The Council of Ministers on Wednesday approved five new, targeted schemes to support employees, businesses and the unemployed as the economy enters the recovery stage after the coronavirus pandemic.
Announcing the decision, Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou said the five schemes, budgeted at €150 m, were in line with a government promise to provide a safety net of employees. Together the schemes will cover about 50,000 beneficiaries.
They have been tailored to help those businesses most in need of support because of the pandemic and all are conditional on a significant reduction in turnover with the aim of seeing them through the economic recovery period.
Applications will be submitted by businesses, rather than employees. Moreover, businesses will be required to provide proof they qualify with a certificate from a qualified auditor.
They will also be required not to make any dismissals until October 31, with Emilianidou appealing to employers to respect workers’ rights and not to sack employees or cut salaries.
The new schemes are retroactive from June 13 when the previous schemes expired. Payment for those schemes to beneficiaries will start tomorrow, Emilianidou said.
- Hotels and tourist accommodation. The scheme is from June 13 to October 12. For the first month, the scheme will cover 90% of employees in a business on condition there is a drop in turnover of more than 40%. For the second month it will remain at 90% if the drop is more than 40%. From August 1 on it will cover 50% of employees if there is more than a 35% drop. In the case of units that decide not to reopen, the scheme will cover 80% of employees. “Our aim is for them to reopen,” she said. The scheme will cover 60% of the salaries with employers covering the rest. As regards hotel employees fired before March 1 (and who have therefore exhausted their unemployment benefit) the subsidy will cover them too.
- Economic activities linked to the tourism sector or affected by tourism or those still closed under decrees. The scheme is in force until the end of August. If turnover is down by more than 55% in the first month, the scheme will cover 60% of employees. In August if turnover is down by more than 40%, it will cover 45% of employees. If they do not reopen, it will cover 80% of employees. The scheme will cover 60% of salaries
To qualify, businesses will need to submit from an auditor confirmation that 40% of their turnover is normally from tourism
3. Economic activities which are not covered by the first two schemes and have reduction in turnover of more than 40% in June and July and more than 35% in August. It will cover 60% of salaries of 45% and 40% of employees respectively. If there are just three employees, it will cover all three. There are sectors which do not qualify for this scheme, such as retail, hair dressers etc.
4 Special scheme for businesses that remain closed because of the health ministry decrees such as night clubs, cinemas etc. Up to 9 employees, it will cover all of them and for businesses with more than nine employees, it will cover 90% of them. The scheme will be in force until the end of August.
5. Special scheme for the unemployed. This is for those who were due to have gone back to work after March and have exhausted their unemployment benefit and will receive a subsidy of €360 .
Speaking at the same press conference, Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides said the Council of Ministers had also approved a €38.11 m guarantee agreement to the European Commission so that Cyprus can participate in the SURE scheme which aims to protect jobs affected by the pandemic.
He said that so far 190,000 people, 26,000 companies and 22,000 self employed have been supported by the previous schemes with close to €500m spent to avoid job losses and show social solidarity.