on the relief measures introduced by the Government of Cyprus to support the economy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
Q1: Am I entitled to claim special Sick Leave Allowance?
A special sick-leave allowance will be paid to:
- Persons belonging to vulnerable groups per the criteria published by the Ministry of Health.
- Persons in mandatory isolation or quarantine.
- Persons between the ages of 63 to 65, provided they are not entitled to statutory pension.
Q2: Do I have to apply to receive a special sick-leave allowance and how?
Yes, through the government portal here. The completion of the electronic Bank Account Information Submission Form found here is also necessary.
Q3: Who can apply for a special sick-leave allowance?
Only employees can apply for the special sick-leave allowance. The employer’s benefit is that for the duration of the employee’s absence they are not burdened with their salaries, although they may agree to contribute the remainder.
Q4: As self-employed am I entitled to special sick leave allowance?
Yes, with the allowance payable as for salaried workers from the fourth day of absence onward.
Q5: Are there any excluded professions regarding self-employed workers and the special sick-leave allowance?
Q6: What if I cannot work because I have to look after my children due to the closure of schools?
Parents who are working in the private or public sector may be granted a Special Leave of Absence for the care of their children (aged until 15) or for children with disabilities.
Q7: Are there any limitations to the special leave of absence to care for children?
The maximum period allowed is 4 weeks of combined absence of both parents and the benefit is only granted if the working parent claiming the benefit is unable to work from home due to the nature of his/her occupation. Also, if the other parent is not working for any reason, including COVID-19 suspensions of work, then the working parent is not entitled to the benefit unless the unemployed parent is quarantined or suffers with the virus or is disabled.
Q8: What percentage of the salary does the special leave of absence for parents cover?
For the first €1,000 of the carer’s salary he/she will receive a subsidy equal to 60% of his/her salary and for the second €1,000 the subsidy is reduced to 40% with a maximum subsidy at €1,000.
For single parents the percentages are 70% and 50% and the maximum amount receivable is increased to €1,200.
Q9: Can a person receiving more than €2,500 gross salary benefit from the special leave of absence scheme?
The subsidy is paid to persons with a gross salary of up to €2,500 only. However, there may be a case-by-case exception for single parents who receive more than €2,500 gross salary.
Q10: Will the employer be obliged to pay the rest of the amount for the special leave of absence?
The employer is not obliged to pay the rest of the salary.
Any employee may also use part of the employee’s Annual Leave of Absence as mandated by law or individual employment contracts, as the case may be.
Q11: Does the special leave of absence only apply in cases of full-time employment?
The special leave of absence is applicable for full-time, part-time as well as shift work, however it is not applicable for self-employment.
Q12: Must all businesses suspend their operations?
No. Only the following businesses have been ordered by the Government to suspend their operations:
- Shopping centres and department stores
- Cafes, bars and all catering establishments with the exception of those offering or capable of providing home delivery services
- Entertainment centres
- Cinemas, theatres and auditoriums
- Museums, archaeological and historical sites
- Betting/gaming agencies, casinos, etc
- Sports facilities, sport and social clubs
- Theme parks (amusement parks etc)
- Hairdressers, massage centres
Q13: What measures did the Government introduce to support businesses that were ordered to suspend their operations?
The Government introduced two schemes, namely the "Special Partial Suspension of Operations Scheme" and the "Special Suspension of Operations Scheme".
Q14: What are the eligibility requirements for businesses to apply for either scheme?
The Special Partial Suspension of Operations Scheme is addressed to those businesses that continue to operate but suffer a decrease in turnover of more than 25% during March 2020 and they expect the same for April 2020 (when compared to the respective months of 2019).
The Special Suspension of Operations Scheme is addressed to those businesses which have obligatory suspended their operation in total as a result of the government's decisions.
Q15: Who needs to apply for the Special Scheme for Partial Suspension of business and how?
The employer must apply through the Government portal here.
Q16: Who needs to apply for the Special Scheme for the Complete Suspension of business and how?
The employer must apply through the Government portal here.
Q17: Are there any restrictions to either scheme for businesses?
Yes, it is a condition for a business participating in either of the two schemes of Complete or Partial Suspension of operations, that no terminations of staff are made for the duration of the participation in the scheme, plus an additional period equal to the duration of said participation plus an additional one month.
The ban on termination excludes termination on grounds that would justify immediate termination without notice.
Q18: Are employees affected by the CoVid-19 measures entitled to any benefits?
Affected employees are entitled to receive statutory unemployment benefit for as long as the businesses suspend operations.
The benefit paid will be equal to 60% of the insured amount and cannot exceed €1.214 for a one-month period of time.
Q19: Can those who were recently hired and do not qualify for social insurance receive an unemployment benefit under the Operations Suspension Scheme?
No, those cases do not qualify for the unemployment benefit.
Q20: Can an employer participating in the Special Scheme for the Complete Suspension of business demand from employees to work the equivalent of 60% of their worktime that is funded by the State?
An employer cannot demand from employees to work the equivalent of 60% of their worktime that is funded under the Scheme by the State. However, the Scheme does give the right to the employee, if it is so deemed that the business needs the services of its employees supported under the Scheme to work their total hours of employment, in which case the employer must pay the remainder of their salaries.
Q21: What happens if an employer tells its employees not to come to work?
If an employer tells their employees not to attend work (without the employees being sick or in mandatory quarantine or self-isolation) and unless the employer participates in any of the Schemes above, then the employees should be paid their usual salary.
Q22: Can an employee refuse to attend work because of being scared?
It is recommended that employees should work remotely where possible. If this is not possible, alternative options include recommending taking paid annual leave or taking agreed unpaid leave.
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