Update on support measures for employers

50% bank guarantee

A maximum amount of 250,000 euros from the Mutualité de Cautionnement.

 

Partial employment in case of force majeure

Advance payments based on the expected number of employees

Application through the MyGuichet.lu online tool

Applications by mail, email or fax will no longer be accepted

2 cases of application processing:

1) Mandatory closing: fast-track process or directly suitable

2) Open but with reduced activity: agreement of the Secretariat of the Committee on Trade Conditions of the Ministry of Economy

 

Fiscal measures

Requesting a delay on the payment and the cancellation of the VAT advance payments

Reimbursement of the credit balance < 10.000 EUR and administrative flexibility

Social security contributions: measures for temporary suspension of the CCSS

 

Aid scheme for companies in temporary financial difficulties

Capital subsidy in form of reimbursable advances of up to 500.000 euros

Application through the MyGuichet.lu online tool

Calculation basis: employee expenses and rental expenses

 

Emergency financial assistance for small businesses and self-employed workers

2 cases of application processing:

1) Mandatory closing

Immediate and non-refundable financial compensation of

Admission requirements and form

2) Open but with reduced activity

Immediate non-refundable financial subsidy of 2.500 euros

Admission requirements and form

 

In the context of the Covid-19 crisis, the Directorate General for the Middle Classes has established an emergency fund for very small enterprises (0-9 full time employees) and self-employed workers.

Thanks to this measure, enterprises with a maximum of 9 employees and self-employed workers who have a valid establishment permit issued before 18th March 2020 (with a minimum annual turnover of 15,000 euros and whose activity has been interrupted after the entry into force of the Grand Ducal regulation of 18th March 2020, which introduces a series of measures in the context of the fight against Covid-19) can submit an application for an immediate and non-refundable financial assistance of up to 5,000 euros.

The aim of this measure is to provide immediate financial support to the numerous very small businesses as well as to the self-employed workers who, although they constitute an essential part of our economic structure, are generally also the most vulnerable to contingencies such as the Covid-19 crisis.

In this regard, it is important to clarify that the granting of this aid is independent of the law proposal that will complement the existing aid instruments.

 

 

SOURCES: www.cc.lu , guichet.public.lu 

Webinar on “Where are the business opportunities during the coronavirus?”

On April 16th, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce of in Belgium and Luxembourg, organized a webinar on “Where are the business opportunities during the coronavirus?”, by the mentor Karine Brück, founding partner of Karine Bruck International (Ecosolve SL). The webinar was attended by a dozen companies.

The webinar was aimed at European companies interested in learning how to identify the sectors of opportunity that still exist during this global crisis and how SMEs can take advantage of them.

She mentioned the difficult and unprecedented situation that we are going through and that implies a drastic change in the global economic environment. Several topics were mentioned like the supply chain and demand collapse, the financial constrain, the investment freeze in addition to some global economic impact estimations.

Then, some clear guidelines for companies to confront this crisis were given, such as, workforce protection, supply chain stabilization, customer engagement, financial stress testing and nerve-center integration. She also proposed the creation of a Crisis Management Center as a key instrument for monitoring the situation and creating crucial future strategies for the survival of the enterprise. Ms. Brück recommended, especially for the short- and medium-term wellbeing of the company, to modify the sales strategy and to improve communication within and outside the company for reducing uncertainty and strengthen coordination.

In a broader perspective, an overview of the situation by sectors was given including the identification of the ones that will be leading the market in the coming months. Moreover, from a macroeconomic perspective, she provided the participants with the most helpful tools to identify new international tradepartners that could play a decisive role in the future trade activity of the companies.

Finally, she also gave some insights on multisectorial opportunities and she focused on potential tenders that could be interesting for most of the industries.

After the presentation, a Q&A was featured where the participants could ask their doubts about the information explained.

The Chamber wants to sincerely thank Karine Brück for her amusing and enriching presentation.

Containment measures extended up to May 3rd

The Prime Minister, Sophie Wilmès, announced some new measures following the National Security Council meeting on Wednesday 15 April, the most important one was the extension of the containment measures currently in force up to and including 3 May.

Following this decision, do-it-yourself stores and garden centers will be able to re-open, under the same conditions as food stores while social distancing will need to be respected. Also residents of residential facilities – i.e. rest and care homes or centers for people with disabilities – will be allowed to be visited by a pre-designated person. The condition is that the person in question has not shown any symptoms of the disease in the past two weeks. These rules will also apply to people who live in isolation and are unable to move around.

The basic rules will remain unchanged until 3 May and must be followed strictly. The public order services will continue to monitor this. A new National Security Council meeting will be organized next week with the aim of developing the next step in phasing out the measures. The goal is to organize this  phase-out strategy from early May and this will gradual based on the advice of the scientists. This strategy will be based on several pillars, namely social distancing, large-scale screening as well as tracing, and the development of new rules to be applied in the business world.

It is clear that wearing a face mask – even a so-called comfort mask – will also play an important role in the phase-out strategy. Fabric masks will be recommended for any situation where social distancing cannot be maintained. In order to do so, a collective effort will be needed, including the start-up of national production. However, face masks cannot replace the hygiene measures or social distancing.

In the short term, the National Security Council will give its opinion on the analyses and proposals of the group in charge of the exit strategy, including the right timing and conditions for the gradual re-opening of shops and catering establishments, as well as on the approach to schools, internships, youth movements and travel. It has already been established that mass events such as festivals cannot be organised before the end of August.

As regards the business community, the current rules will continue to apply until such time as the protocols can be ratified on a sector-by-sector basis. The aim of these protocols is to enable companies to resume their normal activities as soon as possible, while also guaranteeing adequate working conditions for their employees, adjusted for the situation. Working from home should continue to be preferred for some time to come.

Source: Info-coronavirus.be

Extension of the economic and social measures for companies taken in Belgium due to Covid-19

Belgian Government approves new socio-economic measures

Last Saturday, April 11, the Inner Cabinet, extended to include the representatives of the ten parties met in a virtual meeting to approve a serie of decrees with socio-economic measures in addition to those already approved to combat the effects of the coronavirus.

Details of the additional measures:

  • Withholdings for the professional income tax and VAT due in April are deferred and can be paid until July 15 and 20.
  • The introduction of a temporary moratorium on Company bankruptcies. During this difficult period, any Company that is struggling to pay off its debts as a result of covid-19, is protected from pre-judgment attachment and executive attachment, bankruptcy and court-ordered dissolution. In additios, the payment terms that are included in a reorganisation plan, will be extended. And agreements concluded before the entry into forcé of the royal decree cannot be unilaterally or judicially disolved.
  • Tax exemption for voluntary overtime (220 hours) in the so-called critical sectors until 30 June 2020.
  • Possibility for the temporarily unemployed to work temporarily in a flexible way and without loss of income in the horticultural and forestry sector.
  • An easing of flexible working hours, secondment and temporary work in order to facilitate making permanent employeed of other companies available to employers in “critical” industries.
  • The possibility of shor successive contracts of fixed duration in critical sectors for a period of three months.
  • Freezing the degressive nature of unemployment benefits during the crisis period.
  • Confirmation of a bridging right for people who are “typical” self-employed as their secondary occupation in the case of self-employed persons, paying the máximum contribution; “adapted” for certain self-employed as their secondary ocuppation (with and income between 6996.89€ and 13993.78€) and active pensioners (income >6996.89€) who are forced to interrupt their activities by Covid-19.

Source: Belgium.be

Industry foresees 50 million euros in aid to companies affected by the coronavirus crisis

The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism has approved a new aid amounting to 50 million euros to “companies that had to significantly alter their production to adapt to the needs generated by the Covid-19 health crisis”.

This is stated in the budget impact report of the decree law approved this Tuesday by the Council of Ministers in which the facilities provided by the Government to the industry in the face of the coronavirus emergency are quantified.

Within the support for industries, the Government has expanded the budget of the Compañía Española de Reafianzamiento (Cersa), within its guarantee line for the crisis, granting a credit supplement of 60 million euros from the ‘Support for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises’ program.

This Covid-19 line of guarantees has an amount of 1,000 million euros of risk assumed by Cersa and will allow mobilizing 2,000 million euros of financing to companies, benefiting 20,000 pymes.

All this in a section dedicated to the support of industries, which modifies the deadlines to present guarantees to the calls for loans granted by the General Secretariat of Industry and Small and Medium Enterprises (SGIPYME), which were pending resolution when it entered the alarm state is in effect.

In the decree law, the Government opens the door to exempt the return of the financing of Industry by the companies that accredit a fulfillment that “approaches significantly to the total fulfillment and it is verified that the objectives of the project have been reached initially raised”.

In these cases, 100% compliance with the project will be considered and no refund of the aid will be proposed, with partial reimbursements based on the different degrees of compliance recognized.

Modifications in loans until 2023

The refinancing of the loans granted by this General Secretariat is also regulated, establishing the possibility of requesting amortization modifications for two and a half years from the entry into force of the state of alarm, as well as the scope of the modifications for companies that have suffered periods of inactivity, supply interruptions in the value chain or their sales have been reduced.

These variations will be limited to the “maximum levels of aid intensity and the same levels of risk as at the time of granting”, and will include aid when the modification of the amortization conditions is granted, with the possibility of modifying the interest rate and the guarantees associated with the loans, and also subrogate these obligations to a credit institution.

SOURCE: Expansion.com

The Government approves an allowance of 440 euros for unemployed people who have no right to subsidies and a moratorium on social security contributions of self-employed workers for 6 months

On Tuesday, the Council of Ministers approved new support measures against coronavirus, especially for the most vulnerable groups. One of them is an extraordinary allowance for people whose “contract has been terminated and do not have the minimum time required to claim unemployment benefit”, as detailed by the Vice-President for Social Affairs and 2030 Agenda, Pablo Iglesias. This benefit will be 440 euros per month and will also be available for domestic workers in the same situation.

The Council of Ministers also approved a moratorium on the payment of social security contributions for the self-employed workers, in addition to other housing measures.

 

Nadia Calviño, Vice-President of Economic Affairs, explained at the press conference following the Council meeting that the executive has adopted the “extension of social security contributions for six months, without interest”. These are the measures that affect freelancers:

 

  • Extension of six months of interest-free social security contributions
  • Possibility for SMEs and the freelancers to defer debts with the Treasury for up to 30,000 euros for six months, with a three-month grace period
  • A moratorium on the payment of contributions – without interest – is provided for the days worked in the month of March
  • Mortgage moratorium is extended, including self-employed workers who have no activity due to the state of alarm or have suffered significant losses

 

What about the March fee they have already charged to self-employed workers?

Government stated that “What we have established today is that a moratorium can be given for the payment of those amounts that correspond to the days worked in the month of March. Those amounts that have already been paid in I understand that the self-employed may request a refund of the part that does not match.”

 

The extraordinary edition of the Official State Bulletin (BOE), published on late Sunday, on the other hand, confirmed that the self-employed can continue to work despite the tightening of the state of alarm to preserve only essential activities as they are outside the scope: they are not employees and would not be eligible for recoverable paid leave. As they would not be able to make up those hours or recover those payments, they must have the right to continue working. However, this new measure does apply to their employees. “Self-employed workers will be able to continue with their activity by proving that they are and that their activity is not suspended by the state of alarm” (referring to the certificate published this Monday in the BOE), explained Nadia Calviño in a press conference.

 

SOURCE: Cadenaser.com

Paid leave for non-essential workers: how it applies, who and who doesn’t affect.

The article of the decree ordering to stay at home for non-essential workers, receiving the salary, details what it means to receive this recoverable paid leave and under which conditions it is necessary to retrieve the days not worked.

Does not apply to people with temporary labour force adjustment plan (TLFAP) (in Spanish expediente de regulación temporal de empleo)

The permit, from March 30 to April 9, does not apply to people involved in an TLFAP, who already have their situation regulated in accordance with the special rules issued in the recent days.

 

  • Workers who are working remotely should continue.

People who are already working remotely can continue, even if their occupation is not essential, unless there is a agreement between the employer and the workers’ representative in the company. In fact, non-essential activities that can be transferred to remote work do not will benefit from this paid leave.

  • Shift system

Another exception to the rule for non-essential workers who should not go to work: if necessary, companies may have a minimum number of staff or an “essential” shift system to develop the “essential” activity in the company.

The people who receive this permit will keep their remuneration as if they were working, including the basic salary and supplements.

  • Hours retrieve

The retrieve of hours not worked will have to be taken between the end of the alarm state and the end of this year. It will have to be agreed between the employer and the workers’ representatives within seven days. If there is no agreement, it will be the employer, within a period of 7 more days, who will decide how to retrieve the time.

In this hours retrieve, the norms related to daily rest (12 hours between each working hours) and weekly (one and a half day uninterrupted) provided by law cannot be breached, and cannot  exceed the maximum working hours agreed in the corresponding agreement. Furthermore, the rights of conciliation must be respected.

 

Source: BOE nº87 (03/29/2020)

New procedure for granting short-time work in cases of force majeure linked to the Covid-19

THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

What is the short-time work?

Short-time working allows a company to avoid laying off its employees. The employees receive 80% of their salary from the company (this amount cannot be less than the minimum social wage or more than 250% of the minimum social wage). These amounts are fully covered by the Employment Fund.

Conditions that the company must complete

Eligible employees: permanent, fixed-term, apprenticeship, etc.

– be legally established in Luxembourg

– a significant go down on activities/income following the crisis

– undertake not to dismiss any employee for economic reasons

 

In order to maintain employment and, consequently, avoid redundancies, Luxembourg labour law provides that firms may, under certain conditions, have recourse to different short-time working schemes, depending on the nature of the difficulties encountered. This system enables firms to keep their trained employees in employment with skills that are essential to the smooth running of their activities.

The short-time working scheme is therefore one of the major instruments enabling enterprises to cope with the fall in economic activity due to the Covid-19 health crisis.

In view of the current exceptional situation and the repercussions on the life of companies and their employees, the conditions for applying for and obtaining short-time working have been adjusted.

In order to speed up and facilitate the procedure for applying for short-time working in cases of force majeure linked to the Covid-19 crisis, ADEM, in close collaboration with the Secretariat of the Economic Conditions Committee and the State Information Technology Centre (CTIE), has set up a new automated system that enables companies to submit their short-time working applications via an online form at: http://guichet.lu/cocp

This request will have to be made every month

Companies make their request using secure authentication (LuxTrust product (e.g. Token, Smartcard or Signing stick) or electronic identity card). They also have the possibility of having their application submitted by their authorised representative (a trustee), e.g. if they do not have a LuxTrust product. The data collected will be processed automatically by ADEM. The application has been designed to be as simple as possible for companies. As of today, companies must use the form available at the Counter to make their request (requests by mail, e-mail or fax will no longer be accepted).

Applications from companies that can no longer operate following the government decisions of March 2020 will be processed directly by ADEM. Applications from other companies will only be processed after the agreement of the Comité de conjoncture. In both cases and as soon as the request is accepted, ADEM will pay an advance to the companies. This advance corresponds to 80% of the salaries of the staff affected by short-time working and will enable the firms to obtain cash quickly. After the end of the month, the company will be required to submit a detailed statement showing the hours actually worked. On the basis of this statement, ADEM will calculate the sums actually owed by the Employment Fund. In the event of an overpayment, the company will be required to reimburse it.

Which companies are eligible for the new partial unemployment scheme linked to COVID-19?

Companies that can no longer carry out their activities following a government decision are automatically eligible for short-time working without the need for the agreement of the economic conditions committee.

All other companies that have to suffer a drop in activity due to the coronavirus crisis must receive the agreement of the economic development committee in order to be eligible for short-time work.

Temporary employment agencies are also eligible with regard to their employees whose assignment contract continues but who can no longer carry out their activity.

Both types of companies must apply using the same form at the counter.

Which employees are eligible for the new partial unemployment scheme linked to COVID-19?

  • Employees on permanent and fixed-term contracts (the contracts must be in force at the time of the occurrence of the force majeure event)
  • Apprentices in initial and adult learning.

What about companies that have already applied on the basis of the old form?

The applications received by the secretariat of the economic development committee by post, email or fax are being processed. Given the extremely large number of applications received, this processing could take until 3 April 2020.  Companies whose application was incomplete and therefore cannot be processed will be contacted by ADEM.

 

Link: http://guichet.lu/cocp

Source: ADEM

Attached files: 200327_DemandeDeChomagePartiel.pdf

Measures to limit business impact in Flanders due to Coronavirus

To limit the economic impact of the coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak on both businesses and the economically unemployed, Flanders and Belgium have announced a series of measures to support all those who are financially affected by the coronavirus.

Tax measures

  • Postponement of the tax filing deadline. For VAT, corporate income tax, legal entities income tax and corporate income/non-resident tax, the filing deadline has been automatically postponed:
  • VAT return and EC sales listing deadlines related to February were postponed to 6 April 2020. The ones related to March or the first quarter of 2020 were postponed to 7 May.
  • For all other taxes, deadlines have been postponed from 16 March to 30 April 2020.
  • Deferred payment of personal income tax, withholding tax, VAT and social security contributions. For certain tax debts, payment will automatically be deferred. Late payment interest will also be annulled.
  • VAT – payment related to February is postponed to 20 May 2020, payment related to March or the first quarter of 2020 is postponed to 20 June.
  • Withholding tax – payment related to February is postponed to 13 May 2020, payment related to March or the first quarter of 2020 is postponed to 15 June.
  • Legal entities tax, corporate income tax, non-resident tax – for tax settlements established from 12 March 2020, the normal period will automatically be extended by 2 months.
  • Payment by installments for tax debts. Companies that can prove that they are facing difficulties resulting directly from the coronavirus outbreak are eligible for staggered tax payments for debts established before 12 March 2020. They will also be exempt from late payment interest and non-payment fines.

Financial incentives

  • Nuisance incentives. The government of Flanders provides ‘nuisance incentives’ of EUR 4,000 for companies that are affected by and were forced to close because of COVID-19. For those only affected by closure during the weekend, Flanders offers a one-time premium of EUR 2,000. In addition, all affected companies will receive EUR 160 EUR per day, starting from the 21st day of closure.
  •  SME growth subsidy. If your SME needs help to get back on its feet after the coronavirus crisis, you can apply for a grant via government agency Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO).
  • Increased flexibility in requirements for support measures and subsidies. For several subsidies granted by Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship, the requirements have been lowered.

Investment guarantees (PMV)

  • Coronavirus crisis guarantee. Flanders’ government has expanded investment firm PMV’s ‘generic’ guarantee capacity of EUR 1.9 billion by adding a coronavirus crisis guarantee of EUR 100 million. The associated one-time premium rate has been lowered to 0.25% instead of 0.5%. Under the generic guarantee scheme, which will be fully deployed, an existing credit, line of credit or previously guaranteed lease can be extended. The additional coronavirus guarantee is meant to:- make it easier for companies to receive bank financing for their working capital if they have been unable to pay outstanding invoices due to the COVID-19 outbreak;
    – enable companies and self-employed individuals to have a ‘bridging loan’ guaranteed for existing non-bank debts for up to 12 months (adding 9 months to the 3-month period under the ‘generic’ guarantee scheme);
    ​- allow guarantees for bank debts – in addition to supplier debts – related to existing lines of credit or non-guaranteed investment loans (provided that that the bank is also prepared to grant at least 3 months of payment deferral or to maintain lines of credit).
  •  Payment suspension for SMEs. Entrepreneurs benefitting from the Start-up Loan, Co-financing and Co-financing+ schemes (granted by PMV/z) are temporarily not required to repay this financing. The direct debits foreseen for repayment of capital and/or interest are automatically suspended for all borrowers. The suspension is valid for 3 months and will be extended to 6 months if necessary.

Mortgages and loans

  • Postponed mortgage payments. Financially sound companies that were hit by the coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis can ask their banks to suspend their mortgage payments until September 2020. This measure also applies to economically unemployed individuals.
  • Financial guarantee for loans of up to 12 months. The federal government made a deal with the financial sector to earmark EUR 50 billion to cover potential losses due to loans that cannot be repaid. This guarantee will cover all loans that run for up to 12 months and are currently taken out by businesses and the self-employed.
  • Crisis warranty. Companies and self-employed workers can have a bridging loan guaranteed for existing debts – for wage payment, purchase of raw materials or outstanding invoices etc. – that cannot be paid due to the coronavirus crisis. This warranty can be obtained on top of existing guarantees for investment loans and working capital. 1,000 loans of EUR 100,000 can be guaranteed (below the 75% regional warranty). This measure is applicable until the end of 2020.

Other measures

  • Temporary unemployment. The national employment office RVA will consider all temporary unemployment related to the COVID-19 crisis as “due to force majeure”. The application procedure for receiving subsequent temporary unemployment benefits has been simplified as much as possible:- Employees must submit a benefit application by filling in the simplified form that can be found on the website of the payment institution of their choice.
    – Employers must submit an electronic declaration of the hours of temporary unemployment in the course of the month concerned. This can be done online via the social security portal (ASR), under “Scenario 5 – Monthly declaration of the hours of temporary unemployment or hours of suspension of employees”. Another option is to send a structured batch file to the social security portal via your payroll services provider.
  • ​​Teleworking. Both the federal government and the government of Flanders encourage teleworking as much as possible. In case the employer intervenes in the costs of teleworking (internet connection, additional laptops…), this can be a tax-free allowance as well as a beneficial lump sum valuation for social security purposes.
  • Flexibility in executing a federal public contract. No fines or sanctions will be imposed by the federal government in case a federal public contract incurs delays or cannot be executed due to the coronavirus crisis.
  • Support for the tourism industry. The government of Flanders has earmarked EUR 5 million for youth and social tourism measures. Additionally, government agency Visit Flanders will no longer collect rent from youth hostels, which adds up to an additional EUR 1 million in support.

 

Source: Flanders Investment & Trade