On Friday, 20 March, during an extraordinary plenary sitting, the Saeima in the second and final reading adopted as urgent amendments to several laws in order to provide support to employers in covering sick-leave certificates, set out the conditions for granting social assistance benefits to needy and low-income persons, as well as to extend the social security rights of persons with disabilities who would otherwise lose them during this period.
An amendment to the Law on Maternity and Sickness Insurance sets out a specific procedure for the disbursement of sickness benefits in case of a COVID-19 epidemic to support employers in covering sick-leave certificates.
If a sick-leave certificate is issued from 22 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 to an employed person infected with COVID-19 or subjected to quarantine, the sickness benefit shall be granted and disbursed for the period starting from the second day of work incapacity. The sickness benefit shall be granted in the amount of 80 % of the average insurance contribution wage of the beneficiary. According to the Law, a state-covered sick-leave certificate B shall be issued in such cases. The current procedure will be applied to the granting, calculation, disbursement period and overpayment of the sickness benefit.
Next, an amendment to the Law on Social Services and Social Assistance stipulates that if a statement issued by the municipal social services to a family (person) recognising them as needy or having low income, is to expire during this period, the period of validity shall be extended for the duration of the state of emergency and for one calendar month after the state of emergency comes to an end. During this period, all benefits and allowances which are granted by municipal governments or the State and to which the family (person) is entitled due to being needy or having low income, are maintained.
During the state of emergency, persons who need to receive the status of a needy or low-income family (person) or who are in a crisis situation, are to address the municipal social services remotely, by e-mail or by submitting their application in a designated box.
In addition, a municipal government will be entitled to provide families (persons) incapable of satisfying their basic needs due to the state of emergency with a social assistance benefit in a crisis situation. The benefit will be funded from the municipal budget. To offset part of the municipal costs, a State earmarked grant will be provided to municipal governments for covering their costs in the amount of 50 % of the benefit granted to the beneficiary in a crisis situation, but no more than EUR 40 per month per person during a period of three months.
Furthermore, an amendment was introduced to the Disability Law to protect people with disabilities from the effects of the restrictive measures taken due to COVID-19 in case the document certifying their disability expires and they have not submitted the documents necessary to perform a disability expert-examination. To ensure that these people do not lose their social security rights, they will be provided with an opportunity to automatically extend the validity of the issued document for a period of up to six months, but no longer than until a new administrative act is issued concerning the case of the respective person. The procedure shall be applied throughout the duration of the state of emergency in Latvia or during three months after the state of emergency is lifted or has expired.
Saeima Press Service