COMPLIANCE AND ACTIONS DURING COVID-19 

COMPLIANCE AND ACTIONS DURING COVID-19 

HR POLICIES: COMPLIANCE AND ACTIONS DURING COVID-19

In addition to the measures taken by the government in view of Decrees 20-69 and 20-70, and following the economic difficulties caused by the pandemic, employers are  required to redesign the HR policies in order to comply.  

On the one hand, short terms actions must aim to preserve the performance of labor contracts.  

On the other hand, midterm actions may focus on work termination. The crux is to assess the applicable law to plan some creative and compliant RH policies. Otherwise, liabilities are likely to be raised tomorrow.

MEASURES TO PRESERVE THE CONTRACT IN FORCE

Organization of working hours and part-time work, governed by code 90-11 and ordinance 97-03 relating to legal working hours.  

The minimum threshold is of 20 hours, which is half the usual hourly volume.  

Thus, if the employer finds a significant reduction in the volume of work, he could propose such solution. 

TELEWORKING,

although it is expressly mentioned and provided by the Decrees, is not regulated under the Algerian law. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that a Decision of the Supreme Court dated of February, 7th, 2007 granted the employer with the right to amend, from time to time, and based on the needs of the work, the place of performance of the activities of the employees.  

In any case, it is highly preferable to execute an agreement with the employees that could be even collective.  

The decrease of the payroll, 

it is governed by decree 94-09. The employers with more than 09 employees should establish a committee under the concept of a social aspect.  

Hence, the employer can take his precautions via the adaptation of the indemnity scheme (premiums/bonuses) – Review of the modes and levels of the remuneration of work – Freezing of advancements. Finally, these measures must be made after the negotiation and agreement with the committee of the social aspect of the employee.  

Yet, the employer is not obliged to go through this social aspect method if he prefers a collective agreement.

In case of impossibility of the performance, the employer should amend his HR policies and opt for discontinuity of the services: 

The unpaid leave 

is a measure to be adopted by the employer only under the consent of the employees and even in that case, not exempted from risks. In fact, it could be considered as contravening to the provisions of Decree 20-70. 

Leave in advance 

here the employer could grant a leave to the employees, even if they did not acquire the right to such leave so far. Once again, the consent of the employee will be necessary and the employer cannot opt for this solution unilaterally.  

The suspension of the work relation 

In fact under some specific labor contracts, it is possible to proceed with the suspension of the contract under common consent. 

This solution is provided under art. 64 of the Labor Law (Law 90-11). The suspension might be enacted also due to sick leave, as provided by the social security regulatory framework.  

The exceptional paid leave 

The Labor code does not regulate the exceptional paid leave, targeting at least 50% of the effective personnel, as provided by the Decree 20-69. The pregnant women, women with young children and chronically ill people should be the priority targets of the exceptional leave.  

Furthermore, in case of the complete suspension of the activities for any reason, the exceptional paid leave must be extended to all the personnel. Since its implementation is mandatory, based on the combination of Decrees 20-69 and 20-70, it is unlikely to restrict the freedom of contracting in the framework of individual or collective agreements. 

In conclusion even if many options are available, the obligation to grant exceptional paid leave heavily limit the extent of RH policies. In other words, it is likely that any policy circumventing the mandatory exceptional paid leaves can be challenged in the future. 

RIGHTS OF CONTRACTS TERMINATION 

Breaking the contractual bond automatically. 

Retirement for reaching the legal age, as provided by the Law 83-12. If the employee reached at least the age of 60 and worked for at least 15 years, he/she will be entitled for retirement pension. 

Therefore, in the framework of the pandemic, the employer could terminate the labor contract for the employees meeting the requirements for retirement, especially in consideration that due to their age, they could be the weakest and more exposed to the consequences of infection.  

Termination of contract during trial period, actually here, each of the Parties to the contract could discretionarily terminate the contract at any time, if the notice deadline is respected. 

In fact, since this kind of termination is not subjected to any formalities and conditions, as provided by art. 20 of the Law 90-11, there should be no issues for the employer to terminate the contract. 

Termination of labor contracts with the performance of specific procedures.  

Early retirement is a right provided by the Decree 94-10 In fact, art. 2 prescribe that it might be applicable to all the employees that are likely to lose their job involuntarily due to economic reason. Consequently, the employer may propose it to his employee, while respecting the fact that the dismissal of an employee benefiting from early retirement is prohibited 

The redundancy of the effective personnel is regulated by Decree 94-09.  

Where the economic situation is critical, the companies with more than 9 employees could invoke the application of such procedure. In fact, this is represented by the termination of several individual labor contracts for the reduction of the effective personnel. 

 The employees will enjoy compensation equal to 3 months of wages (to be paid from the employer to the employees admitted to the regime of unemployment insurance). 

Chomage technique (a sort of unemployment subsidy), regulated by Decree 94-11. Here, it is worth to note that it is unlikely that this solution will be viable under the COVID-19 emergency.  

In fact, this solution has strict requirements; in particular, the activities of the company should be terminated and not temporary suspended.  

Moreover, in order to implement it, a procedure before the Labor Inspection has to be launched and it is unlikely that under the current circumstances a company will receive a prompt feedback and follow-up. 

Finally, this option has to be adopted with the consent of the employees, externalized under a collective agreement or several individual agreements.  

Hence, it is a method of termination of the work relation under common consent. 

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Foreigners labour contracts and permits

Foreigners labour contracts and permits

Foreigners labour contracts and permits

Due to the event of COVID-19, the borders in Algeria were closed, so, many foreign employees could not leave.

Meanwhile, for many different reasons, workers contract are expired or terminated which in theory, compel them to leave the country.

Indeed, this situation may imply severe liabilities to both employees and employer if no actions promptly are taken.

What are the liabilities of the employer who is accommodating a foreign employee in an illegal situation?

Employers in Algeria are obliged by the law 11-08 and law 81-11 providing the conditions of circulation and work for foreigners, to report any foreign employees by filing a work permit application.

The work permit or temporary work authorization obtained allows the beneficiary to exercise a given salaried activity for a given period with a single employer and it is issued for a maximum of 2 years.

Without this work permit, foreign employee is not deemed to stay in the Country.
The obtaining of this permit/ authorisation is required by the law and if the employer fails to do so it may risk his liability.

Therefore, according to the article 19 of law 81-11, the accommodation of a foreign employee with no/expired permit is considered an criminal offense and the employer may be punished with a fine of 5,000 DA up to 10.000 DA.

What are the procedures to be performed by the employer when the work permit of his employees expires during COVID-19?

The same procedure of hiring a foreign employee must be completed when the employment relationship ends.

According to the article 27 of the law 11-08, the employer is required to notify the territorial employment services of any termination of the employment contract of a foreign employee within 48 hours.

So, the employer is mostly left with two options; firstly, only notifying the ending of the work relationship, because the employer as mentioned-above is obliged to notify the authorities either way.

Secondly, to invoke under the article 30 of the law 08-11 force majeure as a cause for the impossibility of the departure of the foreigner.

Therefore, the employer can invoke COVID-19 as a case of force majeure to the administrative authorities territorially competent, and his employee cannot leave according to that.

More so, the employer should ask for a prolongation since, it is possible for the administrative authorities to extend the period of the expired permit of the foreigner, when the departure is impossible.

Thus, the employer should both invoke COVID-19 as a case of force majeure to the administrative authorities territorially competent.

Finally, it may ask for prolongation until the disappearance of the reasons for the impossibility of the departure without be compelled to establish a new labour contract.
Keywords: COVID-19, Foreign employees, employers, resident card, Algerian government. Force majeure.

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Coronavirus: exploitation of tele working in Algeria

Coronavirus: exploitation of tele working in Algeria

Coronavirus: exploitation of tele working in Algeria

Based on the urgent Decrees issued to fight the spreading of the COVID-19 in Algeria, the employers should ease the switch to smart working where possible (tele working), at least for a part of the employees.

Now, the employers are facing another challenge because even if putting their best efforts to encourage smart working, there is not any specific legislative text dealing with its regulation and implementation.

Especially because of the actual state of flux, tele working could affect the rights and duties of the contracting parties.

How to adopt an agreement for tele working in absence of any specific regulation ?

Tele working seems to be the preferable choice in order to assure the continuity of services and to preserve the employees’ wages.

Unlikely « work from home », which is considered as a special regime of work and it is duly regulated by the law, tele working is not governed by the law.

In fact, even if the two regimes are very close, they cannot be assimilated.

Now, we can find some decisions concerning the « change of the place of work », such as the Decision of the Supreme Court dated on February, 2, 2007, stating that “the employer can amend the place for the performance of the job of the employees, provided that the employees will keep enjoying all of their rights”.

In other words, the law does not forbid tele working, but it requires to be implemented with an agreement in order to mitigate risks and liabilities.

Which are the procedures to be performed in order to adopt tele working?

In order to adopt tele working, both employer and employees must give their respective consent, in compliance with art. 106 of the civil code: “The contract is the law of the contracting parties. It cannot be terminated or modified, unless under their common consent”.

In fact, even if we are in presence of several Decisions of the Supreme Court granting the employer with the unilateral power to modify the place of performance of work, we highly suggest trying to reach an agreement with the employees on that regard.

In addition, it would be preferable to clearly set the terms and conditions of the adoption and exploitation of tele working within the Company.     

Here, it would be possible to obtain the desired result in different ways, for example through an amendment of each labor contract, a Charter or a collective agreement.

On that regard, it is worth to mention that a consultation with the Health and Safety Committee (comité d’hygiène et de sécurité) or with the Company Committee (comité d’entreprise) is deemed to be mandatory before proceeding with the adoption of tele working.

Which are the main risks that could be mitigated through the execution of an agreement for teleworking?

Even if the labor contracts will be executed outside of the usual working site, the Parties will enjoy the same rights, in compliance with the general principle of acquired rights.

In the practice, the employees will continue enjoying the same coverage for social security and health insurance.

For this reason, the agreement of tele working should regulate also the qualification of work accident and its compensation.

It is worth to mention that even the duties of employer and employees will stay the same.

The employees must comply with the new provisions included in the agreement, such as work place and duration of teleworking; the duty of coordination and information to the Company; confidentiality clause.

The employer, on the other hand, should keep the payments of wages going and it should provide the employees with the tools and goods necessary to the continuity of the services.

Finally, it is worth to remind that any sensitive equipment exploited by the employees at home, such as VPN software or some firewalls, is still subject to a prior authorization that the Company should have obtained.

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Covid-19 on your Business

The decisions you make today could be scrutinized for years to come

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THE IMPACT OF THE EXCEPTIONAL PAID LEAVES ON THE EMPLOYERS

THE IMPACT OF THE EXCEPTIONAL PAID LEAVES ON THE EMPLOYERS

THE IMPACT OF THE EXCEPTIONAL PAID LEAVES ON THE EMPLOYERS

According to the recent regulations to fight the spreading of Covid-19, all operators must keep indemnified their employees and if still possible, can maintain the execution of their other labor contracts. Indeed, with the urgent aim to protect employees from hardship, provisions of article 6 of the Decree 20-69 extended to private commercial operators by article 15 of Decree 20-70 are likely to restrict the employer’ both right to invoke force majeure and to implement certain RH policies. In addition to cash flow issues, employer is then refrain to suspend labor contract execution. Thus, Government should promptly clarify the scope of these measures but also the legal framework to compensate employers.

The limitation of HR policies to mitigate Covid-19 economic impact.

Since the Decrees seem to provide general and unlimited rights to employee, the scope of HR policies is likely to be very limited.

In fact, under combination of the Decrees at least 50 percent of the employees are granted with exceptional paid leaves.

On the second hand, other employees must execute their work in compliance with mandatory HSE regulations at work site or by teleworking. Conversely, exceptional paid leaves should be extended up to all workers if the labor contract cannot be performed for any whatsoever reason (teleworking impossible, activity prohibited logistic issues).

Here, it is unclear if the Decrees prevent the application of usages or conventional solutions or not (annual paid leaves, unpaid leaves, remaining leaves, suspension of contract with minimum wage, collective agreement…) Furthermore, under both the labor law principles of non-discrimination and protection of the Acquired Rights, it is unlikely that employees can be granted with a less favorable right or compensation.

Indeed, HR policies can be challenged where less favorable rights and/or solutions are agreed with employees. Thus, employer must ensure the compliance of RH.

The restrictions of the employer’s right to invoke force majeure

According the theory of force majeure, any unforeseeable and irresistible event leading to the impossibly to perform a contract, set aside the liability of the non-performing party.

Although the Government neither the Labor Law consider the Covid-19 pandemic as force majeure yet, the under the Civil Code, the parties to a labor contract are able to invoke force majeure in some cases.

Nevertheless, here, the obligation to put employee in exceptional leaves is deemed to impede the employer to invoke lawfully force majeure and then not pay employees wages.

In fact, the contradiction of the Decree provisions with the theory of Force majeure may lead to uncertain outcome in case of trial dispute. Equally, according the general theory of compensation, the obligation of compensation does not apply where the damage is beyond the party control.

Thus, even if in certain case force majeure may prevent to pay salaries, the Decree compels employers to pay wages even if no work nor any consideration is provided.

The future compensation of the employer by the State.

Nevertheless, the government already undertook to indemnify employer for such losses; Article 16 of the Decree 20 70 provides that the modes of compensation of eventual prejudices caused by the implementation of the prevention’s measures shall be subject to further regulations.

However, it is still unclear what type of prejudice shall be in the scope of the right to compensation. Equally, how the employer must show the suffered losses. In addition, it still undecided by which means the damages shall be compensated (tax deduction?).

Here, the 14th April the Ministry of Labor made a statement to help employers not yet confirmed by a decree. It provides the suspension of the social contribution payment for directors and workers but also the application of some penalties for the delays. Also, the related periodic statements are postponed from 30 (CNAS) and 90 CASNOS days. In brief, such actions are not about compensation but rather facilitation.

Finally, it is still unclear what will be the fiscal and social treatment of exceptional leaves. Indeed, the right of exceptional compensation is due until the 19 April under Decree 20-86. Thus, it is highly required to track and identify all the information in order to be able to draft promptly a formal compensation request.

PRACTICAL LEGAL GUIDE

" Doing business in Algeria 2019"

Provide you with an overview of the applicable legal framework in Algeria for international business transactions

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