On 15 March 2020, the Council of Ministers held an extraordinary meeting and decided on the measures to be taken for the protection of employees and businesses, in view of the emergency situation created as a result of the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The measures to be taken include the following:
1. The provision of Special Leave
- This form of leave shall be granted to parents working in the private sector for the care of children up to the age of 15 due to the closing of schools.
- The period of leave shall last up to four weeks and does not include holidays. This period however may vary according to the spread of the virus.
During the abovementioned period of leave, an allowance shall be granted as follows:
For a parent with a salary of up to €2,500: for the first €1,000 of the parent's salary, a 'special leave' allowance of 60% of the salary shall be paid and for the subsequent €1,000 of his/her salary, a 40% allowance shall be paid.
In the case of single-parent families, the rate of payment of the benefit varies between 70% and 50% respectively.
- The leave shall be granted to one of the two parents and if one parent receives the said leave, the other parent cannot receive the same leave at the same time.
- If one parent is working or receiving an allowance and the other is not, the working parent is not entitled to an allowance unless the parent who is not working has himself or herself been infected with the virus, or is hospitalised, or is a disabled person, or is a person subject to compulsory restraint.
- The leave shall only be granted if the nature of the parent's work and/or the working hours do not allow teleworking or working from home.
- The leave shall be granted in consultation with the employer upon the submission of a relevant request.
- None of the rights of the employee which arise from his/her employment shall be affected by receiving such leave.
- The below benefits shall be paid at the end of the four week leave period.
Regarding the public sector, workers whose presence at the workplace is deemed necessary but are required to stay at home to care of their children, should arrange for their replacement in consultation with their supervisor.
2. Work Suspension Plan
In the businesses which, as it has been decided, must suspend their operations, as well as in the businesses which continue their operations but suffer a turnover reduction of more than 25%, the affected employees shall receive an unemployment benefit for as long as the businesses’ operations are suspended.
3. Small Business Support Plan
- This plan applies to businesses which employ up to five people.
- Provided these businesses maintain their employees at work and have reduced their turnover by more than 25%, the state shall be responsible for covering 70% of the wage costs of these employees.
- The conditions for the implementation of the plan and the criteria shall be announced in further detail by the government in a specific plan.
4. Payment plan for employees in the Afternoon Programmes of the Ministry of Education
It has been decided that an allowance, equal to the full remuneration received until now, shall be payable to the individuals employed in the Afternoon and Evening Programmes of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth. The plan shall apply to the Music Schools, Sports Schools, State Institutes of Further Education, Adult Education Centres, optional All-day Schools, Afternoon and Evening Programmes of the Technical Schools, and other service purchase programmes of the Ministry of Education.
5. Payment of Sickness Allowance
It has also been decided that a sickness allowance of an average of €800 per month shall be payable to the following:
- Workers who have particular health problems and are on the list to be published by the Ministry of Health, who must be absent from work in order to protect their health. For the payment of the allowance to the aforementioned employees, a certificate by their personal physician is required to be presented.
- Cases of compulsory absence from work by workers with the instructions or orders of the Authorities (Category 1 [compulsory restraint under medical supervision (quarantine)] and Category 2 [self-restraint under telephone surveillance]), provided they hold a certificate issued by the Ministry of Health.
- Persons over the age of 63 and up to the age of 65, who do not receive a state pension and continue to work, and who fall within Categories 1 and 2 of the Ministry of Health, provided they hold a certificate issued by the Ministry of Health.
- For self-employed workers, the sickness allowance shall be paid in the same manner as with employees, i.e. from the fourth day of the month instead of the ninth, as it stands today.
6. Extension of the time period for submission of objections to the Social Insurance Services
Self-employed persons shall be able to submit objections to the Social Insurance Services for a further one month, i.e. until 30 April 2020.
7. Creation of mobile workshops to serve elderly and vulnerable people
It has been decided that mobile workshops shall be created in order to serve elderly and vulnerable people in relation to the supply of food and medicines, in case they are isolated and in need of state support.