COVID-19 is having a significant impact on companies and their business. Many of them had to adapt their way of working, close entirely or partially, with important consequences for employers and employees. Under this regularly updated article, we are pleased to provide you with the latest measures implemented in Luxembourg to support employers throughout the health crisis.
21 December 2020
Extension of the deadline to apply for short-time work
On 17 December 2020, the Luxembourg Economic Committee met under the co-presidency of the ministers for labour and the economy. On this occasion, it was decided that companies obliged to remain closed due to the partial lockdown will benefit from an extension until 30 December 2020 to apply for short-time work for January 2021.
It should be recalled that the authorities introduced a short-time work scheme with an accelerated procedure to allow impacted companies to benefit from short time for up to 100% of the total hours not worked during while the company is shut down.
The following sectors in particular are concerned by this measure:
- the food service sector (horeca),
- cultural centres (with the exception of museums, art centres, libraries and national archives),
- swimming pools and sport facilities,
- amusement and theme parks,
- establishments offering indoor games and entertainment,
- casinos, and
- trade show and exhibition facilities.
17 December 2020
Act introducing a premium to promote apprenticeships
A new act introducing a premium to encourage apprenticeships (the "Act") was published on 16 December 2020 and will enter into force on 20 December 2020. It is intended to support and promote vocational training during the public health crisis, in order to avoid a decrease in the number of apprenticeship agreements concluded.
The Act states that organisations active in the field of vocational training can qualify for a one-time premium per apprenticeship agreement, provided the following conditions are met:
- the organisation is authorised to provide training on the application date;
- the organisation can prove that an apprenticeship agreement has been concluded with the apprentice and is running on the application date;
- the organisation can prove that the apprentice is affiliated to the Luxembourg social security system;
- the apprentice’s probationary (trial) period has ended: and
- if the apprenticeship agreement was previously terminated and then resumed, the apprenticeship agreement has not been resumed more than twice since 24 June 2020.
The premium is paid as a lump sum, the amount of which depends on various criteria:
- the organisation's average number of apprentices over the three years preceding the application (or, if the organisation obtained its training authorisation less than three years prior to the application date, the average number of apprentices in the period between grant of the authorisation and the application date);
- the number of apprenticeship agreements running on 15 July 2020;
- the number of new apprenticeship agreements concluded as from 16 July 2020; and
- the number of apprenticeship agreements terminated and subsequently resumed since 24 June 2020.
The amount of the premium is fixed as follows:
- EUR 1,500 per apprenticeship agreement running on 15 July 2020;
- EUR 3,000 per new apprenticeship agreement concluded as from 16 July 2020; and
- EUR 5,000 per apprenticeship agreement terminated and resumed since 24 June 2020.
These amounts can be increased by EUR 1,500 per apprenticeship agreement if, on the application date, the organisation has a number of apprentices which is greater than or equal to its average annual number of apprentices for the three preceding years (or, if the organisation obtained its training authorisation less than three years prior to the application date, greater than or equal to its average number of apprentices over the period between the grant of the authorisation and the application date). This increase will be paid only once per organisation.
According to the Act, applications for the premium must be submitted by 15 July 2021, along with the following supporting documents:
- the name of the organisation;
- the abovementioned proof and information (training authorisation, proof that an apprenticeship agreement has been concluded and is running on the application date, etc.);
- a list of all apprentices of the organisation over the past three years, including the national identification number of each; and
- the organisation’s bank account details (IBAN).
Article 3(4) of the Act states that the premium is tax exempt.
20 November 2020
New financial assistance for business struggling to meet the 2021 minimum salary increase
On 20 November 2020, the Luxembourg government approved a bill providing financial assistance for companies in sectors most severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic whose situation will make it difficult to meet the increase in the minimum salary scheduled to take effect on 1 January 2021.
The aid will take the form of a one-time payment of EUR 500 per employee whose monthly remuneration is greater than or equal to the minimum salary (EUR 2,141.99, based on the current index of 834.76 points) and less than or equal to the minimum salary for skilled workers (EUR 2,570.39, based on the current index of 834.76 points).
The assistance covers employees hired before 31 December 2020 and who are in service between 1 January 2021 and 30 June 2021. It is aimed at the sectors most affected by the crisis, namely tourism, events, culture, HORECA, entertainment and retail as well as continuing professional development (CPD) organisations.
We will update you on this bill as more information becomes available.
19 November 2020
Extension of the short-time work schemes through the first half of 2021
On 19 November 2020, the Economic Committee (Comité de Conjoncture), co-headed by Dan Kersch, Minister of Labour, and Franz Fayot, Minister of the Economy, convened to discuss the proposal for extension of the short-time work schemes through the first half of 2021, which met with broad support by the social partners.
The first major change concerns the basis for calculating short-time work (STW) benefits. Whereas these are currently assessed on the basis of full-time employment (“FTE”), from 1 January 2021 through 30 June 2021, benefits will be based on the number of STW hours the employee concerned actually benefitted from.
The extension of the schemes through the first six months of 2021 is based on two separate three-month periods (and the assumption that the public health situation will have improved by 1 April 2021). There are four different scenarios:
It should be noted that applications for a short-time work scheme for January 2021 may be submitted only via MyGuichet.lu, in the period between 1 and 12 December 2020 inclusive.
13 November 2020
New economic support measures
On 13 November 2020, the Minister of Middle Classes (Lex Delles), the Minister of the Economy (Franz Fayot) and the Minister of Culture (Sam Tanson) announced new economic support measures for the sectors hardest hit by the Covid-19 crisis.
Mr Delles presented a bill extending the duration and scope of the stimulus package enacted in the framework of the Fonds de relance et de solidarité pour entreprises:
- The stimulus package will be extended to retail shops (commerce de détail en magasin) and continuing professional development (“CPD”) organisations.
- The aid, which was scheduled to end in December 2020, will be extended until March 2021.
- Aid takes the form of monthly subsidies amounting to EUR 1,250 per employee and EUR 250 per employee benefitting, on a full-time basis, from a short-time working arrangement.
- A prerequisite for the aid is that the business must have experienced at least a 25% drop in turnover.
Mr Delles also introduced a bill to support businesses whose activities have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 crisis:
- This bill aims to support the tourism, events, culture and entertainment sectors as well as CPD organisations.
- Aid takes the form of a monthly contribution towards the uncovered costs of companies that have sustained a drop in monthly turnover of at least 40% at any time in the period between 1 November 2020 and 31 March 2021, compared to the same month in 2019.
- The assistance may not exceed EUR 20,000 per month for very small companies (micro-entreprises), EUR 100,000 for small companies (petites entreprises) or EUR 200,000 for medium and large companies (moyennes et grandes entreprises).
Companies that meet the eligibility criteria for both the stimulus package and the contribution towards uncovered costs must choose the form of financial assistance best suited to their needs.
The ministers also announced the following measures:
- Extension of the short-time work schemes through the first half of 2021
- Extension of various other measures until 30 June 2021: government guarantees for new bank loans, repayable advances (max. EUR 800,000), subsidies for companies with an investment or R&D project relating a product to combat the health crisis, aid to stimulate investment in the Covid-19 era
- Extension, until 31 December 2021, of the “Fit 4 Resilience” programme
Finally, Ms Tanson announced additional aid for professional artists and casual entertainment workers (intermittents du spectacle) in November and December 2020, such as the payment of a monthly supplement and additional per diems for casual entertainment workers.
9 October 2020
Teleworking while in quarantine or self-isolation
Article 7 of the amended Act of 17 July 2020 sets out quarantine and self-isolation measures for individuals presenting a high risk of infecting others with Covid-19.
On 9 October 2020, the ministers of labour, health and social security issued a joint statement in which they advise that employees concerned by these measures obtain written proof, which may take any form whatsoever, of their employer’s consent if they intend to continue teleworking instead of relying on their certificate of incapacity to work. The statement expressly indicates that this possibility is only available if the employee is asymptomatic and is not ill.
Some provisions of the new act could have an impact for Luxembourg employers:
- Article 1(8) of the Act of 17 July 2020 now specifies that face shields are not considered devices that properly cover the nose and mouth. The protection they provide is not equivalent to that of a face mask and is therefore considered insufficient. Employers that provided their employees with face shields are advised to offer face masks instead.
- Disabled individuals and those with certain conditions are no longer required to wear a face protection provided they possess a medical certificate justifying this exemption. Employers currently hiring such individuals are advised to acknowledge their needs and make arrangements to ensure the health and safety of all employees (where required).
- The quarantine period in the event of infection has been reduced from two weeks to ten days. This is an important modification, especially for employers facing difficulties in the organisation of work due to the absence of infected employees. It should be recalled that infected employees are granted a medical certificate excusing their absence from work for (at least) ten days, meaning the employer may not dismiss them during this period or ask them to work remotely.
The Act of 23 September 2020 also modified the period of validity of the Act of 17 July 2020, which will now remain in force until 31 December 2020 (rather than 30 September 2020).
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