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A total of 931,000 Portuguese workers have temporarily lost their jobs under the country’s simplified temporary “lay-off” measure prompted by the coronavirus outbreak, Portuguese Minister of Labor, Solidarity and Social Security Ana Mendes Godinho said on Wednesday.

The government’s “lay-off regime” enables companies that lose at least 40 percent of their turnover due to the COVID-19 pandemic to suspend employment contracts.

The laid-off employees are entitled to receive two-thirds of their usual gross salary. This sum cannot be lower than the national minimum wage (635 euros, or 690 U.S. dollars), with the employer paying 30 percent and the Social Security paying 70 percent.

The minister said in parliament that 145,000 self-employed workers in Portugal are also benefiting from this mechanism.

She told lawmakers that another 171,000 people are receiving support from the government for having children under 12 years old. They receive another two-thirds of their salary.

She said that, thanks to the “lay-off regime” the number of unemployment claims has not increased significantly yet.

Official figures show that currently 353,000 Portuguese people are registered as unemployed, an increase of 32,000 over March.

“This shows that we are managing to make the simplified lay-off serve as a ‘cushion’ to maintain jobs during this phase that we are going through, in which many economic sectors are no longer active,” the minister said.

Portugal has extended the state of emergency until April 17, and both President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and Prime Minister Antonio Costa have already said that they will ask for a further extension of the social isolation measures.

To date, Portugal has registered 599 deaths associated with COVID-19 and 18,091 confirmed cases of infection, according to the bulletin released by the Directorate General for Health on Wednesday. Enditem

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