Coronavirus Spring: What Laws Parliament Passed to Prevent the Crisis in April and May

What laws has the Parliament passed in the last 2 months of spring to take care of business, medics and citizens

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In March and early April, we already wrote about the laws passed by the Ukrainian Parliament in order to fight the coronavirus. They covered issues of simplified procurement of medical products, price regulation, social and economic protection for businesses and citizens. The new selection includes five laws (553-IX, 555-IX, 558-IX, 587-IX, 588-IX) that regulate the establishment of temporary hospitals, provide social protection for medics, support the unemployed, and prevent the spread of coronavirus during court proceedings and try to resolve the legal conflict that has arisen over the payment of rent during quarantine.

We would like to thank Victoria Kovach, Serhiy Burov and Ksenia Velychko for their help on this article

On hospitals and medics:

In April, with Law 555-IX Parliament has defined the concepts of “self-isolation”, “observation”, “observatory”.

What is the difference between self-isolation and observation? In the first case, a person who may be infected with the virus determines his whereabouts. Instead, the person under observation is in a specialized institution (observatory), where he can undergo a medical examination and receive specialized care.

Law also determined, that:

  •  State and local authorities are responsible for the establishment of temporary specialized hospitals and observatories;
  •  such medical facilities may not comply with the licensing requirements and have the right to use the premises and property of other facilities;
  •  these facilities may temporarily contract doctors, including from other medical facilities. In this case, the doctor remains his main place of work and position. He will receive a salary at the main place of work for the time actually worked.

On May 7th, the Verkhovna Rada passed two laws (587-IX and 588-IX) concerning the involvement of physicians and their insurance:

  • in order to fight coronavirus disease, interns and specialists without a confirmed category may be involved in work in hospitals on a voluntary basis;
  • medics (as well as members of the National Police and the National Guard) should be regularly tested for coronavirus, regardless of whether they have had contact with infected persons. On April 23, in pursuance of this law, the Ministry of Health introduced a regular five-day’s period test for medical staff working with COVID-19 patients, laboratory staff testing coronavirus, and staff of pathoanatomical and forensic offices who come in contact with virus samples;
  • Medical workers who are self-isolated or hospitalized due to coronavirus disease are paid temporary disability benefits in the amount of 100% of the average salary, regardless of length of service. Everyone else will be paid 50% of the average income. This rule applies during quarantine and 2 months after its abolishment;
  • insurance payments to medics who contracted COVID-19 at work are equated to payments to combatants: in case of disability due to coronavirus disease, the medic will receive compensation in the amount of 600 thousand UAH (300 subsistence minimums), and if he / she dies from COVID-19, relatives will receive UAH 1.5 million (750 subsistence minimums). These rules also apply to senior medical students and interns if they have been involved in hospitals to fight coronavirus disease.

By Law 587-IX MOH was required:

  • to develop a procedure for determining hospitals that will hospitalize patients with coronavirus during the first, second and third waves of the disease, the creation of temporary specialized hospitals and the order of their filling with patients with COVID-19;
  • to develop instructions on training doctors to use protective equipment and conduct such training;
  • ensure the daily publication of information on coronavirus testing and weekly publication of data on the procurement and distribution of medicines and equipment, as well as on their availability in medical institutions.

On those who is suspect of having or have COVID-19:

Law 555-IX stipulates, that:

  •  patients with dangerous infectious diseases, as well as persons with symptoms of such diseases are subject to mandatory hospitalization in specialized hospitals;
  •  the period of stay in self-isolation or observation is considered sick leave and is paid accordingly;
  •  for the duration of the quarantine and for another 30 days after its end, the processing of personal data without the consent of the person is allowed, including data concerning health, place of hospitalization or isolation, surname, name, patronymic, date of birth, place of residence, work (study) to counteract the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Within 30 days after the end of the quarantine, such data shall be subject to depersonalization or, if this is not possible, destruction;
  • people who want to leave the quarantine area during the incubation period of the disease must obtain a certificate of the results of the medical examination. The incubation period is calculated from the date of contact with the patient or, if the person does not remember or did not have such contact, from the last contact with anyone from the quarantine zone.

On business:

Parliament has made another attempt to settle the issue of rent payments for the quarantine period. The first was Law 533-IX, which abolished the land tax for 2 months (from March 1 to April 30), as well as the rent for state and communal land and land plots owned or used (for example, on lease terms) by physical or legal entities and used by them in economic activities. It also abolished taxation for 2 months on the tax on non-residential real estate owned and operated by individuals or legal entities. Due to the indignation of local authorities (as local budgets were affected by the abolition of these taxes), Law 540-IX was adopted in two weeks, which reduced the grace period to one month (from March 1 to March 31).

This law stipulates that “a tenant may be exempted from paying for the use of property in accordance with part six of Article 762 of this [Civil] Code.” In mid-April, legislators passed Law 553-IX, which took another step towards clarification, in what conditions rule is applied. In particular, it has been established that during the quarantine the reason for the reduction or exemption from rent may be a ban on certain activities by the state, or measures prohibiting access to such property of the tenant’s clients. That is, in fact, all those affected by quarantine restrictions were exempted from paying rent.

Law as well

  • abolished for the period of quarantine the accrual of fines and penalties on water supply and sewerage companies, as well as on thermal energy manufacturers from gas and electricity suppliers.

A more complete analysis of the draft law 553-IX “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine” On the State Budget of Ukraine for 2020 ” was published in Economichna Pravda

 Aforementioned law 533 stated, that:

  • taxpayers are not fined in the period from March 1 to May 31, and accrued but not paid penalties must be written off; fines are not applied for late submission of reports, delays in payment of SSCs
  • from March 18 to May 31 there is a moratorium on documentary and factual inspections of enterprises (except for unscheduled inspections for VAT refunds in the amount of more than 100 thousand UAH) and slightly less – until May 18 for inspections on the correctness of SSC payment. The already started inspections are suspended until the end of the moratorium.

On those who need financial support:

Law 533-IX stipulated, that:

  • the borrower is released from liability for overdue payments from March 1 to April 30, i.e. he must not pay the creditor a penalty (fine, penalty) and other payments, the payment of which is provided by the consumer loan agreement for overdue payments.

Аnd law 553-IX says, that:

  • in case of missing the term of examination, the payment of disability pension to persons with disabilities is not suspended until the end of quarantine;
  • if small and medium-sized enterprises paid SSC within 6 months before the date of cessation of activity, they can receive partial unemployment benefits, which are provided for the period of quarantine and 30 days after it;
  • .if a person resigns during the quarantine on his own volition or by agreement of the parties, this does not lead to a reduction in the period of payment of unemployment benefits, as is usually the case. The total duration of benefits for such people may not exceed 270 days.

On civil servants and NBU

The same law 553-IX states that:

  • for the period of quarantine and until the end of the month in which the quarantine is abolished, the salary and financial support of “state employees” (judges, people’s deputies, prosecutors) and employees, officials and officials of the National Bank of Ukraine must not exceed 10 times the minimum wage 2020 (UAH 4,723).

In addition to this amount, these employees can receive assistance for temporary incapacity for work, for rehabilitation, for solving social and household issues and paying annual leave. This restriction does not apply to those directly involved in measures to combat the spread of coronavirus disease.

  • competitions for civil service positions are canceled for the same period. During the quarantine, the nominations proposed by the Senior Civil Service Commission or the competition commission based on the results of the competitive selection procedures shall be considered first, in particular if the term of publication of the competition results exceeds 45 calendar days from the date of announcement of such competition.

If the head of the state body rejects the nominations proposed by the Commission, he may independently appoint the desired person to the position under a contract valid for the quarantine period and until the day of appointment of the winner of the competition, which must be announced within 2 months after the quarantine.

About court hearings:

 Bill 3275, pased in late March, has already addressed the issue of video broadcasts of court hearings. However, this applied to the participants in the case. They were allowed to participate in the court hearing by videoconference outside the courtroom using their own technical means. Confirmation of the identity of the party to the case is carried out using an electronic signature. Law 558-IX allowed courts to hold videoconference sessions during quarantine. But in the matter of keeping the suspect in custody – only with his/ her consent.

This law in particular stipulates that:

  • if during the quarantine period it is not possible to appoint an investigating judge in the relevant court (except for the Supreme Anti-Corruption Court), the petition is transferred to another court. Jurisdictional disputes between courts are not allowed in this case;
  • if a judge or panel of judges does not have the opportunity to consider a request for the selection or extension of a preventive measure in the form of detention, it may be transferred to another judge or another court;
  • courts may hold their sessions by videoconference on their own initiative or at the request of a party to criminal proceedings. Such hearings may also be held to extend the suspect’s detention, but only if he does not object to the issue being considered by videoconference.

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