Coronavirus: Government measures

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The Council of Ministers has approved a wide and diverse package of measures to combat the crisis triggered by the coronavirus. The most notable measures to support companies, self-employed people and working people are showed for you below.

Temporary Employment Regulation Files (ERTE).

The Government encourages the suspension of contracts and the reduction of working hours as the best way to maintain employment, against the dismissals, improving their attractiveness. In fact, these extraordinary measures are subjected to the use by the beneficiary companies.

For this, regarding to working people, it provides:

a) the recognition of the right of unemployment benefit, whether they are entitled to it or not; and b) that the time they remain receiving the unemployment benefit they will not lose or consume their accumulated unemployment benefit.

Related to companies and employers, they are exempt from paying the Social Security contributions of workers who are included in an ERTE -100% if they had 50 workers on February 29, 2020 or less, and 75% if they were more-. This exemption, that is, the fact that the employer does not pay Social Security for the workers affected by the ERTE, will only have effects in cases of force majeure and not in cases of economic causes. However, for the worker, this exemption will have no effect, this period will be considered as contributed.

In addition, formal requirements became more flexible.

Suspensions of contracts and reductions in working hours considered as force majeure, will be resolved within seven days and the report of the Labor and Social Security Inspection on the existence force majeure became facultative.

Those requests accompanied by a report proving the loss of activity because of the COVID-19 (including the declaration of the state of alarm), may be processed as force majeure. They also need to prove the involvement of:

  • Suspension or cancellation of activities.
  • Temporary closure of public premises.
  • Restrictions on public transport and, of people and / or goods.
  • Lack of supplies that seriously obstructing the development of the activity,
  • Urgent and extraordinary situations due to the contagion of the workers, or the adoption of preventive isolation measures decreed by the health authority.

The losses of activity originated in suspensions or cancellations, closings or restrictions, for being activities included in the list of governmental measures, will have easy accreditation, the rest will require more proofs.

These measures related to ERTEs will take effect from the date of the event causing the force majeure.

If the suspensions of contracts and the reductions in working hours are based, in economic causes, or in productive, organizational or technical causes related to COVID-19, the following characteristics on current regulations are approved:

  • If there is no legal representation of the workers, the most significant unions of the sector will made up of the representative commission. The commission will be made up of one person from the corresponding representative majorities. If this representation is not established, the commission will be made up of three workers from the company, according to the article 41.4 of the Workers’ Statute. In any case the representative commission must be constituted within the non-extendable period of 5 days (until now the term was 15 days, and 7 days if there was legal representation of the workers).
  • The period of consultations between the company and the representatives should not exceed 7 days (until now the term was 15 days).
  • The report of the Labor and Social Security Inspection, whose request will be potestative for the Labor Authority, must be done within the non-extendable period of 7 days (until now the period was 15 days).

Even though the deadlines have been shortened, due to the bureaucracy of this type of ERTE and the lack of economic support, it is advisable to choose the force majeure option, if possible.

The previous flexibility measures will not be applied to the employment regulation files already initiated. However, the rest of the measures will have retroactive effects.

The procedure will begin through the request of the company, which must be accompanied by a report regarding the connection to the loss of activity as a result of COVID-19, as well as, the appropriate supporting documents. The company must communicate its request to the workers and transfer the previous report and supporting documentation, to their representatives.

Once the activity has resumed, the company must maintain the number of jobs positions for at least six months.

Right to adapt working conditions and reduce working hours.

Any worker will have the right to adapt and reorganize their workday, or reduce it, to care for dependent relatives, the elderly or children, while the closure of educational centers and social assistance services or similar lasts. Company and worker must do their best to reach an agreement.

The reduction in working hours (which entails the proportional reduction in salary), must be communicated 24 hours in advance. It will not be limited, neither minimum or maximum, and may even reach the total reduction-always justified and reasonable to the situation of the company-.

Teleworking

Companies must adopt the appropriate measures that allow the work activity by alternative mechanisms, particularly remote work, which must be a priority against of temporary cessation or reduced activity.

To facilitate teleworking, the obligation to carry out the risk assessment will be understood as completed by the worker himself through a self-assessment carried out voluntarily.

In addition, a program to support the digitalization of small business and to promote telework is approved.

Self-employed.

Under certain conditions, access to the extraordinary benefit for cessation of activity is made more flexible for self-employed workers whose activities have been suspended or whose turnover has fallen by 75% compared to the average for the previous six months. The amount of the benefit will be 70% of the regulatory base, calculated according to the usual rules and, failing that, on the minimum contribution base.

The duration of this extraordinary benefit will be one month or until the alarm status is extended. The self-employed must be up to date with the payment of their quotas and if they are not, they may deposit them and then request the extraordinary benefit. They must also prove that in the month in which they request the benefit they have a turnover of 75% less than the average of the previous six months, so they will have to wait for this magnitude to be met.

This measure applies to all the self-employed.

Financing.

A line of public guarantee endorsements is created for the financing granted by credit institutions, amounting to 100,000 million euros, to provide liquidity to companies and the self-employed to meet their derived needs, from the management of invoices, need for working capital, expiration of financial or tax obligations or other liquidity needs

And the net debt limit of the ICO (Official Credit Institutionis increased by 10,000 million euros in order to increase the ICO Lines of financing for companies and the self-employed

And an extraordinary line of insurance coverage is created, endowed with 2,000 million for exporting companies.

insolvency proceeding

While the alarm status is in force, the debtor who is insolvent will not have to request the bankruptcy declaration. Until two months elapsed from the end of the state of alarm, the judges will not admit for processing the requests submitted during that state or those two months. If a voluntary bankruptcy request has been submitted, it will be admitted for processing, preferably, even if it is of a later date.

The debtor who has notified the court with jurisdiction for the declaration of bankruptcy of the initiation of negotiations with creditors to reach a refinancing agreement, or an out-of-court settlement agreement, or to obtain adherence to an advance proposal for a settlement, will also not have the duty to request the declaration of bankruptcy, while the state of alert is in force.

Other measures of interest

· The wording of article 10.1 of the Spanish decree 463/2000:

  • The opening to the public of retail establishments and establishments is suspended, with the exception of retail commercial establishments for food, beverages, products and basic necessities, pharmaceutical establishments, health centers, veterinary centers or clinics, optical and orthopedic products, hygienic products , press and stationery, automotive fuel, tobacconists, technological and telecommunications equipment, pet food, internet commerce, telephone or correspondence, dry cleaners, laundries and the professional home service practice of hairdressing . In any case, the activity of any establishment that, in the opinion of the competent authority, may pose a risk of contagion, will be suspended.

· the suspension of administrative procedures does not affect the procedures for affiliation, liquidation and Social Security contributions, which must be carried out within the established deadlines. Nor does it affect the filing of tax returns and self-assessments.

· Suspension of several terms and expirations in the tax and in the property register field, which is extended until April 30, 2020.

· Specific benefits for permanent workers who work seasonally, part-time and cooperative workers regarding unemployment benefits.

· There are no deadlines for registrations or resumption for the and the unemployment benefits. There is an automatic extension There is no need to go to the employment offices.

· Moratorium on the payment of mortgages of usual residence to people which income has been reduced or those who are unemployed due to the Coronavirus.

· The guarantors who are in cases of economic vulnerability may demand that the bank exhaust the assets of the main mortager, before claiming the secured debt, even if they have renounced the tax exemption.

· Extended until March 13, 2021, the validity of the national identity document of legal age people who are holders of an expiring document. the near expiration of digital certificates is obviated.

· It is established that the movement of persons allowed must be carried out individually, unless in case of persons with disabilities, minors, the elderly, or another justified cause.

· Suppliers of electric energy, natural gas and water may not suspend the supply to those consumers in the condition of vulnerability or at risk of social exclusion. The social bonus is automatically extended until September 15, 2020.

· Companies that provide electronic communications services may not suspend or interrupt the provision of electronic communications services contracted by their clients.

· In addition, all mobile and fixed number portability operations that are not ongoing will be suspended.

· The deadlines for returning the products purchased during the Alarm State are interrupted until their completion.

· Public contracts for services and supplies of successive provision, in the Public Sector, whose execution becomes impossible, will be automatically suspended. And in the rest, when the contractor is in delay, an extension will be granted for the fulfillment of its commitments. Also, in public works contracts. In public works concession and service concession contracts, there will be force majeure. The foregoing shall not be applicable in any case to contracts for health or pharmaceutical or other services or supplies, linked to the health crisis.

  • The regulation that control investments from abroad is modified to prevent companies from outside the European Union from taking control of companies in the country in strategic sectors taking advantage of the stock Exchange decline.

· Extension of maturities to owners of agricultural holdings that have signed loans as a result of the drought situation of 2017.

· Measures to support the investigation of COVID-19.

This informative circular is a review, for a complete understanding we refer to the publication of the rules (there are several decrees) in the BOE.

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