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18 March 2020updated 08 Apr 2020 8:44pm

How are governments around the world supporting workers during the coronavirus crisis?

The UK is the only major country in Europe not to have announced it will subsidise employees’ wages or make direct cash payments to its citizens.  

By George Grylls

Chancellor Rishi Sunak sought to protect the UK economy by providing new support to businesses through a fiscal “bazooka”. But there was precious little announced for workers. Here’s how other countries across the world have responded:


The Australian government will pay $750 (£373) to all lower-income citizens on 31 March. Small and medium-sized enterprises can apply for up to $25,000 (£12,431) to cover employees’ wages.


The Canadian government is expected to announce a package of measures later today. Canadian TV channel Global News has reported that this will include an expansion of employment insurance.


The Danish government has said it will subsidise 75 per cent of workers’ salaries (up to a maximum of 23,000 kroner or roughly £2,840 a month) if firms promise not to fire employees.


The French government is expanding its “partial unemployment” scheme. It means employees can apply for state benefits during an economic crisis and that employers are banned from firing them.

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The German government is expanding “Kurzarbeitergeld” – a scheme which provides government subsidies to employees sent home during economic crises.

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The Italian government will provide more than €500 to each self-employed person. The state will subsidise the wages of some staff who are temporarily laid off. 


The Japanese government last week announced an economic package that provided grants and loans to small and medium-sized businesses. This week it is considering handing out 12,000 yen (£94) to each citizen.


The Spanish government will subsidise workers who have been temporarily laid off by giving them access to the benefits system. A range of loans and grants is also being made available to businesses.


The Swedish government will heavily subsidise workers salaries. Employees will collect 90 per cent of their wages and will work reduced hours.


The UK government is offering £330bn of state-backed loans to businesses and has announced a range of tax cuts for small and medium-sized businesses. Statutory Sick Pay of £94.25 per week will be available from the first day of illness rather than the fourth.


The US government appears to favour direct cash payments to workers, but the exact policy response has not yet been announced by Donald Trump.