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wsThe state of the epidemic in Poland was announced on March 20, just before 7 PM by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the Minister of Health Łukasz Szumowski. The latter stated that the situation has come to the point in which it is necessary to introduce stricter provisions than the existing laws resulting from the previously announced state of epidemiological threat.

Explaining the difference between the state of epidemiological threat and the state of the epidemic, Szumowski emphasized that in the latter case, representatives of the authorities gain greater powers to enlist specific groups of citizens to help fight the disease. 

You keep your salary, the State pays

The basis for action is the Act on the prevention and combating of infections and infectious diseases in humans, and more specifically Chapter 8. Under Art. 47, it mentions the possibility of a forced (by decision of a voivode) referral to work in combating the epidemic of all persons practicing professions related to health care.

The Act enumerates that they are: "Employees of medical entities, persons performing medical professions and persons with whom contracts have been signed for the provision of health services".

But this obligation may also be extended to non-medical citizens. The same article 47 says that "other people may be referred to work on combating an epidemic, if their referral is justified by the current needs of entities managing the epidemic." 

According to the law, "a referral to work on fighting an epidemic is made by an administrative decision." You can appeal against it, but the appeal and the waiting time for its resolution does not suspend the implementation of the decision. In a word: everyone called to the task will have to take on the responsibilities assigned.

Forced labor can take place in a voivodeship where a person lives (then the voivode directs them there) or in another region of the country (then the Minister of Health decides).

According to the law, "the decision to refer to work in combating an epidemic creates an obligation to work for up to 3 months in a medical entity or other organizational unit indicated in the decision".

Citizens mobilized in this way are protected against being fired (formally they are on vacation). The state covers their travel expenses, accommodation and pays the salary of their current earnings. The salary cannot be lower than 150 percent of average salary.

Not everyone can be ordered to work

The Act exempts the following categories of citizens from the obligation to "work at risk of infection while fighting an epidemic":

  • persons under 18 years of age or over 60
  • pregnant women or people raising children up to 18 years old, including people bringing up children up to 18 years of age alone
  • persons with partial or total incapacity for work
  • people with disabilities and people with chronic diseases

Everyone who holds "managerial state positions as well as deputies and senators" are also dismissed.


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Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about the coronovirus pandemic for you.

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