25 Mar Information COVID-19 Andorra. Newsletter 4
Newsletter COVID-19. Number 4
Escaldes-Engordany, 23rd of March 2020
The health emergency situation caused by the pandemic of the COVID-19, has triggered challenges of a dimension that the Principality of Andorra has never been faced with in the past, and makes it necessary to adopt exceptional measures, of a diverse nature, in order to cope with it.
In response to this need, the Law on exceptional and urgent measures for the health emergency situation caused by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, has been approved, by a procedure of extreme urgency and need provided for in article 60 of the Andorran Constitution.
The mentioned law has a very different range of exceptional and urgent measures, which scope and force is limited to the COVID-19 temporary suspension of the non-essential business activity, being its main goal to alleviate the impact that the health crisis has on the people and companies.
Note that this Bill has been debated and approved through the emergency procedure of the Council session on March 23rd. Thus, once approved by the Council, it must be endorsed by at least one of the two Co-Princes and subsequently published in the BOPA, which will entail the entry into force of this Act.
LABOUR MEASURES OF INTEREST FOR BUSINESSES AND EMPLOYERS
These measures mainly affect the labor legislation in force in the country. The main goal of the measures is to guarantee the continuity of the employee in the company and assure the appropriate running of the business despite the exceptional circumstances associated with the Covid-19.
The main purpose of the employer should be to safeguard the situation of the employees which are deemed as vulnerable group, through the following actions or rules:
- Try to avoid the interruption of the employment contracts in the companies affected by the temporary suspension of the activity through measures such as prohibiting salary reductions and suspension of contracts by force majeure.
- Compensation of unemployed time (employees not suitable for telework) due to the suspension of activity, through remuneration depending on the application of extraordinary hours accumulated or future holidays and vacations.
- Coordination of absences to take care of dependent children by employees of non-suspended activities such as those in the food, sanitary, petrol sectors, for instance.
- Modification of schedules without the previous mandatory notice made by the employer under certain circumstances related to the COVID-19 situation.
- Role changing of the employee without complying the compulsory requirements established by the Labor law, if the reason of a reorganization is caused by the situation of the COVID-19.
MEASURES IN THE AREA OF SOCIAL SECURITY FOR FREELANCERS AND EMPLOYERS
Social security measures are aimed to reduce the economic problems arising from the pandemic and relief the burden of self-employed workers.
It also seeks to protect those groups most affected by the pandemic such as people who are dedicated to high-risk professions that still operating normally or people who have been isolated or diagnosed by the Covid-19. The specific measures are the following:
- All insured persons who have been diagnosed or isolated by COVID-19 are entitled to receive economic benefits for temporary disability.
- All self-employed workers affected by the suspension of their own activity may request the temporary suspension of their Social Security quote.
- All self-employed workers who have suffered a very significant reduction in their activity as a consequence of this exceptional situation and have been obliged or not, to cease their activity, as long as they declare in front of the authorities this aforementioned situation and pay on a social security base higher than the minimum wage, can benefit from a reduction in the contribution base up to the minimum wage.
- For employers and companies affected by the lock-down obligation, and in spite of this, contribute to guarantee the continuity of the employment contracts, it is established that the general Administration will take into account the payment of the business part of the contributions of its staff, for the duration of the closing obligation.
MEASURES RELATING TO RENTING THE OF BUSINESS PREMISES
In all the renting contracts for business premises, the current contractual income is reduced in the percentages established below, by Ministry of the Law, during the period between the14th of March 2020 inclusive, and the day following the day in which the Government declares the end of the state of health emergency caused By SARS-CoV2:
- Businesses that have had to suspend their activity: 100%.
- Businesses that have had to set up a guard system: 80%.
- Businesses that have remained open: 50%.
MEASURES IN TAX AND TAX MATTERS
Various measures have been established aiming a more flexible fulfilment of tax obligations and adapting certain legal provisions, the main measures are the following:
- Deferral and instalment of the tax debt in the event of not being able to deal in an economical appropriate way with the measures taken to halt the COVID-19.
- Tax on the register of holders of economic activities can be paid beyond the 30th of June 2020, at the government’s further decision.
- The payment on account of the Corporate Income Tax for the year 2020, will be reduced from the current 50% of the tax liability to 20% of it.
- The payment on account of the personal income tax for the 2020 exercise for individuals carrying out an economic activity will be reduced from the current 50% of the tax liability to 20% of it.
- Reduction of the tax base of the general indirect tax and all other taxes for unperceived rents, not including as a quota or basis the amount not received.
MEETINGS OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS FOR LEGAL PERSONS
The measures will affect entities and organizations from both the public and private sectors. The main goal for these measures is to carry out Boards of directors and general meetings under normal circumstances and through remote even when the bylaws do not foresee so. In the current context of the health crisis caused by the COVID-19 to authorize the use of remote media and avoid direct contact is essential.
SUSPENSION OF DEADLINES AND OTHER MEASURES
According to the circumstances of the current crisis, a range of measures are established in the judicial and administrative areas that will allow preserving the rights and interests of the people who are currently in the course of a legal procedure or with the administration. The mentioned measures are the following:
- General suspension of deadlines effective from March 14th, 2020, with several exceptions regarding the procedures affecting fundamental rights, people arrested or taken (habeas corpus) or people at risk.
- In order to avoid direct contact between people, all actions before judges and courts that are un-postponed must be carried out via videoconference or any other similar media.
- Suspension of administrative deadlines. Measures effective from March 14th, 2020 and until the end of the current health emergency is declared.
- Administrative activity is permitted in cases where it is essential to preserve the interests of parts of an administrative procedure.
- Administrative activity is permitted in procedures related to the health crisis of the COVID-19.
- Suspension of limitation and expire periods.
FUNCTIONALITY AND ENTRY INTO FORCE
Finally, it must be noted that the companies that have dismissed personnel from the 14th of March 2020 will not have access to these grants.
The law has been approved by the General Council, today 23rd of March, in an exceptional session. Remember that the same, once it comes into force, will be valid for a duration of 2 months or until the moment in which the Government declares, by decree, the end of the state of health crisis, in the event that it is before the two months mentioned.
The team from ANCEI will continue to keep you updated regarding any measure that the Government adopts in relation to the exceptional situation as we have been doing so far.
We remain at your entire disposal,
Jaume Torres Segura
Partner at ANCEI