COVID-19 Crisis: Country Law & Regulatory Updates

Emily Kuhnert March 22, 2020

The COVID-19 crisis is rapidly developing, with countries introducing a raft of economic measures and employment law changes to keep their economies afloat.
If you have any questions on the impact of Coronavirus on labor laws, visit our Linkedin AMA post and leave us your questions in the comment section and we will reply.

[AMA] Impact of Coronavirus on Labor Laws

Below you can find daily updates regarding economic and legislative measures, as well as COVID-19 Crisis Guides per country.

  1. U.K
  2. France
  3. Germany
  4. Italy
  5. Portugal
  6. The Netherlands
  7. Australia
  8. Denmark
  9. Israel
  10. USA
  11. Belgium
  12. China
  13. Singapore
  14. India

26th March

India

  • India has begun a 21-day Nationwide lockdown that will shut down all public and private offices that are not deemed essential services. For now, all employees should be working from home. Currently, employers are not to cut salaries or lay off employees until April 15th when restrictions are reassessed.

Singapore

  • 26 March, 2359 hours till 30 April Singapore will impose stricter restrictions regarding where citizens can congregate.
  • Employer Responsibilities and Enhanced Precautions for Employees

Further restrictions have been placed for work pass holders and their dependents who will be arriving into Singapore from the United Kingdom and the United States. Those entering the country will be required to enter a 14-day quarantine at a designated facility that is not their home.

Employers must ensure that their foreign employees who are entering the country have a residence that is suitable for completing a 14-day Stay-Home Notice. (If the employee is arriving from the US or UK, they will serve their Stay-Home at the government designated facilities.) Transport must also be provided that can take them directly from the airport to the location where they will be staying. If the employee is staying at a private residence, the landlord must provide a written consent that they permit the stay, and if not, then the employer must find a hotel or dormitory for the employee. Employers should also provide employees who are not staying in a government facility with food and other provisions to assist them during the quarantine.

Also, employers must make sure that the employee has a Singapore phone number and WhatsApp that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will be able to contact them on if they need to be reached.

As an Employer, if you are able to meet these standards, you can submit your request for approval to allow foreign employee or dependent to enter Singapore here.

25th March 

United Kingdom

  • Employers with under 250 employees are able to receive reimbursement for statutory sick pay for employees affected by the coronavirus.

Netherlands:

  • Employers are no longer able to request reduced working hours for their employees. Instead, the government has introduced temporary measures to assist with salary payments so that an employee is able to continue to received 100% of their salary.
  • Employers must provide a safe working space for an employee who is unable to work from home
  • Wage reduction is possible if the employee refuses to carry out their duties

United States-

  • Washington State, Atlanta (Georgia), Michigan, Ohio, Dallas Country (Texas) – stay at home orders have been put in place
  • Massachusetts- All non-essential business are shut down or encouraged to work from home when possible
  • Alabama – has temporarily ordered that employer charges will be waived for unemployment claims related to COVID-19 until further notice.
  • Nevada – has issued formal guidance that hours cannot be deducted from sick leave balance if it is for COVID-19 reasons

Australia-

  • Supporting Apprentices and Trainees

Businesses that employ trainees or apprentices may be eligible for wage subsidies in order to maintain the development of skilled workers. Employers who are eligible can receive 50% of their apprentice’s or trainee’s wage until September 30, 2020. Employers will receive a maximum reimbursement of $21,000. If the current employer is unable to retain the apprentice, the subsidy will be available to the new employer. More information can be found here.

  • Boosting Cash Flow for Employers

Small and medium business and non-for-profits, with a minimum of payment of $20,000 is eligible to receive a Government provided subsidy of up to $100,000. This measure is intended to boost cash flow to business that have a lower turnover that $50 million or NFP’s. This payment is tax free. More information can be found here.

24th March 

California, United States

  • The Governor of California issued a temporary suspension of the WARN Act that allows employers to lay off employees with a shorter notice period.

France

  • Employers must ensure that they adequately protect the safety and health of their employees. This includes making arrangements to reduce risk as well as provide information on hygiene.  Otherwise, the employer may be liable.
  • Employees who are considered high risk (i.e. they came back from abroad / were in contact with an infected person) must go in to quarantine are able to provide their employer with work cessation through the regional healthcare authority (ARS).

23rd March

Belgium:

  • If an employee is not able to work due to not being able to adjust their hours or not being able to work remotely they can apply for temporary unemployment benefits receiving an allowance up to 70% of their regular monthly salary with a cap of 2.754,76 EUR per month
  • Self employed persons will be able to postpone payment of Belgian social security contributions without penalties.  This will not affect the benefits they receive.

USA – N.Y

  • Emergency paid sick leave legislation requiring  employers to provide eligible New York employees with job-protected paid and/or unpaid sick.
  • Extends New York State paid family leave benefits to certain employees who have been impacted by the pandemic.
  • To be eligible an employee must be subject to a mandatory / precautionary order of quarantine or isolation issued by the state of New York, the department of health, local board of health, or any governmental entity duly authorized to issue such order due to COVID-19.

22nd March

United Kingdom:

  • Business loans of up to £5m, interest free loan for 6 months, 80% underwritten by HM Treasury.
  • Government to pay 80% salary for 3 months for people unable to work, up to £2,500 per person per month.
  • VAT holiday – deferral of VAT payments for 3 months

Italy:

  • For the next two months, unless there is just cause, an employer is barred from terminating their employees.
  • Self-employed persons who need to take care of their children due to school closures will receive parental leave, which will amount to 50% of their monthly wages.
  • Taxes have been suspended for employees in professions that have been defined as the most vulnerable including cooks, truck drivers, hotel workers, and clerks.

Denmark:

  • The government will pay 75% of an employee’s salary who would have otherwise been terminated due to COVID-19.
  • For hourly employees, the government will pay up to 90% of employee salaries, capped at 26,000 Danish kroner.