Press Advisories

20. 3. 2020 13:22

Government agreeed to extend the payment of care allowance during an emergency; the self-employed will also get money

At an extraordinary meeting, the government adopted further measures against coronavirus, 19 March 2020.
At an extraordinary meeting, the government adopted further measures against coronavirus, 19 March 2020.
At an emergency meeting on Thursday, 19 March 2020, the government adopted further emergency measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Inter alia, the ministers approved a bill that would allow parents caring for schoolchildren at home to extend their care allowance, has further tightened the conditions for cross-border workers, and changed the time reserved for senior citizens to buy foodstuffs and drugstore goods to 07:00 to 09:00.

The current wording of the Sickness Insurance Act allows for the payment of the care allowance to employees only for the care of children under the age of 10 for a period of nine, and for single parents, for a period of sixteen calendar days. However, an extraordinary measure from the government, prohibiting teaching in elementary and secondary schools, universities and tertiary professional and arts schools as a precautionary measure against the spread of coronavirus, will substantially exceed this time limit.

To prevent the parents of smaller schoolchildren finding themselves without funds, the government has decided in an extraordinary bill to alter the period of validity for payment of the care allowance, to last as long as the ban on school attendance remains in force. At the same time, it has also decided to raise the age limit for these children from 10 to 13 years of age. Those taking care of the disabled at home following the closure of day care centres are also to be entitled to the care allowance. The government resolution will also apply retroactively and families who are already receiving the care allowance will not have to apply for it again.

The bill will be discussed under the legislative emergency powers which the government has declared from 19 March 2020 until the end of the state of emergency. The Chamber of Deputies will meet to debate this on Tuesday, 24 March, and the Senate should also debate it on the same day. More information about the measure can be found in the press release of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (in Czech language).

The government has also approved the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Health securing the purchase and distribution of protective equipment“The health service will be delivering mainly to core hospitals, ambulance services and the regional hygiene stations, and the Ministry of the Interior will distribute to state and non-state entities, especially through regional self-governing authorities. We have also instructed the Minister of the Interior to distribute protective equipment to Czech citizens, through the Czech postal service or local government or by other means,  said Andrej Babiš.

The government has approved a financial contribution for the self-employed currently  at home to ensure childcare. The state will pay 424 crowns per day, i.e. just under 14,000 crowns per month, to all self-employed persons taking care of children aged 6 to 13 on condition that a second member of the family no longer receives the care allowance.

The government has also decided to further strengthen the COVID loan programme in view of the great interest from entrepreneurs, namely by announcing another loan programme, COVID2, which will permit an increase in support from the original 600 million, to ten billion crowns. Interest-free loans worth CZK 5 billion will be administered directly by the Czech-Moravian Guarantee and Development Bank, another five billion will be used in the form of loan guarantees at commercial banks, which will be provided to entrepreneurs under essentially identical conditions, because the Czech-Moravian Guarantee and Development Bank will be subsidising their interest rate.

The government has also approved a targeted employment support programme, the purpose of which is to compensate for all or part of salary costs in the form of wage or salary reimbursement for employees for periods of work-related obstacles caused by the quarantine or by emergency measures related to the spread of COVID-19. These are cases where obstacles to work have not been objectively caused by the employer, but the employee cannot perform his/her work through force majeure or a decision of the state administration.

The programme can cover a contribution towards the reimbursement of eligible employers' costs incurred after 1 March 2020. The contribution to full or partial payment of wage or salary compensation will be provided by labour exchanges on the basis of concluded agreements and will apply in cases where employees have been ordered into quarantine. "These employees will receive 60 percent of their salaries and we will pay the company the full contribution," Prime Minister Babiš explained.

In the event that an employer has been ordered to close or reduce operations as a result of the crisis measures, employees will be paid one hundred percent of their salaries and the state will reimburse employers 80 percent of their costs. More information in the press release of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (in Czech language).

The government has once more discussed the issue of cross-border “commuters”. Due to concerns over the possible introduction of COVID-19 into the Czech Republic based on several positive cases to date, Ministers have decided on a further tightening of the rules for cross-border work. From Saturday, 21 March, these “commuters” will now have to present a special document, the so-called cross-border worker's passbook, which will be confirmed by the police on departure and return, and will serve to show the frequency and regularity of crossing the border. The form will be available for download on the website of the Ministry of the Interior and will also be available at the border police.

Ministers have also decided to modify the emergency measure announced yesterday ona  reserved shopping period for senior citizens over the age of 65 (in Czech language). Based on practical experience, they have decided to change the reserved times when other customers cannot be in retail stores for foodstuffs, hygiene goods, cosmetics and other drugstore goods at the same time as senior citizens, which is now from 07:00 to 09:00. This ban on entry will now not apply to persons older than 50 years of age with a ZTP-P (disabled person with escort) card, including their escort, and to persons working in care services. Pharmacies will not be subject to this measure.

The government has also approved further exemptions from the ban on retail and service sales. With effect from 20 March, the ban will now no longer apply to the activities of real estate agencies and the services of accounting and tax advisers.

The government has also adopted measures to allocate beds to patients with COVID-19 (in Czech language). It has ordered that all acute in-patient care facilities be obliged to allocate capacity for such cases. In total, 400 beds with ventilation and another 400 beds with oxygen support should be prepared for seriously ill patients in the Czech Republic at this stage. The government has also noted the emergency measure from the Minister of Health, laying down, with certain exceptions, a ban on patient visits (in Czech language) at all providers of in-patient health services and all providers of residential social services and all relief social services. In practice, this means the end of the exception for the presence of fathers at childbirth.

The government has also postponed launching the transition to DVB-T2 in areas where the transition has yet to take place. On the basis of the results of a selection procedure it has also appointed Brigadier General Ing. Karel Řehka to the position of Director of the National Cyber and Information Security Agency.

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