In just a week, the number of requests for the wage support offered by the government has increased almost tenfold. This shows that businesses and employers find this an effective means for solving the temporary problems caused by the crisis, State Secretary Tamás Schanda said at the online press conference of the Operational Group responsible for the containment of the coronavirus epidemic on Sunday.

The Parliamentary and Strategic State Secretary of the Ministry for Innovation and Technology said according to Friday data, 3,953 employers have applied for governmental wage support for almost 54,000 workers so far. Government offices will assess these applications swiftly, within eight business days, he added.

He said in 2010 the national civic government promised to build a workfare economy and society as well as to create one million new jobs in ten years. These objectives were achieved; however, the coronavirus and its economic consequences “have a devastating impact also on the labour market”, and people’s and families’ livelihoods could be at risk.

“Until March, we lived our lives standing tall, being proud of ourselves, making plans for a bright future.” We must now gradually restart life according to a strict schedule. The protection and repeated reinforcement of the economy are part of this, and “we have no reason to pursue a different direction upon the management of this crisis from that which we pursued before,” the State Secretary said.

The past decade has proved that the Hungarian people want and are able to live off work; therefore, the government’s position remains that jobs in the largest possible numbers must be protected, and as many jobs will have to be created as will be destroyed by the crisis nonetheless, he stressed.

Mr Schanda said so far 163,064 persons have applied for unemployment benefit or income supplement due to the fact that they have lost their jobs. The goal is to enable them to find employment within the shortest possible time; “if not in the corporate-private sector, then with the assistance of the State”.

A considerable part of the economy protection action plan itself concentrates on the protection of jobs and the creation of new ones. This is why the government is offering wage support so that employers can retain the workforce at risk, this is why they are supporting the preservation of jobs with tax reductions, this is why they are offering zero-per-cent credit to businesses, and this is why they have suspended the repayment of credit debts, he listed.

According to his information, since the beginning of the epidemic, they have been engaged in ongoing consultations with chambers and other industry organisations regarding the measures that are necessary in different sectors; this is how they developed the system of wage support, too.

Approximately every fourth application received up to Friday in relation to almost 54,000 workers came from Budapest and Pest County, followed by Hajdú-Bihar County and the South Alföld region, in particular Bács-Kiskun County from the latter, Mr Schanda said.

Almost 30 per cent of the applicant businesses and employers are active in trade, 13.5 per cent in the processing industry, while 13 per cent in the hotel industry and catering most affected by the epidemic. Sixty per cent of the businesses submitting requests for grants are micro-businesses, 26 per cent are small enterprises, 10 per cent are medium-sized businesses, while four per cent are larger companies. However, the distribution of the number of workers reflects the opposite of this, meaning that the majority of them work for large companies.

The State Secretary recalled that wage support is available if the employer is unable to provide full-time employment for its workers. Employees whose part-time work hours fall below 50 per cent could receive grants of up to more than HUF 100,000 monthly per person, while workers whose part-time work hours reach 50 per cent could be eligible for maximum HUF 75,000.

The politician also spoke about the research, development and innovation wage support, highlighting that up to Friday 376 requests were received which could guarantee the retention of the jobs of almost 5,900 researchers and engineers. Most of the applications were received from Budapest (135), Pest County (35) and Hajdú-Bihar County (23) to guarantee the salaries of 2,800, 500 and more than 150 persons, respectively.

Further applications can be submitted for the special wage support amounting to maximum HUF 318,000 per person and per month. It is the developments of companies also engaged in research and innovation that will make the Hungarian economy stronger and more competitive in the wake of the crisis caused by the epidemic, Mr Schanda pointed out.

(Ministry for Innovation and Technology / MTI)