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COVID-19 outbreak: overview of the Swiss package of measures to absorb the economic consequences

First issue on March 21, 2020 - Last updated on April 2nd, 2020.

As the COVID-19 pandemic situation is spreading worldwide as well as in Switzerland and is massively hitting economy, the Swiss Federal and Cantonal authorities have taken since March 20, 2020 a wide range of urgent provisions to mitigate the consequences of that unpredictable situation. As situation is critical, measures implemented are broad to support Swiss businesses and employee or self-employee people, so that we are pleased to provide you with a summary of key provisions in most important canton in term of place of businesses. See all details by main place of businesses in our full article, under below link.

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Coronavirus pandemic - RSM stands by its clients

As the situation is quickly evolving, business leaders should consider the Federal and Cantonal provisions that could be of immediate support to help their business to navigate through uncertainty. We will continue to offer you tailor-made solutions across the country as all our people are in full capacity to operate, to solve your specific wishes and problems. If you have any questions and/or comments for RSM, please do not hesitate to contact your usual contact across our Zürich, Geneva and Lausanne offices.

Key Federal provisions at a glance

20.03.2020

The Federal council has adopted a package of measures amounting to 40 billion Swiss francs to support the Swiss economy, maintaining employment and securing wages. The measures are aimed at target groups most vulnerable in this situation such as self-employed the cultural/sport sector and alike.

23.03.2020

The Financial delegation (FinDel) accepts all measures proposed by the Federal council. Envisaged is a package of 30,7 billion Swiss francs to support those affected by the corona pandemic.

1  Cash flow support for companies

a) Emergency aid through guaranteed COVID-bridging-loans

SME’s (individual companies, partnerships, legal entities) receive bridging loans from the banks. The loans can be applied for at the bank. They are covered by the federal government. The relevant regulation will enter into force on 26 March 2020, from which credit applications may be made.

The loan application is available on the website covid19.easygov.swiss:

  up to CHF 500,000 from CHF 500,000
Amount up to CHF 500,000

between CHF 500,000 and

CHF 20 million

Cover 100 percent guaranteed by the federal government 85 percent guaranteed by the federal government, 15 percent by the bank
Interest currently 0 percent p.a. currently 0.5 percent p.a. on the 85 percent federally secured loan and an individually determined risk-based interest rate on the remaining 15 percent
Condition Company based in Switzerland, founded before 1 March 2020, turn over less than CHF 500 million Company based in Switzerland, successfully completed COVID-19 CREDIT, credit audit
Availability within a few hours of receipt of the documents by the bank within a few days

 

Since many SME only have an account connection with PostFinance, the Federal Council also allows PostFinance to provide its existing corporate customers with unbureaucratic access to loans of up to CHF 500,000.

b) Deferred payment for social security contributions

Granting of temporary, interest-free deferral of payments for social security contributions (AHV/IV/EO/ALV). In addition, it is possible to adjust the regular on-account contributions to the AHV/IV/EO/ALV if the sum of the wages has fallen substantially. The same applies to self-employed persons whose sales have slumped.

The Federal Council has also decided that employers may temporarily use the employer contribution reserves they have set up for the payment of employee pension contributions. This measure is intended to make it easier for employers to overcome liquidity bottlenecks. For the employees, the measure has no effect: the employer deducts their contribution part from their salary as in normal circumstances and all contributions are credited to them by the pension fund.

c) Cash flow buffer in the tax area and for federal suppliers

Possibility to extend payment periods without having to pay late interest:

- For VAT, customs and other duties between 21 March 2020 and 31 December 2020, the interest rate is to be reduced to 0.0%; no late interest will be charged during this period.

- The same rule applies to direct federal tax from 1 March 2020 until 31 December 2020.

- Tax credits of taxpayers should be checked quickly and paid out as soon as possible.

d) Legal standstill in accordance with the Federal Act on Debt Recovery and Bankruptcy (SchkG)

From 19 March to 4 April 2020, debtors may not be dept enforced throughout Switzerland. At its meeting on 18 March 2020, the Federal Council ordered the corresponding so-called legal standstill in the enforcement system.

2 Extending and simplifying short time working

The short time working allowance instrument makes it possible to compensate for temporary job reductions and to preserve jobs. The entitlement to short time working allowances will be extended and applications simplified. New also: 

- employees in fixed-term employment

- persons in the service of a temporary work organization

- persons in the apprenticeship

- employer-like employees (e.g. shareholders of a limited liability company who work as employees in the company against remuneration)

The waiting period for short-time work allowances is abolished (this eliminates the participation of employers in the work absences). Now, workers no longer have to reduce their overtime before they can benefit from short-time work allowances. Urgent simplifications are being made for the application process and payment with regard to short time working (e.g. possibility of advance payment of wages due).

In addition, the duration of short-time work has been extended from 3 to 6 months. This minimises the number of applications and thus speeds up the authorization process.

The short-time working allowance for employer-like employees (e.g. shareholders of a limited liability company who work as employees in the company against remuneration), is also be adapted. They receive 3320.- Swiss francs for a full-time job. This is a flat rate which does not receive any reduction.

3 Compensation for work losses for the self-employed

Self-employed persons who suffer loss of earnings due to official measures to combat the coronavirus will be compensated, unless compensation or insurance benefits already exist. Compensation is provided for the following cases:

- School closures

- medically prescribed quarantine

- closure of a self-managed public

-accessible business

- freelance artists (cancellation event)

4 Compensation in the event of an employee’s work losses

Compensation is provided for the following cases:

- Parents (who have to interrupt their employment due to school closures in order to look after their children)

- Compensation is also available in the event of an interruption of work due to a quarantine prescribed by a doctor.

5 Cultural sector: 280 million Swiss francs in emergency aid and default compensation - Compensation is provided for the following cases:

Compensation is provided for the following cases:

- Non-profit cultural enterprises, such as foundations, can receive repayable interest-free loans to ensure their cash flow.

- “Cultural workers” may claim non-repayable emergency aid to cover the direct cost of living, unless this is guaranteed by the new regulations regarding compensation for work loss.

- Compensation for financial damage, in particular with the cancellation or postponement of events or closures of business.

6 Sports organizations- 100 million Swiss francs of subsidies Compensation is provided for the following cases:

- 50 million Swiss francs as repayable loans to bridge cash flow shortages for organizations which either operate in a league of Swiss sport operating on a mainly professional sport-level or organize competitions for the professional sport-level.

- 50 million Swiss francs as subventions in the event of existential problems to organizations based on volunteer work and mainly promoting mass sport.

- Gentle treatment of interruptions in specific education programs in the sports sector.

7 Tourism and regional policy

Emergency measures have already been implemented under the tourism policy support instruments since February 2020. The focus is on information and consulting activities as well as measures to bridge cash flow bottlenecks. The main measures are, in particular loan waivers and deferrances.

8 Further measures in the field of the Labour Code

Hospitals and clinics are particularly demanding in the current situation. Due to the extraordinary workload and the scarce human resources, they are not able to use the staff in such a way that all legal requirements are complied with. They are therefore given as much flexibility as possible in working and rest periods.

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