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Factsheet for case GR-2020-12/670 Updated – measures in Greece

State income benefit to support freelancers, self-employed and sole proprietors

Αρθρο 25, 'Μέτρα στήριξης ελεύθερων επαγγελματιών, αυτοτελώς απασχολούμενων και ιδιοκτητών ατομικών επιχειρήσεων', Πράξη Νομοθετικού Περιεχομένου (ΠΝΠ), Αρ. Φύλλου 75, 30.03.2020); 'Αρθρο 8, 'Μέτρα στήριξης ελεύθερων επαγγελματιών, αυτοαπασχολουμένων και ιδιοκτητών επιχειρήσεων', Πράξη Νομοθετικού Περιεχομένου (ΠΝΠ) Αρ. Φύλλου 68, 20.03.2020

Country Greece , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 15 March 2020 – 19 April 2021
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Income protection beyond short-time work
– Extensions of income support to workers not covered by any kind of protection scheme
Author Penny Georgiadou (INE GSEE)
Case created 16 April 2020 (updated 12 August 2021)

Background information

By virtue of the Legislative Act 20 March 2020 "Urgent measures to address the consequences of the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, to support the society and entrepreneurship, and to safeguard the smooth operation of the market and public administration" and as was amended by Art. 25 'Financial support measures for freelancers, self-employed and sole proprietors who are affected by COVID-19 pandemic' of the Legislative Act 30 March 2020 "Measures to combat the pandemic of coronavirus COVID-19 and other urgent provisions", freelancers, self-employed and sole proprietors are entitled to a special state benefit of €800. In addition, according to Art. 8, LA - 20.03.2020 as amended by art. 25, LA - 30.03.2020 & Δ.15/Δ'/οικ.21552/681/26.6.2020, employees and the self-employed receiving the €800 handout will be given a suspension of social security contributions pertaining to May 2020.

Content of measure

By virtue of the Legislative Act 20 March 2020 "Urgent measures to address the consequences of the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, to support the society and entrepreneurship, and to safeguard the smooth operation of the market and public administration" and as was amended by Art. 25 'Financial support measures for freelancers, self-employed and sole proprietors who are affected by COVID-19 pandemic' of the Legislative Act 30 March 2020 "Measures to combat the pandemic of coronavirus COVID-19 and other urgent provisions", freelancers, self-employed and sole proprietors, who are affected by COVID-19, are entitled to a special state benefit of €800 for the period 15/03 – 30/4/2020. Social security contributions on the nominal amount of the salary for the aforementioned period is covered by the State.

The special state benefit is exempted from tax, seizure and shall not be offset against any liability. In addition, according to Art. 8, LA - 20.03.2020 as amended by art. 25, LA - 30.03.2020 & Δ.15/Δ'/οικ.21552/681/26.6.2020, employees and the self-employed receiving the €800 handout will be given a suspension of social security contributions pertaining to May 2020. The payment of said contributions will be made in four monthly instalments starting in October 2020.

Updates

The following updates to this measure have been made after it came into effect.

19 April 2021

On February five 2021, with the Joint Ministerial Decision No 5629-22 was approved the payment of an extraordinary one-off financial aid to lawyers, engineers, economists and geotechnicians who were financially affected by the pandemic, for the months March to November 2020 and meet specific requirements.

The amount of the aid is 400 euros for each person and is tax free. The expenditure was estimated at 40 million euros and will be covered by the OAED budget. The beneficiaries submitted an application to the ERGANI information system for the granting of the lump sum aid.

On March 31, 2021, the Ministry of Labour with a new decision, increased the number of the beneficiaries to be included in the measure, by changing the criteria and by giving a new deadline for application for inclusion in the measure until April 19, 2021

11 March 2021

According to OAED figures given in 11 March 2021, based on the applications submitted until 15 February 2021, the beneficiaries of the aid were 44,248 persons and the grant is expected to reach €17.7 million.

29 December 2020

Following the Legislative Act of 20 March 2020 and as the consequences of COVID-19 outbreak unfolded not only in Greece, but also in Europe, the Greek Government adopted new amendments, pertaining explicit details on their implementation, the progressively increased number of new sectors and categories of employees eligible, the period of enforcement. In that context, the following amendments are:

  • Expansion of financial aid (exceptional state benefit of €800 to freelancers, self employed & sole proprietors employing up to 5 employees) by virtue of art. 1 - LA 13.04.2020.
  • Special purpose compensation for business support due to the appearance and spread of COVID-19, by virtue of Joint Ministerial Decision 39162, art. 1 & 2, 16.04.2020.
  • Instructions on the application of Joint Ministerial Decision 39162, by virtue of Circular 2052/22.04.2020.
  • Ratification of the Legislative Act, 30 March 2020, “Measures to combat the pandemic of coronavirus COVID-19 and other urgent provisions” by virtue of Law 4684/25.04.2020.
  • Special purpose compensation for business support due to the appearance and spread of COVID-19, by virtue of CircularΓΔΟΥ89/26.04.2020.
  • Amendment of Circular2052/22.04.2020, by virtue of Circular 2070/14.05.2020.
  • Clarifications on the Joint Ministerial Decision with no.οικ.17788/346/08.05.2020 (Β ́1779) and other support measures to address the effects of COVID-19 for the gradual re opening of the labour market, by virtue of Circular 19221/379/19.05.2020.
  • Exceptional financial support of €534 or €300 to freelancers, self-employed and individual business owners and legal entities (apart from S.A.s) employing 0-20 employees for May, by virtue of Joint Ministerial Decision ΓΔΟΥ 134/16.06.2020.
  • Exceptional financial support of €534 or €300 to freelancers, self-employed and individual business owners and legal entities (apart from S.A.s) employing 0-20 employees for June, by virtue of Joint Ministerial Decision ΓΔΟΥ 199/19.08.2020.
  • Exceptional financial support of €534 EUR or €300 to freelancers, self-employed and individual business owners and legal entities (apart from S.A.s) employing 0-20 employees for July, by virtue of Joint Ministerial Decision ΓΔΟΥ 217/15.09.2020, amended by ΓΔΟΥ 223/22.09.2020.
  • Financial support of €534, granted to specific employees' categories (guides and tourist escorts), LA 14.03.2020, art. 20 - L.4722/15.09.2020 for the period 1 September to 31 October 2020.
  • Exceptional state benefit of €534 for August 2020, Ministerial Decision, Αριθμ. ΓΔΟΥ 246/27.10.2020, concerning self employed and owners of specific companies (e.g limited liability companies or private capital companies - IKE), which do not employ staff at all or employ up to twenty (20) employees.
  • Reimbursement of social security contributions for the year 2019, to self-employed, free lancers and farmers. In total, €135,346,225.11 are returned gradually, to a total of 158,600 active self-employed, freelancers and farmers. The measure will be supported by SURE funding.

SURE funds will cover the government’s COVID-19 support measures announced to safeguard employment in Greece, which include the allowance for the self employed, free lancers and specific categories of professionals.

17 November 2020

By virtue of Law 4756/26 November 2020, approximately 100,000 professionals - lawyers, engineers, dentists, veterinarians, accountants, economists, notaries etc. will be entitled to a €400 subsidy to be paid by the end of January 2021. The extraordinary financial aid is granted to those that have been included between March and November 2020, in the affected Activity Code Numbers (ACD) of the Ministry of Finance, due to the measures to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

29 April 2020

After the cancelation of the special training programme for the specific “science” professionals, (see case GR-2020-15/671), on 27 April 2020, a new Joint Ministerial Decision (No 16604/3224) provided for the one-off economic support payment of €600 directly to the above mentioned “beneficiaries”, who were eligible participate in the training programme. The beneficiaries of the measure is the same group, as it was provided initially (Ministerial Announcement of 29/03/2020). Therefore, the specific bonus/payment, concerns 180.390 self-employed scientists such as: engineers, economists and accountants, lawyers and notaries, freelancers with or without contracts, doctors, trainers and researchers.

Use of measure

According to data of the Ministry of Development & Investments 480,810 freelancers, self-employed and individual business owners and legal entities employing 0-20 employees received the special purpose compensation of €800, for the period 17 March to 30 April 2020. The overall cost was €384 million, out of a total budget of €500 million, and it was financed by the Partnership Agreement (PA) 2014-2020 through the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) resources. According to an announcement of the Ministry of Finance 178,538 freelancers, self-employed and individual business owners and legal entities employing 0-20 employees received (July 2020) the exceptional financial support of €534 or €300, for the time period 1 May to 31 May 2020, (Joint Ministerial Decision 134/16-06-2020). The total budget is approximately €110 million borne by the state budget.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Self-employed
Solo-self-employed
SMEs
One person or microenterprises
Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Company / Companies
European Funds
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role No involvement No involvement
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown

Involvement

There was no involvement.

Views and reactions

According to the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen & Merchants (GSEVEE), as one of the social partners, they did not participate, at least at an official level, in the planning of the measures. Besides, the time for the planning and implementation of the measures was minimal. However, although there was no consultation, the Confederation's proposals concerning the improvement of the procedures and the broadening of the scope of business support measures were, in general, adopted by the Government and the competent Ministries. For the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE) this measure was also a result of social partners’ pressure towards this direction since it was clear, at least from ESEE’s point of view, that the lock down impact had to be somehow offset by state’s aid. Of course, the amount of cash flow was not exactly generous, but budget restrictions and other supportive measures taken by the public sector had also to be considered. ESEE, did not propose a specific amount of aid but underlined the need for a bold support by the government as well as to retain this measure for the necessary period of time.

Sources

  • 20 March 2020: Act of Legislative Content on “Urgent measures to address the consequences of the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, to support society and entrepreneurship and to ensure the smooth functioning of the market and public administration.” (O.G A’ 68/20-3-2020) (www.e-nomothesia.gr)
  • 29 April 2020: Joint Ministerial Decision16604/3224/27.4.2020 (KYA 16604/3224/27.4.2020 Οικονομική Ενίσχυση -Αποζημίωση Ειδικού Σκοπού (www.taxheaven.gr)
  • 08 May 2020: Applications for €600 from scientists are extended until 15 May (Μέχρι 15 Μαΐου παρατείνονται οι αιτήσεις για τα 600 ευρώ των επιστημόνων (www.ethnos.gr)
  • 30 May 2020: Legislative Act 30.03.2020 (www.et.gr)
  • 27 June 2020: Circular Δ.15/Δ'/οικ.21552/681/26.6.2020 (www.taxheaven.gr)
  • 30 July 2020: Greece's socio-economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 18 September 2020: Law 4722/2020 (www.taxheaven.gr)
  • 17 November 2020: Financial assistance to lawyers, engineers and economist (www.odigostoupoliti.eu)
  • 29 December 2020: Reimbursement of insurance contribution (www.odigostoupoliti.eu)
  • 04 February 2021: Joint Ministerial Decision 5629/22/2021 (www.forin.gr)
  • 11 March 2021: OAED : Extraordinary financial support for freelancers and scientist - OAED: Ektakti ikonomiki enishisi se eleftherous epaggelmaties kai epistimone (www.in.gr)
  • 31 March 2021: To more self-employed, the exceptional financial support of €40 (ypergasias.gov.gr)

Citation

Eurofound (2020), State income benefit to support freelancers, self-employed and sole proprietors, case GR-2020-12/670 (measures in Greece), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, http://eurofound.link/covid19eupolicywatch

Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process. All information is preliminary and subject to change.