The economic crisis that is (not only) nationally linked to the current pandemic seems unprecedented. Measures were taken at a European (e.g. SURE program) as well as in a national level. As far as our country is concerned, we have seen a number of measures whose central focus was on supporting businesses and securing jobs. Some of them: The (temporary) ban on dismissals, the suspension of employment contracts, the safe operation personnel, the transfer of employees to businesses within the same Group, the COOPERATION program. But all this was more temporary. More drastic measures were needed. The further strengthening of flexible forms of employment (among them: part-time work, rotarional work, teleworking, etc.) but also the addition of the regulation of working time are some of them. But what the circumstances really demanded was the strengthening of the real economy. Already, with the addition of one hundred thousand (100,000) new jobs, the necessary impetus is expected. The CMO no. 39539/996/30.9.2020 (Government Gazette Β΄ 4261/30.9.2020) was issued pursuant to powers granted in article 28 ν. 4726/20- Government Gazette Β’ 181/18.9.20. They both concern the “open program for the addition of 100,000 new subsidized jobs” (hereinafter referred to as the “Program”).
Let’s try to decode it.
Question 1: What is the purpose of the Program?
The purpose of the Program is the creation of 100,000 new jobs, with the subsidy of all insurance contributions (made from both employers and employees), for six (6) months, in businesses- employers of the private sector of the country, regardless of their industry and business activity (Article 1 par. 1)
Question 2: What is the time point from which job growth is monitored?
The new jobs subsidized by the Program are additional to the number of existing jobs of businesses- employers on 18.9.2020 (article 1 par. 1)
Question 3: When does the Program start and how long does it last?
The date of entry into force of the Program is set at 1.10.2020 and is valid until the exhaustion of the subsidized 100,000 jobs (article 1 par. 2).
Question 4: What is the amount and duration of the subsidy for each job?
For each new position that is created and included in the specific Program, the total of the employee and employer insurance contributions is subsidized by the state budget, as well as the corresponding insurance contributions in bonuses provided for by law and leave allowance. The specific subsidy takes place for a period of six (6) months and is independent of the amount of the employee’s monthly salary (article 2 par. 1).
Question 5: What is the amount of the subsidy when the person hired under the Program is long-term unemployed?
It is possible that a long-term unemployed person is employed (ie a person registered in the OAED unemployment register for a period of at least twelve months until the submission of the application-declaration of the businesses-employers for participation in the Program).
In this case the new recruitment is subsidized from the state budget (in addition to the subsidy of insurance contributions (Article 2 §1-question 3) with an additional two hundred (200) euros on (exceeding this amount) net monthly salary, before tax and special solidarity contribution (Article 2 §2).
Question 6: Which businesses are affected by the Program? There are conditions.
The Program concerns businesses- employers of the private sector of the country, regardless of their sector and business activity (article 1 §1). However, it concerns only those businesses that are up to date with their tax and insurance contributions or have settled any established debts due to the State and the Electronic National Social Security Agency (e-EFKA), at the time of submitting the application-official declaration for the Program (article 3).
Question 7: Which are the employees affected by the Program and can they participate in it?
Those employees hired from 1.10.2020 onwards can join the Program (article 4§1).
The specific employees must not: a) have worked in the applicant company-employer, for at least one (1) month before the date of their employment nor b) have worked in another business, for one (1) month also before date of their recruitment (Article 4§2).
Question 8: Is it necessary to hire full-time employees?
Recruitment may take place under a full-time or part-time contract of employment for a period of at least six (6) months (Article 4-1).
Question 9: What are the obligations of the businesses that participate in the Program?
The businesses-employers that participate in the Program are obliged to maintain the average number of employees that they had on 18.9.20, increased by the number of new subsidized employees. This obligation is maintained for the period of six months in which each new job is subsidized (Article 5§1).
Question 10: What jobs should the businesses that use the Program keep?
The number of jobs that the beneficiary businesses have to maintain concerns all of their employees in a fixed-term or indefinite employment contract, either full-time or part-time ones. This number also includes the jobs of those employees who have been suspended (Article 5§2).
The positions that the beneficiary businesses are obliged to maintain are those that concern employees:
(a) whose employment contract is terminated due to retirement or death;
(b) whose fixed-term employment contract expires;
(c) who quit.
Question 11: Is it possible to change the working conditions of the employees included in the Program?
It is not possible to change the working conditions of the employees included in the Program. Even if there is consent of the beneficiary employees (Article 5§3). However, it is not possible to suspend their employment contracts either (Article 5§7).
Question 12: Is it permissible to terminate the employment contracts of employees included in the Program?
It is permissible, provided there is a significant reason (article 5§4). Let us remember, of course, that the significant reason is ultimately evaluated by the competent courts.
Question 13: What are the sanctions for the business in case of violation of the obligation to maintain the jobs they had on 18.9.20?
It is not, of course, tolerable for the beneficiary businesses to violate their obligation for six months to maintain the jobs they had on 18.9.20 and the same working conditions (article 7 par. 4 & Question 21). In fact, the observance of their specific obligation is closely monitored on a monthly basis (Article 7§2).
In case of violation of the specific obligation, these businesses-employers, are no more included in the Program and are obliged to return all the subsidies received under it – (Article 7§4).
Question 14: What happens in case of termination of an employment contract of a beneficiary employee for a significant reason?
In case of termination of the employment contract of a beneficiary employee for a significant reason, it is not allowed to replace them with a new subsidized employee for the remaining period until the expiration of the six months. However, the beneficiary businesses are entitled to request the approval of a new subsidized job (Article 5§5).
Question 15: What happens after the subsidized six-month period lapses?
After the lapse of the six-month period in which the insurance contributions (and part of their salary, in case a long-term unemployed person was employed, -article 2 par. 2 and Questions 5 & 20) are subsidized, the company can maintain (or not) the employment relationship with the beneficiary employee. In case of maintenance, the total of the charges (salary and insurance contributions) is borne by the employer exclusively (article 5§6).
Question 16: Can a business partake at the same time both in the Program and in “COOPERATION”?
Employees who are placed in the new jobs of the specific Program cannot be included in the program “COOPERATION” of article 31 of law 4690/2020 (A’104). Their employment contracts cannot be suspended.
However, it is possible for a business to partake at the same time both in the Program and in “COOPERATION”. But strictly for different employees.
Question 17: What is the relationship between the Program and teleworking?
Employees who are part of the Program can also provide their work by teleworking, if this is allowed by the nature of their work. It should be noted here that the (unilateral) choice of telework by the employee who is part of the Program is not possible (with the exception of those belonging to a vulnerable group – Question 18).
Question 18: What happens when the beneficiaries are in vulnerable groups?
As an introduction, we mention that the employees who belong to the vulnerable groups are already identified by the no. 37095/1436 / 17.9.2020 (Government Gazette B’4011) CMO. In addition to the above decision, the details of the application of the protection measures in favor of the vulnerable groups are determined by the CMO with No. 39363/1537 / 30.9.2020 (Government Gazette B’ 4262).
The protective arrangements that concern them in relation to the current pandemic, prevail over those mentioned in the Program (article 5§9).
Question 19: What is the procedure to be followed for joining the Program?
Every business that intends to make recruitments within the framework of the specific Program submits an electronic application to the ERGANI platform for each beneficiary (article 6§1). The details of the application are checked and verified by ERGANI and the businesses receive a response to the application or the rejection of their application. In case of approval, the beneficiary businesses conclude, at the latest on the next day, the relevant employment contract with the specific, beneficiary, employee.
Question 20: What is the procedure for the payment of the € 200 salary subsidy for the long-term unemployed who are included in the Program?
The payment of this subsidy takes place by crediting the bank account of the employer businesses (Article 9§2).
Question 21: What happens in case of false, according to the content, official declarations by the businesses that request their inclusion in the specific Program.
The sanctions are both of criminal and administrative nature. In any case: Amounts that were unduly paid to businesses are collected based on the Code for the Collection of Public Revenue.
As mentioned in the introduction, strengthening businesses and increasing jobs is a prerequisite for managing the financial crisis.
The ball is now in the businesses’ court.
Let’s seize the opportunity!
P.S. A brief version of this article has been published in MAKEDONIA Newspaper (October 4, 2020).
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.