As soon as Monday, the Sejm is scheduled to vote for the new ‘anti-crisis shield’ act.
An updated ‘shield’ act was deemed necessary by the government as a response to broad criticism coming from affected employers and economic experts concerning the current legislation.
Social Security Contributions. Not everyone will be exempt
The most important provision in the updated legislation refers to further exemptions from social security contributions for businesses.
According to the original bill passed last Tuesday, all self-employed workers and micro-businesses hiring up to 9 employees are exempt from paying their social security contributions for three months (including March, April, and May this year).
Now, the government expanded this provision to include businesses hiring up to 49 workers. Unfortunately, it appears to be barely more than a marketing scheme. Why?
Article 31 of the new legislation reads: “At the request of a payer who, as of Feb. 29, 2020, has reported less than 50 insured persons for social security, the company shall be released from the obligatory payment of the unpaid social security, health insurance, Labour Fund, Solidarity Fund, Guaranteed Employee Benefits Fund or Bridging Pensions Fund premiums due for the period between March 1, 2020 to May 31, 2020, as shown in the settlement declarations submitted for that period if he/she was reported as a contribution payer before Feb. 1, 2020”
Everything seems clear. I hire 49 workers, which means I do not have to pay their contributions for the three months in question. However, the next section of the Act further explains that “this shall apply to less than 10 insured persons”. Meaning, only the first 9 workers.
Dr. Marcin Wojewódka from the Institute for Retirement considers this provision to be an utter mistake.
- You may think that this would mean substantial help for employers hiring up to 49 people. However, the exemption is more of a PR trick than real help. If I have 45 employees, I’ll get an exemption for nine of them, and I’ll still have to pay contributions for the remaining 36. Unfortunately, what we’re seeing here is another dud. Meanwhile, many companies have already started ,or are about to start, group layoffs. I think the government is being blind and deaf to reality. Such proposals are a waste of paper and press conference time”- says the expert.
Anti-Crisis Shield. New Insolvency Law
What else is there in the new “shield” bill? An updated insolvency law. Today, if a company loses its liquidity and is not able to pay its dues, it is obliged to file for bankruptcy within 30 days. Under the new regulation, a company affected by the epidemiological crisis will have three months to submit an application after the state of emergency has ended. In other words, to regain its financial liquidity, the company will have to prove within three months after the end of the crisis that it is able to make up for the losses caused by the epidemic.
Anti-Crisis Shield for Farmers and Uniformed Services
There are also new provisions about farmers and their families.
Those affected by mandatory quarantine, epidemiological supervision or hospitalization due to COVID-19 will be eligible for an allowance of 50% of the minimum wage (PLN 1,300 gross).
The special act also includes a 14-day care benefit for uniformed service employees. The allowance is related to the closure of schools and kindergartens and applies to those taking care of a child up to eight years of age.
In the initial ‘anti-crisis’ legislation, uniformed service workers like policemen were largely overlooked in terms of receiving any financial support. Together with other uniform service workers they sent an appeal for equal treatment to the government.
Additionally, parents of children with severe or moderate disabilities up to 18 years of age and caretakers of people with disabilities will also be entitled to financial benefits, provided that the facility where their dependents were staying was closed due to the restrictions caused by the coronavirus. Farmers can also apply for an additional care-taker allowance.
Extended Testing Period
Medical and psychological testing for security staff will be automatically extended to 90 days after the end of the emergency state or epidemic threat period.
Any vehicle driving permissions, periodic testing or medical and psychological examinations for drivers will be extended to 60 days after the end of the epidemic.
In the case of foreigners, their visas and all temporary residence permits will be extended up to 30 days after the end of the state of epidemic.
Moreover, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration will also be able to extend its working hours.
No Letter from the Social Security Fund (ZUS)
The new “shield” act also states that we will not be receiving a letter from the Social Security Fund this year informing us about the status of our retirement account. ZUS sends these letters to millions of Poles annually so that they can see what kind of pension they will get if they continue to work or if they decide to leave their job and only receive retirement benefits from contributions they already put away.
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