14th January 2021

Old/new programmes to support employers at the time of the pandemic

At the beginning of January, the government approved a new programme submitted by the Ministry of Industry and Trade called COVID–Gastro – Closed Operations, designed for selected businesses, in particular restaurants, retail outlets and services whose sale of goods or services was, at least partly, curtailed or banned as a result of the governmental emergency measures, covering the period from 14 October 2020 to 10 January 2021. It should be possible to draw CZK 400 for every day on which the business activity was curtailed for every full-time employee (and part-time employee whose entitlement will be recalculated using the appropriate coefficient) and/or for every other workers cooperating with entrepreneurs (self-employed persons). Employees in sectors that receive support under the COVID – Culture, COVID – Accommodation and COVID – Sport programmes should not be included in the calculation. Applications are to be submitted electronically via the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Agenda Information System. In compliance with Section 3.1 of the European Commission’s Temporary Framework, maximum support may not exceed EUR 800 thousand per one enterprise.

Just before Christmas, the government extended the existing Antivirus Programme until the end of February 2021, prolonging all existing regimes under the programme: Regime A (ordered restrictions of operation and quarantine), Regime A Plus (based on Regime A but not applying to employees not working due to ordered quarantine or isolation), and Regime B (associated economic difficulties). The parameters of the Antivirus Programme’s current settings have not been amended for this year.

The Antivirus Programme was extended in response to the deteriorating epidemic situation and as a result of the failure to adopt a planned systemic measure to provide support at a time of partial unemployment, the kurzarbeit (short-time working) scheme, which was meant to replace Antivirus from 1 January 2021. The bill on kurzarbeit is currently subject to the second reading at the Chamber of Deputies. Unlike the one-time support provided under the Antivirus Programme, kurzarbeit involves a legal regulation of support at a time of partial unemployment that should always be activated whenever the Czech economy suffers a crisis similar to the current one. The kurzarbeit scheme should be activated whenever an increase in unemployment occurs at a rate set by law and based on a government decree in emergencies such as natural disasters, pandemics, etc. Similarly as Antivirus, kurzarbeit should help companies that have to partly curtail their operations in emergency situations. To the employees of such companies, the state should pay 70% of net wages, depending on the employee’s activity and time spent in kurzarbeit, over a maximum period of twelve months. However, the final version of the law is still uncertain.

Author: Romana Szuťányirszutanyi@kpmg.cz+420 703 873 693

Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic