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17 February 2021
Anti-crisis shield – aid for employers
Anti-crisis shield – remote work
Amendments to Labour Code
Changes to posting of workers
Further implementation of employee capital plans
Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic dominated 2020, affected the business world and forced employers to adapt to new conditions. The legislative work of 2020 focused mainly on counteracting the COVID-19 pandemic's impact by supporting employers and preserving jobs.
This article presents a brief summary of the key changes that employers and employees had to face in the difficult year of 2020.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government introduced a package of measures known as the 'anti-crisis shield' which aimed to:
The anti-crisis shield has been repeatedly amended and its solutions adjusted so that the employers whose businesses were most affected by the government-introduced restrictions could benefit from financial support. With the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, state aid became targeted at specific industries affected by the restrictions. The so-called 'industry shield' was adopted and with it the next version of the Polish Development Fund's financial shield.
The anti-crisis shield allowed employers to:
In addition, employers, in agreement with employee representatives, could suspend certain benefits and grant outstanding annual leave. Moreover, employers could apply for a total or partial exemption from the obligation to pay social security contributions. The anti-crisis shield also held that severance pay, compensation or other pecuniary benefits payable by employers to employees on termination of their employment contract could not exceed 10 times the minimum wage. Further, the anti-crisis shield allowed parties to non-compete agreements to terminate such agreements with seven days' notice. The conditions for using particular instruments and the admissible period of their use have been indicated in detail in legislation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced employers to alter their existing ways of organising work in a manner that limits employee contact to prevent the spread of COVID-19 but does not put the company to a standstill. Most employers decided to allow their employees to work remotely. Unfortunately, remote work has been difficult to organise because it is unregulated in the Labour Code and its introduction is associated with several risks for employers.
One of the most important amendments to the anti-crisis shield was the introduction of provisions allowing employers to instruct employees to work remotely. According to such provisions, employees may be instructed to work remotely if:
Employers must provide the tools and materials needed to perform remote work and are responsible for handling the logistics thereof. Employees may use tools or materials not provided by their employer to perform remote work only if they can ensure adequate security and protection of confidential information and other legally protected secrets (eg, personal data, business secrets and information which, if disclosed, could harm their employer).
Another ground-breaking change that has made remote working more widespread was the introduction of allowing employees to work remotely while in quarantine and isolation.
In addition to the anti-crisis shield, there have been many other COVID-19-related changes to the employment landscape. For example, the repeatedly amended regulation concerning the establishment of certain restrictions, orders and prohibitions in connection with the state of epidemic has required employers to:
In addition, unless employers decide otherwise, if there is more than one person in a room, everyone in the workplace must cover their mouth and nose.
In 2020 a significant modification of the Labour Code entered into force. In order to improve the effective recovery of maintenance payments, from 1 December 2020, changes were introduced to the code with regard to minor offences and penalties for employers. These changes aim to discourage employers from:
The amendments provide for a fine from Zl1,500 to Zl45,000 for employers or persons acting on their behalf if:
The provisions on the posting of workers have also been significantly modified and Poland has implemented the EU Posted Workers Directive (2018/957/EU). Subsequently, amendments were made to the Act on the Posting of Employees of 10 June 2016. The amendments have:
In 2019 the act on the introduction of a special mechanism of employee capital plans aimed at the systematic accumulation of savings entered into force. The first group of employers had to establish employee capital plans in 2019, followed by two more groups in 2020. Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the deadline for the introduction of employee capital plans for employers in the second group (ie, those employing at least 50 persons as of 30 June 2019) was postponed by six months and, as a result, was the same as the deadline set by the act for employers employing at least 20 persons. However, both groups still had to introduce employee capital plans in 2020. The remaining employers must introduce employee capital plans in 2021.
For further information on this topic please contact Agnieszka Fedor or Magdalena Krupska-Kacprzyk at Soltysiński Kawecki & Szlęzak by telephone (+48 22 608 7000) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). The Sołtysiński Kawecki & Szlęzak website can be accessed at www.skslegal.pl.
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