In response to the World Health Organisation (WHO) declaring the spread of COVID-19 as a pandemic, the Cyprus Government announced a number of actions in order to support the country’s economy, including the following business related measures. It should be noted that some of the measures will be implemented as soon as the relevant legislations are approved by the House of Representatives and we will keep you updated accordingly.
- Two-month extension to those that are obligated to submit a tax return by 31 March 2020 (new deadline is 31 May 2020). The obligation for the submission of the tax returns by companies which were required to submit them by 31 March 2020 has been extended for two months i.e. until 31 May 2020. This relates to the submission of the tax return for the tax year 2018 by businesses.
- Special arrangements will be made for those who are entitled to the scheme for settlement of taxes in arrears, based on which scheme their tax liabilities until the year 2015 will be gradually paid in installments.
- Non-payment, for a period of two months, of the increase in contributions (effective from 1st of April 2020 until 31st of May 2020) to the General Healthcare System (GHS) by employers, employees (including all contributors) and the State.
- Temporary suspension for two months of the obligation to pay VAT in order to provide businesses with liquidity.
The above measure applies to:
- businesses whose turnover for 2019 was not more than €1m according to the tax returns which have been submitted, and
- businesses whose turnover has decreased by more than 25% from the corresponding turnover of 2019.
- Arrangements will be made for the settlement of these debts gradually until 11 November 2020, without the imposition of any penalties or interest. Details are expected to be announced by the Tax Department.
- Temporary reduction of VAT rates from 1st of April 2020:
- the standard VAT rate is to be temporarily reduced from 19% to 17% for a two-month period, and
- the reduced VAT rate is to be reduced from 9% to 7% for a period of three and a half months.
Other business measures
The measures decided by the government concerning the strengthening of the network for the protection of workers and vulnerable groups of the population are as follows:
- Special Leave
- Granting a "Special Leave" to parents working in the private sector, for the care of children up to the age of 15 years old due to the suspension of attendance in schools, public and private, in nurseries and childcare.
- For the "Special Leave", which may currently last up to 4 weeks at this stage, and which does not include any public holidays, an allowance will be granted as follows:
- For a parent with a monthly gross salary of up to €2,500: for the first €1,000 of the parent's salary, a "special leave" allowance will be paid at 60% of the salary and for the next €1,000 of his salary, an allowance will be paid at the rate of 40%. It is noted that in cases of single parents, the proportion for payment of the allowance varies to 70% and 50% respectively.
- The leave will be granted to one of the two parents and if one parent receives the special leave under reference, the other cannot obtain a corresponding leave at the same time.
- Also, if one parent works/receives unemployment benefit/ participates in a Work Suspension Plan and the other does not, the working parent is not entitled to it, unless the non-working parent has treated himself with the virus or is hospitalized or is a person with a disability or is a person in mandatory confinement.
- The Special Leave will be granted to parents for childcare if the nature of their work does not allow teleworking or work from home or working with flexible hours and if there is no internal assistance. It will be granted in consultation with the employer upon request.
- The Special Leave applies to parents of persons with disabilities and there is no age limit, as mentioned above at the age of 15, provided that care allowance is not granted to those persons.
- The period of Special Leave will be considered as a period of assimilated insurance. This means that all employee rights remain in force.
2. Employment Suspension Plan
To those companies that decided to suspend their operations and to those companies that continue to operate but have suffered a reduction in turnover of more than 25%, a Specific Plan for the Suspension of business operations, with the aim of avoiding redundancies of workers and at the same time affected workers, will receive an unemployment allowance for as long as the company is suspended. The unemployment benefit is about 60% of the salary.
3. Small Business Support Plan
The Small Business Support Plan, amounting to €10m, is applicable for businesses that employ up to 5 employees, provided they keep their employees at work and have suffered a reduction in their turnover by more than 25%. The plan provides for a subsidy of 70% of the salary costs of employees. The conditions and safeguards of the Project will be announced at a later stage.
4. Sickness benefit
Payment of a 'sickness benefit' on average €800 per month in:
- Workers who have particular health problems and fall under the List which is going to be published at a later stage by the Ministry of Health and must be absent from work. The precondition is to present the certificate issued by their personal physician.
- Cases of enforced absence from work to workers with instructions or command from the Authorities (Category 1 (mandatory restriction under medical supervision (quarantine)) and Category 2 (self-restraint under telephone monitoring), provided that the restricted workers hold a certificate issued by the Ministry of Health.
- Persons between the age of 63 and 65 who do not receive an institutionalized pension and continue to work and who fall under Categories 1 and 2 of the Ministry of Health, provided that the restricted workers hold a certificate issued by the Ministry of Health.
- For the purposes of assisting self-employed workers, the sickness benefit will be paid in exactly the same way as to employees, i.e. from the fourth day, instead of the ninth day.
5. Extension for the submission of objections to social security for self-employed workers will be given for one month until 30 April 2020.
6. Creation of mobile workshops to serve elderly and vulnerable persons so that food, medicines in need can be supplied if they are isolated and need state support.
To discuss the impacts of coronavirus with one of our experts, contact us on +357 22600000.
Click here to read the latest press releases of the Government and here to read how we are responding to coronavirus.