Illustrative image via iStock / nito100

Czech MPs approve bill granting compensation to contract workers affected by coronavirus crisis

The bill, which would grant contract workers 31,150 crowns for the State of Emergency period, still needs Senate approval

Prague, July 10 (CTK) – The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, passed an government amendment to give contract workers compensation of 350 crowns a day for their losses caused by the coronavirus crisis in an accelerated procedure in the first reading today.

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A total of 143 out of the 154 MPs present supported the amendment, while no one voted against it.

Under the legislation, people who work on the basis of a contract for work, which differs from employment contract, would be able to ask the financial administration for a contribution of 350 crowns a day retroactively for the period from March 12 to June 8, 2020, on condition they paid sickness insurance. Consequently, they would get 31,150 crowns in total.

Only those workers who fulfilled their contract for work at least four of the six months ahead of the coronavirus crisis can apply for the compensation.

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The amendment is yet to be assessed by the Senate, the upper house, and signed by President Miloš Zeman into law.

“The change has been debated across the political spectrum and it is not purposeful to postpone its passage,” Finance Minister Alena Schillerová (for ANO) said.

However, the opposition pointed out that it had been pushing for the aid to contract workers previously in vain, while the government amendment came too late.

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According to the Finance Ministry’s estimates, up to 116,000 will be entitled to this form of state support.

The Czech Social Security Authority (CSSZ) registered 222,600 such contract workers at the end of March. About a half of them were also employed regularly, while the others were dependent on their income based on a contract for work only.

Single mothers, parents of small children, pensioners and students often earn their living on the basis of work contract and they also use part-time jobs.

People can work on the basis of two types of agreements. The agreement to perform work covers up to 20 hours a week, and if the remuneration for it exceeds 3,000 crowns monthly, they must pay social and health insurance from this income. The agreement to complete a job covers up to 300 hours a year and social and health insurance must be paid if the remuneration exceeds 10,000 crowns.

The new amendment also deals with the situation of sole traders and partners of small firms working on contract for work during the crisis. They will not lose the compensation bonus of 500 crowns a day, Schillerová said, adding that both bonuses cannot be drawn simultaneously, however.

The measure will cost the state up to 2.1 billion crowns from the shared taxes. The state is to cover 1.4 billion, the municipalities 0.5 billion and the regions 200 million crowns.

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