COVID-19 – Partial activity, health protocol, solidarity fund, fixed costs, unsold stocks, social contributions

 

 

To follow up on our previous memos, please find below information related to the following topics:

  • Evolution of the partial activity regime
  • Update of the health and safety protocol in companies and action plan on telework
  • Solidarity fund – March 2021
  • Financial aid for fixed costs of companies
  • State financial aid on unsold goods
  • Postponement of social security contributions and payment plans
  • Aid for digitalization

 

Evolution of the partial activity regime

Allowance for employees unable to work

Decree no. 2021-435 of April 13, 2021 increases the partial activity allowance for vulnerable persons or persons concerned with childcare who are unable to work.

The government wants to guarantee employers “zero remaining costs” if their employees have to be placed on partial work. The fact that the company belongs to a particular sector is irrelevant. The rates provided for as of April 1, 2021 are as follows:

  • For the employer: the rate of allowance paid will be 70% (i.e. no remaining expenses)
  • For the employee: the rate of allowance paid will remain at 70%.

 

Regarding the applicable conditions, two periods are to be distinguished:

Up to April 26, 2021:

Schools, leisure centers and nurseries are closed. Therefore, the employee can ask to benefit from partial activity if:

  • he/she is the parent of a child under the age of 16 OR
  • he/she is the parent of a child with a disability without age limit

 

Partial activity is implemented if the employee:

  • Does not have the option of taking leave earlier (the employer may invite the employee with children to take days off on the new school vacation dates)
  • Does not have alternative childcare
  • Is unable to work

 

The Ministry of Labour has specified in its Q&A on partial activity that the notion of inability to telework covers situations where teleworking “is not manageable with children at home“.  Thus, “the employee is considered unable to telework if he or she occupies a non-teleworkable position or if the employer believes that the employee is unable to telework. In the latter case, the employee may, for example, state the number of dependent children, their ages, housing conditions, etc. ”

This requires a sworn statement from the employee indicating that he or she is the only one of the two parents requesting partial activity for childcare.

After April 26:

An employee who has to take care of his or her child can benefit from partial activity if he or she cannot telework:

  • When their child’s classroom or childcare facility is closed for health reasons
  • When their child under the age of 16 or their child with a disability is identified as a contact case

 

Proof is required. The employee must also provide a sworn statementindicating that he or she is the only parent requesting a work stoppage.

General regime

Regarding the unprotected sectors:

Pursuant to Decree no. 2021-347 of March 30, 2021, which extended the scheme, the rates are as follows:

  • For the employer: the rate of allowance paid by the State will be 60% of the gross previous remuneration until April 30, 2021 (i.e., a remainder to be paid of 15%), before moving to a rate of 36% as of May 1, 2021.
  • For the employee: the rate of allowance paid will be 70% of the previous gross remuneration until April 30, 2021, before changing to a rate of 60% from May 1, 2021.

 

Please note that a draft decree would consider postponing the 36% rate reduction again until June 1, 2021. We will keep you informed when the decree is published.

Regarding protected and related sectors:

Pursuant to Decree no. 2021-348 of March 30, 2021, which extended the scheme, the rates are as follows:

 

  • For the employer: the rate of allowance paid by the State will be 70% of the gross previous remuneration until April 30, 2021 (i.e., a zero remainder), before moving to a rate of 60% from May 1, 2021 and to a rate of 36% on June 1, 2021.
  • However, some companies will still benefit from a 70% allocation rate until June 30, 2021. This scheme concerns:
  • Businesses that are administratively closed due to Covid-19
  • Establishments located in the catchment area of a ski resort that experience a drop in sales of at least 50%.
  • Businesses in areas subject to traffic restrictions that experience a drop in sales of at least 60%. The drop in turnover is determined in relation to the turnover recorded for the same month in 2020 or 2019, or in relation to the average monthly turnover of the company between its creation and January 31, 2021 if it was created after January 30, 2020.
  • For the employee: the rate of indemnity paid will be 70% of the previous gross remuneration until May 31, 2021 before moving to a rate of 60% on June 1.
  • Similarly, employees of companies subject to the above-mentioned specific regime will benefit from the 70% rate until June 30, 2021.

 

For all intents and purposes, you will find on the website of the Ministry of Labor an explanatory sheet on the partial activity scheme detailing these different cases, summarized in the table below:

Update of the health and safety protocol in companies and action plan on telework

Update of the health and protocol

A new version of the company health protocol was published on April 8, 2021.

From now on, all companies must establish a telework action plan, whereas previously only companies located in departments with additional restrictions were concerned. The goal is to reduce to a minimum the time employees spend on site. The labor inspectorate will be able to control the effectiveness of this. If telework is to be systematically used, as long as it is compatible with the employee’s tasks, employees who wish to work on site are still allowed to do so, up to one day per week.

In order to help you to determine a suitable action plan, the Health Insurance website, ameli.fr, offers a questionnaire to be filled in by companies.

 

Helpful ressources

In addition, please find here the guide of the good practices of the employer which recalls the obligation of prevention of the employer with regard to its employees and any person brought to intervene in the company and its declensions. It is advisable to put in place various measures in order to evaluate the risk of contamination, in particular to update the single risk assessment document (DUER).

For your convenience, we are also providing you with several diagrams outlining the different procedures to follow in case of contamination within your company:

 

  • The management of a symptomatic person
  • The management of a case of Covid-19
    • The person who tests positive is asked to stay home for 10 days from the date of the positive result.
  • Management of a cluster
    • As a reminder, a cluster is qualified within the company after more than three contaminations over seven days. It is then imperative to alert the Regional Health Agency and the Labour Inspectorate.

 

Certain limits to the measures that the employer can take are also recalled. Thus, it is not possible to:

  • Reveal the names of sick people, keep a register of these people or contact cases
  • Impose tests on its employees, nor the communication of their results
  • Require a medical certificate before returning to work

 

 

Solidarity fund – March 2021

Decree no. 2021-422 of April 10, 2021 modifies the eligibility criteria for the solidarity fund for the month of March 2021.

In order to be eligible, it is now necessary to prove a starting date of activity on December 31, 2020 at the latest and no longer October 31, 2020. The aid must be requested by May 31, 2021 at the latest.

The companies which are eligible for the solidarity fund are:

 

  • Companies that have ben continuously closed to the public during the month of March and have lost at least 20% of their turnover: the amount of the financial aid will be equal to the amount of the loss of turnover, up to a limit of 10,000 euros (and 200,000 at group level) or 20% of the reference turnover. The most favorable option will be applied.
  • Companies that have been closed to the public only for part of March
    • and having lost between 20 and 50% of their turnover: the amount of the financial aid will be equal to the amount of turnover lost, up to a limit of 1,500 euros at company level and 200,000 euros at group level.
    • and having lost at least 50% of their turnover: the amount of aid will be equal to the amount of the loss of turnover, up to a limit of 10,000 euros (and 200,000 at group level) or 20% of the reference turnover. The most favorable option will be applied.

 

  • Companies in the S1 bis sector
  • created before March 1, 2020 and having suffered a loss of turnover of at least 80% between March 15, 2020 and May 15, 2020 compared to the reference turnover OR a loss of turnover of at least 80% between November 1 and 30 compared to the reference turnover
  • established before December 1, 2019 and having experienced a loss of annual turnover between 2019 and 2020 of at least 10%.
  • Companies that carry out their main activity in retail trade with at least one of their stores prohibited from receiving the public without interruption from March 1 to March 31, 2021 located in a shopping center with a surface area greater than or equal to 10,000 square meters (as opposed to 20,000 previously) and that have lost at least 50% of turnover in March 2021.

 

For these last two categories:

  • If the company has suffered a loss of turnover greater than or equal to 70%, the amount of the financial aid is equal to either 20% of the reference turnover or 80% of the loss of turnover up to a limit of 10,000 euros. Companies will benefit from the more favorable option. If the loss of turnover is greater than 1,500 euros, the minimum amount of the financial aid is 1,500 euros. Where the loss of turnover is less than or equal to 1,500 euros, the financial aid is equal to 100% of the loss of turnover;
  • If the company has suffered a loss of turnover of less than 70%, the amount of the financial aid is equal to either 15% of the reference turnover or 80% of the loss of turnover up to a maximum of 10,000 euros. Companies will benefit from the more favorable option. If the loss of turnover is greater than 1,500 euros, the minimum amount of the subsidy is 1,500 euros. Where the loss of turnover is less than or equal to 1,500 euros, the subsidy is equal to 100% of the loss of turnover.

 

Other companies with less than 50 employees can benefit from the extension of the financial aid of 1,500 euros for the month of March. The request must be made before April 30, 2021.

It is no longer possible to change the method of calculating the company’s reference turnover from one month to the next. The choice of the reference turnover is frozen according to the choice made by the companies for the compensation for the month of February 2021.

 

Financial aid for fixed costs of companies

We would like to remind you that the financial aid for fixed costs of companies, the details of which were communicated to you in our previous newsletter, is effective since March 31, 2021.

You will find on the dedicated page of the Ministry of Economy the practical sheet concerning the implementation of this scheme.

 

Financial aid for unsold goods

In order to help them compensate for the losses linked to their unsold stocks, the State is setting up an exceptional financial aid for companies in the clothing, footwear, leather goods and sports sectors.

This financial aid, intended for companies with less than 50 employees, will amount to 80% of the sum received under the solidarity fund for November 2020 (i.e. a maximum of 8,000 euros, the aid under the solidarity fund for the month of November being a maximum of 10,000 euros).

 

 

Postponement of social security contributions and payment plans

Extension of the exemption from contributions

The following may benefit from the exemption from social contributions:

  • Employers with fewer than 250 employees in sectors S1 and S1 bis
  • Employers with fewer than 50 employees in other sectors who, during the month following the month in which the exemption is applicable, have been prohibited from receiving public, which has a significant impact on their business, with the exception of delivery, pick-up or take-away activities.

 

The exemption from contribution applies to the periods of employment running until February 28, 2021 .

If the company is subject to closure to the public, the employer will benefit from the exemption until the last day of the month preceding the month of the authorization to receive the public.

The ceiling for the amount of the exemption has been raised to 1,800,000 euros, from 800,000 euros previously.

 

Deferral of social security contributions and payment plans

The deferral of social contributions of companies and self-employed workers has been extended for the month of April.

The contributions that will not be paid will be automatically postponed and the Urssaf will contact the employers in order to propose them a plan to settle their debts without penalty or increase of delay.

Employers with less than 250 employees as of January 1, 2020 who have entered into a settlement plan but are unable to meet all of the deadlines may also benefit from a partial remission of their contributions, if they:

  • do not benefit from the system of reduction and assistance in the payment of social security contributions as part of their settlement plan;
  • prove that they are experiencing particular economic difficultiesthat make it impossible for them to meet the deadlines of the settlement plan;
  • are up to date with their social security reporting obligations on the date of the request;
  • have noted a reduction in turnover of at least 50% between February 1, 2020 and May 31, 2020 OR between March 15, 2020 and May 15, 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 OR the average monthly turnover for 2019 over 4 or 2 months respectively, depending on the period chosen;
  • certify that they have applied for deferred payment, additional financing facilities or debt forgiveness for the payment of debts owed to private creditors

 

The request must be made on the Urssaf website.

 

Aid for digitalization

The State announced in a press release dated April 12, 2021 the extension of the aid granted to VSEs for digitization costs until June 30, 2021.

 In order to benefit from the aid, you must justify having incurred digitization expenses amounting to at least 450 euros between October 30, 2020 and June 30, 2021 via invoices and service contracts.

This aid, amounting to 500 euros, is extended to all companies with less than 11 employees, regardless of their sector of activity. All or part of the costs incurred for digitization will be supported when they relate to :

  • Sales or promotion
  • The management of the company
  • Customer relations

 

You can consult the eligibility conditions on the France Num website.