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state of emergency

Extension of protective measures in Hungary

Extension of protective measures applicable during the period of state of emergency

I. According to the Government Decree 27/2021. (I. 29.), the Government has once again declared a state of emergency in the entire territory of Hungary from 8 February 2021, which is expected to last until 23 May 2021 according to the Act I of 2021 on the Prevention of the Coronavirus Pandemic, which entered into force 22 February 2021. During this period, the Government may decide on additional extraordinary measures by decree. 

II. The Government decreed on the extension of protective measures applicable during the state of emergency by Government Decree 80/2021. (II. 22.). Under the Decree, the emergency measures are expected to remain in force until 23 May 2021.

Please note, that depending on the change of the epidemic situation, the state of emergency may be extended by the Government or re-announced at a later date, additional restrictions may be introduced, or certain restrictions may be maintained even after the state of emergency.

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New COVID-19 restrictions in Hungary: consequences for employers

The restrictions (of Gov. Decree 484/2020 (XI. 10.)) apply as of 11 November 2020 for the whole of Hungary, effective until 11 December 2020. These restrictions may be prolonged if necessary.
The current rules concerning wearing masks, social distancing and border crossing remain in effect, while wearing masks is now obligatory in public spaces designated by the local councils in cities exceeding 10,000 inhabitants.

I. Curfew between 20:00 and 5:00 with an exemption regarding going to work

During the curfew, only people going from their homes (place of residence) to work and back home from work can be in public spaces. A sample of the certificate to be issued by the employers can be found on the Government website: https://kormany.hu/hirek/kijarasi-tilalomrol-szolo-igazolas

II. Rules regarding education

Nurseries, kindergartens and primary schools remain open for those under 14 years of age. Online education has been introduced from grade 9 in middle schools and colleges/universities, and dormitories are closed.

III. General ban on events

All events are banned. This also applies to all professional events held in person (conferences, workshops, etc.).

IV. Restrictions on trade and catering

Restaurants are closed and only takeaway and home delivery are allowed, however, factory canteens may remain open. Shops, stores and other services except for pharmacies and petrol stations must close at 19:00, after which only those working there may stay on site. Hotels may only accommodate guests arriving on business, economic or education purposes.

V. Sanctions

In the event of violation of the rules applicable to events or institutions, shops and facilities, the police may close the area, premises or institution (except for educational institutions) for a period of one day to one year and impose a fine of HUF 100,000 to HUF 1,000,000.

VI. Economic protection measures

In order to protect jobs, the Government has also introduced economic protection measures (Decree no. 485/2020. (XI. 10.)), as follows.

1. Tax allowance
For November 2020 employers operating in the scope of activity listed in the Decree shall not need to pay social contributions and vocational training contributions. Small entrepreneurs within the scope of activity listed in the Decree do not need to count personal payments to their small business tax base relating to employees who would have been dismissed due to the state of emergency, provided that these employees are not dismissed and receive their salaries.

2. Provision for hotels
The state will reimburse 80% of the price (net income) of bookings booked for within the next 30 days and received by the hotels registered in the National Tourism Data Providing Centre (Nemzeti Turisztikai Adatszolgáltató Központ) until 8 November 2020, provided that the hotel employees are not dismissed and receive their salaries.

3. Wage subsidies
50% of the wages for November 2020 of the employees of restaurants and leisure facilities listed in the Decree will be reimbursed by the state in the form of a subsidy, provided that the employees are not dismissed and receive their salaries.

The ‘actual main activity’ is the activity which generated the most revenue, which must be at least 30% of the revenue in the previous six months.

There are still many open questions regarding the implementation of the governmental measures described above, we shall provide information on possible further measures after they have been published.

Deductions from the corporate tax base during the state of emergency

On 30 April 2020 another tax relief has been published with regards to the state of emergency.
This time, the provisions of tax base deductions set out in Act LXXXI of 1996 on Corporate Tax and Dividend Tax are extended in the tax years during the emergency and in the taxpayer’s choice in the tax year 2019 as well, in accordance with the following:

1. The pre-tax profit is reduced by the amount of earnings retained and transferred to the reserve in the tax year by the corporate taxpayer and shown as a reserve on the last day of the tax year, but not more than the pre-tax profit and up to HUF 10 billion per tax year (“development reserve”). Prior to the tax relief, the development reserve could not exceed 50% of the taxpayer’s pre-tax profit for a given tax year, this restriction does not apply under the new rules.

2. If the taxpayer chooses to apply the new rule to the 2019 tax year, but has already submitted its 2019 tax return by 1 May 2020, it may form a reserve for the 2019 tax year in accordance with the rules of accounting control within a self-revision procedure. until 30 September 2020.

3. If the tax return has not yet been submitted, but the taxpayer already has an approved financial statement, it may form a reserve for the approved report in accordance with the rules of accounting control.

 

Certain Tax and Corporate Deadline and Processes

During the state of emergency and the implemented partial curfew, the continuous decision-making of companies could easily become impossible. In order to prevent this, as of 11 April 2020 different rules apply to the decision-making process of the obstructed companies, and the mandate term of certain company officers is also extended for this period.

By definition, the decision-making rules do not apply to companies not obstructed by the exceptional circumstances, for example in the case sole member companies.

During the emergency and until the 90th day after its end, the term of managing directors, board members (e.g. supervisory board members) and auditor may not be terminated as a result of expiration or resignation and these officers shall continue to carry out their duties during this time. This provision also applies to unhindered companies, but of course it is also possible to elect new officers during the state of emergency.

A new rule to be applied to all taxpayers is that the deadline for preparing, disclosing, depositing, publishing and submitting financial statements of the Accounting Act due after 22 April 2020 is extended until 30 September 2020. In the case of the main types of tax (corporate and dividend tax, small business tax, local business tax, etc.), the tax assessment, declaration and payment obligations, as well as the tax advance assessment and declaration obligation to be fulfilled simultaneously with the annual tax returns can also be fulfilled by this extended deadline.

Derogations in the application of Labour Code for the duration of state of emergency

Effective as of today (19 March 2020) until 30 days after the end of state of emergency, the Labour Code shall be applied with derogations as a part of the economic measures announced yesterday. Please see our brief summary as follows:
1. Derogations to be applied unilaterally by the employer:

a) employer may also amend the announced work time schedule within 96 hours of the start of the daily working time; it is important to note that the rules of announcing annual paid leave/ vacation did not change and must be notified 15 days in advance;

b) employer may unilaterally order home office/ remote work for the employees;

c) the employer may implement the necessary and justified measures to check employees’ health status. The Government Decree does not specify the measures necessary and justified, therefore the employers must consider this for themselves, in compliance with the data protection legislation and the HDPA’s legal opinion, as the application of the GDPR has not been suspended for the duration of the state of emergency. It mainly relate to the mostly popular planned fever measure which may only be applied with the restrictions provided by the HDPA.

Collective agreement provisions deviating from the above may not be applied for the duration of the state of emergency, which also means that in any other question the Collective Agreement is applicable.

2. Derogations to be applied by the separate agreement of the parties:
The Government Decree fully extends the possibility of separate agreement between the employer and the employee, which may derogate from the provisions of the Labour Code. It may only be interpreted – although there is no express provision – that it allows the employers to agree with the employees on conditions that are detrimental to the employees – while earlier the Labour Code only allowed deviation in favour of the employees. In that way, thus allowing the establishment of specific and flexible rules for the duration of the state of emergency.

3. The right approach would be if before conclusion of the separate agreement with employees in matters are beyond the above cases and regulated in the Collective Bargains, the employers consult with the Trade Union and the Works’ council if the planned deviations will affect the bigger group of the employees.

The economic measures of the Government in relation to the coronavirus epidemic

On 18 March 2020 the prime minister has announced exceptional economic measures to reduce the impact of the coronavirus epidemic.

According to these measures, in the following sectors the employers shall not pay contributions after their employees, and the contributions of their employees are also significantly reduced (they shall not pay pension contribution, and health insurance contribution is reduced to the minimum set by law) until 30 June 2020:

• tourism
• hospitality ( gastronomy, hotels etc.,)
• entertainment
• sport
• cultural services
• passenger transport

In the above sectors, lease agreements may not be terminated and the amount of rent cannot be raised during this period.

Taxi drivers under ‘small enterperneurs” tax payers are exempted from tax payment.

The tourism sector is also exempted from paying the tourism development contribution.

The Government Decree foresees further legislative changes. We are monitoring for further possible government measures continuously.

The purpose of the publications announced on our website is to provide a brief, concise information on certain issues. The content of this website and the publications is not exhaustive and does not constitute a legal advice. Should you have any specific questions or inquires regarding any issues investigated by our publications, please contact us and we will be happy to be at your disposal.