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What kind of relief does the "anti-crisis shield" provide for employers?

06 April 2020
The act amending the Act on special solutions for preventing and counteracting and combating COVID-19, other infectious diseases and related crisis situations and certain other acts ("the Act") became effective on 31 March 2020.

The Act introduces relief for employers in connection with the COVID-19 epidemic. These include primarily:

1. Removing the obligation of periodic occupational medicine examinations
2. Possibility of reducing employees' salaries to 50%
3. Possibility of reducing the working time of employees by 20%

The solutions of points 2 and 3 are introduced in consultation with trade unions or employees' representatives, so in companies where there is no representative body, it is worthwhile to identify them today. The introduction of these solutions does not require giving any notice or amending agreements, but requires notification to the district labour inspector.

4. Subsidising employees' wages (also applies to contractors, among others):
a. covered by the downtime - 50% of the minimum wage plus a contribution to the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) on this benefit (i.e. PLN 1 533.09)
b. reduced working hours - up to 40% of the average monthly remuneration from the previous quarter (PLN 2 452.27)

The co-financing is not eligible for the remuneration of employees whose remuneration obtained in the month prior to the month in which the application for the co-financing was submitted was higher than 300% of the average monthly remuneration from the previous quarter announced by the President of the CSO, valid on the day of submitting the application (i.e. currently PLN 15 595.74)

The co-financing is granted from the Guaranteed Employee Benefits Fund at the request of the employer submitted to the director of the voivodeship employment office.

5. The district governor (starosta) co-finances part of the costs of salaries and social insurance contributions due from them for entrepreneurs with a decrease in economic turnover (by at least 30%). This concerns not only employees, but also includes contractors and persons with whom service contracts have been concluded.

Co-financing may be granted to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises for a period not longer than 3 months (this period may be extended by the Council of Ministers). An entrepreneur is obliged to maintain the employment of employees covered by the co-financing for the period of co-financing and, after the end of the latter, for a period equal to that period. Applications for co-financing shall be submitted to the poviat labour office competent for the registered office of the entrepreneur or the place of work of the employees.

The limit of the amount of co-financing will be maximum from 50% to 90% of the minimum salary (depending on the decrease in turnover).

6. Employers in enterprises conducting business activity consisting in ensuring the functioning of critical infrastructure systems and facilities, as well as petrol stations may change systems and work schedules, as well as commission overtime work to ensure continuity of activity.

7. Extension of the period of validity of a visa/stay for a temporary stay of a foreigner during the epidemic.

8. Employers with a decrease in turnover and no tax and contribution arrears may take advantage of the following measures:
- limitation of uninterrupted daily (up to 8 h) and weekly (up to 32 h) rest periods
- introduction of an equivalent distribution of working time with a 12-month reference period
- to conclude an agreement with workers' representatives on less favourable working conditions

9. Exemption of micro-businesses (employing up to nine people) established before 1 February 2020 and self-employed from contributions to ZUS, social security, health insurance, Labour Fund, Solidarity Fund, FGSP, FEP for 3 months.

The Act also provides for support mechanisms for the self-employed and contractors who have experienced downtime. Such persons may apply for a benefit of PLN 2080 (80% of the minimum wage). For contractors whose income from civil law contracts does not exceed 1300 PLN per month (50% of the minimum wage), the downtime benefit will amount to the sum of wages under civil law contracts. Self-employed persons settling in the form of a tax card may receive a downtime benefit of 1300 PLN. 

A condition for receiving the benefit is that the income in the month prior to the month of filing the application does not exceed 300% of the average monthly salary from the previous quarter announced by the President of the CSO, valid as of the day of filing the application (currently PLN 15 595.74).

We encourage you to familiarize yourself with the alert and please feel free to contact us should you have any questions or doubts. Our experts from the Labour Law Department will be happy to answer your questions.

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