Consistent with our commitment to keep you updated on the COVID-19 developments and their employment impact, we outline below the clarifications provided for by the latest Ministerial Decision on the Emergency Employers’ and Employees’ Support Measures introduced by the Legislative Decree dated 20 March 2020.
Joint Ministerial Decision number 2998/232 clarifying employment issues
Joint Ministerial Decision number 12998/232 (Official Government Gazette Bulletin B’ 1078/28.3.2020) clarifies some of the employers’ and employees’ emergency support measures provided for by the Legislative Decree dated 20 March 2020. Specifically:
Companies whose operation has been suspended on the basis of their Business Activity Code (KAΔ) by virtue of state order
- The restriction of operation is explicitly stated to qualify as a force majeure event, releasing employees from the obligation to provide their services and employers from the obligation to pay the salaries agreed.
In this regard, the employment agreements of the employees of this category are suspended for the whole period of the employer’s operation restriction. Fixed term employment agreements expiring after the operation restriction are suspended and, following the lapse of the suspension period, continue for the agreed remaining time period.
- Unpaid leaves in companies of this category are automatically waived as of the publication of the Ministerial Decision.
- It is repeated that any termination of employment agreements effected by employers of this category as of 18 March 2020 and onwards (and during the period the measures for the combat of COVID-19 are in force) are void.
- The special purpose indemnity at the amount of EUR 800 covers a 45 calendar day period and is paid to employees on the condition that they do not have a dependent employment agreement with any other employer. In case of employment by more than one employers, whose operation is suspended by virtue of a state order, employees select only one employer in order to be eligible for the above indemnity.
Employees of this category are fully insured (i.e. on the basis of their contractual salaries) by the State for a 45 day period. Employers are obliged to file the Analytical Periodic Returns (ΑΠΔ) for the employees of this category.
- Additional clarifications are provided on the procedure to be followed by the employer and the employee for the latter to collect the special purpose indemnity.
- The employer must:
(i) file in the ERGANI platform during the period from 24 March 2020 until (and including) 31 March 2020 a Statutory Declaration to declare the suspension of its business activity by virtue of a state order, the details of the lessor and the premises leased for the exercise of its suspended business activity, if any, the employees whose agreements are suspended as well as the details of the employees whose employment agreements have been terminated (either by dismissal or resignation) during the period from 1 March 2020 up to (and including) 20 March 2020.
(ii) notify the above statutory declaration (including its filing number) in writing or by e-mail to its employees from 24 March 2020 up to (and including) 31 March 2020.
Non filing of the above Statutory Declaration entails the employer’s disqualification from the measures of suspension of payment of debts or instalments or regularizations or facilitations of gradual payments of assessed debts to the State.
- The employee files on the basis of his tax registration number from 1 April 2020 up to (and including) 10 April 2020 (which can be extended) a statutory declaration with the e-platform: supportemployees.yeka.gr. The declaration in question will include his personal data, the data of his personal bank account and the filing number of the employer’s declaration, automatically received by ERGANI, are included. In case he leases a primary residence, he must also include the details of the lessor and the leased residence to benefit from the applicable lease payment reduction.
- The employer must:
Companies significantly affected by the emergency measures for the combat of COVID-19 on the basis of the Business Activity Code (ΚΑΔ) for main activity or secondary activity based on the gross revenues of 2018
- It is clarified that the suspension possibility (which can apply for a period of up to one month from the publication of the Legislative Decree dated 20 March 2020 and can be extended on the basis of a Ministerial Decision) covers employees working for the companies in question on 21 March 2020 and that the period of suspension, which is provided to be irrevocable, is forty five continuous calendar days.
The suspension of employment agreements measure can be implemented gradually and for a varying number of employees.
- The term «main activity» is defined as the four digit ΚΑΔ, including all subcategories of six and eight digit KAΔ, whereas in case a six digit ΚΑΔ is set as main activity, all eight digit subcategories are also included. The “secondary activity based on the gross revenues of 2018” is defined as the secondary ΚΑΔ οf the company-employer where the gross revenues of a valid (ΚΑΔ) on 20 March 2020, as arising from the initial income tax return for the tax year 2018, are higher than the gross revenues corresponding to the main activity ΚΑΔ as in force on 20 March 2020.
- Fixed term employment agreements which have not expired on 21 March 2020 can also be suspended. Following the lapse of the suspension period, the agreements in question continue for the agreed remaining time period following the lapse of the suspension period.
- Companies falling in this category can combine the possibility to suspend the employment agreements for some of their employees with the other possibilities provided for by the Legislative Decree dated 20 March 2020 (appointment of safe operation personnel or/and transfer of personnel between companies of the same Group).
- It is repeated that companies using the above possibility:
- During the period of suspension, cannot proceed with dismissals and any dismissals, in violation of the restriction in question, are void.
- Following the expiry of the period of suspension of their personnel’s employment agreements, are obliged to maintain the same number of employment positions for a period of time equal to the suspension period (that is forty five calendar days), i.e. the same employees under the employment terms applying as of 21 March 2020. It is clarified that the term “same number of employment positions” excludes resigning employees, employees exiting due to retirement and fixed term employees whose employment agreements expire following the lapse of the suspension period.
- Regarding the special purpose indemnity of EUR 800 to which employees of this category of companies whose employment agreements are suspended are eligible, it is provided that it covers a forty five calendar day time period.
Regarding the other issues related to the special purpose indemnity, the procedure mentioned above for employers whose operation is suspended by virtue of a state order applies to the employers and employees of this category as well, excluding the following:
- Employers of this category must file the applicable statutory declaration from 24 March 2020 up to (and including) 20 April 2020 and notify their employees of the filing (and the filing number) on the same date of filing.
- Employees of this category can file the statutory declaration from 1 April 2020 up to (and including) 30 April 2020 and in any case after being notified by their employer of the suspension of their employment agreements.
- the employer can, at its own discretion, pay to suspended employees an additional amount up to their gross contractual remuneration. In such a case, the employer files the Analytical Periodic Return (ΑΠΔ) and the social security contributions corresponding to the additional amount are not covered by the State budget.
- employees of this category are not eligible to the reduction of primary residence’s lease payment.
The above mentioned consequences on the employer in case of non fling of the above statutory declaration (disqualification from the provided benefits) apply to the companies of this category as well, but it is also explicitly mentioned that the companies in question which do not use the suspension measure also benefit from the suspension of payment of debts or instalments or regularizations or facilitations of gradual payments of assessed debts to the State.
- It is explicitly stated that employees of this category of companies working under teleworking structures are not eligible to collect the special purpose indemnity.
- Upon a mutual agreement of the parties falling in this category, suspended employees can provide services on the basis of teleworking arrangements exclusively in case of temporary business needs.
In this case, the employer must declare the teleworking arrangements by filing a special form with the ERGANI platform before teleworking commences and must pay the corresponding remuneration corresponding on the basis of the gross contractual remuneration of the employees (after having deducted the special purpose indemnity corresponding to the teleworking days). Non filing by the employer of the above declaration entails the administrative sanctions provided for by employment legislation.
Finally, the employer is obliged to file the Analytical Periodic Return (ΑΠΔ) for the social security contributions corresponding to the additional amount, which burden the employer and are not covered by the State budget.
- Dependent employees of personal businesses, scientists – freelancers (for instance, doctors, lawyers etc.) and freelancers-entrepreneurs (for instance, plumbers, electricians etc.) are eligible to collect special purpose indemnity provided that their employment agreements are suspended and their employers’ Business Activity Code is included in the affected business sectors.
Extension of payment of debt deadlines
The deadline for the payment to the social security authorities of debt instalments or regularizations or facilitations of gradual payment by employees of companies whose operation is suspended by virtue of a state order and of companies whose activities are significantly affected on the basis of the Business Activity Code (ΚΑΔ) expiring on 31 March 2020 is extended for three (3) months, without interest and other surcharges.
Termination of employment agreements from 1 March 2020 up to and including 20 Μarch 2020
Employees of companies whose operation is suspended by virtue of a state order or of companies significantly affected on the basis of their Business Activity Code, as analyzed above, whose agreements have been terminated (by means of dismissal or resignation) during the period from 1 March 2020 up to (and including) 20 March 2020 are also entitled to collect the special purpose indemnity provided they are not employed by another employer. Depending on the category of the employer as above, the above procedure for the payment of the special purpose indemnity is followed. The indemnity in question does not depend on the payment of unemployment benefits.
Αmounts paid without legal obligation
- Filing of false declaration entails the sanctions provided for by the applicable legislation.
- Amounts paid without legal obligation are assessed on the person having collected them and are refunded in accordance with the provisions of the Code on Public Revenues Collection.