‘EVERYONE who works in our economy’ will be rewarded with a living wage during the crisis ‘to put food on the table’.
This was the message from Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, who vowed to stand by ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ with workers.
The new measure, which will see all employees, business-owners and self-employed people get a tax-free wage, is real evidence of the government’s socialist values.
Full-time workers will get £1,155 a month, while part-timers will get a fraction of that amount depending on the hours they worked.
These new measures will be available to all workers registered in Gibraltar, whether they are Gibraltarians, Brits, Spaniards or EU workers, living on the Rock or in Spain.
There are just under 35,000 people working in Gibraltar, 6,000 which are in the public sector that will keep on working throughout this time.
Around five to ten thousand workers are in the excluded sectors of financial services and online gaming.
The measures could cost the government up to £30 million a month, with the possibility of low-interest loans being made to cover the costs.
This plan will be known as the Business and Employee Assistance Terms (BEAT) and will start being paid at the end of April, extending to a three month period.
“We’re creating a new status in law called ‘the inactive employee’,” said Picardo.
“Businesses will be given direct financial support to be able to retain their staff and pay them their salaries at a fixed rate.
“We’ve already taken measures to reduce all other costs to businesses, except for the cost of paying their employees.
“It will also mean that no employer will be able to justify any mass layoffs or redundancies.”
He warned that anyone abusing the scheme by claiming more money than their workers need would be ‘severely punished when identified’.
An online form can now be filled in by businesses to apply for the amounts they need to pay their workers as soon as possible.
Workers do not have to worry if they were sacked from March 15 onwards, because this would not be legal and they would still be considered to be under contract.
The responsibility is not on the worker but on the employer to tell the authorities how many people they employ and cover the March wage, if necessary with loans.
The BEAT will also apply to workers on zero-hour contracts, with an average of hours worked a day being summed up to calculate how much they get.
Anyone working on average 7.5 hours a day is considered a full-time worker.
No tax will be paid in this time, with social security payments registered as paid during April.
Contact details will be required for employees to be able to check the amounts paid and claimed match up.
Criminal and financial crimes will be carried out if employers do not provide the correct information.
Businesses will get free rent on their properties from April to June from government properties.
Private landlords are being encouraged to do the same or pay heavy taxes on any rents they do charge during this time.
Water and electricity bills can now be paid within the year too as opposed to during these three months.
Government will be cutting duty and fees during this time to help all businesses with stock being bought back by the government.
All business groups, landlords’ association and unions have been consulted in this ‘extraordinary’ measure, which was supported by all of them.
Despite all these relief measures, people and businesses are encouraged to pay their fees, rents or wages if they can afford them or are remote working.
It might be necessary to lower the amounts being paid during May and June, with the need for UK help being a possibility.
A total of £150 million is available for this period for all costs created by Covid-19.
“We will only emerge stronger from this difficult moment if we act in solidarity with one another and not by taking advantage or abusing the BEAT measures,” concluded the Chief Minister.
“I want to express my solidarity and the solidarity of the people of Gibraltar with the people of UK and Spain.
“Our neighbouring country is going through a truly difficult time and I know we all empathise greatly with the suffering of so many Spanish families at this time.”