12th May 2020
As COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, many contracting hotspots are taking action to prevent and mitigate the effects of the virus, with more and more countries attempting to ease lockdown restrictions and get business back up and running.
Here is a round-up of the latest information for contractors – sourced from updates from GPA – for expats and agencies from some popular contracting hotspots as of May 7th, 2020:
COVID-19 Information: What do contractors need to know?
New rules have been introduced in Italy about social distancing. People can now leave their houses to visit relatives and for some outdoor activities. Four million workers have been allowed back to their workplace as further businesses have been authorised to once again have staff working. Bars and restaurants have also begun opening for takeout. Building sites and factories have also started functioning again, and more stores — as well as museums and libraries — can open their doors from May 18th.
The Australian government has passed legislation for a $1,500 per fortnight wage subsidy for eligible employers amid the coronavirus. The JobKeeper Payment is a financial contribution made to eligible businesses and not-for-profits that have been affected by the Coronavirus lockdown to support them in retaining employees.
Recently, the Taxation Commissioner has extended the enrolment period for the JobKeeper Payment scheme. It has been extended from 30th April 2020 until 31st May 2020. Businesses that enrol by 31st May are still eligible to claim for the fortnights in April and May, provided that they meet the eligibility requirements for the period.
Here is some further information on the JobKeeper payment scheme for contractors and recruiters:
- Those organisations that employ staff through a service entity rather than through the main business structure may now qualify for the subsidy if the combined GST turnover of the company satisfies the 30% test. This means that to revenue has declined by at least 30% on a comparable period a year ago.
- Charities that employ staff can elect to exclude government revenue from the JobKeeper turnover test for the purposes of assessing eligibility for the payment.
- Further clarification has been provided that full time students who are 17 years old and younger, and who are not financially independent, are not eligible for the JobKeeper Payment.
After Italy, Denmark was the second European country to announce a lockdown – and it did so before seeing any reported deaths from COVID-19. Today, Denmark’s rapid and early response to the pandemic seems to be paying off. Here’s some information for contractors:
Denmark is slowly reopening for business, although Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen acknowledged that this process will be a delicate balancing act. “This will probably be a bit like walking the tightrope”, Frederiksen said at a recent press conference. “If we stand still along the way we could fall and if we go too fast it can go wrong. Therefore, we must take one cautious step at a time.”
The first of those cautious steps, taken on 14th April, was to reopen the country’s day-care centres and primary schools. Not all parents are happy about this, however, and thousands are keeping their children at home.
Social distancing rules remain in place – gatherings or more than 10 people are still prohibited, for example – and the Danish government has made it clear that the process of easing restrictions is dependent on the continued stability of infection rates. On 20 April, the Danish government also gave a host of other professions the green light to reopen, including hairdressers, tattooists and psychologists.
Austria was also another country to announce a lockdown early, with some of the harshest measures across Europe. However, in the last month, the country has been easing up on restrictions. Here’s some information for contractors:
From 14th April, non-essential shops with a floor-space of less than 400 square metres – about the size of two tennis courts – were allowed to reopen, as well as DIY stores and garden centres. From 1st May, this has been extended to shopping centres, larger stores and hairdressers.
It is not a complete return to normality, however; the government has made it mandatory to wear masks outdoors, and social distancing must continue. Furthermore, some recent media reports have suggested that many Austrian residents are staying home, despite the easing of restrictions.
In Norway, a hugely popular country for international contractors, the numbers of daily new cases has been falling since late March. At the time of writing, the country has reported 7,103 cases and 165 deaths from COVID-19. This relative success prompted Prime Minster Erna Solberg to announce on 7th April that “Norway has managed to get the virus under control”.
Norway’s kindergartens reopened on 20th April. Primary and some high schools, as well as universities and hair and beauty salons have now also re-opened. Domestic travel is now permitted, but is strongly discouraged for all non-essential purposes.
To help protect the newly liberated population from a new spike in infections following its easing of restrictions, the Norwegian government has followed countries like South Korea and Singapore by launching a voluntary virus-tracking app that alerts users if they have been in contact with someone suspected of carrying the virus, as well to infection hotspots.
While this is the current situation regarding coronavirus in these nations, things are changing every day. And as authorities across the globe begin reviewing the potential to reduce lockdown restrictions, staying ahead of the latest developments is crucial for anyone operating across the globe, so we encourage contractors and recruiters to pay attention to information from the relevant authorities before making any decisions.
At 6CATS, we will continue to update workers and firms should any new information arise, and there are plenty of COVID-19 related resources on our website. If there should be any interruption to your assignment or working life – we’re here to help.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or would like more information.