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FAQ Coronavirus

updated on 15.10.2020 at 15h12

Content

 

I. Short-time working

II. Impacts on the employment relationship

III. Measures to support businesses

IV. The exit strategy

 

I. Short-time working

 

Under what conditions can my company benefit from short-time working ?

 

In order to continue to support companies and their employees impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, special arrangements for short-time working remain in force until 31 December 2020. These arrangements, which apply to all businesses during this period of economic recovery, take into account that certain sectors or economic branches have been more severely impacted than others have and will therefore resume their pre-crisis level of activity later, or even fail to do so in the near future.

According to the arrangements in force until the end of the year, the state continues to pay the compensatory allowance of 80 % of salaries during periods of short-time working. Under certain conditions, the businesses concerned may lay off workers

For which businesses?

The social partners have agreed on 4 possible scenarios for businesses to benefit from the short-time working scheme during the economic recovery period:

  • 1- industrial businesses will continue to benefit from the short-time working scheme due to economic problems in order to be able to react to disruptions on international markets (e.g. supply problems).
    By applying the short-time working scheme due to economic problems, industrial businesses undertake not to make people redundant for economic reasons;
  • 2- the situation of businesses in the HORECA, tourism and events sectors is particularly difficult. Businesses in these vulnerable sectors benefit from simplified access to short-time work due to structural economic problems, with no limit on the number of employees concerned. Where there is a proven need, these businesses will be able to resort to redundancies for economic reasons up to a maximum limit of 25 % of their staff (in relation to the total workforce as at 30 June 2020) until 31 December 2020. It has been agreed between the social partners that, in the event of a return to better fortunes, businesses that have made redundancies will, in the event of subsequent recruitment of staff, have to re-employ their former employees who have been made redundant as a matter of priority. It should be noted that the common law provisions of the Labour Code concerning collective redundancies remain fully applicable in some cases;
  • 3- businesses in other economic sectors (i.e. those not involved in industry, HORECA, tourism, events, the financial or insurance sectors) may resort to short-time working due to structural economic problems using the simplified procedure, provided that they do not make redundancies. The number of employees on short-time work may not exceed 25 % of the total workforce (as at 30 June 2020) for the months of July and August, 20 % of the total workforce for the months of September and October and 15 % for the months of November and December 2020. In this context, employee means all employees that have been declared for short-time work during the current month, regardless of the number of hours of short-time working;
  • 4- businesses in vulnerable sectors (HORECA, tourism, events) making more than 25 % of their total workforce (as of 30 June 2020) redundant as well as all businesses, irrespective of the sector to which they belong, which make redundancies will have to resort to short-time working due to structural economic problems.
    In these cases, the short-time working scheme will only be granted if the businesses draw up restructuring plans. These plans must be drawn up in the form of a recovery plan in the case of small businesses with fewer than 15 employees, or in the form of a job protection plan in accordance with the provisions of the Labour Code in the case of businesses with more than 15 employees. The social partners have expressed their willingness to negotiate, as far as possible, sectoral job protection plans in order to be able to resort to the temporary loan of labour.

Foreign companies without a physical address in Luxembourg are not concerned. Indeed, only companies legally established in the territory of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg can benefit from short-time working. The affiliation of the employees to the Luxembourg social security system is not a sufficient condition.

For which employees?

The short-time working scheme may apply to employees (on permanent and fixed-term contracts) who are not covered by a certificate of incapacity for work and who can no longer be employed at all or can no longer be employed on a full-time basis when the company can no longer ensure the normal operation of its business. Are not eligible the employees who are teleworking and the apprentices.

Employee on short-time working continue to acquire statutory leave during the period of short-time working.

Amount of aid

For inactive hours, the employer pays to the employee a compensatory allowance corresponding to 80% of the normal worker's reference wage and capped at 250% of the minimum social minimum wage for unskilled employees. . This compensation may not be less than the amount of the social minimum wage for unskilled workers (2,141.99€).

In the event of an agreement, the Employment Fund (Fonds pour l’emploi) reimburses the employer the compensatory allowance (80 % of the salaries normally received) paid for the inactive hours up to a maximum of 250 % of the minimum wage for an unskilled worker ( 5,354.975€) and up to a maximum of 1.022 hours per employee and per year. Any difference between the compensatory allowance and the minimum wage for an unskilled worker will be assumed by the Employment Fund.

However, the hours of short-time work used during the period from 1 January 2020 to 31 July 2020 are not counted against the maximum working time reduction of 1,022 hours.

In the event that short-time working would be refused to the company, the employer is required to pay fully the employees at 100%. The same applies to the foreign companies without a physical address in Luxembourg

Steps to take

  • The initial application for short-time working

In order to speed up and facilitate the procedure for applying for short-time working, ADEM, has set up a new automated system that enables companies to submit their short-time working applications via an online form, at the Guichet.lu : http://guichet.lu/cocp.

Before submitting an application via MyGuichet.lu, the employer is required to confirm, by means of the declaration provided for this purpose for businesses with or without staff delegation, that the employees respectively the staff delegation and, where applicable, the trade union organisations (in the event of a collective agreement) have been informed of the application for short-time working.

Businesses must renew their application each month.

  • Which is the deadline to submit the application for short-time working ?

From September until the end of 2020, applications for short-time working must be sent at the latest on the 12th day of the month preceding the period of short-time working requested (for example, at the latest on 12 September for the application for short-time working in October).

Applications cannot be submitted outside these dates. Short-time work benefits can never be granted retroactively

  • The detailed statement

After the end of the month in which short-time working occurs, businesses must complete an online procedure on MyGuichet.lu so that ADEM can draw up a statement. The declarant also has the possibility of downloading an XML list before starting the procedure on MyGuichet.lu.

In practice, for each month of short-time working, the employer or their representative receives an email/mail from ADEM inviting them to fill in the online form.

On this form, only the names and national identification numbers of the employees concerned will need to be filled in. ADEM will receive the other necessary data from the Joint Social Security Centre (CCSS).

During the state of crisis, the employer had a period of 3 months following the month in which the short-time working occurs. For example, for an application for short-time working in June 2020, the employer must have submitted his statement by 30 September 2020 at the latest.

From July 2020, the employer has a period of 2 months to submit the statement. After this period, he is no longer entitled to compensation. Example: for the application for short-time working in July 2020, the employer must submit the statement by 30 September 2020 at the latest.

Who to contact

Ministry of the Economy – Economic Committee
Hotline “short-time working”, from Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm : 8002 9191

National Employment Agency (ADEM)
Contact Center for employers, from Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 11.30 am and from 1 pm to 5pm : (+352) 247-88000
FAQ ADEM : https://adem.public.lu/en/support/faq/faq-chomage-partiel.htm

 

What about the trial period of the employees concerned by short-time working ?

 

By way of derogation from the Labour Code, the Grand Ducal Regulation of 1 April 2020 had suspended the probationary period for employees linked to a company that has had to stop its activities or slow down its activities in such a way that it is obliged to put its staff on "short-time working for force majeure Covid-19", following the time of crisis.

This suspension concerned the following contracts:

  • The apprenticeship contract
  • The fixed-term contract
  • The permanent contract
  • The assignment contract

This suspension applied from the date of the Government’s decision to cease all or part of some activities (as a reminder, all commercial or artisanal activities which accommodate a public are prohibited) or from the short-time working of the employee concerned.

The state of crisis having ended on 24 June, the remainder part of the trial period may resume as of 25 June.

 

Public holiday and short-time working : How does it work ?

 

If a public holiday falls during the period of short-time work, this day can be compensated under certain conditions:

  • Companies that can no longer operate due to a government decision and in which all employees are on short-time working:
    • The public holiday is compensated for short-time work at a minimum rate of 80%. Thus, the employer will pay his employee 80% of his gross hourly wage and will be reimbursed 80% by the Employment Fund.
  • Enterprises that continue to work and in which some of the employees have been placed on short-time working:
    • Employees who are on short-time working on the day before as well as the day after the public holiday are entitled to short-time working compensation for the public holiday. The employer will pay the employee at least 80% of his/her gross hourly wage and will be reimbursed 80% by the Employment Fund.
    • For employees who do not meet the above criteria, the employer must pay them 100% for the public holiday.

 

II. Impacts on the employment relationship

 

What is the family support leave ?

 

As part of the measures adopted by the Government aimed at curbing the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, the Ministry of Family Affairs, Integration and the Greater Region has drawn up a specific form to be filled in by anyone wanting to request "leave for family support" to enable them to look after a disabled adult or an elderly person following the closure of a day-care structure or a training or employment structure.

Leave for family support may be taken by an employee in the private sector or a self-employed person if there is no other way of caring for the disabled adult or elderly person.

The following conditions must be met:

  • the approved structure that would normally take care of the disabled adult or elderly person must have notified the Minister that it has ceased all or part of its activities in the context of the state of crisis;
  • the private-sector employee or self-employed person must look after the disabled adult or elderly person in the home where they both live;

If necessary, where several people live in the same home as the adult disabled or elderly person, they may alternate taking leave for family support. In this case, each person wishing to take the leave must submit a duly completed form.

The leave may be divided among the members of a household, but they may not take the leave at the same time.

The person who needs to take leave for family support must inform his/her employer as quickly as possible, either verbally or in writing. Then, he/she must fill in a specific form: https://guichet.public.lu/dam-assets/catalogue-formulaires/coronavirus/certificat-conge-soutien-familial/demande-certificat-conge-soutien-familial-fr.pdf

Employees, self-employed workers must apply to the Minister to certify the need for leave for family support.

The duly signed form should be sent to the Ministry of Family Affairs, Integration and the Greater Region

  • by email to soutien.familial@fm.etat.lu (a good quality scan or photo of the signed original or a PDF with a LuxTrust digital signature), or
  • by post (no registered mail): 12-14 Avenue Emile Reuter, L - 2420 Luxembourg.

Given that some structures will not be able to resume all their activities immediately after the end of the state of crisis and that they will not be able to work at full capacity, the government has decided that leave for family support shall be maintained until 25 November 2020. It should be noted that the leave for family support shall end if the approved care structure notifies the Minister that it has resumed all or part of its activities and that there is a place available in the approved service for the person concerned.

For more information :
https://guichet.public.lu/en/citoyens/travail-emploi/conges-jours-feries/situation-personnelle/covid-certificat-conge-soutien-familial.html

 

What is the family leave in the event of quarantine or isolation of a child ?

 

As part of the measures implemented in schools and childcare facilities to combat the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (COVID-19), a child may have to be placed in quarantine or isolation by order of the Health Directorate.

In these 2 specific cases, and when the parents of the children concerned have to look after their child, one of the parents is entitled to use the leave for family reasons scheme for the duration of the quarantine or isolation period decreed by the Health Directorate.

A parent who needs to take leave for family reasons must inform his/her employer as quickly as possible, either verbally or in writing, and indicate the start and end date of said leave.

Subsequently, the parent must complete the application form for leave for family reasons due to the quarantine or isolation of the child, sign it and send it to the National Health Fund (CNS) and his or her employer, attaching the prescription issued by the Health Directorate or the competent foreign authority.

Leave for family reasons may be split, i.e. it may also be taken in hours or half-days depending on the decision of the Health Directorate or the competent authority.

Both parents cannot take leave for family reasons at the same time (same day/hour).

Days spent in quarantine or isolation by the child are not counted against the legal days of leave for family reasons available per age group.

For more information :
https://guichet.public.lu/en/citoyens/travail-emploi/conges-jours-feries/situation-personnelle/covid-conge-quarantaine-isolement-enfant.html

 

Can teleworking be imposed as a temporary solution to the coronavirus ?

 

Can telework be imposed ?

Based on the employer’s legal obligation to ensure the safety and health of employees in all aspects related to work (Article L. 312-1 of the Labour Code), the employer could impose homeworking on its employees.

In order to introduce this new form of work, it is necessary to conclude either an amendment to the contract of employment or another bilateral agreement permitting the use of teleworking for objectively justified reasons related to precautionary measures in the fight against coronavirus. It is important to defining teleworking conditions, particularly working hours.

Telework should be offered as an alternative to your employees for a certain period of time if this working arrangement is compatible with the duties of the employee concerned.

What about the impact from the cross-border commuters ?

It should be noted, however, that telework is likely to trigger certain effects in terms of :

  • Social security affiliation : take into account during the current year the limit of 25% of the total work time in the residence country as mentioned in Regulation (EC) No. 883/2004.
    Concerning the cross-border employees : Belgian, German and French authorities have decided that the periods of telework performed on their territory by frontier workers due to coronavirus will not be taken into account for the determination of the applicable social security legislation. This measure is applicable until 31st of December 2020.
  • Taxation : take into account the tolerance threshold laid down by the tax treaty applicable between Luxembourg and the neighbouring country concerned in case of cross-border employees:
    • Threshold of 24 days in Belgium
    • Threshold of 19 days in Germany
    • Threshold of 29 days in France
      These limitations do not constitute a prohibition to work in the country of residence. In principle, they may be exceeded but cross-border employee will be taxed in his country of residence for all days of telework performed.
      Concerning the Belgian and French cross-border residents : It has been decided that, as from Saturday 14 March 2020, the presence of a worker at home, in particular to carry out teleworking, will not be taken into account in calculating the above thresholds. This measure is applicable until the 31st of December 2020.
      Concerning the German cross-border residents : It has been decided that, as from Wednesday 11 March 2020, the working days during which these cross-border workers are teleworking , during the Covid-19 pandemic will not be taken into account in calculating the above threshold of 19 days. This agreement is applicable until 31st December 2020. Beyond that date it will be automatically extended from month to month until it is rescinded by one of both countries.

What about work accident when the employee work at home ?

Work accident is define as an "Accident occurring at or in connection with work".

Usually, teleworking is covered by AAA (Accident Insurance Association) provided that it has been introduced by an amendment to the employee’s initial employment contract in compliance with the legal provisions relating to the teleworking.

However, during this crisis period, in case of accident at home, it is sufficient for the employer to confirm that the employee was authorized to work at home. The AAA will check the exact circumstances of the accident.

Please note that it is no longer necessary to request A1 certificates for teleworking in the context of the COVID19 pandemic. An exceptional arrangement has been made with foreign authorities.

 

What about the protection against dismissal ?

 

During the state of crisis, the 26-week period of protection against dismissal in the event of incapacity for work was suspended. In principle, this period was to be resumes its course the day after the end of the state of emergency.

However, the article L. 121-6 of the Labour Code indicate that an employee whose illness began between 18 March and 24 June 2020 is protected against termination (except for gross misconduct) as long as he delivers, during the post-emergency period, medical certificates on time to the employer.

The text of the law therefore makes an exception here. The employee concerned will therefore be protected for a maximum of 78 weeks in accordance with article L.125-4 2) of the Labour Code, which provides for the automatic termination of the employment contract after expiry of the employee's rights to statutory sick pay.

However, the employer must continue to be vigilant because the computation of the 78 weeks had also been suspended during the state of emergency. Therefore, periods of illness between 18 March and 24 June 2020 are not taken into account.

The employer is therefore confronted with the following situations depending on the starting date of the sickness period:

  • The employee's sick leave began before the state of emergency or between 18 March and 24 June 2020 = the employee benefits from a protection against termination for a maximum duration of 78 weeks.
  • The employee's sick leave began on 25 June 2020 or later hence = the employee benefits from a 26 weeks’ protection against termination.

 

Specific measures for third-country nationals currently residing in Luxembourg

 

With the end of the state of crisis, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs informs that the following temporary measures have been adopted:

  • for third-country nationals who made their declaration of arrival between 1 January and 31 July 2020: the time limit within which they must apply for a residence permit has been extended from 3 months to 6 months;
  • residence permits issued by Luxembourg that expired after 1 March 2020 have their validity period extended until 31 August 2020;
  • the stay of third-country nationals holding a short-stay visa, and of those not subject to a visa requirement and whose stay has just exceeded 90 days after 1 March 2020: the stay is regularized until 31 July 2020.

In order to facilitate their exit from the Schengen area, the persons concerned can make an appointment with the Passport, Visa end Legislation Office (BPVL) for the issue of a "return visa".

For more information :
https://guichet.public.lu/en/actualites/2020/mars/19-mesures-ressortissant-pays-tiers.html

 

 

III. Measures to support businesses

 

Regarding payment of social contribution, what measures are taken ?

 

The following temporary measures that came into effect in April 2020 will end in fall 2020:

  • Suspension of the calculation of default interest for late payments;
  • Suspension of the procedure for the forced collection of contributions;
  • Suspension of the enforcement of constraints by bailiffs;
  • Suspension of the fines to be pronounced against employers who are late with regard to the declarations to be made to the CCSS.

From September 2020, the CCSS will check the payment of social contribution invoices. The situation of each company will be analyzed individually and the CCSS will send the first payment arrangements to the late payers in November 2020. Each arrangement will propose a payment deadline so as to allow the late payers to reduce their outstanding balance of social contributions as easily as possible.

The CCSS therefore wishes to encourage all companies to pay their contributions as much as possible in order to avoid insurmountable difficulties later in the year.

 

How to receive a repayable advance to remedy temporary financial difficulties ?

 

Large, medium-sized and small companies as well as the liberal professions can apply for aid in the form of a repayable advance from the Ministry of the Economy.

The aid can be up to 50% of costs (staff costs and rent) for the period from 15 March to 15 September 2020.

The application can be made directly online using MyGuichet.lu.

Repayment of the aid will be made according to a repayment plan that must be agreed on between the business and the Ministry of the Economy by the end of the first half of 2021.

More information is available : https://guichet.public.lu/en/entreprises/financement-aides/coronavirus/aides-difficultes-financieres-temporaires.html

 

What aid for in-store retail businesses ?

 

This aid is only for small and medium-sized in-store retail businesses that:

  • have been obliged to cease their activities because of the ban on receiving the public imposed by the Grand-Ducal Regulation of 18 March 2020; or
  • have suffered a loss in turnover of at least 50 % between 15 March 2020 and 15 May 2020.

The aid, whose amount is determined depending on the number of employees/ self-employed workers in the business, must be submitted using an online assistant available on MyGuichet.lu.

This is a direct non-repayable financial aid.

The application for financial aid must be submitted within the following time limits:

  • between 1 and 31 August 2020 for an application for the month of July 2020;
  • between 1 and 30 September 2020 for an application for the month of August 2020;
  • between 1 and 31 October 2020 for an application for the month of September 2020.

More information on this aid and the link to the online assistant :
https://guichet.public.lu/en/entreprises/financement-aides/coronavirus/aide-commerce-detail.html.

 

IV. The exit strategy

 

What are the employer’s obligations regarding health and safety at work ?

 

For the duration of the crisis, new obligations and rights are in force both for employers authorised to resume their activity and for their employees.

Thus, as far as employers are concerned, they must in particular:

  • limit, if necessary, the number of employees exposed or likely to be exposed to risks;
  • inform and train their employees on the possible risks and the precautions to be taken;
  • post signs indicating the risks and the preventive measures taken;
  • arrange workstations and other premises or workplaces;
  • provide employees with individual and collective protective equipment and products (mask, hydroalcoholic gel, appropriate protective clothing, soap, disposable towels, etc.);
  • ensure that their employees:
    • respect the social distance (2 meters between people) and, if this is not possible;
    • wear a mask or any other device to cover the nose and mouth, etc.

Employees must:

  • use the protective equipment and clothing made available to them correctly;
  • report immediately to the employer and/or to the safety officers and to the safety and health representatives any serious and immediate danger to safety and health

 

Is wearing a mask, as an additional precautionary measure, mandatory for employees ?

 

As of Monday, 20 April "protective mask" will be compulsory if it is not possible to keep a distance of at least two meters from another individual. In public transport, this obligation is systematic, regardless of the distance from other users. However, wearing a surgical mask as such is not mandatory. It is enough to protect your nose and mouth with something, a cloth mask, or even simply with a scarf.

 

How do I get tested ?

 

The Luxembourg government invites residents and cross-border workers to participate voluntarily in the free of charge large-scale COVID-19 testing, which enters the second phase starting as of 16 September 2020.

Invitations to participate in the large-scale testing are mailed by post to residents and cross-border workers divided into representative groups.

The applicant can make an appointment online using the form provided for this purpose on MyGuichet.lu. The procedure can be completed without using a LuxTrust authentication method. However, appointments can only be made if the invitation letter with the code has been received.

You will receive an appointment confirmation by email after transmitting the request. This document must be presented in paper or electronic format at the appointment.

The person tested is informed of the result by text message (SMS).

If the result is positive, the person tested will also be contacted by the services of the Health Directorate which will provide support.

For more information :
https://guichet.public.lu/en/citoyens/sante-social/coronavirus/depistage-covid-19.html

 

Business trip abroad or return to your country of residence: make your request for a test !

 

In view of the recent evolution of COVID-19 infections in Luxembourg, some countries require either a 14-day quarantine or a negative test for any person coming from Luxembourg.

Companies whose employees have to travel professionally to one of these countries can apply for a voucher to carry out a free test : https://www.houseofentrepreneurship.lu/de/nachrichten/detail/deplacement-professionnel-vers-letranger/.

The same applies to employees of service providers (installation, repair, maintenance) coming from abroad and present on Luxembourg territory beyond the tolerance thresholds provided for in their country of residence, who are thus obliged to have a negative test to avoid quarantine.

The following information must be provided as part of the application:

  • their name,
  • their serial number,
  • an email address,
  • the date and location of the trip,
  • proof of the necessity of the trip (e.g. ticket or hotel reservations, proof of business travel by the employer, etc.).

Once the application has been accepted, the applicant will receive a unique code by email which he or she can use to make an appointment at one of the collection centres.