After the adoption by Parliament on Sunday of the health emergency law, the government unveiled this Wednesday the content of a series of orders allowing “the organization of a real war economy”, said Edouard Philippe to the outcome of the Council of Ministers. The aim is to “limit as much as possible the serious economic and social damage that inevitably causes containment,” said the Prime Minister.
On the economic front, these orders come in addition to emergency measures already announced such as the guarantee by the State of new loans to companies up to 300 billion euros or the strengthening of the partial activity system. They are oriented around three axes: the protection of businesses, employees, and the most vulnerable.
> Support the treasury of tour operators
Among the ordinances adopted this Wednesday in the Council of Ministers, one of them provides for a modification of the obligations of tourism professionals aimed at supporting the treasury of tour operators. Concretely, it will allow the latter, not to reimburse canceled trips in cash, but in the form of postponement of the service or in purchase vouchers.
> Carry over of invoices from small businesses
A second ordinance relates to the invoices of the small companies and aims at applying the principle “zero receipts, zero expenses”, indicated Bruno Le Maire. It therefore prohibits the interruption and reduction of the supply of electricity, gas and water to all traders, craftsmen and self-employed in difficulty and plans to stagger the payment of these bills over time without any penalty . The payment of the rent can also be postponed.
> Solidarity fund
A Solidarity Fund will also be set up for all companies whose turnover does not exceed one million euros. It is also aimed at the liberal professions, the self-employed, micro-entrepreneurs, etc. This fund “must constitute the ultimate response to all those who cannot benefit from the other devices that we have put in place, whether it be deferrals of social and tax charges, partial unemployment schemes … Everyone must have a safety net in this crisis, “said Bruno Le Maire.
The solidarity fund will operate on “two floors”, said the Minister of Economy. First with an automatic lump sum compensation of 1,500 euros. “I call all those who fall within the scope of this solidarity fund (…) to request the payment of these 1,500 euros to the Directorate General of Public Finances,” continued the tenant of Bercy.
The entrepreneurs concerned will be able to benefit from the end of March of this payment which “is based on a principle of confidence, declarative”. The second stage of this system will allow companies most in difficulty to collect an additional 2,000 euros after examining their file. The total cost of this fund will be around one billion euros per month. It is partly supported by the regions (250 million euros) and the federation of insurers (200 million euros) and “will be maintained as long as the crisis lasts,” promised Bruno Le Maire.
> Public markets
A fourth ordinance authorizes the postponement and execution of public contracts without any penalty. Exceptional rules are also provided for the payment of advances with the possibility of paying them beyond the 60% ceiling usually applied. It is a question of supplying the treasury of the companies, in particular of the building and public works.
> General meetings
General meetings of companies can be dematerialized to avoid meetings, or even be postponed until September. Additional periods are also granted for the publication of the accounts.
> Reinforced electronic communication networks
Another ordinance plans to adapt the deadlines and procedures applicable to the strengthening of electronic communication lines in a context where networks are heavily used. “There may be a need here and there on the territory to strengthen electronic networks. This could be done in derogation from the normally applicable rules,” added Bruno Le Maire.
Relaxation of labor law
> Profit-sharing and participation
The government has taken several measures to “temporarily” relax the labor law to support businesses. With regard to profit-sharing and participation, they will be able to pay the various bonuses until December 31, and not until June 30, as was the case until now.
At the same time, it should be remembered that small businesses no longer have the obligation to conclude a profit-sharing agreement in order to benefit from an exemption from taxes and charges in the event that they pay an exceptional purchasing power premium, called “Macron premium”.
If companies can already impose the date of paid holidays on their employees, they have so far had to respect a notice period of one month. From now on, they will be able to set the dates of a week’s holiday within the framework of a collective agreement at branch or company level without having to take this period into account. They will also have the possibility of imposing the dates of the RTT and the days acquired on the time savings account, within the limit of ten days.
> Hours of work:
The crucial companies which are the subject of an increase in demand during this particular period may temporarily “waive the rules relating to hours of work”, announced the Minister of Labor Muriel Pénicaud.
Sunday work will thus be permitted on a voluntary basis. Employees will be able to work up to 46 hours per week and no longer 44 hours, or even, exceptionally, up to 60 hours “naturally respecting rest times and increasing overtime from the 36th hour of work”, further detailed Muriel Pénicaud. The list of sectors which will benefit from these derogations will be published soon by decree.
Aid to employees:
> Partial unemployment:
In addition to the State taking charge of all partial unemployment, the system will be extended by prescription to companies that were previously excluded from it (RATP, SNCF, etc.) as well as childminders, home workers and employees on a day package. Part-time workers can continue to receive 100% of their salary thanks to this system, like those at the minimum wage. The rest will receive 84% of their net salary.
The protection of parents who have to look after their children is strengthened. Without being sick, they can be granted a stop and receive daily compensation without waiting period. “The ordinance stipulates that their remuneration will be at least equal to 90% of their net salary,” said Muriel Pénicaud.
It should also be noted that the limit of individual childcare capacity for childminders will be raised with the possibility of accommodating up to six children simultaneously.
Aid to precarious people
The social minima paid by the family allowance funds (APL, AAH, RSA, etc.) will be paid automatically without re-examining the situation. To protect the unemployed from a fall in living standards, the government will also extend the benefits for all unemployed workers at the end of their entitlement on the basis of the compensation paid in March.
“We will do it as long as the period of health crisis lasts,” said the Minister of Labor. This measure also concerns intermittent performers. The confinement period will also be neutralized in the calculation of the rights so as not to penalize them.
Temporary workers will benefit from partial unemployment in all cases until the end of their mission, whether exercised or not. Finally, seasonal workers will also automatically receive partial unemployment benefit until April 15 or even beyond if their contract duration provided for it.