UPDATED APRIL 16, 2020
As the COVID-19 coronavirus situation evolves, we want to ensure you have the most updated information regarding in-country public health and labor law regulations.
We will continue to update this blog post as we receive information from our in-country teams.
The Argentinean Government has made some changes in the official holidays:
- April 2nd 2020 holiday has been moved to March 31st
- March 30th 2020 has been include as an official holiday this year
The payment of the Severance Pay Fund (FGTS) is suspended for the months of March, April and May (payable in April, May and June respectively). The FGTS for these months must then be paid in within six months from the suspension, without incurring finds and other legal charges. Normal payment will resume in July and must be made on the seventh day of each month.
For companies dealing with the interruption of face-to-face services, the measure eases some instruments already provided for in previous legislation. Teleworking, for example, is now allowed regardless of the provision in individual or collective labour agreements and prior registration of changes in the employment contract.
Individual holidays can be granted whether the acquisition period has elapsed or not. Companies are still permitted to accept or not an employee’s vacation redemption.
Both changes to the work regime and anticipating vacations and holidays require that the worker be notified at least 48 hours in advance. This notification can be made electronically.
The interruption of activities may also be compensated by the creation of a bank of hours through a formal individual or collective agreement, even if not provided for in a convention or work agreement. Compensation must be made within 18 months after the state public calamity has ended and can be done by extending the workday by up to two hours per day, provided that it is restricted to 10 hours per day.
The government in Egypt has made the following announcements:
- As of March 25th, 2020, all public facing government services meaning tax, social insurance, and labour offices will be closed. This means no new joiners will be able to be registered till the closure is cancelled. This includes work permit applications which will be delayed. If work permits are set to expire in the next two weeks, the Interior Ministry will automatically extend the validity.
- Banks are shortening their working hours starting March 25th. However all online transactions for salary payments are not affected.
- Employee taxes and social insurance payments are done online and are not affected.
A French public health emergency bill authorizes the government to derogate from certain legal and regulatory provisions by means of ordinances in order to deal with the economic, financial, and social consequences of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
First, a company agreement or, failing that, a branch agreement may determine the conditions under which an employer is authorized to decide on the dates of holidays acquired by an employee. The employer can also unilaterally modify the dates of holidays already fixed.
There are two limits: (1) the number of days: six days’ leave and (2) the mandatory observance of a notice period, which may not be less than one clear day (compared to one month in principle).
In undertakings within sectors of activity deemed necessary for the security of the nation and the continuity of economic and social life (a decree will determine those sectors), the following derogation may be made from the applicable rules:
- The maximum daily working time may be extended to 12 hours
- The maximum daily working time performed by a night worker may be extended to 12 hours, subject to the granting of a compensatory rest period equal to the excess of hours worked
- The length of the daily rest period may be reduced to 9 consecutive hours, subject to the granting of a compensatory rest equal to the length of the rest period from which the employee was unable to benefit
- The maximum weekly worked period may be extended to 60 hours
- The weekly working time calculated over any period of 12 consecutive weeks may be extended to 48 hours
- The weekly working time of a night worker calculated over a period of 12 consecutive weeks may be extended to 44 hours
The derogations implemented on the basis of this ordinance shall cease to have effect on December 31, 2020.
In Bavaria, basic movement restrictions enforced since Saturday, March 21st, have now been extended till May 3rd.
If an employee is infected with COVID-19, they will be entitled to continued payment of remuneration (paid by the employer for up to six weeks) as per the statutory rules on compensation in case of sickness.
If the employee is quarantined by the authorities under the German Infection Protection Act, they will be entitled to public compensation for up to 6 weeks for lost earnings and statutory sick pay for any further period. Within the first six weeks, this compensation needs to be paid out by the employer who can claim reimbursement.
In addition to the priority of health protection, the employer should develop a concept as to whether and how operational processes can be maintained.
Where an employee has come into contact with an infected colleague, they should be asked to undergo a medical examination, and until the results are available, should be released from work or work from home. As a matter of course, confidentiality has to be observed as far as possible.
In general, if there is a reason to believe that an employee poses a risk to the health of other employees, for example because they have been in a risk area, the employer may unilaterally exempt the worker and deny them access to the premises. However, the employee retains their right to remuneration during this exemption period.
If a business is closed in Germany due to an official ban, the employees are entitled to compensation (for up to 6 weeks for lost earnings and statutory sick pay for any further period). The initial 6 weeks of payment will be paid out by the employer, who can claim reimbursement from the authorities, and the following period will be paid solely by the authorities.
If a business is closed in Germany by way of precaution but without an official ban, employees will remain entitled to their compensation even if they cannot perform their work due to the temporary closure. Alternatively, working from home can be agreed between the employer and employee so long as the employee is adequately compensated.
The Indian government has advised employers that they will be permitted to increase paid sick leave provisions for employees diagnosed with COVID-19, should the situation arise. Additionally, staff who are required to quarantine/self-isolate as a precaution will continue to receive their salaries as normal.
This is being referred to as “special leave” and will apply for any number of days required for the employer to recover.
Furthermore, any treatment for COVID-19 required by individuals will be covered under ALL hospitalisation policies that are in force, as confirmed by the Government.
The Kenyan government has announced tax relief measures for employees, which, if approved by Parliament, will come into effect from 1st April 2020.
The measures will see 100% tax relief applied to person earning the equivalent of Kshs 24,000 or less per month; and reduction of the PAYE tax rate from 30% to 25% for higher earning employees.
It is unclear when the Parliament will vote on the amendment as it is currently in recess as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Further updates will follow.
Malaysia has announced that the Movement Control Order is to be extended by 14 days until April 14th, 2020 as the trend of new COVID-19 cases is expecting to continue.
On March 20, 2020, Mexico Ministry of Labor issued an Action Guide for Workplaces against COVID-19 (the “Guide”), which, among other things, recommended the following steps for employers:
- Establishment of general control strategies in the workplaces:
- Healthy distance: modify habits such as distancing among individuals and reduction in frequency of face-to-face encounters with employees, including the adaptation of work areas and spaces.
- Entrance filters: establish a general supervision protocol to filter employees and clients at the entrance, to identify people with respiratory illnesses with the purposes of sending them home to voluntary isolation to reduce risk of transmission.
- Quarantine: Send employees home when they show respiratory illnesses and to the doctor if they have any symptoms related to COVID-19
The Portuguese Government has announced a raft of measures to assist employees during the current COVID-19 crisis.
Employees required to quarantine/self-isolate
Employees who are temporarily restricted from performing professional activities, by determination of the Health Authority, due to the danger of contagion by COVID-19, are entitled to receive a subsidy amounting to 100% of his/her remuneration for the duration of isolation.
The allowance will be granted if the employee obtains a statement from the Health Authority attesting that it is necessary for him/her to isolate. The procedures and models for employees to obtain this support are available from www.seg-social.pt and www.dgs.pt
The allowance has a maximum duration of 14 days and, during that period, the employer does not pay remuneration to the employee.
Please note that employees who are required to self-isolate but are not ill and are able to work from home will not be entitled to the subsidy and will continue to be paid by their employer as normal.
Absence due to Illness
Employees who miss work due to illness, including COVID-19, are entitled to receive a social security allowance. The allowance is awarded if the employee obtains a certificate of temporary incapacity for work from a doctor. The amount of the allowance will depend on the duration of the medical leave:
- Up to 30 days: 55% of remuneration;
- From 31 to 90 days: 60% of remuneration;
- From 91 to 365 days: 70% of remuneration; and
- More than 365 days: 75% of remuneration.
In case of absence from work due to medically attested illness, the employer shall immediately suspend the payment of remuneration.
Ordinarily, entitlement to the allowance applies only from the 4th day of incapacity for work, but in the case of COVID-19, the grant of allowance is immediate and there is no waiting period.
Absence due to family illness
If an employee must be absent from work to care for a child or grandchild, either because the child is in isolation declared by the Health Authority or, due to the illness of the child, the employee is entitled to receive a subsidy corresponding to 65% of his/her remuneration.
The employer does not pay the employee during this absence and he/she must apply for benefits from the Department of Social Security.
Absence due to Educational Establishment Closure
Employees who must remain home to care for children up to 12 years of age due to school closures as a result of COVID-19, and only in cases where the employee is unable to work from home, the employee is entitled to receive exceptional monthly or proportional support corresponding to two-thirds of his/her basic salary, paid in equal share by the employer and the Department of Social Security.
It will be the responsibility of the employer to notify the Department of Social Security of the employee’s inability to work in this scenario. The employer will pay the employee in full and receive reimbursement of 50% of the costs from the Department of Social Security. The employee will also be required to submit a declaration, which they will find online on the social security website.
The Ministry of Manpower Singapore (MOM) and Immigration and Checkpoint Authority (ICA) are taking strict measures to help to manage the spread of Covid-19 Coronavirus.
From 23 March 2020, 2359 hours, all short-term visitors (from anywhere in the world) will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore.
All Singaporeans, Permanent Residents, Long Term Pass holders entering Singapore will be issued a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN)
You are to remain in your place of residence at all times for 14 days after entering Singapore. You are not to leave your place of residence, even if it is to purchase food and essentials. If necessary, you may opt for home delivery services or enlist the assistance of others for your daily necessities.
You should also minimize contact with others, monitor your health closely, and observe good personal hygiene.
Any Singapore resident or Long-Term Pass holder who leaves Singapore from 27 March 2020, in disregard of the prevailing travel advisories, will be charged at unsubsidized rates for their inpatient stay at public hospitals, if they are admitted for suspected COVID-19 and have onset of symptoms within 14 days of returning to Singapore.
Singapore residents will also not be able to claim from MediShield Life or Integrated Shield Plans for these treatments at public and private hospitals.
Any work pass holder or his/her dependent who leaves Singapore from 27 March 2020 will be deprioritized for entry approval and could see significant delays before they are allowed to return to Singapore if they persist in travelling abroad and return infected.
Employers who do not make facilities available for members of staff to work from home where reasonable could be jailed or fined, under changes to the Infectious Diseases Act.
An addition to the Act published in the Government Gazette on April 1, lays out the penalties employers face for not directing staff to work from home where possible or not implementing safe distancing measures at work, among others.
Those who are found guilty of not doing so can be fined not more than S$10,000, jailed for a maximum of six months or both.
For those who must go to work, employees must be grouped and must arrive at their place of work at different times. They must not all arrive and leave the workplace at the same time.
Employees may be asked to use their annual leave during this time. This only applies to the statutory portion of annual leave (i.e. 15 business days). If employees must subject themselves to self-quarantine for 14 days (or longer) such leave will be recognised as “special leave” and employees will be permitted to apply for UIF benefits which will be paid on condition that the reason for the quarantine meets the necessary requirements.
In order to prevent the spread of the disease within Thailand, there will be a postponement in the application for visa extensions, work permit applications or administrative matters related to expatriates entering Thailand from any of these countries. All nationals of these countries will be quarantined for 14 days from the date of their arrival in Thailand.
The government will bring forward legislation to allow small- and medium-sized businesses, and employers, to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:
- The refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19.
- Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible – the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020.
- Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19.
- Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online; those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website.
- The eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP to those staying at home come into force.
- The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.