Estonia

  • The state of emergency started on 12 March 2020 and ended on 8 May 2020; the restrictions imposed during the emergency are being gradually eased. So many companies are planning to re-open and have employees return to work.
  • The unemployment rate is currently the highest in the past seven years. For the first time since 2013, the number of unemployed exceeded 50,000, with the unemployment rate currently being 7.8%. However, the rise in the number of unemployed has slowed during the crisis more than expected.
  • The new labour market service – compensation of salary – available from March to May 2020 has been now extended to June 2020, though with stricter criteria. A company eligible for compensation has to have suffered a decrease of at least 50% in income or turnover in June 2020 compared to June 2019. In addition, the company would have to meet at least one of the following two criteria:
    • at least 50% of its employees have not received work in the agreed volume;
    • the salary of at least 50% of its employees has been cut by at least 30% or down to the official minimum salary (i.e. EUR 584 gross).

Previously the eligibility criteria included a 30% decrease in income or turnover, the impossibility to provide work for 30% of employees and a salary cut for at least 30% of employees.

The Unemployment Insurance Board will compensate 50% of an employee’s average salary, but not more than EUR 800 gross and not less than the official minimum salary (i.e. EUR 584 gross). Previously, compensation was 70% of an employee’s salary, but not more than EUR 1,000 gross. The employer’s contribution still remains EUR 150. Employees who receive salary compensation cannot be made redundant before August 2020.

  • As of May 18, 2020 the Medical Insurance Fund will no longer compensate the first three days of sick leave. This means that employees will not get sickness allowance for the first three days of sick leave, unless the employer has agreed to pay the allowance, as was the rule prior to the emergency.
  • The exemption valid in March to May 2020 from paying social tax based on the minimum rate of uniform social tax liability (in 2020 – EUR 540 a month) has ended and as of June 2020 companies would have to bear the minimum obligation for social tax (in 2020 ‒ EUR 178.20 a month). The minimum obligation for social tax applies for example when an employee is on unpaid vacation or when due to partial working hours the salary paid is lower than the minimum rate of uniform social tax liability.

 Latvia

  • The emergency started on 12 March 2020 and is likely to end on 9 June 2020. The emergency was prolonged twice.
  • As of April 2020, the actual unemployment rate in Latvia is 9.2%, which is 1.3 percentage points higher compared to March 2020.
  • The Ministry of Economy is in the process of drafting guidelines in relation to returning to work for various workplaces (e.g., offices, factories) and industries (tourism). The guidelines are expected to be published still in May 2020.
  • Idle-time benefits are available for May and June 2020. To get benefits for employees for May the employer had to apply by the end of May, while for benefit for June employers can apply from to 1 to 30 June.
  • By 18 May 2020, the Latvian tax authority had paid out idle-time benefits totalling EUR 23.5 million to 63,009 employees employed by almost 11,000 employers. More information about idle-time benefits and other subsidies is available here.
  • Until 31 December 2020 employers who (a) conform to the criteria specified for participants in the tax related In-depth Cooperation Programme administered by the Latvian tax authority and (b) who have been adversely affected by the crisis caused by COVID-19 may:
    • pay for idle time only 70% of the employee’s remuneration (in all other cases idle time must be compensated in full);
    • unilaterally decide when employees should take their annual paid leave.

Lithuania

  • At present, quarantine is still in place in Lithuania. Quarantine was declared from 16 March 2020 until 31 May 2020, but an extension is still possible.
  • The unemployment rate for April 2020 was 11.2%, compared to the unemployment rate of April 2019 (which was 8.3%) it increased by 2.9%. The unemployment rate has been slowly increasing and on 24 May 2020 was 11.7%.
  • Special post-quarantine measures have been introduced, allowing employers to receive subsidies for up to six months after the end of quarantine (but no later than until 31 December 2020). Subsidies for employees’ salaries will be available to employers belonging to at least one of these groups, i.e. employers who:
    • declared idle time for employees during the quarantine, received subsidies to compensate employees’ salaries during idle time and maintained their jobs; or
    • are on the list of companies affected by COVID-19 compiled by the State Tax Inspectorate (a subsidy for these employers is available for no more than 10 employees if the company has up to 20 employees and for no more than 50% of employees if the company has 21 or more employees); or
    • before the quarantine, received subsidies to compensate for the salaries of supported employees (eg, employees with disabilities), declared idle time during the quarantine, received subsidies to compensate for salaries of employees during idle time, and maintained these jobs.

Amounts of subsidies

Subsidy amounts awarded for 1st and 2nd months:

  • Normally: 100% of the employee’s salary, from which social security contributions must be paid, but not more than 1 state-prescribed minimum monthly salary, i.e. EUR 607.
  • If the employer is included in a special list due to its activities, at the employer’s choice:
    • 70% of salary but not more than 2 state-prescribed minimum monthly salaries, i.e. EUR 1 214, or
    • 100% of salary, but not more than 1 state-prescribed minimum monthly salary, i.e. EUR 607.

In the nearest future a list of activities oriented to production of advanced technology, knowledge-intensive services, reaching the goal of the green course of the European Union, as well as the social dialogue should be jointly adopted by the Ministers of Social Security and Work and Economy and Innovations.

  • If an employee has a fixed-term or seasonal employment contract: 100% of salary, but not more than 0.5 of the state-prescribed minimum monthly salary, i.e. EUR 303.50.

Subsidy amounts awarded for 3rd and 4th months:

  • Normally: 50% of salary, but not more than 1 state-prescribed minimum monthly salary, i.e. EUR 607.
  • If the employer is included in a special list for its activities: 50% of salary, but not more than 2 state-prescribed minimum monthly salaries, i.e. EUR 1 214.
  • If the employee has a fixed-term or seasonal employment contract: 50% of salary, but not more than 0.5 of the state-prescribed minimum monthly salary, i.e. EUR 303.50.

Subsidy amounts awarded for 5th and 6th months:

  • Normally: 30% of salary, but not more than 1 state-prescribed minimum monthly salary, i.e. EUR 607.
  • If the employer is included in a special list for its activities: 30% of salary, but not more than 2 state-prescribed minimum monthly salaries, i.e. EUR 1 214;
  • If the employee has a fixed-term or seasonal employment contract, the employer is not entitled to a subsidy.

Additionally, from 18 May 2020 private sector companies are advised either to operate remotely or to operate from the usual place of work, as long as necessary measures of health, hygiene and personal safety are ensured.

Belarus

  • No state of emergency has been declared in Belarus.
  • To date there have been no major changes in regulation of the situation: no major quarantine and support measures are in place. Many private companies still allow their employees to work remotely, and for now it is hard to predict when reopening plans will be brought into action.
  • According to recent official data (as of 1 March 2020), the unemployment rate is 0.2% (a decrease compared to 0.4% on 1 March 2019). This indicator reflects official unemployment, i.e. based on the number of unemployed registered with the labour authorities. As for the actual unemployment rate, this increased in the first quarter of 2020 (according to the results of a sample survey based on the methodology of the International Labour Organisation) – from 4.0% to 4.1%, compared to the end of last year.
  • On 24 April 2020 the President signed the Edict “On Supporting the Economy”, which provides a set of support measures to business, in particular additional rights for employers in terms of changing working conditions due to the impact of COVID-19 on its business. These support measures are valid from 25 April 2020 until special decision of the President:
    • for material changes to the employment agreement, including change of working hours, the employer must give at least 1 calendar day’s advance notice, where the changes are due to production need caused by COVID-19. This is an exception to the general rule, which requires at least 1 month’s advance notice. This exemption is not applicable for reducing salary;
    • the employer can temporarily transfer the employee, including to another structural unit and to another employer due to production need caused by COVID-19, as well as to replace an absent employee – a transfer is possible without the consent of the employee for up to 3 months. This can be extended by agreement.
  • On 18 May 2020 the President signed an Edict by which employees of state institutions of social services receive an allowance for working in the current epidemiological situation (in the range from about EUR 100 to EUR 600).