On-Demand Webinar
COVID-19: International Employment
and Operational Considerations [Part 2]

Europe, LATAM, Country Withdrawals Transcription

Tallin: Hello, welcome to Part 2 of our webinar – International Employment and Operational Considerations. This session will be focused on Europe update and Latin America and country withdrawal. My name is Tallin Johnson, I am the Marketing Manager at Global Upside and will be moderating the webinar today.

Before we jump into the content of the webinar, I did want to, first of all, welcome all of our registrants to be able to make it today. We want to thank you for spending some time with us and we did just want to cover a few items before we actually jump into the actual content.

First, I wanted to make everyone aware that this webinar session is being recorded, and a copy of the webinar and the slide deck will be shared with everyone who has registered, upon completion of the session. Next, we have enabled the Q&A function of this webinar, which will allow you to submit any questions that you do have throughout the webinar session. Our team is going to monitor all the questions that come through and we will work on answering the questions at the end of the webinar during our Q&A and any questions we are not able to get through at that time, we will send answers to individually, via email.

Lastly, we would like to also encourage any additional questions that you may have after the webinar. You can send those directly to us by email, emailing us at marketing@globalupside.com and we will be sure to route any questions that come through email to the correct person.

I would now like to take a minute to introduce our panelists to you. So first, I would like to introduce Andrew Wilson who is the VP of Private Equity and M&A at Global Upside. Andrew is an English chartered accountant who has extensive international experience working in London, Lagos Nigeria, Caracas, Venezuela, and San Francisco. We are really excited to hear from Andrew as he shares his knowledge and insights with us today.

Next, I would like to introduce Kym Sanderson who is the Director of Human Resources at Global Upside. Kym possesses considerable experience in international HR. In previous roles, she has worked as part of internal international HR teams, as well as in HR advisory functions. We are excited to hear from her as she shares her perspective, given her in-depth Human Resources knowledge.

Lastly, I would like to introduce Linda Lim who is the director of Client Services at Global Upside. Linda has over 20 years of experience in international finance, management, and consulting with both private and public industries. She has worked in senior financial management roles in China, Hong Kong, UK, and the US. We are excited to hear from her as she shares her knowledge and insights on international finance with us today.

It is now my pleasure to turn the time over to Andrew.

Andrew: Thank you, everyone. Obviously, it is still difficult times as we are going through this current crisis and certainly our thoughts and prayers going out to everyone who is suffering during this period. However, we are seeing some hopeful signs as cases and deaths do decline in most countries as we speak.

Certainly, countries are starting to open up again, that has been very helpful signs the Asian countries – South Korea, Singapore have opened up and they have been successful in that, at least been able to control any hotspots that are broken out. And now we are seeing Germany starting to open up its borders, children going back to school, shops are being opened. There is a general feeling that in Eastern Europe that they want to get back to normal and have all the borders open by June 15 and have people deal with another part of this crisis, which is not as spoken as much about, which is the mental health of people and needing summer vacations and needing to be able to get out into the pressure and enjoy things.

So, this is our second series. It is about the things have happened in Europe. Europe has been ahead of both the US and South America in terms of the epidemic and how it has affected everyone and as we are saying it is starting to open up, but the schemes are getting more defined and more firmly in place in terms of how they are supporting their workforce and how they are planning to get back to work. And we are going to discuss more about what is happening down in Latin America and Central America as we move forward.

So, we bring our expert Kym first to talk about what is happening in terms of the European countries. Over to you Kym.

Kym: Thank you, Andrew.

So, since we last did the webinar, a lot of the details around the schemes that governments have put in place in order to support businesses are much more well published. So, to focus first on Germany, now Germany has a system which has actually been in place since the previous recession back in 2008, is commonly abbreviated to the C.O.G. But what this scheme does is it allow employers with the agreement of the employees to reduce their working hours and to apply and receive funds back from the government. It is not quite as straightforward as just going. Yes, we will reduce it, there are different percentages and they are paid based on the employee’s personal situation. So when you are filing for this, and if you were to do so, you actually have to have quite a lot of information in front of you, so that you can justify that why you are looking at that short-term work. That one does need input from lawyers in order to work through it, payroll companies in Germany are not able to just apply for it. So, if it is something that is being considered in Germany, then it will be something that we can support you with, via counsel, and working with you on payroll. Same sort of situation in France – France, as you may be aware, if you are doing business there is already very protective of employees. Now the French government has put the partial activity scheme in place.

Again, with this one, you need to demonstrate why you are having to reduce hours in order to apply for reimbursement. The caps on the French scheme are quite favourable. So, employees do not necessarily miss out. But again, with this one, it is an online application that you have to go through, we are able to help with that. It is just the amount of documentation that we would need you to provide to us in order to demonstrate why government assistance is needed due to economic downturn, and it does not just rely on we do not think we can make the sales you actually need to demonstrate with accounts to show that there is difficulty there. For the UK, we had an announcement yesterday in regards to the UK furlough scheme, so UK furlough scheme was put in place at the beginning of April and it allows employers to claim back up to 2500 pounds or 80% of salary. It also allows you to claim back pension contributions and employers Social Security.

That scheme has just been extended until the end of October, but there will be additional parameters around it. As a scheme this is one of the easiest schemes to apply for, you do not have to send accounts, you do not have to demonstrate a significant loss in downturn. The main parameter around it is do you do your PAYE so your employers and employees’ tax online via the government portal. It does not take that long to do it is just making sure that you have got the documentation in place because it does ask for bit of information in regard to social security.

The changes around how the percentage split is going to change, the details on that are going to be released at the end of May. The government in the UK are looking more to having it as a collaborative process as opposed to the government fully picking up the tab and that is the first European country who is basically turning around and saying this Quint – “We will provide support, we are the ones who have ordered the shutdown in some cases of business or stripped to trade but it is going to become a joint effort.” Two other schemes in case of in Western Europe – the Dutch scheme. The Dutch scheme is one of the most favourable schemes I have ever seen if you can qualify for it and it will pay up to 90% of wages and the cap is actually insanely high and it is almost 10,000 euros a month that it will reimburse. However, the Dutch finance scheme also requires a huge amount of paperwork to be submitted to it. It wants to compare what your turnover was in 2019 compared to what your turnover is in 2020.

It also relies on a lot of other information being provided to some having looked through these applications. I have seen employers who have gone, is this actually going to be even worst asking for this amount of paperwork to qualify, and the percentage amount is dictated by the Dutch government and the indications so far, all that based on everything, they will reimburse you up to 50% of salary. But, again, it is a measure that was not imposed previously, all of these schemes have been put in place quite quickly and are still being refined. The Spanish scheme is one that is slightly different and anyone who has employees in Spain will know that the Spanish system is quite brutal in some respects from termination and actually, the scheme has been put in place in Spain, which is the outtake is equally brutal to some extent.

Now, what this means is as an employer, you are able to work with your employees to reduce the salary. However, the main change to Spain as opposed to the other four countries that I mentioned is in this case, the employee will actually be paid by the state directly with all of the other schemes that money is paid to the employer who has to then put it through payroll. Now, from a limitation point of view that means that an employer has to ensure that they have the funds available to run payroll which depending on cash flow at this time can be slightly problematic.

But in Spain, once you are accepted for your ERTE application, then that money is paid directly to the employee and they essentially, well not totally but come off your books as it were because you are not responsible for their salary provided that application is made. You can do an ongoing application that details that, as all these schemes may well change going forward. But as of today’s, date, that is the main state of play as it were in regard to the government schemes that are imposed across Western Europe in order to support employers.

Andrew: Thank you, Kym.

I think it is important to note here that practically and operationally from a US company standpoint, all of these schemes do require application to the government and getting approval before you really understand whether you are in a position to get reimbursement. As Kym pointed out, some of them are more onerous than others in terms of their requirements, but we have had situations already in a new, we can certainly claim whether US companies will get discriminated against or not. But, operationally we have seen companies do all the paperwork, apply for the schemes and get rejected and adopt from a cash flow perspective, as Kym is pointing out the schemes are defined, then certainly if you are successful in getting the application, then there is some surety that you would get the money from the government eventually. But in terms of the timing, it does vary in terms of what the timeframes that have been promised to reimburse them, much like the US government has put their schemes in place for the small business loans and it was quite some time and coming. So, you do have to manage through this. It is by no means a short thing and certainly a qualifying for some of these schemes because we are so lucrative is hard to do and they are not going to be any rules if your company is in financial difficulties, in terms of being prompt to give you notification to help you out. That is the state of play as we understand it in Europe today.

So, going on to Latin America, Central America. Latin America, at this stage, is almost like on the third wave or potentially the fourth wave, it is only Covid-19 hit Asia first, then moved on to Europe. Obviously, it is been very significant here in the US for the past few weeks and now Latin America is starting to get hit harder, particularly countries like Brazil, that have not really locked down and put a lot of the all over social distancing in place to limit the spread of the disease.

So, from that perspective, it is still very active, and a lot of things are changing and Latin America and Central America as we speak and so it is very fluid in terms of what is going on. I think the thing to note here, Latin America and Central America, do have very expensive social network, so they said that next in place, they are already in a situation where they are very pro-labour and look to protect employees, which certainly caused some problems in terms of companies been unwilling to hire people in the past. But they do have extensive social safety nets and sick pay and unemployment benefits that really have do provide for the workers in terms of if they are in a situation but they do get sick during this time period or they do get laid off. What has started to happen here is that these are the schemes that have become the focus because from, a macroeconomic perspective, the economy is down in Central and South America and nowhere near in a financial position to do what the European countries and what the USA and Canada have done in terms of providing support to companies to try and maintain and continue employment. What you have seen happening is that they have extended sick pay, they have provided more unemployment benefits and extended the period of time that people are eligible for unemployment. And they have done situations where they have accelerated, 13-month salaries and have deferred payroll taxes and some of the pension contributions. However, I do not think there is any case in anywhere be in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, where there is any direct support to companies down there, and in terms of continuing to provide for their employees and so it is a situation where they are looking to anticipate effects on appointments and effects on people from a sick pay perspective and they provided for that. There is also very much an emphasis because the population down there is much higher for low-income poor families and the elderly and there is direct provisions for providing allowances and payments to these particular sectors of their populations during this time to try and make sure that they do not suffer as much as they would from the effects of the unemployment. So that is really sort of a summary they certainly done the border closures and the immigration, and they are trying to live at the expense of everything going on down there.

But really from a Latin American and from a central American perspective, a lot of it is just to try to do what you would suddenly consider to be the first step, which is to try and protect the population and certain areas of the working population that are going to be most affected by this. Any comments on that, Kym?

Kym: No, I do not. I think a lot of the schemes just depends on the countries and the way that they are doing it is all about trying to limit the impact on people as much as possible. And as much as I am beginning to hate the word unprecedented, I do not think any of us have ever seen anything on this scale before in regard to governments or even in the very pro-labour countries.

Andrew: So, I think, the thing to recognize in Central and Latin America is that these concepts around the employment law and the protections provided to workers are even more stringent than you experience in Europe. They certainly have the concepts around terminations with cause without cause. But in some countries, that is not even though you are allowed to have mutual agreements to effect a resignation or termination because they want to really make sure that everything is justified and everything is formally communicated to the workers in terms of what is going on and that there are specific reasons for any termination. Certainly, and even resignations because from their perspective, they do not want to induce terminations going on through this. So, these concepts of vested rights and constructive discharge even more apply in terms of the justification and the requirements for documentation and specifics around the employee in terms of what has gone on and what has happened and also these actions.

They have interesting concepts down in Central and South America, in Mexico, for instance, they have a concept of integrity of work and that the employee has to maintain integrity of work, certainly from a dishonesty standpoint or providing their best efforts in terms of performing their work. However, anything in terms of a termination has to be justified that they have not provided this integrity of work. So, again, it is very hard to justify suddenly they are talking about when he goes through these proceedings you have to be very careful. But again, there are these whole concepts around what the employee needs to provide to the employer in terms of doing this is very difficult.

Because interestingly enough although you have concepts like Mexico’s when you have integrity work in Brazil, they actually claim that they are actually an employment of will country, much like the United States and there is the potential to be able to let people go at any time without having to justify it.

However, then there are underlying protections as it relates to that. So most countries have notice periods that you have to provide to the employees in terms of you are going to terminate for any specific reason they vary anything from 30 to 90 days for any of the countries that so they do require you to have, provided the justification documented everything provided to the employee and start at the notice period and a lot of this is statutorily defined in terms of what is going on. So, you have to have it documented, they do recommend termination agreements or in most countries that say termination or separation agreements are required with all the documentation. Countries like Argentina require termination agreements to be approved by the Ministry of Labour. In Mexico, they have the conciliation and arbitration board that is the ultimate authority in terms of where the workers can go when it comes to separation agreement and what is going on? So, it is like notice periods. It comes negotiated settlement discouraged. Everything needs to be defined in terms of terminations and separations of what is going on and they are very strict in terms of what the separation and termination payments are, from a governance perspective in terms of what is going on.

So, very strict guidelines, very strict rules as I said, in terms of mutual agreements. We have had clients who have indicated that they are doing temporary salary reductions, and they have their workers is a variation agreed to it in the various Latin and Central American countries and we are giving them the advice that they have to be very careful because that is a variation in the terms and conditions of employment and to that extent they have varied. There is always the avenue for the worker to go to one of the arbitration boards or the Labour Department or the labour courts to appeal and say that they were put under undue hardship as a result of having their employment agreements buried, and therefore they are entitled to severance payments and termination payments, as well as penalties on the company for having gone through the extensive game forcing them into the situation of bearing those two terms of conditions, of the employment.

Kym, any thoughts?

Kym: I think the main thing is like you were saying from the LATAM countries is in some senses when mutual agreements are permitted, or they have to be ratified and I think for a number of clients it is the idea of going okay, but we would like to agree this mutually and has something signed and the fact that you cannot do that. And I knew that does cause stress or difficulty because of course, people are used to working with their normal business models. And certainly, I think, across Europe in regards to salary reductions as well, I have seen clients who have in a way that you discuss their and Andrew mentioning to employees and going, yes, we need to go ahead and do this as of Monday, and unfortunately, it does not really observe the consultation periods that need to be looked at. And you can try and impose these but unfortunately, if it gets to court it may well do in some cases, the fact that the company does not have the money does not get seen as a defence because the contract overrides I think, with all of this information and what you are discussing, it is just so important to make sure that you get advice specifically tailored to your situation.

Andrew: And I think, as well, in terms of that, as we previously discussed that you do not want to be in a situation where you are indicating the potential to that there may be reductions in salaries or there may be terminations or there may be effects without having consulted with legal counsel and ensure that you have a well-documented process and understand what is going to happen as you go into these particular situations because certainly anything that is provided to the employee, any communications that they can formally refer to, will be valid in a court of law and will be potentially used against you in terms of these situations.

And as I said, Central and South and South America are very pro-labour, they have still very much a lot of union representations. In the Central and South America, their collective bargaining agreements are in place in most of the countries. They can be at an industry level – it can be the company level, but certainly, they are very prevalent in terms of modifying and usually enhancing the benefits to the employee in the particular industries or companies. So, they do give them extensive rights as it relates to compensation and statutory benefits and supplemental benefits as well as enhanced severance entitlements.

So look to not only what is in place for the country, but also what is it modified by either the collective bargaining agreement and what their entitlements to and a lot of the times they the collective bargaining agreements set minimum payments, whenever the worker is hired as to what their entitlements are which can relate to as we said to compensation as well so they come in with set minimum wages set minimum benefits that you have to provide.

So, that is in place. Obviously, if there is a union involved, then those unions do have strong representation. It is somewhat like works council in Europe that they have to be consulted in advance and negotiated with before any actions can be taken. And they will be backed up by the labour courts or the Ministry of Labour in the various countries to say that this you have to go through this process. Whereas before you are allowed to make anything happen, so again, something to be very aware of in terms of what industry are operating in, and whether it is unionized in terms of what is going on. So lots of minefields and the things to be aware of, as you are going through anything, any process, which you may probably have been forced into as a result of the current situation and it is unfortunate but again, not something you can rush into, you need lots of planning, consultation, and making sure that you have well-documented process before starting any engagement with the employees and their representatives.

Any thoughts on that Kym?

Kym: I think that there is one thing that, I have really seen over the last few weeks. To begin with, there was certainly what I would probably say were quite knee-jerk reactions to things that people going, “We do not know what this means, etc.” And I think it has calmed down a lot and I think perhaps some of the people who may have rushed into things are suddenly discovering, especially if they have been turned down for government support is how to then backtrack from that and look at bringing people back into work in some cases because the support isn’t there. So, anything in regard to processes and checking, I think nobody knows how long this is going to go on for. But certainly, being able to sit down and trying to look at some sort of forecasting opposed to going, “Okay, we are just going to furlough everyone because the schemes are available.” I have certainly seen that change now with clients who are being perhaps a bit more mindful and holistic than going “What can we do now in order to react?”

Andrew: I would touch on this briefly just because obviously we have covered some of this in terms of what we are already discussing because unfortunately, some companies have been forced into situations where they are having to do extensive workforce reductions or reductions in force. And certainly, there is a lot of the economic and business justification for this, as Kym was alluding to in terms of some of the European schemes they do look for very tangible evidence that there is justification for carrying out a workforce reduction or a reduction in force in terms of the economics of the company, the financing changing circumstance of what is going on.

In a lot of countries, they want to see that justification provided and certainly, you have a constant scheme wherever you are really executing a workforce reduction or reduction in force. You have to have an overall justification that is clearly communicated and anything that is then disclosed to the employees or the labour ministries or the arbitration boards or the works council or the unions. So important really to make sure from the starting out on this process, but this is very well defined, you understand exactly how you want to position this in terms of why carrying in out especially from the perspective from an employment law there has to be justified and there has to be an ability to provide the tangible evidence if you are called to question in any of the countries by the different labour departments, unions or works council. Certainly from their perspective of workforce reductions and reductions in force, it definitely changes dependent on the number of employees in the country, of about one or two employees, then certainly it can be a very swift process from the perspective of determining the course of action and what you want to offer the employees if you do want to offer them any inducements to terminate and sign a separation agreement or a severance or a termination agreement.

Because often in cases you are in a situation that it is better for you to have, hide everything caught up and offer them global compensation to basically get their acceptance and make sure that they are to the extent possible, there is no possibilities for them to make claim afterwards that they were unfairly treated and that they were forced into a situation to do this. Certain countries, such as India, it is actually considered culturally to be very unacceptable to get terminated by a company, socially as well as from a business perspective. And so often those situations you tend to offer more in severance so that the employee can resign and have formulated a good response when they look for their next position. And each of them but certainly from that perspective, the small number of employees, it is less problematic in terms of the justification and how you go about the process. If you have a larger number of employees, there are specific laws in each country.

In the UK, for about 50 employees, the employees, actually 25, are entitled to worker representatives to be appointed to be representing them. And they are each entitled to be given at the company’s expense, legal advice by their own independent attorney to in terms of any negotiations and any settlement agreements that they are signing. And there are different very compliant processes in terms of the consultations, time periods, notice periods that you have to go through to allow time for everything to be considered. And as we say, in Europe, when you are dealing with works council, as well as unions, then really it is an iterative process and oftentimes you cannot define the time period because you are very much subject to the whims of the works councils in doing that. So, a lot of it certainly is, if at the client processes you have to have the overall justifications very clearly defined and in place, and then released. Set strategies for each of the countries, depending on the local labour laws and the statutory requirements, the number of employees and what is the consultation process to achieve your goals?

Any comments Kym?

Kym: Yes, I think one of the main things I have seen in Europe over the last few weeks since we did the first webinar is the fact that some countries have pretty much stopped dismissal for economic reasons. So, if you do apply through the formal schemes, then if you mentioned anywhere on those applications that it has to do with COVID, then it will be automatically rejected. And the applications that are being put through that way, are being redirected to essentially say two companies, you need to check the job release schemes that I discussed earlier in order to see if you are applicable. What I have also seen with the progress in the last few weeks is with any clients, well, not all, but some clients who are looking to reach mutual agreement with their employees and they have sought independent advice, which, as Andrew said, you, in some cases have to pay for as the employer.

It is being used automatically straight back to the client to turn around and say, “Why are you terminating? Why are you not applying for the government relief scheme?” Yes, our clients except that they may receive less money by being placed on furlough, but you are not. You are looking at ending their employment and they are using it as an extra negotiating tool and it means that any settlement is not just statutory, it is being enhanced. And as you are aware with the notice periods in Europe, they are not just have a week or two weeks’ notice in some cases, you are having to pay three months’ money, as well as the gross payment.

So that is the other consideration to look at if you do get to the stage initial agreement that it can be flipped back. And one thing that I was going to mention on these government schemes as well, which I apologize because I probably should have mentioned the slide earlier is in regards to the way that you are set up in a country and not all clients or all companies will set up a full entity in a country. In some cases, if you are a non-resident entity in a country, you are not there paying taxes efficiently. You are only doing the payroll as it were. In some cases, that means that that government scheme is not applicable if you are not paying the full corporate rates of tax in that country, then understand to be the government will not offer you the same support to a company who is incorporated in that country and paying the full amount of tax. So that is again just may not be applicable.

Andrew: Yeah, I think that was a good point, Kym, because that interestingly brings us on to our next topic, because I think obviously there are European countries and countries such as Canada or Australia or New Zealand that do allow foreign legal entities to register as non-resident employers so that just to employ people and pay payroll taxes and statutory benefits.

So, there is the fact about paying income taxes or indirect taxes, they probably are penalizing them for not participating in those schemes and not funding the government. So why should the government then provide these types of safety nets for them in terms of doing business?

So, good point and I think that brings us on to our next topic, which Linda is going to walk us through which really has gone into the situation where you are upset that your business operations and a country and you have to let your employees go. Because of that uncertainty and certainly, uncertainty in terms of doing business and generating revenue from a country then what do you look to do to make sure that you and your involvement in that country, and tie up any loose ends so that you will look towards extinguishing any sort of legal presence in the country and withdrawing from it.

So, Linda is going to walk us through the next slides of what to look to in terms of potentially doing that. Over to you, Linda.

Linda: Thank you, Andrew. As you all heard Andrew and Kym has discussed the various government schemes to help to survive through, during this difficult time. Sometimes it still will not work out well for the company and sometimes due to answer to consensus, usually, the company might end up having to, in extreme cases, liquidation and re-registration of the company might be the only available option. So, it is important actually to understand and map out a clear strategy just in case all this market does not really perform as what we are going though now during this difficult time. Liquidation is often a necessary step in business. You don’t need is a requirement to redirect the focus the company in a different direction, or sometimes cutting losses before to be really become unmanageable. And for many companies dealing with liquidation is a totally new experience and we often actually prompt numeral question.

So, what does company liquidation means to the business? Basically, it means that you are unable to meet its financial obligations and in order for that to do so, there are various steps that usually the company has to consider first to have a clear and clean exit from the market. So first of all, they usually have to notify the customers, vendors, government agencies of the intent to wind up the business. They also have to consider any existing contracts they may have some long term contracts that they will need to terminate and many times they have to negotiate how to settle them and that process can be longer than expected one. There is also a question about any existing liquidation that requires any settlements before they can wind up the system. The purpose of the company liquidation is to sell the assets to pay off as many creditors as possible. So, at the end of the process, the business can be officially closed and no longer active and the steps that a company might take will depends on what kind of liquidation that can be. There are basically two kinds of liquidation – one is a voluntary one and the other one is according voluntary, whereby despite a court order, whereby the company has no choice but to wind it up. If you ask me, basically voluntary will be a better case because the business will actually retain more control in deciding how they want to distribute their assets or in terms of the strategy how they want to take in terms of the steps as develop from the market.

So, as I mentioned, it is necessary to actually file the various notifications to dissolve the company. And if the company did not formally resolve them, basically the entity is still considered to be active, despite the intent to actually why on the business. There is also a need to make sure that any business licenses or permit has been cancelled and all the businesses that have been registered with the government agency has been fully cancelled. Even if all the text sediments have been done, it is advisable for companies to actually make sure that they maintain all the tax and employment records for at least five years, even if the business is closed. In case, if the authority or any auditors decided to come back for an audit, then they have to be available for all this review.

And for many times, if the company is testing the business, usually the liquidation process can actually be delayed for a long time. For example, in Germany, usually, it takes more than at least a year in order for them to wind up many because there are various steps that they need to follow before they can wind up the business. For China, voluntary of the China liquidation usually requires more because of the bureaucratic process in China that they will have to follow. The approval process by the government actually takes longer than usual and our experience tells us that usually, most solvent liquidation can only require thorough understanding of the local laws and regulations about use of benefits that to understand what the local Best Practices in order for us to actually carry out the whole liquidation. And from our experience, usually for China is at least the fastest six months, but you can also take as long as to 24 months. Brazil itself is a complex market and because of the government involved, usually, the whole approval process is similar to that of China. It can be a very lengthy process because it takes as long as 12 months to 24 months, but from on average, from what we see, usually it takes about at least a year to wind up properly for a Brazil entity. So in such cases, even that in order for a company to properly might not a business is to understand the local requirements for the various countries, and making sure that all of the government that has been followed in compliance so that at least the company can lead and defend the market in a very legal manner.

What impact has COVID-19 had on contracted staff as it relates to collective bargaining agreements, work councils, and other employment matters?

I think for this one, from a European perspective, it depends on what you classify as contracted staff. So, if you mean a contractor, who is paid independently by the company, as a consultant, then there is not really any impact there because that is not regulated by it. If it is in relation to employees who are on your payroll long fixed-term contracts, then from a European side, the blunt answer on this is there has not been any real change, those contracts are still in force. And in a number of those countries, if you have employees there, then you would be aware that if you were to terminate these fixed-term contracts early, you may well be liable to pay them up until the end. To answer that with any more detail, they probably need a bit more clarity. And that only really applies to Europe.

Latin America and Central America have been reliant on the fact that they have strong collective bargaining agreements in place and that the protections for the workers are already pretty much set in stone and the way that South America and Central America work, it is not something that they are going to rush to modify. At this point in time, the emphasis has been very much on providing more in terms of the compensation and schemes to support the poor and the unemployed families and the elderly. So, nothing has really been done in South and Central America from that perspective.

What are some considerations we should make as we re-enter the office in Canada?

Now, this very much depends on the federal and provincial governments in terms of what they are allowing and what their guidelines are in terms of re-entry and how the company is interpreting it. I would refer to the guidelines that are being provided, and then ensure that as you re-enter the office that the guidelines have been implemented, and there is clear instructions about how the procedures are to operate and what to do in those circumstances. There is a lot of clarification still needed, but Canada is opening up and so I think the guidelines are very much in place and just ensure that they are being followed and they are meticulous in making sure that every worker is educated about what to do.

What are the different laws in each of the Latin American countries regarding employment do’s and don’ts during COVID-19?

Well, I think it is so as we commented in the webinar, the protections are so strong in Latin America, they are anticipating, people being laid off and being terminated during this time. But they are relying on the labor laws and statutory requirements and the collective bargaining agreements to protect the workers. And if they are ensuring that companies are following those laws and that the Ministry of Labor, the courts, and the various institutions that are in place are going to protect the workers. So, I think if you are planning anything in terms of your employees down there, then make sure you consult with legal counsel and ensure that everything is justified and well documented as you go into any variation in terms of the individual’s employment.

Are there any other updates from Europe that have not already been discussed?

Not usually, I think the main thing in Europe at the moment is the restrictions are opening up. But this is very much changing country to country, some countries still have completely closed borders, some countries are pretty much open and almost going, “Okay, let us just see how it goes it is not one, homogenous mass.” The details of the schemes that are there do change quite rapidly and quickly, and we would obviously have the UK update to turn around and say have been extended until October. I think the main thing on this is just trying to keep abreast of the news and the updates. It is hard to say of any other major changes because there are so many different intricacies that may be specific to businesses that it is quite hard to cover.

Our production employees are feeling that they are being placed in an unsafe work environment since they cannot work from home. We are following CDC guidelines, but employees are still not feeling like we are doing enough. What ideas do you have for production employees in a manufacturing environment to help them feel safe?

I think they are, and obviously we are not experts in this area, but I think in terms of the CDC guidelines and what is been implemented certain industries have to have remained in production during these times that are considered essential. Obviously, the producers of protective gear have remained in production, the producers of disinfectant wipes, and sanitary requirements, anything that has been considered as essential, has been kept going. And there has been implementation by President Trump of the enforcement of the production act where they force companies to continue to work.

So I think that look to companies that are very much, continue to operate, they have modified their guidelines accordingly, to try and implement and maintain, make sure their workers are safe and I think there are lots of examples out there in terms of what has been successful in making that happen.

So, what are some expected changes in tax deferral schedules?

I think it says a tax deferral schedule, obviously, in Europe I think there have been some payroll tax deferrals and some of the indirect tax deferrals. Is that your understanding, Kym?

Yes, there are, again, it varies by country to country, but it is there is a raft of different schemes being put in place, and they all deferrals. But again, it depends on which quarter and what kind of tax we are talking about.

I think here in the US we are in a situation where the emphasis has been on providing the major industries that are severely affected and small businesses, loans, which have the ability to provide those offsets for certain types of expenses as being the predominance at the moment. I know there has been discussion of a payroll tax deferral which has not occurred yet. And I know they have delayed the tax filing deadlines and the requirements to pay your federal income taxes and state income taxes but hoping things are still very much in flux.

Tallin: So, we have run out of time and have reached the end of the webinar and we do want to thank all of our panelists to spend some time with us today. And we would also like to thank all of the audience members who were able to make it to our session. Thank you for spending some time with us today. We do hope that the information that we shared with you is helpful. As a reminder, we will be sending out a copy of the webinar and the slide deck to everyone that is registered upon completion of the session. If you do have any follow up questions, we do encourage you to reach out to us directly. You can email us at info@globalupside.com or call us at 408-913-9130. And we hope everyone is staying safe and has a great week.

Thank you.