On Thursday, 7 May, the Saeima adopted in the final reading urgent amendments to the Law on Measures to Prevent and Overcome the Threat to National Security and Its Consequences Due to the Spread of COVID-19, thus easing employment conditions in order for companies to remain in business and safeguard existing jobs during the emergency situation caused by the virus pandemic.
The amendments enable the employers who meet the criteria set for participants of the In-depth Cooperation Programme and who have been affected by the pandemic-caused crisis to reduce the idle-time compensation for employees, specified in the Labour Law, from 100% to 70% of their salary.
By applying a reduced idle-time payment, employers will be able to pay their employees compensations that cannot be less than the minimum monthly salary, which is currently 430 euros per month. Employees with dependent underage children or children who study and are below the age of 24, in addition to the idle-time payment, will also retain the minimum statutory maintenance payment for each dependent child.
The amendments also provide for collective bargaining on part-time work in the event of a temporary fall in production. Such a solution will allow crisis-affected employers to organise work more flexibly and maintain existing jobs, according to the explanatory note to the amendments.
In cases when employees do not accept the reduction of remuneration, they will retain the right to terminate the employment contract without observing the one-month term, but the employer will have to pay them the severance pay laid down in the Labour Law.
Previously, at the meeting of the Budget and Finance (Taxation) Committee responsible for the progress of the draft law in the Saeima, representatives of employers and employees emphasised that partial idle-time payment was to be applied only to the participants of the In-depth Cooperation Programme, as these companies are deemed socially responsible in terms of high salaries and tax compliance. Thus, the employees of these companies, in addition to extra allowances for children, will be able to receive larger idle-time benefits, rather than joining the ranks of the unemployed if the company cuts jobs due to the crisis.
The social partners had also previously stressed to MPs that the deal reached on a more favourable solution in the event of idle time due to the pandemic-evoked emergency should not apply to a wider range of companies, given the potential for engaging in unfair competition and informal economy.
The In-depth Cooperation Programme is implemented by the State Revenue Service to encourage those taxpayers who have proved themselves to be honest taxpayers. As such, depending on the level of the Programme, they benefit from various advantages and incentives with regards to services provided by state institutions.
Saeima Press Service