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Labour minister seeks to extend worker support schemes until March

Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou acknowledged the slow pace at which benefits applications get processed

Employment support schemes involving salary subsidies and staff training will be submitted before the cabinet next week, Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou said on Tuesday.

The minister said a bill has also been submitted to parliament granting her the power to extend worker support schemes until March 2021.

Speaking after a meeting of the House labour committee, the minister said next week the cabinet would be discussing schemes involving the subsidisation of over 75 per cent of the cost to hire jobless people, and others relating to staff training on health and safety issues and digital knowledge, which would be granted 25 per cent of the payroll cost.

Emilianidou said the aim was to cover around 2,000 businesses.

During the committee meeting, the minister briefed MPs on government policy to support workers until October.

“Additionally, MPs have been informed about efforts to train jobless people, both through the human resources development authority and the European Social Fund, as well as our policy that will continue until the end of October,” she said. Tourism businesses will receive support until March.

Committee chairman Andreas Fakontis said tourism businesses would see their problems worsen as winter approached.

Fakontis, an MP with main opposition Akel, suggested there was a risk of unemployment spiking to double digits.

He said the government was in consultation with unions and employers’ organisations over the possibility of preparing a bill to enable people benefiting from ongoing schemes to receive unemployment benefits after October by considering the time they had been on furlough or worked part-time as a period in which they were employed normally.

Fakontis said it would be an important decision because a large number of workers in the tourism sector have been living off allowances since last year.

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