Coronavirus and businesses: One + One Decalogues about their operation and their employment relationships
Coronavirus and businesses: one + one Decalogues about their operation and their employment relationships (: “pitfalls” and “business opportunities”)
The pandemic-related legislation is dense. It provides facilities. It involves risks.
The first “wave” of the relevant provisions was the of 11.3.20 Legislative Decree and 14.3.20 Legislative Decree. The Legislative Decree of 20.3.2020 has already been issued.
The problems that businesses face (due to the pandemic) are many and varied. Especially the wage costs and the management of their employment relationships.
Crisis management requires information, alignment with expert guidance and sobriety.
We seek to utilize the opportunities and mitigate the risks involved.
TEN, more recent, QUESTIONS (: Decree of 20.3.20)
Question 1: Is it permissible to dismiss employees during this time?
NO – (in the case of undertakings suspending their business by order of a public authority)
YES – (other undertakings)
Question 2: Is it possible to suspend the employment relationships?
Businesses (affected by the pandemic) have the right to unilaterally suspend their employees’ employment contracts. They cannot make any dismissals during the suspension. Following: they are required to maintain the same number of jobs.
Question 3: Is it possible for the business to operate with ‘safe operation’ personel?
(It applies to all businesses. It is unilaterally applied. Each employee must be working for at least two weeks per month.)
Question 4: Is The Transfer Of Employees Within A Group Allowed?
The case law has already given an appropriate solution to the employment employees in Group). This solution continues to apply to all businesses.
However, the regulation introduced particularly applies to the businesses affected. Those businesses are entitled to transfer personnel to another company within the same Group. Required: a written agreement between them. Also: maintaining, overall, the same number of employees employed before the transfer.
Question 5: What Is The Fate Of The (Common) Rent And Leasing Rates That Businesses Pay For Their Employees? (And, Of Course, For Themselves…)
This measure concerns companies whose operation has been suspended or banned due to the pandemic.
They are exempt from 40% of their rent payable for March and April 2020. The same applies to the rental payments (common and leasing) for the benefit of their employees.
Question 6: Which individuals, who are somehow connected to businesses, benefit from the suspension of the payment of debts to the State?
For employees of and lessors of real estate to businesses which are affected by the pandemic, there is a suspension of the collection of confirmed debts and related installments.
Question 7: Which employees are the beneficiaries of the emergency financial aid? What are the relevant obligations of employers?
Employees whose employment contract is: (a) suspended or (b) terminated by dismissal or resignation from 1.3.2020 to 20.3.2020 shall be entitled to emergency financial aid
in the form of a special purpose remuneration.
Question 8: What about the (absolutely necessary) occupational physicians?
The present (absolutely imperative) needs have brought us back to reality. The number of people who can be designated as occupational doctors has expanded significantly.
Question 9: Are Further Support Measures Expected For Freelancers, Self-Employed And Owners Of Sole Proprietorships?
YES – Related Ministerial Decisions are expected.
Question 10: How are the unemployed supported?
The duration of unemployment benefits is extended to 31.5.2020.
The following TEN, (critical) QUESTIONS (: Legislative Decrees of 11.3.20 and 14.3.20)
Question 11: What is the “special purpose leave”?
Working parents (with minor children up to basic education) are entitled, subject to conditions, to leave work.
Οι εργαζόμενοι γονείς (με ανήλικα τέκνα έως το επίπεδο της βασικής εκπαίδευσης) δικαιούνται, υπό προϋποθέσεις, άδεια απουσίας από την εργασία τους.
Question 12: Can the employer unilaterally impose “telework” on the employees of their business?
Yes. Teleworking has proven to be very useful under the present circumstances.
Question 13: Can the employer force their employee to take his or her regular leave or to (obligatorily) set him on her on unpaid leave?
Question 14: Can an employee decide on their own that they will not go to work because they are afraid of being infected with the virus?
Question 15: What should the Employer do if an employee shows symptoms of COVID-19?
The employer is obliged to accept the employee’s absence if it is in line with relevant National Public Health Organization guidelines. The wage is owed as usual.
Question 16: What should an employer do for pregnant employees? For employees who are in vulnerable groups?
The employer is obliged to encourage them to stay at home. The wage is owed as usual.
Question 17: What are the main obligations of employers?
The employer is obliged to ensure the health and safety of employees.
Its main responsibilities include updating the Occupational Risk Assessment, informing employees of the risk of coronavirus infection and preventive and protective measures, taking environmental and personal hygiene measures, and providing appropriate personal protective equipment.
Question 18: What obligations of employers have been suspended regarding the working hours of employees?
The obligation to register (in advance) with “ERGANI” any modification of working hours or of the organization of working time has been suspended. And so has the obligation to register overtime.
Question 19: Are employers’ obligations to pay amounts due to the State and Insurance Organizations suspended?
We are expecting the necessary delegated Ministerial Decisions to be issued.
Question 20: What measures can / should an employer take to address the financial situation created by new data?
Before considering redundancies, let us examine the value of other, milder, measures. Possibly a combination of them. Among others:
(a) the conversion of full-time to part-time employment contracts
(b) the agreement (or enforcement) of rotational work
(c) the agreement (or enforcement) of suspension
However, the measure of suspension of employment has already been enacted (Question 2). Above all, there is always the possibility of a regular or unpaid leave (subject always to the consent of the employee).
The state must follow the (unpredictable) developments. It has proven (at least at a legislative level) that it is doing so.
Compliance with the National Public Health Organization guidelines (at last) must be our top priority.
But what about entrepreneurs?
They must be kept informed of the contents of the regulatory flood. To (re)adapt their business strategy.
Choosing the right measures to manage (rigid) wage costs is not an easy task.
Tools are available. Redundancies or teleworking are not the only ones.
It is up to us to choose and interpret the most appropriate measures for each business. Their careful implementation
What matters most is human life.
Immediately after that: Ensuring the survival of businesses – an event necessary for (decent) human survival.
Disclaimer: the information provided in this article is not (and is not intended to) constitute legal advice. Legal advice can only be offered by a competent attorney and after the latter takes into consideration all the relevant to your case data that you will provide them with. See here for more details.