POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - ECONOMY

Covid-19 measures

Partial unemployment up amid stricter pandemic measures



The service industry, with the implementation of stricter CovidCheck measures, is among those heavily impacted by the sanitary crisis.  Photo: Shutterstock

The service industry, with the implementation of stricter CovidCheck measures, is among those heavily impacted by the sanitary crisis.  Photo: Shutterstock

A national committee has granted 674 requests for partial unemployment for January 2022, the economy ministry said on Tuesday, with 11,500 staff set to work reduced hours. 

The government, employee and employer groups on 13 December agreed to extend partial unemployment until the end of February 2022 for companies affected by pandemic restrictions.

Out of the 674 requests, which apply to a total of 11,500 full-time employees, the majority (608) are due to the impact of covid-19, while others are from the manufacturing sector (54) or caused by damage from the mid-July floods (11). One application fell under economic dependence.

Under the scheme, the government pays 80% of wages for staff working reduced hours in a bid to prevent companies from laying off employees. For staff working on minimum wage, the government pays the full salary under terms agreed during the pandemic. While saving staff costs, businesses must still pay social security contributions.

The number of requests was up compared to last month, when the equivalent of 10,874 full-time employees was placed on reduced hours. This marks a reversal of a months-long downward trend although it remains to be seen whether this will be confirmed in the coming months as the government introduced stricter pandemic restrictions.

Businesses in vulnerable sectors like the service industry will be able to ask for an extension until the end of February, rather than reapplying for the scheme, provided that non-working hours do not exceed 25% of the usual monthly hours performed within the company. 

During the meeting, the economic committee also granted a request relating to the legal provisions on early retirement and adjustment, as well as two tax exemption requests for voluntary redundancy payments, which applied to 34 people.