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Until recently, Michał Siemieniecki had to pay for catering for employees, give them raises and agree to holidays’ requests, out of fear that they would leave his company and take a different job. Today they would give a lot to have any opportunity to work. Unfortunately, the event organizing company Art4Media is on a standstill. The company had to postpone until autumn the events planned for June. However, it is still unknown what will happen after June, whether the clients will stay afloat, or whether the bailiff will take over the company’s expensive equipment before. Competitors share similar fears.

- I had to make a decision to dismiss all 10 employees. Yesterday I gave them the notices - says Siemieniecki. - Although each of them understands the situation, it was still very hard. Some of them will find themselves in a very difficult position in May - their partners have lost their jobs too.

Corporate layoffs begin

Some of the entrepreneurs have hoped that the state aid package will help them to survive. Others decided not to wait and started to send away the employees. 

Research prepared by Employers of Poland Association employment reduction was carried out by 30 percent of companies in March due to coronavirus. First to lose their jobs were employees from the tourism and catering industry.

Polish hoteliers say at least 1,200 will become unemployed . Itaka and Wakacje.pl already laid off tens of employees.

As much as 66.5% of companies surveyed by Employers of Poland Association are planning similar action in the next three months. One-fifth of respondents intend to terminate from 11 to 20 percent of employees, and every tenth - from 21 to 30 percent of its crew.

- Unfortunately, the entrepreneurs who counted on bigger reductions in compulsory tax and social contributions were disappointed by the government. So they are making the only decision that can help sustain the existence of their companies - they cut costs, which also means a reduction in employment - says Sławomir Dudek, the chief economist of Employers of Poland Association.

Well-known bicycle manufacturers Kross and Romet have already announced corporate layoffs. The tights and socks manufacturer - Syntex intends to dismiss 100 employees. The cuts were also announced by the president of the furniture company Black Red White which employs 7,5 thousand people. 

- In many large companies with whom we cooperate, there are already lists of people to be dismissed and on Tuesday some employees were given notice - says Kazimierz Sedlak, director of HR consulting company Sedlak & Sedlak.

In his opinion, after the decisions taken by some companies in the last days, the unemployment rate in Poland will increase rapidly. "I'm afraid it will reach double digits of unemployment very quickly," he says.

Labor offices are not ready for the large new wave of unemployed

Marlena Maląg, the Minister of Labor confirmed in the interview for Polish Radio 24 that the unemployment rate will start to increase quickly at the end of April and May. She predicts that before the end of the year the number of unemployed will rise from 920 thousand to 1.4 million. Experts suggest even higher numbers to be accurate such as 2 millions of unemployed.

Piotr Kalisz, Chief Economist of CitiHandlowy estimates that between May and July, there will be 200,000 new registered unemployed people per month. By the end of the year, there will be almost 1 million of unemployed, and the unemployment rate will reach 11 percent, which will double from the current level of 5.5 percent.

The government's "anti-crisis shield" does not address the issue of unemployment. Trade unions demand from the government the improvement of unemployment benefits.

Currently the unemployment benefit is equal to 861.40 PLN . This amount is paid for the first three months. Later the unemployed person receives only 676.40 gross PLN.

- Current and future unemployed had to pay the contributions to the Labor Fund, and now someone else, e.g. employees on civil law contracts, will be supported with those funds - says Andrzej Radzikowski, chairman of OPZZ.

Lech Antkowiak, former deputy head of the labor office in Warsaw: - It was not so long ago that the unemployment rate was so low that the government was thinking of closing the labor offices. Many office workers left the job. It is not known how the offices will cope with such an influx of unemployed people.

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