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Anti-crisis shield in connection with COVID-19 – job protection and support for employers

The President has signed the act amending the act on special solutions related to preventing, counteracting and combating COVID-19, other infectious diseases and related states of emergency and certain other acts, i.e. the so-called anti-crisis shield approved by the Sejm. The main objective of the anti-crisis shield is supporting companies suffering financial loss due to COVID-19 in order to protect work places.

 

Below are the details of the solutions that raise the greatest interest among entrepreneurs, namely solutions regarding co-financing of remuneration, social insurance and PIT contributions.

Exemptions and relief in the payment of social insurance contributions

Exemption from social contributions

  • micro-enterprises - at the request of the withholding agent who, as at 29 February 2020 has less than 10 employees registered for social insurance, the Act exempts them from paying contributions for the social insurance and the Labor Fund, Guaranteed Employee Benefits Fund and health insurance for a period of 3 months (March, April, May), which means that contributions will not be paid from April to June 2020.

The conditions enabling the exemption from the abovementioned contributions are:

  • conducting business before February 1, 2020,
  • not being in arrears with contribution payments as at the end of 3rd quarter,
  • revenue not exceeding EUR 2 m over last two fiscal years.
  • self-employed – conducting non-agricultural activity before 1 February 2020 and remitting own social security contributions, who meet the revenue criterion, i.e. in the month preceding the submission of the application they generated revenue not exceeding PLN 15,681.

Postponement of payment

At the request of the withholding agent who has difficulty with remitting current contributions due to the COVID-19 epidemic, there is a possibility to postpone the payment deadline for the period from January 2020.

The postponement concerns all business entities, regardless of the size of the business or the duration of their business activity.

The Social Insurance Institution will not charge the extension fee for the postponement of contribution payments.

Co-financing of remunerations (applies to employment contracts, mandate contracts and contracts for performance of a specific task)

Co-financing for employers from the Guaranteed Employee Benefits Fund

An employer who recorded a decrease in economic turnover due to COVID-19 by at least 15% during any two successive calendar months chosen at own discretion in the period after 1 January 2020 compared to the total turnover from the corresponding two consecutive calendar months of the previous year or a decrease of at least 25% of the turnover due to the same reason from month to month and, in addition, is not in arrears with social security, health insurance, Guaranteed Employee Benefits Fund, Labor Fund, Solidarity Fund contributions or tax at the end of the third quarter of 2019, may benefit from the following forms of aid concerning the financing of remunerations:

  • economic downtime - downtime pay for employees who cannot work due to COVID-19 and the closure of the workplace or its part. The employer pays to an employee covered by economic downtime the remuneration reduced by no more than 50%, but not lower than the minimum remuneration for work, taking into consideration their working time. The employer will receive co-financing for remuneration in the period of downtime in the amount of 50% of the minimum remuneration plus social security contributions deducted by the employer from the amount of the co-financed remuneration.
  • reduction of working time – the employer may reduce the working time by 20%, not more than 0.5 full-time employment, provided that the remuneration may not be lower than the minimum remuneration for work, taking into consideration the working time. In such case, the employer may apply for co-financing up to half of the remuneration, but no more than 40% of the average monthly remuneration from the previous quarter plus insurance contributions deducted by the employer from the co-financed remunerations.

Co-financing does not apply to the remuneration of employees whose remuneration obtained in the month preceding the month in which the application for co-financing was submitted had been higher than 300% of the forecasted average monthly gross remuneration in the national economy in 2020 (PLN 15,681).

The co-financing will be valid for three months from the submission of the application.

In order to benefit from the abovementioned aid, the conditions and mode of work performance during periods of economic downtime or reduced working time should be agreed.

The agreement should be concluded by the employer with a trade union organization or employee representatives.

The employer will have 5 working days to submit a copy of the agreement to the competent regional labor inspector, counting from the date of conclusion of the agreement.

Those employers who manage to determine the conditions and mode of work during periods of economic downtime or reduced working time will not have to apply Art. 42 par 1-3 of the Code of Civil Procedure, i.e. in practice the provisions on the notice of termination amending the employment contract. This means that the employer does not terminate the terms of employment and remuneration and the amendment of the employment terms is effective automatically, as at the day agreed with trade unions or employee representatives.

Employer who under the co-financing agreement received funds for job protection cannot terminate the employment contract for reasons not attributable to the employee during the period of receiving the co-financing by which this employee is covered nor afterwards for the period equal to the total period of receiving the co-financing (max. 3 months).

CALCULATION SHOWING DIFFERENCES IN AMOUNTS DEPENDING ON A CHOSEN CO-FINANCING SCHEME. FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS CALCULATION, REMUNERATION OF PLN 5,000.00 WAS APPLIED.

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Co-financing for employee remunerations and social security contributions by local governments – the district governor (starost) – available for micro-, small and medium – sized enterprises

Another type of aid for the labor market is the possibility for the employer to apply for co-financing of part of the employee remuneration costs and due social security contributions to the district governor (starost). A condition for benefitting from the abovementioned aid is the decrease in economic turnover following the outbreak of COVID-19.

The decrease in turnover is deemed a decrease in the sales of goods or services, in quantitative or value terms, calculated as the ratio of total turnover over any two consecutive calendar months chosen at own discretion, falling after January 1, 2020 to the day preceding the day of submission of the application, compared to the total turnover in any of the two consecutive calendar months of the previous year.

If the decrease in turnover is at least:

  • 30% – co-financing may be granted in an amount not exceeding a monthly amount determined as the product of the number of employees covered by the application for co-financing and 50% of the minimum amount of remuneration for work (i.e. PLN 1,300),
  • 50% – co-financing may be granted in an amount not exceeding a monthly amount determined as the product of the number of employees covered by the application for co-financing and 70% of the minimum amount of remuneration for work (i.e. PLN 1,820)
  • 80% – co-financing may be granted in an amount not exceeding a monthly amount determined as the product of the number of employees covered by the application for co-financing and 90% of the minimum amount of remuneration for work (i.e. PLN 2,340).

Co-financing may be granted for no longer than 3 months, however an employer benefitting from the above co-financing scheme is obliged to retain the employees covered by the co-financing in employment throughout the co-financing period and after it ends for the period equal to the period of co-financing.

The co-financing is to be paid monthly, upon submitting a statement on the employment of employees in a given month, as at the last day of the month for which the co-financing is paid.

Entrepreneurs submit an application for co-financing to the district employment agency within 14 days from the day of the announcement of the call for submitting applications by the director of that agency.

NOTE
The employer may receive aid (co-financing for remuneration and contributions referred to in points 1 and 2) for the same costs from only one source of public aid.

Advances on PIT

In case of tax advances withheld by the employer in March and April 2020 from revenue under service relationship, employment relationship, outwork or cooperative work relationship and from financial allowances paid out from the social insurance as well as under contract of mandate or contract for specific task or due to property rights, the obligation to remit withheld advances to the tax office must be fulfilled by 1 June 2020, if the withholding agent suffered adverse economic effects due to COVID-19.

More flexible working time

The employer affected by the consequences of the COVID-19 epidemic and fulfilling same criteria as for co-financing from the Employee Guaranteed Benefits Fund, may reduce the employee's daily uninterrupted rest time from the current 11 to 8 hours, and the weekly rest time from 35 to 32 hours.

In addition, in agreement with the employees, the employer will be able to extend the daily working time to a maximum of 12 hours in a calculation period not exceeding 12 months.

The agreement on the application of less favourable terms of employment for employees than resulting from employment contracts concluded with these employees should indicate the scope and duration of the changes.

A copy of the agreement must be submitted to the National Labor Inspectorate within 5 working days of concluding the agreement with trade unions or employee representatives.

Additional carer’s allowance

The Act extends the period for claiming the carer’s allowance for another 14 days in the event of unexpected closing of the nursery, kindergarten, rehabilitation and education centres or other institution when it is impossible for a nanny or daily carer to provide care due to COVID-19 Additional carer’s allowance maybe claimed by persons taking care of:

  • a child under 8 years of age,
  • a child with a certified significant or moderate degree of disability up to 18 years of age,
  • a child with a certified disability or requiring special education,
  • disabled adult.

The above provisions come into effect as of 26 March 2020.

Regulations on medical check-ups under preventive employee healthcare

The Act introduced a temporary suspension of the application of Art. 229 of the Labor Code imposing the obligation to undergo periodic preventive check-ups.

Doctor’s certificates issued upon preliminary, periodic and follow-up check-ups which expired after 7 March 2020 will be valid for 60 days after the state of emergency or epidemic is called off.

However, pursuant to the Act, preliminary check-ups and follow-up check-ups may be carried out and confirmed by an issued certificate by a doctor other than the occupational health physician, however, in such case, the certificate expires after 30 days of calling off the state of emergency or epidemic. Employees are not allowed to perform work if they fail to hold valid doctor’s certificate.

Postponement of the deadline for implementing Employee Capital Plans for medium-sized enterprises, (the so-called 2nd stage of the Employee Capital Plans) until the end of November, i.e. the time when the 3rd stage is to be implemented.

Postponement of the obligation related to the Employee Capital Plans in medium-sized enterprises for 6 months – change of the deadline for concluding and managing the Employee Capital Plans – respectively to 27 October 2020 and 10 November 2020.

Detailed data analysis is crucial – employers must take all factors into consideration and decide which solution is the most beneficial for their company based on available data and predictions. The analysis should be conducted especially before submitting the application as not all co-financing schemes can be used simultaneously.

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In case of any questions or the need to discuss this issue, please contact our expert Agnieszka KOŹLAREK:

e-mail: ekspert@rsmpoland.pl

tel. +48 61 8515 766

fax +48 61 8515 786

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