Employers urge cabinet to OK kurzarbeit rules

Employers called on the government to approve "kurzarbeit" (part- and short-term working) rules for firms hit by the coronavirus crisis over the weekend at the latest, representatives of business associations said at a video press conference.

The measures will prevent dismissals and disruption to production processes, said Confederation of Industry vice-president Jan Rafaj, Chamber of Commerce president Vladimir Dlouhy and Jan Wiesner, president of the Confederation of Employers' and Entrepreneurs' Associations. The cabinet decided on Thursday that it will pay employers compensation for quarantined people's wages and 80 percent of workers' wages in closed businesses. Other kurzarbeit rules were not approved, and PM Andrej Babis said the cabinet might discuss them on Saturday.

Unless the cabinet sends a clear signal over the weekend that it will provide aid to employees for whom there is no work because of the coronavirus spreading employers will have to shed jobs, Rafaj said.

Surveys among 200 firms showed that nine out of ten companies have run into troubles because of the virus, with nearly a quarter of them failing to survive for more than a month without aid. Many companies have no savings because of recent investments, for example, said Dlouhy.

Antivir, a programme to boost employment which includes kurzarbeit rules, was prepared by the Labour Ministry and backed by unions as well as employers. Decision on some issues might have been made three to four days ago as the material was available, said Dlouhy. Less than a third of businesses have cash flow problems. Should the current situation last for more than three months about 70 percent of firms would have a big problem keeping their business in operation, according to the surveys whose results were presented at today's video press conference.

Nearly a half of companies are faced with a weak demand and two fifths have distribution problems.
If the situation improved firms would be capable of resuming operations within a few days, they said.
Thirty percent of firms have financial reserves for about two months and less than a fifth of them would survive for three months, the surveys showed.

Source: ČTK

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