Covid-19. Ombudsman welcomes new measures to support the self-employed but warns that in several situations they remain unprotected

The Ombudsman notes as positive the changes introduced by Decree-Law no. 20-C/2020, of May 7, to Decree-Law no. 10-A/2020, of March 13, in order to strengthen support for self-employed workers and members of statutory bodies of legal entities in the current economic and financial climate caused by the epidemiological outbreak that the country and the world are facing, but points out that various categories of workers remain without support.

Still without having received any response to Recommendation no. 5/B/2020 which, on 21/04/2020, addressed to the Minister of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security, the said legal diploma demonstrates that the Government has followed some of the concerns and recommendations made by the Ombudsman.

From the outset, the recommendation to take into account the situation of self-employed workers who were excluded from any support was welcomed, through the introduction of the new measures now foreseen in the added articles 28-A and 28-B of Decree-Law no. 10-A/2020, of 13 March.

It is also worth noting the changes relating to the members of statutory bodies of legal persons, both as regards the increase in the invoicing limit required (EUR 60,000 to EUR 80,000) and the extension of the personal scope of the measure, which now includes all "managers of private limited companies", whether or not they have employees in charge, as long as they carry out "that activity in a single entity".

However, they were left to take care of the situations of self-employed workers who, prior to the exercise of their respective autonomous activity, exercised professional activity as employees, who, not having seen their previous career as contributors, are now disadvantaged in the support to which they can have access, because they are only reappointed to the new "extraordinary incentive measure for professional activity".

The cases of those who are not exclusively covered by the contributory regime for self-employed workers or members of statutory bodies, but who carry out part-time work are also to be taken into account, with an increasing number of complaints being received by the Ombudsman in this regard.

As regards the value of extraordinary support, although a minimum limit has been set on extraordinary support, the inequality of treatment between self-employed workers who have accessed it and those who benefit from exceptional family support has not been corrected, and it is certain that another of the issues most affected by the many complaints that the Ombudsman continues to receive is that of the very small amounts of financial support calculated and allocated, with several complaining of serious difficulties in subsisting on the amount paid to them.

As no response has yet been received to Recommendation no. 5/B/2020, a letter of insistence was sent to the Office of the Minister of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security, in which other situations that were not covered by the support measures are mentioned and which have also been the subject of recent complaints to the Ombudsman, such as that of self-employed workers who dedicate themselves exclusively to local housing and members of statutory bodies of legal persons constituted in 2020.

The letter of insistence can be consulted here [in Portuguese only].