FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SUPPORT PROGRAM TO COMBAT THE IMPACT OF C OVID-19 AS ANNOUNCED BY THE MINISTER OF LABOR
A. . SPECIAL SICKNESS ALLOWANCE
1. Who are the Beneficiaries of the Special Sickness Allowance?
Special sickness allowance will be paid as a part of the emergency support measures to:
a. Workers who have health problems and are on the list published by the Ministry of Health, who must be absent from work for the purpose of protection and non- deterioration of their health. Provision of a certificate by their personal physician is mandatory.
b. Cases of compulsory absence from work by persons as instructed by the Authorities
Category 1 –compulsory restraint under medical supervision; quarantine -) and
Category 2 (self-restraint under telephone surveillance]) provided that restricted employees hold a certificate issued by the Ministry of Health.
c. Persons over the age of 63 up to the age of 65, who do not receive statutory retirement and continue to work and fall into Categories 1 and 2 of the Ministry of Health, provided that they hold the certificate issued by the Ministry of Health.
2. Are self-employed workers entitled to the special sickness allowance?
Self-employed persons are entitled to the special sickness benefit if they fulfill the above conditions. It is noted that for their support, they will be paid, in the same manner as employees, from the fourth day onwards.
3. For how many days am I entitled to the special sickness allowance?
The special sickness allowance will be paid for the days that the applicant is a beneficiary, namely:
(a) workers with special health problems,
(b) compulsory absence from work and
(c) persons over 63 years of age up to 65 years of age
The sickness benefit coverage period ends on April 30th, 2020.
4. Should the doctor’s certificate contain dates of absence from work?
The doctor’s certificate should detail the medical reasons that prevail and are included in the Ministry of Health’s announcement for the granting of Sick Leave to vulnerable groups as detailed on www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus . The application to be submitted should indicate the period of absence from work for sick leave purposes.
5. Will the Social Security Services follow the same procedures for paying the sickness benefit?
The Ministry of Labor, Welfare and Social Insurance will follow simplified procedures for the payment of sickness benefit to all categories of beneficiaries (employees with particular problems health, compulsory absences from work, and persons over the age of 63 up to the age of 65). The special sickness allowance will be paid to all beneficiaries, employees and self-employed as of the fourth day.
B. . SPECIAL LEAVE
6. What is “Special Leave”?
“Special Leave” applies to parents who work in both the Private and Public / Wider Public Sector for the care of children up to the age of 15 (up to third grade of Gymnasium), due to the suspension of public and private school attendance, in Kindergartens and Baby care centers. It is noted that parents of people with disabilities are entitled to special leave regardless of age, provided that no care allowance is provided for their children.
7. How long does the Special Leave apply and what percentage of the salary does it cover?
The Special Leave may last up to 4 weeks at this stage and does not include holidays, and will be awarded to a parent with a monthly salary of up to € 2,500 (gross) allowance as follows:
For the first € 1,000 of the parent’s salary, a ‘special leave’ allowance will be paid at 60% of the salary and for the next € 1,000 of his salary, a 40% allowance will be paid.
It is noted that in the case of single-parent families, the rate of payment of the benefit changes to 70% and 50% respectively.
The Eligibility Benefit Coverage Period expires on April 30, 2020.
8. What are the conditions for granting it?
The leave is granted to a parent with a monthly salary of up to € 2,500 (gross). A parent with a salary exceeding € 2,500 (gross) is not entitled to special leave. The permit will be granted to one of the two parents and if one parent receives the said permit, the other cannot receive a corresponding permit at the same time. Also, if one parent works / receives an unemployment benefit / participates in a Work Suspension Plan and the other does not, the working parent is not entitled to it unless the non-working parent has himself or herself been infected with the virus or is hospitalized or is a person with a disability or is a person under compulsory confinement.
It is emphasized that the said leave will be granted if the nature of their work does not allow teleworking or working from home or flexible working hours and if there is no internal family assistance. The permit will be granted in consultation with the employer upon request.
9. Will the employer pay the remaining amount of the special leave?
The special leave provides for a parent with a salary of up to € 2,500 (gross) the following: for the first € 1,000 of the parent’s salary a 60% ‘special leave’ allowance will be paid of the salary and for the next € 1,000 of his salary, a 40% allowance will be paid.
In the case of single parent families, the rate of payment of the benefit changes to 70% and 50% respectively.
The employer will not pay the rest of the salary.
Every employee can also use his vacation leave available.
10. Should special leave be granted continuously?
The special leave will be granted for a period of up to 4 weeks and may be obtained either continuously or in part, in consultation with the employer.
The parent should apply separately for each period he/she wishes to obtain the special leave for.
11. Can I get a special permit for a spouse / parent in a vulnerable group (e.g. a pregnant spouse)?
The special permit is only granted for the care of children up to 15 years of age.
In the case of children with disabilities, special leave is granted regardless of the age of the child.
However, if there is no care for the parent / spouse in a vulnerable group as defined by the Ministry of Health, an application may be made and examined based on its characteristics. The same procedure will apply in cases where an employee’s spouse is pregnant.
12. The special leave applies only to full-time employees.
Full-time and part-time employees as well as part-time employees are entitled to special leave. This applies to private and public servants and the public sector.
It does not apply to self-employed workers.
C. . BUSINESSES SUSPENSION PLAN
13. What is the Business Suspension Plan?
For those businesses for whom it has been decided to suspend their operations and for those businesses that continue to operate and suffer a turnover decrease of more than 25%, a Business Suspension Plan is in place to avoid layoffs and affected employees receive an unemployment allowance for as long as the business is suspended.
For the Work Suspension Plan to apply to a business, an application must be submitted by default to the Ministry of Labor, Welfare and Social Insurance, in which the terms and conditions for participation to the Plan are defined.
Businesses that proceed with layoffs cannot participate in the plan.
14. Those who are recently hired and do not qualify for insurance will receive an unemployment benefit under a Suspension Plan?
No. These cases do not fall under the Unemployment Insurance Scheme.
The affected persons may apply and will be examined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the characteristics of each case.
15. How will a 25% turnover decrease be demonstrated??
A standardized certification will be submitted by certified business accountants who, after studying the data for the corresponding period of the previous year and based on all available data on the current situation and the type and activities of the business, will certify the estimated or existing turnover reduction for the period March and April 2020.
In the case of businesses that were not active in the corresponding period of the previous year, the basis for comparison will be the immediately preceding months.
16. I work in a company that is subject to compulsory financial suspension (kindergarten, tutorial). Can I participate in a Suspension Plan?
Both compulsory suspended businesses as referred to in the Decrees of the Minister of Health posted at www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus, as well as businesses subject to significant turnover reductions (over 25%), which do not fall under the economic activities contained in the relevant Decrees of the Minister of Health can participate.
17. For operations that participate in the Business Suspension Plan and employing 3rd-country nationals or seasonal workers, the specified employees are entitled to Unemployment Allowance?
3rd-country nationals and seasonal workers are entitled to the allowance as long as they possess the required Work and Residence permits and comply with all insurance requirements.
18. Will rents be covered for businesses under compulsory suspension?
The business suspension plan only covers employees’ salaries in businesses and no operational expenses. As such, it does not cover rents.
19. What will be the procedure for granting the above allowances?
The Ministry of Labor, Welfare and Social Insurance will announce within the next few days the application process, which will be carried out electronically and will be simple and concise, with the aim of paying the benefits as soon as possible.
It is noted that applications will be submitted electronically for all the above measures.
20. Will the duration of the unemployment benefit be extended?
At this stage, all studies and measures are undertaken for the period up to April 30th, 2020. The measures will be monitored and if required re-examined.
21. Is there a measure to extend the repayment of outstanding contributions (current, overdue, overdue) to the Social Security Fund?
There is no measure to extend the repayment of contributions due.
22. Is there any measure in support of the Self-Employed?
The Ministry of Labor, Welfare and Social Security is considering ways to support self-employed persons who fall into specific categories of economic activity. There will be announcements soon.
23. Until when can self-employed workers file a complaint with the Social Security Services from?
The time period for filing complaints by self-employed workers was extended by one month, that is to April 30th, 2020 (instead of 31 March 2020).
24. Where can I find which businesses are under compulsory suspension of operations?
The economic activities that compulsorily suspend their operation are set out in a decree of the
Minister of Health, available at www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus..
25. Complaints about possible breaches of the measures
Pertaining to the issue at hand, employees can direct their complaints as follows:
• Complaints about Infringement of the Minister of Health decree should be submitted to the Police.
• Complaints about employees’ rights violations as a result of the measures announced should be submitted to the Labor Relations Department (Nicosia: 22803100/22803127, Limassol: 25819440/22819820, Larnaca: 24817800/24817822 and 26817801 and e-mail: email@example.com) and the Common Inspection Authority (tel: 77778577 and e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).