AMA – Impact of COVID-19
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.
Below you can find daily updates regarding economic and legislative measures as well as COVID-19 crisis guides per country. For further countries not listed below visit the blog.
- President Trump has unveiled a three-phase approach for “opening up America again”. These guidelines, which are based on the advice of public health experts, are steps intended to help state and local officials reopen their economies and get people back to work. For the complete criteria and complete details on the phases visit this link.
- President Trump has announced that a 60-day immigration ban to those who are seeking to live and work in the United States, but he has stated that it will only apply to those seeking green cards and not temporary workers. The executive order, which he is expected to sign Wednesday, is an action to protect American workers from the economic fallout caused by the Coronavirus. Although the ban will be set to 60 days, an extension is possible based on the economic condition at the time when the ban is reviewed.
- President Trump is expected to sign an executive order that will temporarily suspend immigration into the United States. This move by the US administration is intended to protect American workers from competition during the rebuilding of the economy that was hit from the Corona crisis. It’s believed that this closure will most likely also ban those who intend to enter the country with H1-B visas and employment-based green cards. Those who are already in the country or are considered important essential workers should be excluded from this ban. This is a developing story and updates will be added as they are released.
- The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has issued an advisory on employer-assisted remittance for foreign workers residing in dormitories. The advisory is for salary payments to be made electronically in order to assist those who remit salaries but are currently isolated for safe distancing. Click here for more information on employer-assistance regarding remittance.
- The Canadian government has passed legislation called “Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy” that would subsidize employee wages by up to 75%. The goal of this legislation is to prevent mass layoffs and will be retroactive from March 15, 2020 and will end June 6, 200. In addition, the CEWS would allow companies to re-hire otherwise terminated employees as a result of COVID-19.
- Eligibility: Employers who are individuals, Taxable corporations, Partnerships, non-profit organizations, and registered charities. To be eligible, these types of organizations must have seen a 15% decrease in revenue in March 2020 and 30% after. The amount an employer may receive for an employee that is eligible to receive must be the greater of the following scenarios: 75% of their regular pay, capped at $847 CAD per week OR Up to $847 CAD of the regular pay or 75% of the regular pay before the COVID-19 crisis (whichever is less)
- To calculate the average weekly wages, wages paid between January 1st and March 15th and must exclude any 7 day period in which the employee was absent from work due to COVID-19.
- Refund on payroll taxes: CEWS will also cover a 100% refund of some employer payroll taxes. These include Employment Insurance, the Canada Pension Plan, the Quebec Pension Plan, and the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan.
- Main Street New Loan Facility- Under the Federal Reserve Act, small and medium sized businesses who are eligible will be able to receive 4 year loans if they can prove that they require financial assistance in maintaining their payroll due to COVID-19. Companies with 10,000 employees or less and with less than $2.5 billion USD are eligible to apply. The minimum size loan is $1 million USD with a maximum of $150 million USD. All principal and payments may be deferred for 1 year. More information can be found here.
- The Israeli cabinet has approved an emergency regulation that now permits employers to place pregnant employees on unpaid leave. This regulation eliminates the need for the employer to receive permission from the Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry before placing the employee on maternity leave. This was approved to allow those affected by the current crisis to receive unemployment. This rule also applies to employees residing in a shelter for victims of domestic abuse and employees involved in surrogacy adoption.
- The Spanish Government is currently working on rolling out a universal basic income to assist its citizens with the economic crisis that has been caused due to the Coronavirus. However, what the amount will be, and if it will go through is still unknown.
- Starting today, companies can apply for short term allowance. For employees who qualify, employee hours can be shortened and the government will assist the employer with paying wages.
- Starting April 6th the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will be accepting applications from individuals who have stopped working because of Covid-19 and our seeking temporary income support. Those who qualify can receive $500 for up to 16 weeks. Further details on eligibility and how to apply can be found on the Government of Canada site.
- The Australian government has come out with a JobKeeper program to assist companies by subsidizing eligible employees’ wages. Employees are to receive at least 1,500 AUD (before tax) every 14 days.
- The State of Arizona has issued a stay-at-home order. The full list of essential businesses that can stay open can be found here
- From April 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020, the Czech Labor Office will be providing wage relief to employers who fit eligibility to receive aid in the form of retroactive wage reimbursements.
- The United States Federal government has extended their initial 15-day social distancing guidelines to extend through April 30. This means people are urged to work from home and end all non-essential travel.
- Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has announced that all non-essential workers must stay at home for the next two weeks. The tighter lockdown will begin Monday March 30 and last until April 9. He stated that all workers are to receive their usual salaries but will need to make up the lost hours at a later date.
- 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.
- 26 March, 2359 hours till 30 April Singapore will impose stricter restrictions regarding where citizens can congregate.
- The Resilience Budget rolled out on March 26 2020 in addition to the Stabilization and Support Package (SSP) to add additional support to businesses and employees during the Coronavirus crisis.Job Support Scheme (JSS)
- The JSS will grant support to qualified groups by covering 75% of gross monthly wages per Singapore Citizen/Permanent Resident employee. The scheme has a monthly wage cap of $4,600.
Other business supports include property tax rebates, rental waivers, temporary bridging loan, and a waiver for temporary occupation license.
Training Industry Professionals in Tourism (TIP-iT)
- TIP-iT which provides support to tourism companies through employee upgrading, and talent and leadership development, has extended its courses which run from March 1 – May 31 2020 to also commence between June 1 – December 31 2020.
- TIP-iT will now cover up to 90% of course and trainer fees, as well as 90% of basic salary for absentee payroll, and is capped at $10 per hour.
Enhanced Grants Under the Tourism Development Fund (TDF)
The tourism sector is also being supported by grants under the Tourism Development Fund (TDF). Info on the types of grants and how to apply can be found here.
- 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.
- Employers with under 250 employees are able to receive reimbursement for statutory sick pay for employees affected by the coronavirus.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.