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The Anti-Crisis Shield has finally entered into force

07.04.2020

On 31 March 2020, President Andrzej Duda signed a package of acts nicknamed the “Anti-Crisis Shield”, setting out solutions in five main areas: the employment retention scheme, support for businesses, support for the health care sector, strengthening of the financial system and the introduction of a package of public investments. According to the Polish government, this remedial package is worth PLN 212 billion. This newsletter introduces some of the legal instruments that are of special importance to the first two pillars of the Anti-Crisis Shield, namely the job retention scheme and support for businesses.

1. SUBSIDIES FOR EMPLOYERS

Subsidies to employee’s wages in the case of a work stoppage or reduced working hours

Businesses, irrespective of their size, may apply to their regional labour office for a three-month subsidy in the event of the introduction of a work stoppage or reduced working hours of their employees. This subsidy includes financial support for the payment of social insurance contributions. Under this option:

  • in the case of a work stoppage, the net subsidy per employee will amount to PLN 1,533.09, including social insurance contributions payable by the employer on the subsidy granted, considering the employee’s individual working hours arrangements;
  • in the case of reduced working hours, the maximum amount of the subsidy per employee will be PLN 2,452.27, including social insurance contributions payable by the employer on the subsidy granted, considering the employee’s individual working hours arrangements.

If the employer plans to introduce a work stoppage or to reduce the working hours of its employees, it is required to execute an agreement with the staff. What is more, in order to be eligible under the subsidy scheme, the employer cannot have been late in the payment of taxes or social insurance contributions before the third quarter of 2019, cannot be at the risk of insolvency, and must report a specific decrease in its economic turnover in 2020 (15% or 25% in the period specified in the Anti-crisis Shield).

Subsidies to a part of the employee’s wages and the social insurance contributions payable thereon

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises may also apply for a three-month subsidy to the district labour office. This subsidy ranges from 50% to 90% of the national minimum wage for each subsidised employee – depending on the employer’s decrease in turnover in 2020.

Also in this case, in order to qualify for this subsidy, the employer cannot have been late with the payment of taxes and social insurance contributions before the third quarter of 2019, and cannot be at the risk of insolvency.

2. THE EXPIRY OF MUTUAL OBLIGATIONS UNDER LEASES OR SIMILAR LEGAL OBLIGATIONS IN COMMERCIAL CENTRES

Under the Anti-Crisis Shield, during the period of a ban on trading at retail facilities with a retail space above 2,000 square metres, the mutual obligations under leases, tenancy or similar agreements relating to premises in such facilities will temporarily expire.

Within three months from the date on which the ban is lifted, the tenant (defined in the Anti-crisis Shield as the “entity currently entitled to use the retail space”) will be required to submit to the landlord an unconditional and binding offer to extend the lease on the same terms and conditions as before the ban was imposed. The lease must be binding for the period of the ban plus six months. If this obligation is not complied with, the lease and the underlying obligations of the lease parties are not deemed to have expired.

3. DEFERRAL OF DEADLINES

Under a regulation of the Minister of Finance issued based on the authorisation included in the Anti-Crisis Shield package, the deadlines for recording and reporting, as well as preparing, approving, disclosing and registering company accounts or information required from a company or its governing bodies, have been postponed. Thanks to this change, companies have three more months in which to prepare and sign their 2019 financial statements and management board report on the company’s operations.

Additionally, the deadline for reporting beneficial owners to the Central Register of Beneficial Owners (CRBO) for companies that were registered in the National Court Register (KRS) before 13 October 2019 has been postponed until 13 July 2020.

These changes will undoubtedly facilitate the operation of businesses during the current crisis, since they allow business operators to focus on more urgent needs, such as using the existing business support mechanisms offered under the Anti-Crisis Shield.

4. TAXES AND SOCIAL INSURANCE CONTRIBUTIONS

a) Exemption from social insurance contributions

Microbusinesses employing from one to nine employees will be exempt from the obligation to pay social insurance contributions for themselves and their employees for three months. The exemption also applies to the self-employed who did not exceed the revenue threshold of PLN 15,681 in the month preceding the submission of the application.

Note! This support will be provided based on an application only. The relevant application must be submitted to the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) by 30 June 2020.

b) Advances on income tax

Until 1 June 2020, advances on personal income tax for March 2020 and April 2020 have been deferred for:

  • the tax remitters listed in Articles 31 and 41(1) of the PIT Act;
  • employers and sole traders, legal entities and their organisational units, as well as organisational units without legal personality (unincorporated entities), which perform services under a contract of mandate or a contract for the performance of a specific task with another company, and in relation to copyright and related rights.

The deferral applies automatically (by operation of law), provided that the business suffered adverse economic consequences as a result of COVID-19.

5. FACILITATIONS FOR COMPANIES

The Anti-Crisis Shield has also introduced certain amendments to the Commercial Companies Code that permit members of the management board of limited liabilities companies and joint-stock companies to participate in management board meetings and vote on resolutions using means of direct communication over distance. In addition, the management board will be able to adopt resolutions in writing and vote on resolutions through another management board member.

These regulations also apply to holding shareholders’ meetings and general meetings, so shareholders of limited liabilities companies and joint-stock companies may also participate in meetings and vote on resolutions using means of direct communication over distance. The person convening the meeting decides whether the meeting will be held this way.

The use of these legal solutions is only possible if the articles of association do not state otherwise.

The solutions presented in this newsletter are just some of the legal instruments created under the Anti-Crisis Shield. If you are interested in applying the optimal support measures for your business, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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