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The COVID-19 journey so far – Poland

03 June 2020
The story so far for Poland during the COVID-19 pandemic and what returning to the workplace in the post-lockdown environment may look like.
Nearly 3 months have passed since the first case of COVID-19 infection was diagnosed in Poland. During this period, the Polish government presented a number of legislative solutions to support employers and employees. The Polish legislator has already presented four versions of the anti-crisis package for employers, for the realization of which over PLN 200 billion is to be allocated.

The package provides for the potential obtaining of partial co-funding towards the costs of employees' salaries and social insurance contributions for employers who have experienced economic slowdown related to COVID-19. Such support may be granted for up to three months and may be used by micro, small and medium-sized employers. 

Another solution to protect workplaces from liquidation is the so-called standstill benefit. It is paid to self-employed persons and those working under civil law contracts. The government predicts that about 2 million employees will be able to benefit from this aid. The package also allows for the possibility of granting a loan for micro-employers up to the amount of PLN 5,000, paid out once, not later than within 7 calendar days from the date of signing the loan agreement. The package also provides for exemption from social security contributions for certain categories of contribution payers. The exemption from contributions covers 3 months, while unpaid contributions will be remitted. 

State aid is also granted to employers who are forced to amend employee conditions of work and remuneration due to the decrease in economic turnover as a result of coronavirus. The employer may reduce employees' remuneration by no more than 50%, but not less than the minimum wage, this is possible after reaching an agreement with the employees' representative. A copy of the agreement is sent to the competent labour inspector. Similarly, the employer may decrease employee working time by 20%. Employees covered by these solutions are protected from termination. 

Thanks to the funds from the Guaranteed Employee Benefits Fund, the employer will now receive a subsidy to the remuneration during the period of downtime in the amount of 50% of the minimum remuneration,plus social security contributions due from the employer on the benefits granted. The employers who reduce employee working time will receive up to 40% of the average remuneration per employee with reduced working time.

The package also introduces other solutions, such as the possibility of simplified amendment of working time rules in order to adjust them to current needs of the employer. 

From lockdown to return to work

The Polish economy has gradually been re-opened since April 2020. Despite the fact that more and more areas of our lives are returning to normal, such as shopping malls, restaurants or beauty salons reopening, the Polish government emphasises that the virus has not been defeated, so remote work should still be undertaken where possible. In the case of workplaces where there is no such possibility, e.g. warehouses or wholesalers, employees must observe safety rules, for example, frequent disinfection of hands, use of masks and keeping proper distance.

Some employers reopened the workplace as soon as restrictions were lifted, but they must adapt their workplaces to new realities in order to minimise the chances of the virus spreading. From social distancing, health checks and hygiene measures, to major workplace redevelopment and changes in the organisation of daily work, all of which are intended to contribute to the health of workers and their families.

Many employers are taking actions in order to ensure that only healthy employees return to work, however such actions are not stipulated directly by current provisions of law, which poses a big challenge for the employers. 

Rigorous changes must be carried out in accordance with health and safety regulations and the latest government guidelines.

Employers will have to face new challenges, such as contracts, procedures, changed work models or fines for violations of the government guidelines, but these changes are necessary in order to return to normal functioning.

To support employers with their return to work planning, we have prepared a step by step guide on the key measures and employment checklist.

Please see our Poland employment checklist for a step by step guide on the key measures to consider >

Return to the global overview page to review the story so far in other locations >