Universal labour laws are being revised to assuage the pandemic’s loss worldwide; the changes come about as a bid to assist multinational organisations in their effort to endure business as usual as COVID-19 resumes to dislocate the status quo across continents. As the leading risk management and compliance company across the globe, we at CRI Group have assembled the countless measures that countries worldwide have taken on towards diminishing the damaging effect the pandemic has had on organisations of all sizes and from all industries.

  1. United Kingdom

Employees in the UK were previously permitted to gain sick leave benefits only from the 4th day of sickness – this has now been modified to allow employees to avail of sick leave from Day 1. Nevertheless, they are obliged to submit their medical certificate from the 7th day of sickness. Employees are entitled to receive £94.25 a week as Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) provided they suffer from any form of illness that defeats their ability to work. Employers are expected to pay SSP for 28 weeks. Employees at home taking care of family members who are sick and are consequently forced to be on quarantine can also avail of this benefit.

Provisions have been made for ensuring furloughed workers are paid. Employers who cannot continue operations or do not have work for their employees can mutually agree to keep the payroll running. Employees can receive 80% of their wages with a monthly cap of £2,500.

  1. United States

The US government has made amendments to the FMLA; an employee is now authorised to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leaves and job-protected leaves required that they have represented for the lowest period of 30 days; the leave can be applied if a family member has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and needs treatment, staffs find themselves quarantined, or if their children (aged under 18 years) are incapable of attending school. After two weeks of paid leave, the employer is expected to pay employees a minimum of 33.33% of an employee’s standard pay. These revisions apply only to firms with less than 500 employees and those employed by the government.

If 12 weeks proves not to be enough, then a maximum of 26 workweeks of leave is permitted in 12 months; this works in case an employee desires to take care of an enclosed service member who is utterly incapacitated or ill and if the employee is the service member’s spouse, daughter, son, parent, or a close relative.

Moreover, the US is looking into organisations that will be able to reduce the total of hours an employee is intended to work rather than laying them off – employees will not be left wholly unpaid. They would be presented partial unemployment aids to compensate for any loss of salary owing to lost hours.

Another significant step the US government has taken is the introduction of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. As per the act, employees are offered two weeks of paid sick leave with full regular wages if the employee is quarantined or needs to undertake any precautionary measures to safeguard against COVID-19. If an employee needs to take care of a sick family member, the employer should pay 2/3 of the normal salary.

  1. Australia 

The Australian government supports businesses in managing the challenges in cash flows and helping in employee retention via their initiative of the JobKeeper Payment. Firms that have been affected by COVID-19 are eligible to obtain a periodical sum of $1,500 for each employee. Provisional cash funding of up to $100,000 has been assembled for SMEs and not-for-profit organisations. Moreover, organisations that are qualified for this assistance do not have to apply for it through a separate form.

The Australian government’s Backing Business Investment rate is estimated to reduce the taxes organisations pay by $6.7 billion in the coming two years. Over 3.5 million enterprises with ~9.7 million workers will benefit from this.

  1.  Italy

As per the country’s ‘smart working’ law, a standard Italian member of staff can work from home if, and only if, a written agreement between the employee and the employer has been signed. With the latest legal update, both parties need not require this agreement. It is deemed adequate if the employer informs the Italian Labour Authorities and the employee introduces them with all necessary data regarding how heor she should work remotely.

In a case when the company is forced to shut down, employees can reimburse their wages through the Wage Guarantee Fund (CIG). Up to 80% of wage reimbursement has been made possible.

Normal sick leaves apply if an employee cannot work due to COVID-19. Furthermore, in case an employee is grieving from the coronavirus and is quarantined, it is regarded that the employee would be unable to perform regular duties, as expected by the organisation. Also, the employer need not pay the usual wages to that employee. In such a case, the employee is given an option to use vacation holidays or take unpaid leaves of absence.

  1.  France

A French employee who:

  1. Is a parent of a child under the age of 16.
  2. Is not able to work from home owing to schools being closed.
  3. Is a parent of a quarantined child can avail a compensation called ‘arrêt de travail’.

The payment enables employees to receive a daily allowance until the date on which schools reopen. Nevertheless, only one parent will be able to receive the allowance.

As per the short-time work system (“activité partielle “), in the case of a financial loss either due to the complete/limited interim closing of their operating facilities or a reduction in the working hours applicable, employers can obtain financial assistance from the state to pay their members of staff. This scheme has been brought into effect to overcome temporary economic difficulties without resorting to complete/partial employee layoffs.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an incredibly daunting time for all civilians across the globe – from the loss of jobs to the loss of loved ones; the pandemic has cost us a lot. If you’re wondering how your organisation can go about repairing itself amid the chaos, why not consider contacting us? Our experts range from all industries and sectors, so you’re sure to find bespoke advice fit for your needs. Don’t hesitate, get in touch now. 

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