Novelties brought to employers by the Fourth COVID-19 Act
Authors: Sanda Planinc, Kaja Baškovič
On 9 July 2020, the Slovenian Parliament adopted the Act on Intervention Measures to Prepare for the Second Wave of COVID-19 (hereinafter the Fourth COVID-19 Act). Its provisions entered into force on 11 July 2020, with the exception of provisions regarding the extension of reimbursement of the salary compensation for employees temporarily waiting for work; the latter are applicable retroactively, namely from 1 July 2020.
In this article we are presenting a summary of the provisions of the Fourth COVID-19 Act, which are of the highest importance for employers.
With regard to the salary compensations provided for in the Fourth COVID-19 Act, state aid restrictions must also be taken into account. These compensations may be combined with other measures intended to preserve jobs, however the combined aid may not lead to excessive compensation of salary costs per individual employee, and the total state aid granted to any particular employer must be limited as foreseen in the European Commission State Aid Temporary Framework adopted to enable Member States to support the economy in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. Detailed description of state aid restrictions can be found here.
1. Reimbursement of salary compensation for employees temporarily waiting for work
The Fourth COVID-19 Act is extending the scheme that provides for reimbursement of the salary compensation for employees temporarily waiting for work until 31 July 2020. At the same time the Fourth COVID-19 Act also grants an option to the Government to prolong the said measure twice with an ordinance, however no longer than until 30 September 2020.
The Fourth COVID-19 Act is amending the reimbursement of salary compensation for employees temporarily waiting for work in the following manner (the description of the previous measure can be found here):
- In addition to employees subject to bankruptcy proceedings, the Fourth COVID-19 Act also exempts from entitlement to reimbursement of salary compensations those employees that are subject to liquidation proceedings;
- In order to benefit from reimbursement, employers may – in addition to not ordering overtime work – also not irregularly distribute working time, insofar as the respective work could be performed with the employees temporarily waiting for work; and
- The Fourth COVID-19 Act is extending the prohibition of dismissal, which applied only to employers claiming a subsidy for part-time work under the Third COVID-19 Act. An employer may not, for business reasons, dismiss an employee for whom he has claimed reimbursement of the salary compensation, or terminate the employment contracts of a large number of workers for business reasons, unless the redundancy program was adopted before 13 March 2020 and the employer did not claim reimbursement for these workers under the Second and Third COVID-19 Acts.
The extension of the reimbursement scheme for salary compensation to employees temporarily waiting for work is also bringing a change in end dates to exercise this right. The employers are able to exercise their right to reimbursement of the paid salary compensations by submitting an online application with the Employment Service on 31 July 2020 at the latest (or 31 August 2020 or 30 September 2020, in case the scheme will be prolonged again). Applications have to be submitted at the latest until 20 July 2020 with respect to employees who have been sent to wait for work after 1 July 2020 but prior to the enforcement of the Fourth COVID-19 Act; for employees who will have been sent to wait for work after the implementation of the Fourth COVID-19 Act, applications have to be filed within 8 days following each respective order to wait for work at home.
2. Salary reimbursement for employees under quarantine order
Duration of the measure
The Fourth COVID-19 Act determines that an employee who cannot perform work due to a quarantine order has a right to salary compensation for the duration of the quarantine. Employers who are not able to organize work from home for such employees are qualified to claim reimbursement of the salary compensation. Eligibility for reimbursement of salary compensations due to the ordered quarantine lasts until 30 September 2020, at the latest, and the amount of compensation depends upon the reason for which quarantine was ordered.
The amount of the compensation and the obligation to notify the employer
The amount of the salary compensation depends on the reason behind the quarantine order:
|Reason for the quarantine order||The amount of the compensation|
|The employee had travelled to a country on the green or yellow list and has been quarantined when crossing the border to the Republic of Slovenia.||80% of the employee’s salary (i.e., in the amount as determined by the Employment Relationships Act in the event of temporary inability to provide work for business reasons).|
|The employee had travelled to a country listed on the red list and is quarantined when crossing the border to the Republic of Slovenia.||The employee is not entitled to compensation, except in case of travel due to the following personal circumstances, which are listed by the employee in a written statement to the employer no later than one day before departure:|
In the above cases, the employee is entitled to compensation in the amount of 50% of his salary, but not less than 70% of the minimum wage (i.e., in the amount as determined by the Employment Relationships Act in case of force majeure).
|Contact with an infected person outside of work for the employer.||80% of the employee’s salary (i.e., in the amount as determined by the Employment Relationships Act in the event of temporary inability to provide work for business reasons).|
|Contact with an infected person in the context of performing work for the employer.||Compensation in the same amount, as if working.|
|Civil servant who has been quarantined due to performance of his employment duties abroad or due to posted work or for transferring to work abroad.||Compensation in the same amount, as if working.|
The salary compensations are adjusted in cases of justified absence from work during the ordered quarantine or in case the employee acquires social security based rights, in other cases of justified absence from work or in cases of part-time work during the quarantine.
An employee with ordered quarantine has to notify the employer about that fact and the reasons for quarantine at the latest within three business days as of the quarantine order. Within three days following receipt, the employee has to send the employer also the received decision about the ordered quarantine indicating the reason for the quarantine.
The employer may claim the right to reimbursement of salary compensation by submitting an online application with the Employment Service within 30 days after the employee’s start of absence due to quarantine. In addition to the application, the employer has to submit a copy of the quarantine order and a statement that the employer is not able to organize work from home, and in case of traveling to a country on a red list due to specified personal circumstances also the respective employee’s statement about the existence of such circumstances. The reimbursement is paid to the employer on the last day of the month following the month of payment of the salary compensation to the employee. If the employer does not pay the salary compensation to the employee, he is not entitled to its reimbursement.
During the period of receiving the reimbursement of salary compensations, the employer has to pay net salary compensations to employees, as well as pay their social security contributions, otherwise the employer has to return the received funds.
The employer claiming the reimbursement of the salary compensation is under detailed administrative and financial supervision performed by the Employment Service, while inspection is carried out by the Labour Inspectorate. Breaches could lead to significant penalties for employers and the responsible individuals.
3. Applicability of other measures
After adoption of the Fourth COVID-19 Act, some of the measures provided for in other COVID-19 related legislation stayed in force. One of the more important ones is the partial subsidy for part-time work, which will stay in force until 31 December 2020, however the deadline for its enforcement is prolonged until 10 December 2020. The Fourth COVID-19 Act does not include any other substantial changes relating to this measure (more on the measure is available here).