has closed non-essential activities as part of the Social Distancing Program. The period of closure runs from March 23 through April 20.   

The Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Health have also issued a Guide for Employers and Employees (in Spanish).   

Morocco 

As of Friday 20 March at 6 pm, a health emergency status was put in place in Morocco. This means that circulation is restricted and employees can only attend the workplace with a document signed by the employer.

The Ministry of Labor has also issued a guide for employees and employers around handling issues such as reduced working hours, sick leaves, holidays, etc.  We will post an English version shortly.   

Poland 

The Polish Government has announced details of the anti-crisis package including the Act on Special Arrangements for the Protection of Jobs.  This is still in draft law, but may come into force next week.   The bill includes new rules on agreeing temporary stoppages/ reductions of working time with employees and state support for employers for salary payments, changes in the rules on medical check-ups for employees, extended time limits for work permit applications and greater flexibility on working time limits.  Read our full report here

Portugal 

Following the declaration of state of emergency, Decree no. 2-A/2020 was published, comprising several measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.  Among other rules, citizens are now subject to a general duty of isolation, being permitted to circulate on public roads to buy essential goods and attend work only, teleworking is now mandatory (if possible) and companies in the retail sector (excluding those selling essential goods) and pursuing recreational and cultural activities (e.g. clubs, theatres, restaurants, gyms) have been forced to close. Establishments that remain open to the public must observe specific hygiene and safety measures (e.g. min. distance of 2 meters between two people).

Puerto Rico 

The Governor of Puerto Rico declared a state of emergency on March 12, 2020 and, on March 15, ordered a general lockdown from March 16 to March 30.  In essence, no one can be out of their homes.  From 5am to 9pm, citizens may get essential goods at supermarkets, pharmacies and gas stations; buy food only through drive-thru, carry-out or delivery; receive medical services; make payments, deposits or withdrawals at financial institutions, pick up someone at the airport and transport the elderly or people with disabilities in need of care. From 9pm to 5am, people can only go out in case of an emergency.

Employees performing essential functions to provide the services described above, as well as public and private security officers, garbage management and cleaning personnel, personnel maintaining the electricity, water and communications infrastructure, and transportation providers are allowed to attend their workplaces. This includes employees of suppliers that provide eligible services to exempt industries, pursuant to the terms of Circular Letter No. 2020-02 of the Puerto Rico Department of Economic Development and Commerce.  Non-exempted businesses that require their employees to show up at work are subject to a $5,000 fine for each violation; individuals also face six months of prison. The Government is also considering regulations to cancel these businesses’ operating licenses for non-compliance.

Cruise ports are closed since March 14. The airports are operating as usual, and passengers started to be questioned and tested for temperature when arriving to the Island on March 18. The Governor has asked the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to suspend all domestic and international flights for 14 days, but the request is still pending. Given that Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States of America, US travel bans (China, Iran, Europe) apply. Subject to the above, each business should determine travel restrictions for its employees, such as cancelling non-essential business travel and requiring a two-week self-quarantine after returning from business or personal travel.

For employers that are allowed to open for business, they are required to provide a safe work environment, free of health hazards. The US Center for Disease Control and PR Labor Department recommendations are to promote teleworking, stagger shifts, avoid work in groups and provide protection, such as gloves, masks and hand sanitizer, as well as requiring employees to stay home if they feel sick. Given that a pandemic has been declared, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidelines on the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act apply and allow employers to ask employees if they have COVID-19 symptoms and take their temperature; any medical information from employees must be kept confidential. A medical certification may be required to return to work after the employee has experienced COVID-19 symptoms.  

US federal labor regulations generally apply in Puerto Rico. Employers in Puerto Rico should pay attention to the bills requiring providing leaves to employees in exchange for tax benefits to employers that have been recently approved or are being discussed in the US Congress.

Exempt employees, including those working remotely, must be paid their full weekly salary if they perform any work during the week, even if the productivity is lower. Employers should establish reasonable productivity goals during the emergency. Meanwhile, non-exempt hourly workers must only be paid for the hours they work. If the employer has hourly employees working from home, it must establish timekeeping procedures (paper timesheets, website login, check in and out by email) and make sure the employee complies with overtime and meal period requirements.

Additionally, under PR Act 379 of 1948, a non-exempt employee may request a change in schedule, number of working hours and workplace; the employer has discretion to grant or deny it, but must state the reasons. Employees may also use their accrued sick leave if necessary and employees covered by PR Act 180-1998 may also use up to five days of the sick leave to care for partners, children, parents or elderly or disabled persons under their custody. The PR Department of Labor, by means of Labor Secretary Opinion No. 2020-01, encouraged employers to keep paying the employees’ compensation -for example, by approving vacation leave- and reminded that employers are free to provide benefits in addition to the ones required by legislation.

A bill (PC 2428) was approved by both legislative chambers and sent to the Governor for her consideration on March 19. This bill would require private employers to provide a 5-day paid special leave to employees who have or are suspected to have COVID-19, after they have exhausted their accrued sick leave and vacation leave.

Another bill (PS 1538) requiring private employers to continue paying salary or compensation to employees -including hourly employees- if the business ceased operations due to coronavirus, without charge to any license, was approved by the Puerto Rico Senate on March 16, but it did not pass in the House of Representatives on March 19.

The employees affected by business shutdowns or temporary closures may request unemployment benefits through the PR Labor Department’s webpage. 

Romania 

The Government issued an Emergency Ordinance on 20 March, which came into force on 21 March. provides state support for employers in the event of temporary closure / reduction of business, and state support for employees in the event of school closures.  Read full details here. 

South Africa 

A new notice has been issued by the Compensation Fund regarding Compensation for occupationally-acquired Novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19).  Employees who contract COVID-19 in the course and scope of their employment can claim from the compensation fund as opposed to claiming from their employer, in accordance with the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, 1993 (“COIDA”).

In order to be eligible to make a claim, an employee must be able to show the following:

  1. Occupational exposure to a known source of COVID-19;
  2. A reliable diagnosis of COVID-19 as per the WHO guidelines;
  3. An approved official trip and travel history to countries and/or areas of high risk for COVID-19 on work assignment;
  4. A presumed high-risk work environment where transmission of COVID-19 is inherently prevalent; and
  5. A chronological sequence between the work exposure and the development of symptoms.

In terms of the COIDA, employees do not need  to prove fault in order to succeed in a claim, they merely need to prove that the disease was contracted in the course and scope of their employment.

Spain 

The Government has announced that the state of emergency will be extended for 15 more days until 11 April.  This is still to be approved by the Spanish Council of Ministers.

Ukraine 

As of 1200, March 24, all tourist flights are prohibited into and out of Ukraine.  All passenger flights, which are performed not through Boryspil International Airport, will be prohibited. This applies exclusively to passenger traffic. 

As of March 23, an emergency situation was introduced in Donetsk, Ternopil and Cherkasy region by Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (relevant decisions have previously been taken by the regional commission on techno-ecological safety and emergency situations). 

As of March 20 an emergency situation was introduced in Dnipropetrovsk, Ivano-Frankivsk, Donetsk regions and in the city of Kyiv. The legal implications are different from an emergency state (when certain citizens' rights may be restricted).  

The Commission on Techno-Ecological Safety and Emergency Situations of Kyiv City Council took additional measures to limit the impact of the coronavirus epidemic, inter alia:

  • use of public transport is allowed only under special tickets for certain categories of citizens: medical workers, public utilities workers, workers whose activities are essential, and 
  • the number of people who can be in pharmacies and grocery stores at the same time is limited.
US 

Federal: Families First Coronavirus Response Act: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “FFCRA”) was signed into law by President Trump on March 18, 2020, goes into effect on April 2, 2020 and expires on December 31, 2020.  The FFCRA requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide COVID-19-related paid sick and family leave to eligible employees.  The FFCRA provides for 80 hours of paid sick leave for eligible full-time employees and reduced amounts for part-employees, and expands the federal Family and Medical Leave Act to cover leave to care for a child if the child’s school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider of the child is unavailable, due to a public health emergency.  To help offset the costs associated with these new paid leave requirements, the FFCRA provides for various capped employer payroll tax credits.

EEOC Guidance: On March 19, 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated its Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act publication (available at https://www.eeoc.gov/facts/pandemic_flu.html).  The EEOC originally issued that guidance in October 2009 during the spread of the H1N1 virus, and confirmed that it was applicable to the coronavirus pandemic in early March 2020.  The updated version now includes specific references to COVID-19 and its impacts on various employment-related matters.  The EEOC guidance makes clear that while the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) remains in effect, it does not interfere with employers following advice from the CDC and other public health authorities on appropriate steps to take relating to the workplace.  So, for example, employers may know take employees’ body temperatures to determine whether someone has a fever, which would normally be considered a prohibited medical test under the ADA (the information remains subject to the ADA’s confidentiality protections).  The guidance also makes clear that employers may send home employees with COVID-19 or symptoms associated with it (e.g., a fever).

Guidance on Identifying Essential Workers: On March 19, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency of the federal government issued guidance to support state, local, and industry partners in identifying the critical infrastructure sectors and the essential workers needed to maintain the services and functions Americans depend on daily and need to be able to operate resiliently during the COVID-19 pandemic response.  This document gives guidance to state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions and the private sector on defining essential critical infrastructure workers. Promoting the ability of such workers to continue to work during periods of community restriction, access management, social distancing, or closure orders/directives is crucial to community resilience and continuity of essential functions.

Illinois: Illinois incorporated the recommendations in the “stay at home” Orders issued Governor Pritzker on March 20.  It is anticipated that most, if not all, Governors who issue such orders will do the same.

 

20 March update 

Australia

The Australian Government has provided further rules on indoor gatherings, with an arrangement that there be four square metres provided per person in an enclosed space. For example where the enclosed premises is 100 square metres, 25 people are allowed in the room.

The Australian Government is providing $444.6 million of additional funding to support aged care facilities. The Federal Budget has been delayed from May until October. Non-essential (non-medical/health, police and educational staff) travel into remote Indigenous communities has now also been banned.

Australian banks have agreed to defer existing loan repayments for six months for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Businesses need to register with their banks to access the deferral.

The states of Queensland and Tasmania have imposed additional travel restrictions, effectively quarantining those states from the rest of Australia.

Belgium 

The Federal Minister of Work announced this afternoon that during the quarantine measures taken by the Federal Government, a new and automatic process for application of temporary unemployment will apply, called the “coronaprocedure”. This procedure would apply to all employee categories (blue-collar or white-collar), and would automatically apply as of notification of the temporary unemployment to the national employment agency ONEM/RVA. There would also be no need to submit a justification file, to demonstrate the impossibility to work. Further, employees enrolled in this new coronaprocedure would be eligible for increased unemployment allowances paid by the ONEM/RVA, i.e. an extra 5,63 EUR per day. More details on this new procedure will follow soon.

All non-essential travels, both travels abroad as within the Belgian border, are now banned until further notice.

Self-employed people who are in financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 outbreak can apply for payment facilitations vis-à-vis the social security authorities, i.e. extension of deadlines for payment of social security contributions, remission of some specific contributions, temporary reduction of contributions, etc.

The Flemish Government will pay a one-time premium of 202,63 EUR to all employees with residence in the Flanders region, and who took up temporary unemployment due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This extra premium will be automatically paid to all concerned employees, ans is aimed at supporting the concerned employees in paying for their energy and water bills during their temporary unemployment.

China

Shanghai announced that from 20 March, 2020, Australia, Malaysia, Greece, Czech Republic, Finland, Qatar, Canada and Saudi Arabia were added into the list of restricted countries, from which people arriving into Shanghai shall be under home quarantine or central quarantine for 14 days.

(Previous restricted country list for Shanghai: South Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan, France, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria.)

Colombia 

The closure of the Colombia’s main airport has been confirmed as of March 23, 2020. Only cargo flights will be able to arrive and depart the country, considering the special needs for the Colombian citizens to be provided with food and health essentials needs. Flights who will transport foreigners that plan to go to their countries will be allowed to leave.

Bogotá’s curfew started as of March 19, 2020 at 23:59 up to March 23, 2020 at 23:59. 

Ministry of Healthcare and the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism issued a Resolution ordering the closure of all the business, commercial, recreation, leisure, gambling or video games establishments.  Hotel and food services are exempted from this restriction.  This order will be effective until April 15, 2020.

Germany 

Bavaria has announced further restrictions to leave the house as of tonight. People are allowed to leave the house only for substantial reasons, such as work, see a doctor, food shopping, sport/walk outside (but only alone or with members of household). All restaurants have to close, except for food deliver or take away.

Hong Kong 

The Labour Department appealed to employers to have early discussions with employees on flexible arrangements concerning the Ching Ming Festival holiday on April 4. 

Employers may give prior notice to employees in accordance with the Employment Ordinance to arrange for them to take an alternative holiday within 60 days before or after the statutory holiday. With the mutual consent of the employer and the employee, any day within 30 days before or after the statutory holiday or alternative holiday can be taken by the employee as a substituted holiday.

Hungary 

The following new regulations shall be applicable as of 20 March, with respect to COVID19 coronavirus epidemic:

  • Retail sales outside of business premises can be conducted without notification and registration in case of daily consumer goods and catering services
  • Parcel delivery services can be conducted without notification and registration
  • The contracting authority may derogate from the provisions of procurement in case of procurements in connection with coronavirus
India 

In his speech on the evening of 19 March, the Prime Minister urged State Governments to take measures to impose an all India curfew on 22 March (Sunday) between 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

Pune (Maharashtra): to prevent mass gatherings of 5 or more persons, the District Collector has ordered the closure of shops, service establishments, shopping complexes, malls, supermarkets, educational institutions, etc. where 5 or more persons could be gathered in private or public places. However, this order would not apply to certain types of establishments such as, media houses, government offices, transportation, hospitals, medical shops, etc. Establishments including those in the Information and Technology sector which cater to “critical national and international infrastructure” have also been excluded from this order – however, such establishments would need to specifically communicate to the  District Collector regarding their need to remain open. Mumbai: The Municipal Commissioner, Greater Mumbai has issued a direction to identify roads in the city on which all shops and commercial activities should be closed on alternate days. Under the direction, the Assistant Commissioners in North Mumbai, South Mumbai and 'A' ward have issued further orders identifying specific roads in their respective jurisdictions, which should be closed on alternate days (with effect from 19 March). These notifications require all shops and establishments except:

  • medical stores, grocery shops, fuel stations and banks in South Mumbai; and 
  • medical stores and grocery shops in North Mumbai and in 'A Ward'

to remain closed on designated days of the week. While the term 'establishments' used in these notifications could be interpreted to include even corporate offices, municipal authorities in Mumbai are taking a view that the three notifications would not apply to IT companies and is limited to shops, malls, street hawkers, hotels, etc.

Indonesia  The Head of the Jakarta Special Capital City Province (DKI Jakarta) Manpower, Transmigration and Energy Agency (Disnakertrans) has issued a Circular Letter on The Call to Work From Home (Circular Letter 14/2020) which urges company leaders to temporarily suspend business activities, or temporarily reduce some parts of their businesses e.g, employees, working hours and operations, unless they cannot halt their business activities, because they are directly related to health services, staple foods or the supply of fuel.   Employers are expected to involve their employees in deciding on and implementing the above measures. In addition, employers must report the measures they take to the Disnakertras and the Disnakertrans regional office in the DKI Jakarta Area although Circular Letter 14/2020 does not impose any sanction for failure to do so. On 17 March, the Ministry of Manpower issued Circular Letter on the Protection for Employees and Business Operations with respect to the Prevention and Handling of Covid-19 (Circular Letter 3/2020). Circular Letter 3/2020 mainly instructs Governors all over Indonesia to take preventive measures against the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, including among others the following: 
  • controlling and supervising the application of the laws and regulations in the areas of Work Safety and Health (Keselamatan dan Kesehatan Kerja - K3);
  • informing all related organizations and parties that are under the control and supervision of each Governor;
  • collecting data and reporting every case likely to be a Covid-19 case;
  • ordering all company leaders to prevent the spread of Covid-19 by leading a clean and healthy lifestyle and integrating the K3 program, the utilization of a Safety and Work Health Development Committee and optimization of work health service functions;
  • encouraging all company leaders to immediately establish an emergency plan for facing the Covid-19 pandemic in order to reduce the risk of the spread of Covid-19 in the work place;
  • if an employee is suspected of being infected, following the procedure for maintaining health standards issued by the Ministry of Health.
 Governors must also ensure the wage protection of employees for the following conditions:
  • for employees who are considered persons under supervision (ODP) related to Covid-19 according to a doctor and cannot go to work for 14 (days) or based on the Ministry of Health’s standards, their wages must be paid in full;
  • for employees categorized as suspected case of Covid-19 and quarantined according to a doctor, their wages must be paid in full while they are in isolation or quarantine;
  • for employees who cannot go to work because they are infected with Covid-19 as proved by a doctor, their wages must be paid in accordance with the prevailing laws and regulations;
  • for companies which limit their business activities because of regional policies and regulations which cause half or all of their employees not to come to work, while maintaining the continuity of their businesses, the amount of the wages or the wage payment method can be changed according to an agreement between the employer and the employees.

Updates on information regarding the pandemic in Indonesia can now be accessed in an official website provided by Indonesian Government (Indonesian Language). 

Malaysia 

The Ministry of Human Resources (MOHR) clarified statements made on 19 March in relation to the payment of salaries during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period and insisted that employers are obliged to pay salaries during this period.  The MOHR also stated that this obligation includes employees falling outside the scope of the Employment Act.  Employees who are unhappy about being placed on mandatory unpaid leave have been asked to lodge complaints, which will be investigated following the cessation of the MCO period.

Philippines 

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has issued the following Department Orders and Labor Advisories:

Order No. 209 (DO 209) dated 17 March: 

  • Establishments who have opted to utilize Flexible Work Arrangement (FWA) due to COVID-19 must file a report to DOLE with details of the employees affected by the FWA
  • Affected Workers (defined as those whose working hours, and therefore regular wage is reduced due to the implementation of the FWA under Labor Advisory No. 9 or those whose work was suspended by reason of the suspension of the employer’s operations) will be entitled to a lumpsum, non-conditional, one-time financial assistance amounting to Php5,000 from DOLE (provided establishment has submitted all the required forms including the Establishment Report under Labor Advisory No. 9)
  • DOLE shall provide employment opportunities to affected workers

Labor Advisory No. 12 dated 18 March: 

  • Clarified that Affected Workers under DO-209 shall mean any worker, regardless of status (probationary, regular, or contractual) who are employed in an establishment affected by COVID-19
  • The CAMP program under DO 209 shall be applicable nationwide
  • Employer must submit the Establishment Report plus the company payroll as of February 2020 or earlier
  • Employer must submit to the appropriate DOLE Regional Office
  • Disbursement will be made by DOLE directly into the payroll account through bank transfer
  • CAMP program shall be effective as of 21 March 2020

A memorandum has been published clarifying/modifying the 16 March Memorandum by the Executive Department:

  • Overseas Filipino workers, returning Filipinos (balikbayans) and foreign nationals will be allowed to exit the Philippines at any time
  • Heads of Missions, their representatives, limited personnel and staff are exempted from strict home quarantine if they are performing diplomatic functions, subject to guidelines to be issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
  • Hotels and similar establishments will not be operate except to cater to guests who have existing booking accommodations as of 17 March 2020, for those with existing long-term leases, employees from exempted establishments as per Memorandum dated 16 March 2020
  • Until 20 March 2020, BPO and export-oriented enterprises shall be allowed to transfer necessary equipment to facilitate work from home arrangements
  • Until 20 March 2020, BPO and export-oriented enterprises shall be allowed to make arrangements for hotels for basic lodging
  • Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations shall not be allowed to operate
  • Other than the foregoing, the guidelines provided in the 16 March Memorandum shall remain in effect
Spain 

The Labor Ministry has issued guidelines that the local labour authorities must follow to apply the temporary suspension of employment contracts/reduction of working hours extraordinary measures. In particular, clarification on when the situation should be considered a “force majeure” one.

Taiwan  The Taiwan Central Bank cut interest rates by 25 basis points down to 1.125% as a pre-emptive measure.  The government announced that TWD 100 billion in stimulus money was allocated and additionally TWD 110 billion was allocated for tourism and airline industries specifically
US

Federal: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that it will exercise discretion to defer the physical presence requirements associated with Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) under Section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  Employers with employees taking physical proximity precautions due to COVID-19 will not be required to review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence.  However, employers must inspect the Section 2 documents remotely (e.g., over video link, fax or email, etc.) and obtain, inspect, and retain copies of the documents, within three business days for purposes of completing Section 2.  Employers also should enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay in the Section 2 Additional Information field once physical inspection takes place after normal operations resume.  Once the documents have been physically inspected, the employer should add “documents physically examined” with the date of inspection to the Section 2 additional information field on the Form I-9, or to section 3 as appropriate.  These provisions may be implemented by employers for a period of 60 days from the date of this notice OR within 3 business days after the termination of the National Emergency, whichever comes first. 

Employers who avail themselves of this option must provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee. This burden rests solely with the employers.

Once normal operations resume, all employees who were onboarded using remote verification, must report to their employer within three business days for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.  Once the documents have been physically inspected, the employer should add “documents physically examined” with the date of inspection to the Section 2 additional information field on the Form I-9, or to section 3 as appropriate.

Any audit of subsequent Forms I-9 would use the “in-person completed date” as a starting point for these employees only.

This provision only applies to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely.  If there are employees physically present at a work location, no exceptions are being implemented at this time for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.  However, if newly hired employees or existing employees are subject to COVID-19 quarantine or lockdown protocols, DHS will evaluate this on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, employers may designate an authorized representative to act on their behalf to complete Section 2.  An authorized representative can be any person the employer designates to complete and sign Form I-9 on their behalf.  The employer is liable for any violations in connection with the form or the verification process, including any violations in connection with the form or the verification process, including any violations of the employer sanctions laws committed by the person designated to act on the employer’s behalf.”

California: The State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health is ordering all individuals living in the State of California to stay home or at their place of residence, except as needed to maintain continuity of operation of the federal critical infrastructure sectors, critical government services, schools, childcare, and construction, including housing construction.  Read more on the State Government's website here

UK

The Chancellor announced a "Coronavirus job-retention scheme" under which the Government will issue grants to employers to cover the wages of employees placed on furlough and kept on the payroll as a result of the Coronavirus crisis.   The funding will cover 80% of an employee's salary up to £2,500 per month. 

The Government has published a list of key workers whose children will be provided with educational provision following the school closures today.  Employers may be asked to provide confirmation that a worker is a key worker.

 

19 March update

Australia 

The Government announced a travel ban on all non-residents coming to Australia, effective 9pm Friday 20 March. No end date for the measure was given. The Reserve Bank of Australia cut the official cash rate to a historic low of 0.25% in an effort to soften the economic implications.

Australia’s national airline, Qantas, stood down two thirds of its workforce. The Australian government announced a $715 million airline rescue package as part of its second round of financial stimulus.

Pharmacists have also been told to limit the sale of certain medicines to curb panic buying. Pharmacists will be required to limit dispensing of certain prescription products (such as asthma and insulin products) to one months’ supply at the prescribed dose, and sales of certain over-the-counter medicines to a maximum of one unit per purchase.

Brazil 

Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo declared a state of emergency and all schools are closed. The municipality of São Paulo recommended to close all shopping centers, malls, gymnasiums and fitness centers next Monday.

The Ministry of Economy said yesterday that a Provisional Measure is under discussion to bring more flexibility to companies ie -  allow companies to grant collective vacations with less formalities (no need to notify the unions two weeks before the starting date. 48 hours’ notice will be accepted), and FGTS deposits would be suspended for 3 months.

Canada

Canada-wide: The 1 week waiting period for Employment Insurance has been waived for individuals in imposed quarantine that claim Employment Insurance sickness benefits

The requirement to provide a medical certificate to access Employment Insurance sickness benefits has been waived

An Emergency Care Benefit has been introduced to provide up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks. ‎Application for the Benefit will be available in April 2020, and require Canadians to attest that ‎they meet the eligibility requirements

An Employment Insurance Work Sharing Program has been implemented, which provides Employment Insurance benefits to workers who agree to ‎reduce their normal working hour as a result of developments beyond the control of their ‎employers, by extending the eligibility of such agreements to 76 weeks, easing eligibility ‎requirements, and streamlining the application process.

Read more here.  

Effective March 18, 2020, international border crossings to Canada have been closed to all non-Canadians, except for Americans that are crossing the border to engage in essential services. The definition of “essential services” is currently being clarified.

Alberta: Legislation has been passed to create a 14 day unpaid Quarantine Leave entitlement.  Read more here

Note: In yesterday’s update, we reported that the Alberta government was considering a 14 day paid leave entitlement. The Alberta government ultimately decided to provide for a 14 day unpaid leave entitlement. 

Ontario: As a result of public emergency declaration on March 17, 2020, employees may be eligible for statutory Emergency Leave, Declared Emergencies under section 50.1 of the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000. That statutory leave is available, without pay, if the employee will not be performing the duties of his or her position because of an emergency, and is subject to several other conditions. 

Employers are increasingly considering the use of Supplementary Unemployment Benefit Plans to top up employee Employment Insurance benefits in the event of layoffs and illness

Read more here.  

China 

Beijing: Yesterday we reported that, with prior approval, individuals arriving from overseas who: are elderly, young, pregnant, have a chronic disease and those who have a residence inside China where they live alone, may apply to be quarantined at home.  As of 19 March, those living alone will no longer be able to apply for home quarantine.   Those who do qualify for home quarantine must apply before entry into China (if they do not apply in advance, they will be isolated in the location assigned by the government before getting approval for home quarantine). 

If a person arrives into China via another city, they must report their return to their employer and community in advance.  A person who hides their overseas travel could be subject to criminal penalties.   

Shanghai:  People arriving into Shanghai from a list of restricted countries may choose to be under home quarantine or central quarantine for 14 days. 

Colombia

Bogotá’s Mayor has drafted a Decree in which as from Friday March 20, 2020 until the end of Monday 23 of March 2020, citizens from Bogotá will only be able to transit for basic and specific needs. Moreover some other departments are considering the curfew during the weekend.

The National Government will restrict the entrance of international travelers as from March 23, 2020 and for 30 calendar days. 

Czech Republic 

The Czech government declared a nationwide quarantine effective on 16 March 2020.  Movement is only allowed to attend work, get provisions and for essential visits to family.

As of 19 March 2020, it is prohibited to go out anywhere in public without a mouth and nose covering.  Shops may only serve customers aged 65 and over between 10 am and noon.

The Government is working on the state aid package for business. It will very likely include a compensation of salaries paid by employers affected by Covid-19.  We expect details to be announced soon.

Germany 

Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the German people on TV yesterday for the first time ever aside from Christmas eve. She stressed that everyone needs to stay home as much as possible and stick to the general recommendations (keeping distance etc). So far Germany, however, has not issued any curfew (except for two small villages in Bavaria), but this may come if people do not follow the recommendations. 

The German government has announced support for self-employed people and very small businesses with EUR 50bn.

Hong Kong 

Schools remain closed with a tentative re-open date of 20 April 2020, but the Government has confirmed it is unlikely schools will re-open at this point.  No further mandatory closures of shops or restaurants are currently in effect and Government offices and courts have re-opened. The Government announced a HK$30bn relief package, aimed predominantly at industries such as retail, food and drink, transport, arts and culture and tourism and at Covid-19 combat measures (such as mask production and support for hospitals).

From midnight on 19 March 2020, anyone entering Hong Kong from overseas (except Taiwan or Macao) will be subject to 14-day home quarantine orders, regardless of whether they are Hong Kong residents.  Travellers from Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do in Korea, Iran, and the Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy and Veneto regions of Italy will be quarantined in a government centre.

Hungary 

The following measures are applicable as of 19 March. These employment-related provisions temporarily override the provisions of the Labour Code and shall apply until 30 days after the end of the state of danger:

  • there is no time limit for the employer to modify the already published working-time schedule on short term;
  • the employer may unilaterally order home office or teleworking for the employee;
  • the employer may adopt necessary and reasonable measures to inspect the health status of the employee;
  • the provisions of collective bargaining agreements that contradict the above rules shall not be applicable;
  • the employer and the employee may derogate from the provisions of the Labour Code in a mutual agreement which provides a wider flexibility for parties’ agreement.
India  In Mumbai, municipal authorities have directed all the establishments providing ‘non-essential services’ to function with only 50% of the workforce. As per the direction, the following types of establishments would be considered as providing ‘essential services’ – drinking water, sewerage services, banking services, telephone and internet services, rail and transportation services, food, vegetable and groceries, hospitals, medical centres and medical stores.  In Gurugram, the District Magistrate has advised all MNC, IT Firms, industries, BPO’s, corporate offices, to allow their employees to work from their home till 31 March 2020. Similarly, in Pune, the District Collector has advised employers of establishments, such as IT / Software / ITES and other establishments, to take a decision on allowing their employees to work-from-home (if the same does not impact the business productivity). The circular is in effect till 31 March 2020
Ireland 

The Irish Government announces details of the COVID-19 Employer Refund Scheme.  Over 140,000 employees have been laid off to date as a consequence of the COVID-19 crisis. Earlier this week the Irish government announced that they would be introducing a COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €203 per week, for employees who are temporarily laid off.

At the time the new payment was announced, government indicated that its preference would be that the new payment would, as far as possible, be made via employer payrolls. In support of this approach the department said it would introduce a refund scheme for employers who kept workers on their payroll during the period of a temporary lay-off. The government has now announced that the Revenue Commissioners will be implementing the refund system on the department’s behalf. 

Under the arrangement developed with Revenue, employers who have to temporarily lay-off staff and who are not in a position to make any wage payment to them, are asked to keep their employees on the payroll and pay them an amount of €203 - the equivalent of the COVID-19 Support Payment. When they submit payroll returns to Revenue via their payroll provider, Revenue will refund the employer the €203.

This will be welcome clarity for Irish employers about the mechanism for repayments who are faced with the challenging prospect of laying off staff due to the impact of COVID-19.

Malaysia  The Human Resources Minister (“HR Minister”) announced on 19 March 2020 that employers are required to continue to pay workers’ salaries and related allowances during the MCO period, save for allowances related to attendance or travel. The HR Minister also said that employers cannot force workers to utilise their paid annual leave entitlements, or to take unpaid leave during the MCO period. The statements by the HR Minister have caused some confusion, as many employers have announced the implementation of measures such as temporary pay-cuts and mandatory annual leave or unpaid leave. The position also is inconsistent with other announcements previously made by the government. In particular, on 16 March 2020 the Prime Minister announced that a special MYR600/month payment would be made for up to 6 months for employees who have been forced to take unpaid leave.
Netherlands

THIS HAS BEEN SUPERSEDED BY THE 1 APRIL NOW REGULATIONS - SEE 1 APRIL UPDATE FOR MORE DETAILS  

On 17 March the Dutch government announced changes to existing short time working arrangements.  The eligibility criterion will be a decline in revenue of at least 20%.   Although this has not yet been confirmed, it seems that there will be no need to specify per employee a decline in work, as the decline in revenue will be the main factor.   Employers will receive funding of a maximum of 90% of their salary costs, which is linked to the actual decline in revenue. So if there is a 100% decline in revenue, the funding will be 90% of the salary costs. If there is a 50% decline in revenue, the funding will be 45% of the salary costs. If there is a 25% decline in revenue, the funding will be 22,5% of the salary costs, etc.

It is not yet clear if “salary costs” are the actual salary costs (including variable pay) or if this is capped to the maximum daily wage (which was the case with the previous short time working arrangement). The arrangements are also not clear on the pension premiums that are due for employees. The employer’s pension contribution is usually not covered by the term “salary” and therefore it is likely that the employer will need to continue to pay this contribution and that the employer will not be compensated for this by the government. It is not clear whether the government’s funding will include the employee’s pension contribution.

The amount of pension premiums that are due may be very large. What can employers do if they are not able to pay these premiums?

  • If so provided for in the pension scheme, the employer may suspend the employer’s pension contribution due to ‘force majeure’.
  • The employer may be able to modify the pension scheme for a certain period of time, by e.g. setting the pension accrual to 0%
  • Please note that if the employer is unable to pay the pension premiums that need to be paid to a mandatory occupational pension fund, timely notification that the employer cannot pay is required to avoid personal liability of statutory directors for the premiums.

The government aid will have retroactive effect to 1 March 2020. The government aid will apply for a period of 3 months. Potentially, an extension of 3 months can take place (requirements for this are not yet clear). It will be possible to request part (80% of the salary costs related to the expected decline in revenue, see above) of the funding upfront. For applications for funding above a certain amount (the amount itself has not been published yet), a declaration of an accountant may be required. After the 3 month period, the actual decline in revenue will be determined, after which either the employer will receive more funding or the employer will have to pay part of the received funding back to the government. Moreover, it will not be possible to implement redundancies during the 3 month period. Currently it is unclear what the application will entail, what the process will be, what the condition of “no layoffs” exactly means, etc. It is also not yet possible to actually apply and everyone is awaiting for the details to be published.

We will update as soon as we know more.

Philippines

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) have issued the following Labor Advisories:

  • Labor Advisory No. 9 (dated 4 March 2020) to employers to adopt a flexible work arrangement (FWA) an alternative to outright termination of the services of the employee or closure of establishment due to COVID-19. These FWA include a) reduction of workhours and/or workdays; b) rotation of workers; c) forced leaves; d) or any other alternative work arrangement in order to cushion and mitigate the effect of loss of income of the employees.
  • Labor Advisory No. 11 (dated 14 March 2020) to encourage employers to pursue FWA including, but not limited to, other work arrangement such as telecommuting, work from home, reduction of workhours and/or workdays, rotation of workers, and forced leaves. Manufacturing, retail and service establishments allowed to remain open shall observe strict social distancing measures. Leaves of absence shall be charged against the worker’s existing leave credits, if any.   

The Government has imposed an Enhanced Community Quarantine over the island of Luzon effective midnight on 17 March to midnight on 13 April 2020 which involves, among other things, that strict home quarantine shall be observed; movement limited to accessing basic necessities.  The only businesses allowed to remain open are those that relate to health services (hospitals, clinics, pharmacies), food preparation services (restaurants catering to take out food), food markets (supermarkets, groceries, wet markets), banks, money remittance centers, and BPOs.  Even outside of Luzon, other local government units are also imposing their own lockdown/quarantine measures.

Poland

We are waiting for full details of the Government's anti-crisis package, but from the announcement yesterday, some of the general principles relevant to employers include:

  • deferment of social security contributions for three months.
  • support for employers who have difficulties in paying employees’ remuneration (the state will pay half of their monthly remuneration – probably with some limitations).

We will update on the detail as soon as it is available. 

South Africa

In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 and promote social distancing, the employment tribunal in South Africa, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) has issued an urgent directive in terms of which all face-to-face processes that were set down from 18 March 2020 to 14 April 2020 have been postponed and only processes that can be conducted via telephone will continue during this period. The Labour Court has taken a similar approach in that until 14 April 2020 no new matters may be enrolled for hearing save for urgent matters. Parties may also agree to a postponement if they have matters enrolled for this period.

Click here for an interview that Monique Jefferson, Director of Employment and Data Protection at DLA Piper South Africa, gave on national TV regarding COVID-19 in the context of employment

Spain 

In Spain, the labour inspectorate has issued guidelines that its inspectors must follow to apply existing health and safety regulations during COVID-19 situation. The criterion will vary depending on the sector activity  and, in particular, on the extent to which employees have a professional risk of exposure to virus – i.e. health care, laboratory and funeral sectors – or not.  

 

 

18 March update 

Australia 

No directives have been issued by the Government to close any businesses at this time however any non-essential indoor gatherings of greater than 100 people (including staff) will no longer be permitted. The Government is monitoring the continued operation of bars, restaurants, cafes and cinemas.  No international travel to be undertaken by Australians and all Australians overseas are advised to return now.

AU$17.6 billion investment incentives for business including accelerated write offs, subsidies of up to 50% of wages to retain apprentices and trainees and limited subsidies for wages paid by small businesses.

Belgium 

Simplification of the application process for temporary unemployment for economic reasons for white-collar employees

The Belgian National Labour Council adopted a new national collective bargaining agreement (CBA no. 147) to simplify the procedure for application of temporary unemployment for economic reasons for white-collar employees. The CBA no. 147 is applicable for a definite duration, i.e. until 30 June 2020 (with possibility to extend).

Before adoption of the CBA no. 147, one of the legal routes for having recourse to temporary unemployment for economic reasons for white-collar employees was to first obtain recognition as “company in difficulties” by the Federal Minister of Work. This was however only possible if the temporary unemployment for economic reasons was permitted by a CBA concluded at sector-level, or, in absence thereof, by a CBA concluded at company level or if a so-called “company plan” (“plan d’entreprise”, “ondernemingsplan”) was approved by the labour authorities.

For employers which do not pertain to sectors with such a sector-CBA in place, the step to have a company-CBA or approved company plan in place is often time-consuming and burdensome, because it requires preliminary negotiations with the unions (for concluding a company-CBA), or preliminary approval by the authorities (if a company plan is submitted).

With the introduction of the CBA no. 147, however, such employers can now skip this burdensome step, and base their application for recognition as a “company in difficulties” on the CBA no. 147.

Postponement of social elections process: The social partners agreed that all steps after the ultimate date to submit the final list of candidates (on so-called “day X + 35”, between 17/03 and 30/03, depending on the date on which the elections would have taken place in May) are suspended until further notice. It would not be possible to submit candidacies after this date.

The social elections, which would normally have taken place in the course of the month of May of this year, are postponed till after the summer months, on dates which are still to be confirmed.

For the time being, the exact consequences of this postponement are not entirely clear, but further details will be confirmed in due time by the social partners.

 

Most labor courts in Brazil are closed and all hearings suspended until the end of March.

Federal Law 13,797-2019, enacted to regulate some aspects related to COVID19, provides that Companies may be required to share information with public authorities to assist identifying the cases of individuals infected or suspected to have COVID19.

Federal law 13,979 provides measures that shall be taken in case of emergency and self-isolation. Article 3 provides that employers must pay salaries during the isolation period. However the employer may negotiate with the employee that the hours not worked may be compensated in the upcoming months (i.e. the employee may be requested to work 2 additional hours per day)

The Ministry of Economy Paulo Guedes said on 17 March that the economic team is studying the feasibility to allow companies to suspend the employment agreements for 60 months and employees to have access to the unemployment insurance during such period. The feasibility still under discussion.  

Home working is highly recommended since article 7 of Brazilian Federal Constitution provides that the employee have the right to work in a health and safe place and the employer is responsible for providing a safe and health place to work. In case of noncompliance and if the employee tests positive for COVID19 the employer may be deemed responsible and pay additional indemnifications in case of a future labor claim.

Canada 

Ontario: The province of Ontario has proposed to introduce legislation that, if passed, would immediately provide job-protected leave to employees in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, or those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or day care closures. The proposed legislation would also make it clear that an employee will not be required to provide a medical note if they take the leave. The measures would be retroactive to January 25, 2020, the date that the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in Ontario.

Ontario has also declared a state of emergency until March 31, 2020. As a result, many non-essential establishments are required to close immediately.

Additionally, all organized public events of over 50 people are prohibited, including parades, events and communal services within places of worship.

Alberta: The province of Alberta has proposed to introduce legislation that, if passed, would allow employees to take 14 days of paid, job-protected leave if they are required to self-isolate or sick or caring for a loved one with COVID-19. To be eligible, employees will not be required to have a medical note and do not need to have worked for an employer for 90 days.

Alberta has also declared a state of emergency. As a result:

  • all events over 50 people to be cancelled
  • there is to be no attendance at rec centres, casinos, bingo halls, bars, theatres and other facilities
  • sit-down restaurants can remain open at lower capacity 

British Columbia: The province of British Columbia has also declared a state of emergency. As a result:

  • public gatherings of 50 people or more are to be limited until May 30, 2020
  • businesses with liquor primary licences, such as bars, pubs and night clubs, must close as they are unable to adequately meet the requirements of social distancing
  • restaurants and cafes that cannot maintain social distancing of one to two meters between patrons will need to move to take-out and delivery models

Quebec: 

  • In an effort to encourage people to self-isolate if they have contracted COVID-19, if they have symptoms, or if they have returned from abroad, the Quebec government has introduced a program set to open for applications tomorrow to compensate workers for up to $573 per week for two weeks with possibility of extension for 2 more weeks if they lose their revenue stream and do not qualify for employment insurance;
  • The Quebec government declared a health emergency on March 13th and has since instituted the following measures:
    • Voluntary self-isolation for 14 days for anyone who returns from abroad on or after March 12;
    • Mandatory isolation for 14 days for all public service employees and health care, education and daycare workers both private and public who return from abroad on or after March 12;
    • Prohibition of indoor gatherings of more than 250 people;
    • Elderly people over 70 urged to stay home except in case of necessity or exceptional circumstances;
    • All daycare services and schools closed until March 27;
    • Non-essential visits to hospitals and senior homes banned;
    • The closure of many non-essential businesses and public spaces until March 30:
    • Restaurants and coffee shops to limit number of customers to 50% capacity;
China

Beijing now requires all individuals arriving from abroad to be isolated in a location assigned by the government for 14 days.

With prior approval, individuals who are elderly, young, pregnant and patients with chronic disease and those who have a residence/apartment inside China where they live alone, may apply to be quarantined at home.
Colombia 

As of today Colombian President declared a state of economic and social emergency. This statement allows the President to issue Law Decrees without Congress approval.

The Ministry of Labor issued a Newsletter for employment protection. The document encourage the employers to promote: (i) home office (less restricted than telework), (ii) authorize telecommuting/telework, (iii) flexible working schedules, (iv) grant employees with paid leave, (v) grant vacation to employees (employer may also inform employees to go on advanced vacation in case due to their tenure they have not accrued the legal vacation) .     

Regarding immigration matters, the Government has closed the boarders and restricted all the foreigners access except for Bogotá’s international airport, through which only Colombian nationals and foreigners with resident or migrant visa will be able to enter the country.

Bogotá’s Mayor is planning to issue a decree to order mandatory isolation of all citizens.  This decree is being discussed and it should be issued tomorrow by close of business.

Finland

A list of proposals aimed at easing the situation of companies has been agreed by the Finnish labour organizations. The organizations are jointly proposing to the government of the country measures for changes in labour legislation and relief to the burden of payment on companies. These measures will reduce the cost of employment, make labour legislation more flexible and improve social security for employees who have been dismissed or laid off. The measures include reliefs to, inter alia, co-operation obligation, redundancies, layoff periods and employer’s pension contributions. In order for the proposals to come into effect, the Finnish Government must ratify them.

France 

Closure of child care, schools, colleges, universities until further notice.  Closure of all establishments open to the public and not essential to the life of the Nation until 15 April 15 2020.

Restriction to the freedom to move: it is permitted to go out of the domicile for limited reasons:

  • to go to work when home office is not compatible with the employee’s duties,
  • to buy strictly necessary items (i.e., food),
  • for health reason (i.e., to go to the doctor, hospital or pharmacy),
  • for necessary family reasons, to assist fragile persons or for child care and
  • around the domicile for individual limited sport activity.

For these strictly limited cases, any individual shall be able to present to the police a dedicated form mentioning the reason of their move, failure to which a fine of EUR 135 may be delivered by the police.

Germany  The German secretary of foreign affairs has issued a global travel warning. While this is not an “official” warning yet and thus it is mainly relevant for private travels only, employers must also consider even more carefully whether to ask employees to travel to other countries. No business trips should be undertaken to “high risks areas as specified by the German Robert-Koch-Institut
Hungary 

Following measures have been announced as of 18 March:

  • The repayment obligation of individual and business loans is suspended until the end of 2020 
  • The short-term business loans are extended until June 30 
  • In certain sectors severely affected (tourism, hospitality services, entertainment services, sport and cultural services, passenger transport services i.e. taxis), employers obligation to pay contributions is suspended until June 30 
  • In these sectors lease agreements may not be terminated, and the rent may not be increased until June 30.  

No home detention is envisaged as of yet, but this may change in the future.

Ireland 

The Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 has approved emergency legislation to support the national response to the pandemic. The “Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Bill 2020” (the “Bill”) is due to go before the Dáil on Thursday, 19 March 2020.  Certain sections of the legislation will be retrospective and deemed to have come into operation from 9 March 2020.

The Bill provides for a range of powers designed to limit the spread of Covid-19.  The government has stated that “these changes involve a significant Exchequer cost but are necessary to support the public health objective of ensuring people who need to self-isolate do so”.

Powers provided for in the Bill include:

  • enhanced income supports for people who are diagnosed with Covid-19 or required to self-isolate. Changes will also be made to remove the waiting period for payment of Jobseekers Benefit and Jobseekers Allowance in these circumstances. (Please see our previous update on this proposal for more information);
  • the ability for the government to impose restrictions on travel to and from the State and to and from geographical locations;
  • the ability to detain a suspected source of Covid-19 where a medical officer believes that a person is a source of infection and that the detention or isolation of a person is necessary to prevent the spread.  The officer can order their detention and isolation in a hospital or other place;
  • the government will have the power to require a person to remain in their home; and 
  • certain extra powers, should they be needed if extreme situations were to arise, in relation to gatherings and events where there would be an immediate, exceptional and manifest risk to human life and public health from the spread of Covid-19. 

Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, made a special Ministerial address to the Nation on 17 March 2020.  In his address he stated that the government has, to date, signed off a €3bn package for health, social welfare and business and it will take further action if needed.  He said that this the calm before the storm and that “the surge” will come, adding that the disruption to Irish citizens’ lives could last into the Summer months.  The government is moving to put in place systems to ensure that the elderly, and those who have long-term illnesses, who may be asked to stay home for several weeks will have access to food and supplies.  The Taoiseach called for calm and encouraged citizens to take care of their mental health.

Italy 

The Government has issued a new Decree Law “Cura Italia”, providing for measures for employers who suspend or reduce their activities due to Covid-19.

Employers can benefit from Ordinary Wages Guarantee Fund (“Cassa Integrazione Ordinaria – CIGO”) and Ordinary Allowance for a maximum period of nine weeks between 23 February 2020 and August 2020, for employees in employment at 23 February 2020.

The normal procedure under Italian law does not need to be respected, but trade union information and consultation, as well as the joint assessment, shall be carried out within 3 days from the application, even by telematic mode. The application shall be submitted by the end of the fourth month following the month in which the period of suspension or reduction of activities began.

The ordinary allowance for Covid-19 is also available to employees of employers registered in the Salary Integration Fund who employ on average more than 5 employees.

The CIGO can also be obtained by employers who are in the Extraordinary Wage Guarantee Fund (“Cassa Integrazione Straordinaria – CIGS”) and it replaces the CIGS for a maximum period of nine weeks between 23 February 2020 and August 2020. The CIGO is only granted after the suspension of the CIGS.

The Ordinary Allowance can also be obtained by employers who have an ongoing Solidarity Allowance. The Ordinary Allowance replaces the Solidarity Allowance for a maximum period of nine weeks between 23 February 2020 and August 2020.

The Decree also provides that employers can benefit from Exceptional Ordinary Wages Guarantee Fund. It may be granted by the Regions and Autonomous Provinces to employers, without regards to the number of employees, for whom CIGO does not normally apply. For employers employing more than 5 employees, an agreement is required, which can also be carried out by telematics mode, with the most representative trade unions at national level.

Furthermore, starting from 5 March 2020, the Decree provides for employees with children under the age of 12 years, alternatively, 15 days of leave (to be used continuously or fractionally and divided alternatively by the parents) or a bonus for the purchase of baby-sitting services for a maximum of Euro 600. The bonus is paid through the Family Booklet (“Libretto Famiglia”).

During such leave, the employee is entitled to an allowance equal to 50% of the salary as well as to the figurative contributions. In order to obtain the leave or bonus, within the family the other parent must not receive any income support benefits provided for suspension or termination of the employment activity or he/she has not to be unemployed or non-working.

The age limit of 12 years shall not apply to children with disabilities or in a situation pursuant to Law no. 104/1992 enrolled in schools of all levels or housed in care centers.

Any periods of parental leave taken from March 5th 2020 shall be automatically converted into Covid-19 leave and shall not be considered or indemnified as parental leave (operational details shall be defined by National Institute for Social Security Service - INPS).

Furthermore, employees with children between the ages of 12 and 16 have the right to abstain from work for the period of suspension of the educational services for children and educational activities of all levels, without payment of indemnity or notional contribution, with no possibility to be dismissed. Please note that in the family, the other parent must not receive any income support benefits provided for suspension or termination of the employment activity or he/she has not to be unemployed or non-working.

With reference to the period of quarantine, active surveillance or fiduciary house surveillance please note that, according the Decree of March 17th 2020, such period is equated to the sick leave with reference to the indemnity provided in case of sickness but it cannot be taken into account for the period during which a sick worker cannot be dismissed (so called “periodo di comporto”).

Please note also that until April 30th 2020, for employees with serious disability pursuant to Law no. 104/1992 and employees with certification issued by the competent medical authorities certifying a risk condition deriving from immunodepression or oncological pathologies or life-saving therapies, the period of absence from work ordered by the health authorities is considered equivalent to the illness for Covid-19.

Furthermore, employees suffering from serious and proven pathologies, with reduced working capacity, have priority in accepting applications for homeworking. In addition, until April 30th 2020, employees who are disabled pursuant to art. 3, paragraph 3, Law 104/1992 or who have a disabled person in their family pursuant to art. 3, paragraph 3, Law 104/1992, have the right to work from home, unless homeworking is incompatible with the nature of their work activity.

The Decree also provides that collective dismissals procedures cannot be carried out and procedures started after February 23rd 2020 - currently pending - are suspended both for the next 60 days. During the same time period the employer shall not be allowed to make any individual dismissals for justified objective reasons.

New Zealand

The Government has announced a NZD12.1 bn package to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic.  The main components are:

  • support for businesses to promote confidence and employee retention over the next period of uncertainty
  • immediate income support for beneficiaries and those on low incomes
  • extra support for the health system with NZD500 million towards strategy, increasing capacity and capability of the healthcare system and ensuring continuity of care, with NZD235 million immediately unlocked by the cabinet.

Full alert details to follow. 

Poland 

New legislation entered into force in Poland on 8 March which contains new rights and duties on employers.  An amendment to the law which addresses many of the employment issues has been submitted to the upper house of the Polish parliament. The final wording of the amendment and the date when it will enter into force are not yet known. 

Key provisions include:

  • additional right for employers to instruct employees to work remotely
  • care allowance for parents to look after children in the event of school closure
  • the possibility of temporary suspension of the business in certain circumstances with remuneration costs borne in part by State Treasury

Full alert details to follow.

Portugal 

A Ministerial Order was published regarding the simplified lay-off regime which consists of compensation for companies in business crisis due to Covid-19, corresponding to 2/3 of the salary of each employee, up to 3 times the minimum national wage (EUR1905), to be supported by Social Security (70%) and the employer (30%), up to one month, renewable monthly up to 6 months.   

This measure applies to companies facing total closure of activities or reduction of turnover of at least 40% in a 60 day period prior to submission of the application compared to the same period in the previous year. The company must present a statement and a certificate from a certified accountant confirming these circumstances. 

A state of emergency has been declared and new measures will be announced.

Spain 

The new Royal Decree 8/2020, of 17 March, of extraordinary and urgent measures aimed at facing the economic and social impact of COVID-19 sets out certain specific employment- related measures.

The most relevant changes are the following:

  1. Companies shall take the necessary measures to allow remote work where technically feasible and reasonable, and the efforts to adapt to remote work are proportionate. This shall  be preferential over other measures, such as the suspension of employment contracts, or the reduction of working hours.
  2. Employees who have to care for dependents as a consequence of the COVID-19 crisis (e.g. due to the closure of schools) will be entitled to enjoy flexible working hours, change of shifts, changes to working schedule, part-time working, remote working, if feasible, etc. Employees may reduce their working schedule up to 100%. The request made by the employee shall be assumed as reasonable, valid and proportional. Should the company object to this, a trial would take place.
  3. Companies may implement temporary suspension of employment contracts/reduction of working hours measures, due to force majeure, where:
  4. their business activity has been suspended/cancelled
  5. their premises have been closed down;
  6. they suffer shortage of supplies;
  7. their employees cannot attend work (due to illness or otherwise), or
  8. there is a risk of massive spread,

as a consequences of the COVID-19 crisis.

During the period while employment contracts are suspended/working hours are reduced due to force majeure, and provided that the company has so expressly requested, companies with less than 50 employees will be exempt from the obligation to pay Social Security contributions. If the company has more than 50 employees, the exemption will amount to 75% of the Social Security contributions.

  1. The procedure to suspending employment contracts/reducing working hours for economic, technical, organisational or production reasons will remain as it is, with certain differences such as  the consultation period would have a maximum duration of 7 days (instead of 15 days).
  2. Companies implementing any of the measures above will be required to maintain the volume of employment during the 6 months following business resumption.
UK

The COVID-19 Bill which will confer the right to statutory sick pay from day 1 is still awaited but is expected to have retrospective effect from 13 March 2020.

The Government has announced that as from Friday 20 March 2020 all UK schools will be closed to pupils, except for the most vulnerable children and children of key workers.

US

In the face of the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, the US House of Representatives passed a bill on March 14, 2020 aimed at providing assistance to persons affected by COVID-19. The Senate is expected to consider this legislation, titled the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the Act), this week, and changes are possible before it goes to the President for his consideration. This alert discusses employee benefits issues relating to the Act and other potential employee benefit plan issues that may arise for employers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

17 March update 

Belgium

 

The National Health Council imposed some additional measures, which take effect 18 March at noon CET, including among other things:

  • The country’s borders are not closing, but travel abroad deemed non-essential will be prohibited until 5 April included.
  • All non-essential stores will be closed while food stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, newsagents and banks will remain open.
  • Employees are still allowed to go to work, in cases where working remotely is not possible, but working from home “must become the norm”. Employers are also further encouraged businesses to organise remote working such as telework where this is possible.
  • While the rules for educational institutions remain the same, childcare will still be provided, especially for children of people who work in the care sector. As it stands today, parents who must stay at home due to the school closures will not be eligible for temporary unemployment allowances.
There will also be a ban on gathering, to which only families will be an exception.
Canada 

As of 18 March, entry into Canada is suspended for all foreign travelers. Canadian citizens, those holding permanent residence in Canada and US citizens are exempt. International flights into Canada may be disrupted and some flights may be diverted to Canada’s principal airports (Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver)

Finland 

The Government, in cooperation with the President of the Republic, declares a state of emergency in Finland over coronavirus outbreak. The Government has decided on additional measures to address the coronavirus outbreak in Finland. The measures will be in force until 13 April 2020. The measures include e.g. the following: the premises of schools, educational institutions, universities and universities of applied sciences as well as civic education and other liberal education institutes will be closed down. As an exception, however, pre-primary education organised in schools and contact teaching for grades 1–3 will continue for the children of parents working in sectors critical to the functioning of society. Public gatherings are limited to no more than ten persons. Several venues for culture, hobbies and sport shall will be closed. Furthermore, preparations will be launched for the closure of Finland’s borders without delay in accordance with international obligations. Finnish citizens and persons residing in Finland must not travel abroad. Necessary travel for work and to access other necessary services will be permitted across the northern and western borders. Finns and permanent residents in Finland returning from abroad will be placed in quarantine-like conditions for two weeks.

In addition, the government and the labour organizations shall negotiate measures to mitigate the impacts of the virus to the employers and the labour market, such as alleviations to the duty to negotiate prior to redundancy measures. Results shall be expected during week 12.

France 

A decree is expected shortly to introduce new provisions on partial activity:

 

  • The State would bear the cost of the salary paid to the employee while on partial activity, corresponding to 70% of the gross salary within the limit of 70% of 6,927.39 EUR per month (4.5 times the SMIC)
  • The CSE could be informed and consulted a posteriori, within the next 2 months after the application (as opposed to a prior consultation for the moment)
  • The partial activity can be implemented (and the company will receive the allocation from the State) and then apply for partial activity within the next 30 days (as opposed to waiting for the administration’s authorization for the moment)
  • The duration of the partial activity could be extended to 12 months (as opposed to 6 months for the moment)

This is not yet in force.  We will update as soon as the decree is published.

From 17 March, everyone residing in France cannot leave the country for at least the next 15 days. Any journeys outside the home must be limited and justified.

Denmark A note on the scope for temporary or permanent staff reductions in businesses in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak.  Read our alert here 
Germany 

The German government plans to provide massive financial support for companies struggling because of the Covid-19 virus. Since it will take some time until these financial support will be available, the German government considers to ease the requirements to file for insolvency. Usually companies must file for insolvency within 3 weeks upon becoming insolvent, impending insolvent or over-indebted. The government considers to temporarily suspend to obligation to file for insolvency provided that the insolvency is based on the Covid-19 virus pandemie and state benefits were not available in due course. These changes are yet to be approved by the parliament before coming effective.

There are temporary border controls between Germany and its surrounding countries (Austria, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland). Individuals cannot leave or re-enter Germany unless they have a “good reason” or they are exempt. Exempt persons include German citizens and foreign nationals holding a German residence permit.

Hong Kong 

The Hong Kong Government has announced that travelers arriving from any foreign country from Thursday 19 March will be put under 14 day home quarantine or medical surveillance.  The restrictions will not apply to arrivals from Macau or Taiwan.     

There are already restrictions in place for anyone who has travelled through the following countries/regions within the 14 days prior to arrival in HK:

  • Mainland China;
  • Iran;
  • Italy;
  • Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do in South Korea (Hong Kong residents);
  • Bourgogne-Franche-Comte and Grand Est regions in France;
  • North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany;
  • Hokkaido in Japan; and
  • La Rioja, Madrid and Pais Vasco in Spain.

Effective from midnight on 17 March, the list of countries/regions has been expanded to include:

  • South Korea (except Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do); and
  • Schengen Area in Europe (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Principality of Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Republic of Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland).
Hungary 

As of 17 March the Hungarian government restricted:

  • the operation of restaurants, coffees and shops, save for food- and drugstores and pharmacies. No customers can enter such shops after 3 p.m.  
  • no public events are allowed.

Several options are being reviewed which could help employers to retain workplaces including:

  • State aid to retain workplaces
  • Expected measures: Due to the mass terminations expected in several sectors currently affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.  We expect further state aid measures and tax benefits to be introduced in the near future.
Ireland 

With effect from 17 March, all arrivals into Ireland from another country must restrict their movements for 14 days (unless returning from Northern Ireland.). All non-essential travel to other countries is to be avoided until 29 March. 

Schengen Zone

The President of the European Commission has requested that participating Schengen countries introduce temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU and this should last for a period of 30 days.

South Africa 

Department of Employment and Labour today unveiled guidelines to deal with Covid-19 at workplaces.  Read the guidelines here.

Spain 

The Government has published a draft law reform on temporary lay off and flexible working time. We expect the final version to be published on Wednesday 18 March.  Watch for updates.    

Ukraine 

A new law aimed at Prevention of Occurrence and Spread of Coronavirus was adopted today by the Ukrainian parliament. The final version of the text is not yet available, however we believe the publicly available draft of the law most probably constitutes the final version of the document. The law is to become effective from the date of its official publication and introduces the the possibility to agree an unlimited unpaid leave of absence with personnel until expiration of the quarantine (April 3, 2020 unless extended).

During the period of quarantine (April 3, 2020 unless extended) or the period of the restrictive measures (that might be established by the Commissions on Technogenic-Environmental Safety and Emergency Situations):

  • Employers may send employees to work from home. Annual or other social vacation (as may be relevant to specific employees) can be provided beyond the schedule;
  • Employers may change regime of their work due to the change of their operational mode;
  • The State Labour Service of Ukraine is prohibited to conduct scheduled inspections.  
  • Release from administrative liability of foreign individuals who failed to leave Ukraine or prolong a term of stay in Ukraine and/or failed to change a temporary / permanent residency permit due to quarantine.
US

The US House of Representatives passed a comprehensive bill aimed at providing relief to families and businesses. The proposed legislation, titled The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the Act), is being considered by the Senate this week.   As currently drafted, the Act requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to:

  • provide employees with paid sick leave and paid Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave for certain COVID-19-related reasons    
  • provide all employees, regardless of their tenure with the company, with two weeks of paid sick leave for certain COVID-19-related reasons (in addition to paid sick leave under the employer’s policies)
  • provide employees who have been working for at least 30 calendar days with up to 12 weeks of job-protected FMLA leave for certain COVID-19-related reasons.   

To help offset the costs associated with these new paid leave requirements, the Act provides for various employer payroll tax credits.   

For full details, read our alert here.

UK

The Government has updated its travel advice and is now advising British people against all non-essential travel worldwide.   This advice takes immediate effect and is to apply initially for a period of 30 days.

The government has unveiled a package of financial measures to shore up the economy against the coronavirus impact.  These include £330bn for companies to access finance, support for airlines, a business rates holiday, and help for small firms without insurance.  In addition, the Chancellor announced an Employment Support Package to help protect people’s jobs and incomes -  the detail of this package is to be developed in discussions between Trades Unions and employers groups.  

 

16 March update 

Austria 

Employers have been asked to send employees home and let them work remotely.  It is not quite but nearly a complete lockdown; people are only permitted to be outside to buy food or complete urgent work.  Borders are shutting down and all flights suspended from Wednesday onwards.   

Germany

In Bavaria as of 16 March, all business not required for necessary daily life have to shut down (exemptions are e.g. grocery stores, banks, post offices, petrol stations, pharmacies, garages, online shops). It is likely that other states will follow shortly.   

Short time work: Employers who cannot temporarily employ employees have now easier access to financial funds from the government for short time work. So far certain funds were only provided if at least 1/3 of the employees in the entire establishment or a department have a reduction of work of at least 10%. The 1/3 threshold has now been reduced to also 10%.

Ireland

Schools, colleges, and childcare facilities closed since 13 March as are cultural institutions. All indoor mass gatherings of more than 100 people and outdoor mass gatherings of more than 500 people cancelled. Where possible, everyone working from home. In order to reduce unnecessary face to face interaction in the workplace, break times and working times are to be staggered and meetings done remotely or by phone. People are being asked to reduce social interactions as much as possible.

Arrangements are being made to ensure that everyone entering Ireland through our ports and airports is fully informed and self-isolates if they develop symptoms.

Public transport continues to operate. Shops remain open (some with priority shopping times for elderly people) and supply chains are not currently interrupted. Restaurants, cafes and currently permitted to stay open as long as  they can implement the public health advice on social distancing. Pubs were closed today 16 March until 29 March 2020 due to social distancing failures over the weekend and in advance of St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow.

The Irish Government is asking employers, if at all possible, to continue to pay workers during the period of the shutdown at least at the jobseeker rate of €203 per week and if the employer has to cease trading, it will be able to claim it back. For employees whose employers are unable to continue to pay them during the downturn in business, the Irish Government is introducing a new Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

Italy

The Government issued a new Decree on 16 March, under which dismissals for economic reasons are prohibited for 60 days and pending lay-off procedures are suspended for the same term.  The Decree also grants the possibility for parents (alternating from each other) with children under 12 to use a 15 day period of leave paid at 50% by the state. Also, instead of taking the 15 days paid leave the parents can apply for a voucher (paid by the state) of € 600 for baby-sitting services. The Decree also increases the circumstances in which state aid can be used for short-term layoff. 

Netherlands

As of 15 March, restaurants, cafés, sport clubs and schools are closed in the Netherlands, until 6 April. This means that employees working in these facilities have been sent home. Other employers are still free to decide whether they want to send their employees home or not, although a lot of people are already working from home.

Spain

The Government has declared a state of emergency.  Some services will be closed to the general public (most retailers).  Most employees are now working at home.

Sweden

The Swedish government has introduced some changes to the Swedish employment legislation regarding short-term layoffs. The proposed changes imply that employers affected by temporary and serious financial difficulties that could not reasonably have been foreseen or avoided may be eligible to receive financial support for limited periods so that the employers may keep the employees employed with temporarily reduced working hours and temporarily reduced salaries, instead of dismissing them. According to the proposal, the employee can reduce his or her working time and still receive more than 90 percent of the salary. The state will cover three-quarters of the cost, and the employee and the employer will share the remaining quarter.  

The government are also temporarily taking more financial responsibility for sick pay. The proposed change entails that the government would pay for the employee's first two weeks of illness, instead of the employer.  We are awaiting more information from the government regarding how these change shall be applied in practice.

UK

The Government has advised everyone to avoid non-essential contact, working from home “if possible”. 

Ukraine 

Certain cities/regions (including Kyiv) have obliged businesses to close up social related enterprises (e.g. shopping malls, resturants SPA-centers, gyms, shops), with only main infrastructure remaining opened (e.g. grocery shops, pharmacies, etc.).

As of midnight, March 17, all international passengers transportation is closed so there might be a possibility of employees being "stuck" outside of Ukraine, or foreign business travelers being "stuck" in Ukraine.

Parliament will be having an emergency vote tomorrow early morning. Additional measures may be introduced.