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Amid health crisis, Formentera underscores rights of workers, freelancers and businesses

cartell 2020 campanya govern 1Given the stinging blow local businesses and workers face in light of the state of alarm surrounding the Covid-19 health emergency, the Consell de Formentera wishes to remind islanders of a number of their rights and some of the region- and nationwide measures that have been taken.

In the areas where it has authority, the Consell, for its part, is rigging up a host of measures to make things easier on islanders, chiefly for those most at-risk and groups that stand to be hit hardest. Some measures will involve taxes, permits and licences.

Businesses, freelancers and employees
The most important thing to remember in the current situation is that employers can neither terminate staff nor force them to use holiday time, which must be agreed with workers’ representatives. Remote work and flexible scheduling are among the measures recommended for companies whose operations continue.

For businesses and self-employed individuals, ISBA and ISCO have set up a series of one-off liquidity lines in a bid to shore up liquidity. If a freelancer’s professional activity dries up as a result of the state of alarm, or if total invoices drop more than 75% compared to the previous quarter, benefits can be requested for the duration of the emergency. Such individuals will also pay into Social Security for the length of the crisis. Tax payments on quarterly earnings declarations normally scheduled between 13 March and 30 May 2020 are likewise postponed.

Temporary layoffs
Any business wishing to place employment contracts on hold must file the corresponding temporary redundancy paperwork. Such a measure either entails short-term suspension of a contract or reduced hours. Employees with permanent seasonal contracts must also be accounted for in any temporary redundancy cases: businesses are obliged, on the pre-arranged date, to contact any employees who weren’t notified when a layoff was agreed on, and incorporate these individuals into the temporary redundancy plan.

Employees of companies that submit temporary redundancy plans need not take any special steps: these individuals will be automatically enrolled in the Employment Service of the Balearic Islands (SOIB) and benefit payout will be automatic too.

Temporary layoffs must be negotiated with workers’ representatives and, when the previously agreed-upon time elapses, staff are re-employed under the terms of current contracts.

During the temporary layoff, workers are eligible for provisional unemployment benefits unrelated to typical unemployment benefits. Individuals facing temporary layoffs receive 70% of their average pay-in over the last 180 days of work (or the 180 days prior to coronavirus-interrupted activity), and benefits will continue the length of the temporary layoff. Technically speaking, workers will remain employees of the company for the duration of the disrupted activity.

The Govern balear has created the online portal www.caib.es/sites/coronaviruseconomia/ca/portada so that freelancers, business owners and employees can get answers questions that might arise amid the current situation.

With pension payments due to be issued in the days ahead, the Consell de Formentera wishes to urge individuals who receive pensions, as an at-risk group, to avoid personal contact unless absolutely necessary. Individuals are advised to use outdoor ATMs instead of going inside banks, and to continue following hygiene measures, namely, by refraining from touching one’s face and washing hands as soon as one arrives at home.

25 March 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Consell continues offering complete catalogue of services on web portal, creates special e-mail address and WhatsApp number for questions

Foto 2020 OVACThe Consell de Formentera reports that, amid the current public health crisis, one of the first steps taken was to halt in-person support at the Citizen Information Office (OAC) to limit the number of visits and minimise personal contact between employees and between employees and islanders.

New technologies consellera Vanessa Parellada pointed out that “all the services typically accessed at the OAC are also offered online on the Virtual Citizen Information Office (OVAC, https://ovac.conselldeformentera.cat)”.

To make things easier for islanders, the following contact numbers have also been made available should questions or issues arise:

E-mail: oac@conselldeformentera.cat
WhatsApp: 687209618

The OAC switchboard can be reached, now until 8.30pm, at 971321087.

“OAC personnel are either in at the office, albeit with doors closed to the public, or working from home and responding to inquiries over the phone and by email”, said general services conseller Bartomeu Escandell, who applauded local government employees for “swiftly adapting to ensure uninterrupted and high-quality service”. “They’re answering phones, WhatsApp messages and e-mails”, indicated Escandell, “and if you leave a phone number, they’ll call back and help in any way possible”.

The secretariat additionally reports that the switchboard can also process transactions via fax, at 971322556.

23 March 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Facebook #formenteraesquedaacasa

foto 2020 covid fb perfil2Amid the coronavirus crisis and the prospect now faced by islanders of many hours cooped up at home, the Consell de Formentera has unveiled a new profile on Facebook serving up information about culture, the arts, sport, the environment, music, literature, history and general entertainment. The distinct areas of local government have pledged to post their own contributions to make isolation a little more manageable.

The Consell wishes to applaud islanders once again for their patience and collaboration. To tune in to the latest social-networking offerings, type “Formentera es queda a casa” [Formentera is staying home] in the Facebook search bar and click ‘like’.

Together we’ll make it!

20 March 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Consell allows flexible hours and remote work, plus mandates minimum admin services in view of health crisis

Considering the state of alarm generated by the Covid-19 health crisis, the Consell de Formentera has issued a decree concerning organisation of work and services.

The order, signed yesterday by Consell chief Alejandra Ferrer, calls on government staff to forego all non-essential travel and prioritise employee safety. Department heads are to make arrangements so staff can work from home or remotely; guarantee the provision of minimum services, and maintain positions that pose no risk to staff and are key to service provision.

To help employees balance private and professional obligations, flexible scheduling and virtual work arrangements are to allowed whenever possible. The decree likewise dictates that minimum levels shall apply to the following municipal services: Citizen Information Office (OAC); Secretariat; Accounting; New Technologies; Treasury; Department of Human Resources; Department of Social Services: social workers, family workers, at-home care; Department of Public Safety: Firefighters and Local Police; public lighting; funeral services; cemetery; cleaning brigade; abattoir and animal pound.

Those workers who must remain at home are reminded of their ineligibility for customary holiday leave, personal time and hourly pay. Employees shall stay at home if their functions are declared temporarily unnecessary or are incompatible with virtual work arrangements, though such individuals must remain available should their services be required.

Given the unusual state of things, support and understanding is asked of everyone in light of the changes potentially made necessary by the new organisational scheme for government staff and services.

Department of Human Resources chief Paula Ferrer welcomed the “collaboration and commitment of staff as emergency measures are activated in light of the health crisis” and urged everyone to comply with health protocol. “If we’re going to keep the local government functioning these minimum services are essential”, she said.

18 March 2020
Department of Communication
Consell de Formentera

Formentera port closed to all but health workers

Formentera’s port will close from Thursday 19 March. The three remaining passenger crossings connecting Eivissa and Formentera will be devoted chiefly to “transporting health workers staff and emergency response personnel to the island”, explained Consell president Alejandra Ferrer.

A Saturday decree mandated the implementation of minimum services, meaning 10 just daily journeys in each direction, but the Consell de Formentera has worked with the regional and central governments to reduce the frequency further still, trimming the number of daily trips to three in each direction.

In fact, the central government is set to adopt a new regulation today that will pare down connections not just between mainland Spain and the Balearics, but for inter-island travel as well. Ferrer pointed out that “in Palma, too, the regional government is expected to adopt a resolution that accommodates travel for health workers — something Formentera has been asking for all along so we could close our port”.

33% capacity
Mobility chief Rafael González indicated that under the new scheme Formentera-bound ferries would set out from Eivissa at 7.00am, 1.00pm and 7.00pm, with return trips at 9.00am, 3.00pm and 9.00pm. In order to respect the two-metre safe distance between individuals, ships must not exceed 33% of normal capacity, and the Guardia Civil will screen all boarding passengers to ensure they have a valid reason for travelling as per the state of alarm.

Guaranteeing supplies
González pointed out that the new restriction would not affect the freight vessels essential to keeping the island stocked. “There are never passengers aboard these watercraft; just goods”, said the conseller, who added that priority was being given for transport of basic essentials. He said the passenger ferry timetable was mainly designed “so healthcare professionals who work on Formentera but live on Eivissa can come to work and go home to sleep if they so choose”.

Meanwhile, the local government has teamed up with Formentera’s small and medium-sized business group, Pimef, the Chamber of Commerce, Formentera Hoteliers’ Group and Formentera Hospital to temporarily free up apartments and lodging for healthcare workers coming every day from Eivissa, the goal being to make things easier for such professionals in order to guarantee hospital coverage during the current health scare.

“The aim of this newest precautionary measure is to filter access to the island”, offered President Ferrer. “It was done at the request of islanders and local business owners to protect the island’s inhabitants from this health crisis.” Once again she conveyed a message of thanks “to the entire island of Formentera, to the emergency response and healthcare professionals, and to our local business community; everyone has done an exemplary job of things”.

17 March 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

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