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Some of your questions are only seemingly simple; behind each of them hides an individual story, sometimes one of difficult and dramatic decisions. Running a business in these times is an incredibly difficult task. But being a worker is equally challenging. Naturally, both employers and employees want to know their rights.

Legal experts from the following law firms are waiting for your questions:

Clifford Chance, Dentons, DZP, FGGK, Gide Loyrette Nouel, Greenberg Traurig, Jagodziński Skrzypek, Lubasz & Partners, Noerr, Pietrzak Sidor & Partners, PwC Legal, Rymarz Zdort, Sołtysiński Kawecki & Szlęzak, Wardyński & Partners.

Send us your questions: listy@wyborcza.pl

1. If the company I work for receives support from the government, what will my pay check look like considering that I used to receive the minimum wage? The company has also reduced our working hours by 20 percent. Does it mean my pay check will be 2600 gross or will it also be cut 20 percent?  Will the reduced working time affect my wage. 

From the content of your question we infer that your employee took advantage of the provision stated in Article 15g, paragraph 8 of the Act of 2 March 2020 on special solutions related to the prevention and combating of COVID-19, other infectious diseases and crisis situations caused by them, and has introduced working hour reductions at the workplace.

The legal provision allows business owners who have experienced a reduction in economic turnover as a result of COVID-19 to reduce the working hours of their employees up to 20%, but no more than half of the overall working time.

A reduction of working hours, however, requires a previous agreement between your employer and a trade union (or, in case there is no organised trade union in your company, a representative chosen by the employees).  The agreement should include a clear statement about the reduction of your working hours. The same should apply to any reduction of wages during the term of the agreement, and should be clearly indicated as well.

However, according to the respective act, any reduction in compensation may not be lower than the legally determined minimum wage considering the determined number of working hours. Assuming the minimum wage for work in the case of full-time employment, i.e. 2600 PLN gross, it means that in the case of reducing full-time employment by 20%, the received compensation may not be lower than 2080 PLN gross.

Marek Kanczew, legal advisor, tax advisor and counsel in the tax department of Rymarz Zdort

Piotr Stawowski, trainee legal advisor and associate in the tax department of Rymarz Zdort.

Rymarz Zdort is a direct successor of Weil, Gotshall & Manges- Paweł Rymarz Ltd., Warsaw branch office of an international law firm based in New York. Its legal team of over eighty lawyers is primarily known for assisting in major mergers and equity market transactions. For over 25 years, the firm's lawyers have been known for their broad competence, high standard of service and bold, pioneering solutions.

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2. I am, was, employed on the basis of a mandate contract. I’m 25 years old. What are my chances for unemployment benefits?

A person employed on the basis of a mandate contract who has lost his/her income may be eligible for downtime pay of 80% of the minimum wage if:

  • he/she is not subject to other social security benefits;
  • the contract was signed before April 1, 2020. 

A downtime pay benefit is granted if, as a result of COVID-19, the business owner or the party with whom the civil law contract was signed experienced operational interruption as a result of which the contract was not concluded or its realisation was restricted.

The application for a downtime pay on behalf of the contractor can be issued by his/her client.

Gabriela Kozerska-Pietranek, associate on the panel for labour law at the Dentons Warsaw branch office.

Dentons is the largest law firm in Poland and in the world. It is the only law firm in Poland that regularly excels in all categories considered in the most prominent international rankings. More than 400 people from Dentons Warsaw branch office support their clients, also pro bono, taking care of the sustainable development of the economy and a global transfer of knowledge. 

3.  I run a company and I am a tax payer. I employ several workers. Do I have to collect and pay income tax advance payments even though I can’t pay my employees?

When compensation for work (or other benefits resulting from the employment relationship) is not actually paid to employees (or is not made available otherwise), there is no obligation to collect and make an advance payment for personal income tax.

According to art. 31 p. 1 of the personal income tax act, the workplaces, being tax payers, are obliged to annually calculate and collect advance payments for income tax from persons whom they compensate on the basis of their business relation, employment relation, house work or cooperative employment relation, and who receive social insurance benefits paid by the workplaces, and in the case of labour cooperatives - payments by virtue of their contribution to the balance surplus.

 Art. 12 of the personal income tax act provides that any income by virtue of the business relationship, employment relationship, housework and cooperative employment relationship shall mean all kinds of cash payments and monetary value of benefits in kind or their equivalents, regardless of the source of financing of these payments and benefits. These include in particular: basic salaries, overtime pay, various allowances, bonuses, awards, holiday pay and any other payments regardless of whether or not they have been fixed in advance, as well as cash benefits incurred for the employee as well as the value of other unpaid benefits or partly paid benefits.

Likewise, article 32(2) of the personal income tax act indicates that the income which constitutes the basis for determining the advance payment is deemed to be the income obtained by the employee during the month and includes the cash benefits from social security paid by the tax payer, after deduction of tax deductible costs and after deduction of the social security contributions paid by the tax payer in a given month for the portion financed by the employee.

In principle, income from compensation for work provided on the basis of an employment relationship arises when it is received by the employee or placed at his/her disposal, and not on the date when it becomes due (e.g. in accordance with the provisions of the employment contract or compensation regulations).

It should also be noted that as part of the "anti-crisis shield", a solution has been introduced that provides for the extension of the deadline for the transfer of advance payment of the tax on salaries collected in March and April 2020 by tax payers who have suffered negative economic consequences due to COVID-19. The deadline has been extended until June 1, 2020.

Maciej Kacymirow, Greenberg Traurig as part of the GT pro Bono –COVID-19 Program

Greenberg Traurig Grzesiak Ltd. is the Warsaw branch office of the international law firm Greenberg Traurig. Since 1991, its lawyers have been advising on the largest and most significant transactions and disputes, achieving a leading position on the Polish legal services market, as confirmed by Polish and international rankings. Already in March 2020 the firm launched a special GT Pro Bono- COVID-19 Program to support micro, small and mid-sized Polish businesses.

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4. I work a full-time job but I’m also self-employed; that means, I only pay the health insurance contribution. Does the “anti-crisis shield” allow me to have it waived for March, April and May?

Assuming that the necessary criteria regarding the amount of income and the period of commencement of business activity are met, it should be possible to redeem the health insurance contribution. But since the already paid health insurance contributions reduce the income tax accordingly, the possibility to redeem the contributions for March, April and May provided for by the “anti-crisis shield” may actually be of minimal economic benefit, given that as a business owner may pay a higher income tax for this period of time.

Jadwiga Chorązka, director of the PwC tax and legal department.

PwC experts provide their clients with advice and auditing services in the fields of business, technology, tax and law. In Poland, PwC employs over 6 thousand people. PwC Legal is part of the global PwC network. Among other things, the law firm specializes in company law, mergers and acquisitions, court proceedings and personal data protection. For more information visit pwc.pl

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