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24 March 2020

Poland: Coronavirus: Impacts on employment in Poland

Information current as of: 23.03.2020

Home Office

The new legislation enacted in response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis ("Crisis Act"), allows employers to order any employee employed to perform his/her work determined in the employment contract remotely. The employee’s consent is not required.

According to the National Labour Inspectorate, an order to work from home can be given in any form, also verbally. However, employers should confirm such order to work from home in writing or in an official email or, in the absence of other possibilities, even by a text message.

Under the Crisis Act, remote work must be assigned for a specific period of time, although the regulations do not set either the minimum or the maximum time. The length of time should be commensurate with the intended purpose, which is to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The period of remote work can be shortened or extended, so the employer is free to adjust it to the existing situation.

Care allowance

The Crisis Act provides for an additional care leave if a nursery, kindergarten or school closes because of COVID-19.

This leave is applicable only to parents of children under 8 years old. Parents of older children are not entitled to any special allowances due to closure of schools.

Duration: Special care leave may be granted for up to 14 days starting from the date the school or kindergarten has been closed. The period of 14 days is considered the maximum duration. Since the closure of schools or kindergarten has been extended recently up to Easter the special leave will probably be extended as well;

Compensation: The employee is entitled to leave allowance amounting to 80% of his/her remuneration, paid by the Social Security;

Parents (guardians) have the following possibilities:

Children up to 8 years:

  • additional 14 days to care for a child of up to 8 years

In the event of closing of a nursery, a kindergarten, a school or a children's club, the Crisis Act grants 14 days to care for a child attending these facilities up to the age of 8 – this is an additional care allowance in the amount of 14 days.

The child's mother and father are entitled to the allowance on an equal footing, but it is not paid to both parents, it is an allowance for one of the working parents who has undertaken to provide care.

Children over 8 years:

  • In the event of the closure of a school, parents and guardians of children older than 8 years can take leave for a child to which they are entitled in the amount of two days or 16 hours in case of children under the age of 14.
  • the right to the care allowance.

The allowance is granted for a maximum of:

  • 60 days in a calendar year - in case of care of a sick child until it reaches the age of 14 years,
  • 14 days in a calendar year - in case of care for a sick child who is aged over 14 years,
  • 30 days in a calendar year - if parents/guardians are caring for a sick/disabled child who is aged over 14 years and is under 18 years of age.

The total number of days an employee can use up for all care allowances in a calendar year is 60.

The number of days does not change, regardless of how many children an employee has under his/her custody.

Temporary closure of the workplace and stoppage of remuneration

In the event that the employer has to close his/her workplace or a part of it, or if it is not possible to instruct the employee to work remotely, Article 81 § 1 of the Labour Code will apply.

This provision stipulates that an employee is entitled to a remuneration for a period of non-performance of work, if he/she was ready to perform it, but encountered obstacles for reasons attributable to the employer in the following amounts:

  • resulting from his/her personal classification, determined by hourly or monthly rate of pay (this applies to the employees remunerated at a fixed hourly rate, e.g. PLN 20 per hour or at a fixed monthly rate, e.g. PLN 4,000 per month - these employees will also receive these rates of remuneration during the stoppage),
  • if such component of remuneration has not been identified in the specification of the conditions of remuneration – the employee is entitled to 60 % of the remuneration (this applies i.e. to the employees who receive piece-work or commission remuneration, i.e. remuneration specified as the rate for the quantity of products manufactured or a specified percentage of the revenue / income / profit).

However, under no circumstances may such remuneration be lower than the amount of minimum remuneration for work determined under separate provisions.

It should be acknowledged that the necessity to close the workplace in order to counteract COVID-19 will be caused by reasons attributable to the employer - despite the fact that it has not been caused by the fault of the employer (as well as the power cut in the city, including in the workplace, which prevents from working, a flood which flooded the workplace, etc.)

Shortening of working time

Polish law does not provide for a possibility to unilaterally shorten the working time of employees due to the economic difficulties related to COVID-19 and currently no state subsidies are available for employers to cover their payments.

  • A shortening of an employee's working time requires the modification of the employment contract and consent of an employee.
  • It is likely that specific legislation will be adopted.
  • For employees whose working time is organized in a work-time cycle (which allows for an uneven organization of the working time during the term of the cycle), the allocation of more rest time may be considered and the ordering of more working time would still be possible later when normal operation resumes. If a work-time cycle is already applied, the allocation of working time may be unilaterally ordered by the employer.
  • The application of work-time cycles may be considered if not yet applied. This is rather applicable for blue-collar workers and requires a modification of employment contracts.

Quarantined employees

  • In case employees are quarantined in accordance with the Crisis Act the employees are entitled to sickness remuneration and / or sickness allowance;
  • During the first 33 days in calendar year (14 days in case of employees above 50) of absence of employees because of illness or quarantine the employees will be entitled to remuneration in the amount of 80% of the salary financed by the employer, and afterwards to the sickness allowance financed by the social security fund;
  • For the period of quarantine, the employee will only receive sickness remuneration (sickness allowance) once the quarantine has been completed and a written statement confirming that the quarantine has been completed has been submitted by an employee (3 days after the end of quarantine); there is no payment without a statement; a statement can be sent by e-mail ;
  • If the quarantined employee provides services by way of home office standard remuneration must be paid, and there is no entitlement to sickness allowance;

Main proposals of the protection package for the labour market

The main proposals of the protection package for the labour market are to be as follows:

Takeover of the financing by the state by 40% of the employee's pay for entrepreneurs with financial problems;

Companies, in which the turnover dropped by 15% within a period of 2 months and at least one of them showed a loss - or companies in which the turnover dropped by 25% within a period of 1 month in relation to the previous month and showed a loss - can limit the working time and the pay up to 0.8 of full-time employment (an employee earns 80% of the current pay, not less than the minimum), and the state (FGSP- Guaranteed Employee Benefits Fund) will cover the half of the employee's pay, provided that no more than 40% of the average remuneration in the national economy in 2019;

For example, for an average remuneration of PLN 4,800, FGSP will cover PLN 2,000 on a monthly basis;

In the event of financial problems, an enterprise may take advantage of economic stoppage under which the basis of the working time and wage is limited to 0.5 of full-time employment, and not lower than the minimum wage. The FGSP covers nearly the half of the remuneration in the amount of 130% of the benefit plus social security contributions.

Support from FGSP may last no longer than 3 months.

It is also planned to support people working under civil law contracts (PLN 2,000 gross).

Additional care allowance: for the next 14 days.

It is part of our coronavirus-focused legal updates – visit our coronavirus info corner to get more info!