In the past two weeks, the number of businesses submitting applications for the job protection wage support programme has increased dramatically, the Minister of State for Employment Policy at the Ministry for Innovation and Technology said at the Tuesday online press conference of the Operational Group responsible for the containment of the coronavirus epidemic.

Sándor Bodó said there is still enormous interest in the programme; so far more than 7,200 businesses have submitted applications, and in consequence, the government has been able to help more than 95,000 persons to keep their jobs.

They are able to provide an average grant of HUF 167,000 per worker over a three-month period, he said.

The Minister of State highlighted that the highest number of applications had come from the processing industry, tourism and catering, trade, the automobile repairs sector and the transportation-warehousing sector.

Regarding the territorial distribution of applications, applications have been received in the largest numbers from Fejér County, Pest County, Győr-Sopron-Moson County and Bács-Kiskun County.

Mr Bodó highlighted that the job protection wage support programme enables employers to employ workers in reduced working hours and to avail themselves of state grants over a period of three months.

Employment in reduced working hours could be a solution in the case of all sizes of business, he added.

Regarding the largest companies submitting applications for grants, Mr Bodó said there are six companies which are participating in the programme with more than a thousand employees. There are additionally 13 businesses regarding the programme as an opportunity where the number of workers is between 500 and 1,000.

The Minister of State said government offices are assessing applications on an ongoing basis, and have already granted requests in relation to some 40,000 workers. The grants are received by workers directly, and workers or employers who submitted their applications in April have already received the first instalment.

He pointed out that applications can still be submitted at the website where detailed information on the programme is also available.

Mr Bodó said the other programme which is designed to help research, development and innovation is also very popular. Throughout the country, they have been able to help 8,700 persons working in this field. So far 550 businesses have submitted requests; the total amount of the grants they have applied for is HUF 6.2 billion.

The majority of applications came from Budapest, Pest County, Hajdú-Bihar County and Csongrád County. The businesses submitting applications employ 15 to 20 persons on average.

Small businesses continue to account for the majority of applications, but even the largest companies can avail themselves of this opportunity. In total, so far they have been able to help more than 100,000 persons to keep their jobs, the Minister of State said.

Regarding employment data, he said between March and April the number of registered job-seekers increased by 50,000. At the end of April, the total number stood at 330,000.

The job creation wage support programme, he said, provides genuine help for registered job-seekers in finding jobs. As part of the programme, more than HUF 80 billion is available, and from this sum they are able to help more than 70,000 job-seekers.

Mr Bodó said the essence of the programme is that businesses are expected to match the six-month wage support with continued employment for minimum three months. Meaning that the livelihoods of those participating in the programme will be secure for nine months.

During the subsidised period of six months, employers will be reimbursed 100 per cent of the gross wage and the social contribution tax, but maximum HUF 200,000. This means that the state supports the employment of every job-seeker and the retention of their jobs with a monthly net HUF 112,000. This enables employees to make a net income of almost one million forints over a period of nine months, Mr Bodó said.

He added that during this period employers are required to retain the number of workers they had at the time of the submission of their proposals.

Mr Bodó highlighted that businesses can submit proposals via the ‘Company Gate’ facility; applications can be submitted to the district offices with territorial competence, while in Budapest to the district employment departments.

The Minister of State stressed that all the economy protection measures combined will protect Hungarian jobs, and it is to be hoped that they will be able to replace those that will have been destroyed by the virus.