Coronavirus – legal alert

16.03.2020

On 8 March 2020, the Polish government introduced the Act on Special Measures Aimed at the Prevention and Control of COVID-19, Other Infectious Diseases and the Resulting Crisis Situations (the “CV Act”).

In its current wording, only two provisions of the CV Act refer to the situation of employers and employees in the case of the incidence or transmission of novel coronavirus COVID-19, or the threat thereof. To any other matters not regulated in the CV Act, the Act on the Prevention and Control of Infections and Contagious Diseases in Humans will apply. The new legal measures are the following:

1) Work-from-home policy

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, employers may request employees to perform work, as specified in their employment contracts, at a place other than the normal work site, for a fixed period of time.

The CV Act does not include any precise rules governing working from home. Working from home (home office) is an additional measure that the employer may impose to organise work during the COVID-19 outbreak, in order to protect the health of its employees. The request to work from home is mandatory and binding on employees.

2) Additional care allowance

If, due to the closure of a nursery, day care centre, pre-school or school over fear of the spread of COVID-19, person insured in Social Insurance Institution needs to be released from the obligation to work in order to personally take care for his or her child (up to eight years old), then the person is entitled to an additional care allowance, payable for a period not longer than 14 days. This allowance is of an extraordinary nature, meaning that the period for which it is used is not included in the total period for which the care allowance is used in accordance with the rules set out in the Polish Labour Code.

Nevertheless, the CV Act, which was passed with unusual speed, does not contain solutions for Polish businesses facing disruption due to the spread of the virus. The government is aware of this failure and, as soon as on Tuesday, is intending to introduce a bill regulating the most pressing issues concerning the financial liquidity of businesses and the situation on the labour market due to impact of COVID-19. Based on the information on the website of the Ministry of Development, the announced bill will address issues concerning debt relief measures, including arrangements facilitating the payment of taxes and social insurance contributions, as well as instruments aimed at improving the financial liquidity of businesses, including guarantee support and credit subsidies, as well as a dedicated package of measures to protect and support the labour market.

The current situation poses certain issues to businesses, which may raise a number of questions about the most optimal solutions. Unfortunately, as often happens, the answers may not be completely clear and evident, so if you need any legal assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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