Antivirus programme to be extended until end of August

The government will extend the Antivirus relief programme for companies affected by the coronavirus crisis until the end of August, according to the draft bill on temporary cancellation of mandatory social security payments, which is to become part of the Antivirus programme's measures, the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry said.

The Antivirus programme of wage compensations for employers was originally to be in place from the start of the state of emergency on March 12 to the end of May. Its extension until the end of August has been requested by employers. The bill is yet to be discussed by the Tripartite board (representatives of the government, employers and trade unions) and the government. As of May 21, 631,200 wage compensations worth about Kc5.43bn have been paid out to employers, the Labour Ministry said.

Under the draft bill published on the government's website, the state would forgive social security payments for June to August to small companies, which would cost about Kc13.5bn in case of enterprises with fewer than 50 employees and Kc9bn in case of businesses with fewer than 24 employees. The temporary cancellation would apply to employers who have not dismissed more than 10 percent of their employees since the end of March.

Social security payments include sickness and pensions insurance plus a contribution to the state employment policy. Employers pay 24.8 percent from the employees' gross wage. The contribution to the state employment policy is 1.2 percent. Large employers will continue using the extended Antivirus programme, the ministry said in the draft bill. The government pays two types of wage contributions to companies under the Antivirus programme. The first type applies to firms whose employees are in quarantine or those that stopped operating, paying them 80 percent wage compensation (maximum of Kc39,000).

The second type of contribution concerns companies whose production has decreased because of a drop in employees, material or demand. To this group, the state provides 60 percent wage compensation (maximum of Kc29,000). The Antivirus programme was launched on April 6. The Confederation of Industry and Trade, the Confederation of Employers' and Entrepreneurs' Associations and the Chamber of Commerce said earlier today the Antivirus programme should stay in place until the end of August. They also demand that part of social security payments be forgiven to large companies, too.

In addition, the programme should be adjusted so as to help also companies that run into difficulties during potential recession after the coronavirus epidemic fades away, the organisations said in a joint press release provided to CTK. The Antivirus programme "is a tool that the state should continue to have at its disposal to solve future economic problems with the aim to support the companies and maintain employment," they said.

Source: ČTK

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