COVID-19 Updates : hardship situations (as of January 2021)
As part of the measures to support Swiss companies due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Federal Council adopted on November 25, 2020, an ordinance governing the details of the hardship support program of the Swiss government and the cantons.
Said ordinance was amended twice, first in December 2020 and then in January 2021, easing the minimal eligibility conditions and extending the financial support.
As of January 2021, the main conditions of the federal ordinance are the following (amendments in bold) :
Minimal eligibility conditions :
- Company must have an identification number (registered in the commercial register before March 1st, 2020) ;
- Company must have realized an average turnover of at least CHF 50’000 in 2018 and 2019 ;
- Company’s payroll costs shall be mainly generated in Switzerland ;
- Company must be in hardship situation, i.e. 2020 turnover less than 60% of the average turnover in 2018 and 2019 due to the governmental measures against Covid-19 spread, or if the company’s turnover was impacted by governmental measures between January 2021 and June 2021 (the decline in turnover can be calculated based on the turnover of the preceding 12 months instead of the 2020 turnover) ;
- Company confirms that significant fixed costs are not covered due to the decline in turnover;
- Company has taken necessary measures to protect its liquidity and capital ;
- Company is profitable or viable, i.e. company is not bankrupt or in liquidation and has paid all social security contributions since March 15, 2020 ;
- Company is not state-owned and has not benefited from other financial support specifically granted by the state to certain industries (sport, culture, public transports, etc.) ;
- Company must undertake not to decide to distribute or distribute any dividend or directors’ fees, reimburse capital or grant shareholder loans during three years or until the financial support’s reimbursement ;
- Company shall not transfer the funds abroad.
On January 14th, 2021, a significant exemption was adopted. Companies closed due to a decision of the federal or cantonal authorities during at least 40 days between November 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, are not required to meet conditions 4 to 6 above.
Maximum financial support:
- Loans and other guarantees are capped at (i) 25% of the average turnover in 2018 and 2019 and (ii) CHF 10 mio per company ;
- Financial contributions (without issuance of shares or other form of compensation) are capped at (i) 20% of the average turnover in 2018 and 2019 and (ii) CHF 750’000 per company; cantons can decide to exceptionally increase the contribution per company to a maximum amount of CHF 1.5 mio under certain conditions ;
- If loans/guarantees and financial contributions (without issuance of shares or other form of compensation) are granted in parallel, the total amount is capped at (i) 25% of the average turnover in 2018 and 2019 and (ii) CHF 10 mio per company.
Certain of the cantons have already launched their hardship support program and require that the companies apply within a specific deadline. Each company should check the specific eligibility conditions applicable in the relevant canton.