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krfacts June Edition 2021 COVID-19 Legal Update: Short-time compensation, Working from Home, Hardship Assistance, Covid Certificates and more

Since September 27, 2020, the Covid-19 law has been in force. A referendum on this law will be held on June 13, 2021. The law provides the basis for the Federal Council to order the "Covid-19 measures" in the ordinances based on it. In this issue of krfacts, selected applicable federal regulations are highlighted. Status: June 10, 2021

A. LABOR LAW

I. Short-time compensation

Covid short-time compensation is intended to offset temporary employment losses associated with Covid-19 measures.

In effect since May 12, 2021, the Federal Council extended the maximum period of entitlement to short-time working compensation from 18 to 24 months. The summary settlement procedure is possible until September 30, 2021. The Federal Council instructed the EAER (Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research) to submit a corresponding amendment to the ordinance by the end of June 2021.

For further discussion, please refer to previous krfacts issues on Covid-19.

It should be noted that irrespective of the Covid-19 measures, amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Act (AVIG) and the associated ordinance (AVIV) will come into force on July 01, 2021. The revision is intended to reduce the administrative burden on companies for claiming and receiving short-time work and bad weather compensation.

We would also like to point out that the Federal Supreme Court has yet to clarify the extent to which vacation entitlement can also be claimed when calculating the short-time compensation. Applicants who have not asserted their vacation entitlement should respond.

II. Compensation for loss of earnings

Covid loss of earnings compensation compensates individuals who must interrupt or significantly reduce their employment due to protective measures to contain the coronavirus.

Since April 01, 2021, indirectly affected self-employed persons and persons in a position similar to that of an employer can claim corona income compensation from a decline in sales of 30% (previously 40%).

The Federal Council also filed a request with the Legislature, dated May 12, 2021, to extend the basis in the Covid-19 Act for earned income compensation through the end of 2021.

In this regard, the federal government offers detailed information on compensation for loss of earnings at the following link: here.

We also refer to previous krfacts issues on Covid-19 for further discussion.

III. Work from home obligation

Since January 18, 2021, employers have been required to provide work from home services wherever this is possible due to the nature of the work and can be implemented with a reasonable amount of effort.

The Federal Council decided on further opening steps due to the favorable epidemiological situation as of May 31, 2021. This also includes the conversion of the work from home obligation into a recommendation for those companies that carry out repetitive testing as part of the federal government's testing strategy and are integrated into a cantonal testing program.

For companies that do not offer their employees repetitive testing, the work form home obligation remains unchanged. The costs for repetitive testing in the companies are borne by the federal government. Vaccinated persons do not have to participate in the repetitive testing. As soon as all persons willing to be vaccinated are fully vaccinated, the work form home obligation for all companies is to be changed into a recommendation.

Under the following link you will find a list of cantonal contact points with the possibilities to register your company for repetitive testing: here.

The regulations for the protection of particularly vulnerable persons at the workplace continue to apply or have been extended.

B. HARDSHIP ASSISTANCE

Furthermore, it is possible for sole proprietorships, partnerships or legal entities affected by Covid measures to apply for hardship payments.

Since April 01, 2021, it is required that the company was founded before October 01, 2020 (previously: foundation before March 01, 2020).

An overview of the cantonal hardship programs can be found at the following link: here.

The Canton of Lucerne clearly presents the individual criteria for applicants on its website. You can find the link here.

C. REAL ESTATE LAW

I. Tenancy law

The Zurich District Court was the first federal court to rule on rent reductions for commercial leases. In its opening decision of April 23, 2021, the court held that it did not have to decide substantively in the raised proceedings whether the tenant was entitled to a rent reduction, but the judge stated that the rent withheld by a tenant due to the Covid measures did not justify the landlord’s starting a debt collection proceeding.

The judge quoted in particular from decisions after the First World War, in which the Federal Supreme Court dealt with the question of the extent to which contracts are valid if circumstances change significantly after the conclusion of the contract (so-called clausula rebus sic stantibus).

However, whether and to what extent this ruling will be applied as a landmark ruling for rental disputes in connection with store closures due to the Covid measures cannot be assessed at this point in time. The landlord has filed an appeal against the decision. The decision is therefore not yet legally binding.

II. Condominium law

For the question of holding condominium owners' meetings, reference can be made to the explanations on the subject of meetings of companies (Section D).

D. GENERAL MEETINGS

Pursuant to Art. 27 of the current Covid-19 Ordinance 3, it is still possible for companies to order that, irrespective of the expected number of participants and without observing the invitation period, participants must exercise their rights exclusively in writing, in electronic form or through a designated independent proxy. The arrangement must be communicated in writing or published electronically no later than four days before the event.

The provisions are also applicable to association and condominium owners' meetings.

It should be noted that since May 31, 2021, the holding of events with up to 50 participants is allowed again (Art. 6 para. 1 Covid-19 Regulation special situation).

Further details on this possibility of restricting participation rights can be found in the May 11, 2020 krfacts special issue Meetings of Companies.

E. COVID CERTIFICATE

On June 07, 2021 the regulation on Covid certificates came into force. The certificates are to be issued for vaccinated, recovered and tested persons and are to be applied mainly in the field of international passenger transport and large events.

Certificates are expected to be issued by immunization centers, physician offices, hospitals, pharmacies, testing centers and laboratories in both paper and electronic formats.

The federal government provides extensive information on the certificates here.

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