President Andrzej Duda signed the Act of 19 June 2020 on interest subsidies for bank loans granted to entrepreneurs affected by COVID-19 and simplified proceedings for the approval of an arrangement in connection with the occurrence of COVID-19, known as Shield 4.0.
Shield 4.0, in addition to protecting Polish companies, introduced significant changes to labour law and social security during a state of epidemic threat or a state of epidemic related to the spread of COVID-19.
Among them were:
1. The extension of the additional care allowance until 28 June 2020, to which an employee is entitled if he or she is required to personally care for a child under eight years of age during COVID-19;
2. Clarification of the principles of remote work:
- the possibility of commissioning remote work to an employee who has the skills and technical capabilities to perform it, if the type of work performed allows it,
- provision by the employer of tools, materials and logistical support to perform remote work,
- enable the employee to use their own tools or materials, provided that the protection of the processed personal data, confidential information and information the disclosure of which could expose the employer to damage,
- the employer may order the employee to keep, in a specific form and frequency, a register of the activities performed, including a description of the tasks performed and the date and time of their performance,
- the employer may at any time withdraw the order to perform remote work.
3. Introduction of the possibility to reduce the working time of an employee (employment contract, contract of employment, contract of mandate or other contract for the provision of services) by up to 20% or to place the employee on economic standstill together with the payment of remuneration reduced by up to 50% for a period of 6 months, counting from the month in which there was a significant increase in the burden on the wage fund, but no longer than for 12 months from the date of cancellation of the state of emergency or epidemic. The conditions and manner of performing work during the period of economic downtime or reduced working hours will have to be determined by the employer in an agreement concluded with a representative/company trade union organisation or employee representatives;
4. The introduction of a possibility to grant, without the employee’s consent, an outstanding leave of up to 30 days, disregarding leave plans, on the date indicated by the employer;
5. Limitation of the amount of severance pay, compensation or other pecuniary benefit paid by the employer in connection with the termination of an employment contract to ten times the minimum wage (including a contract of mandate, a contract of specific work and another contract for the declaration of services, except for an agency contract) in the event of a significant decrease in economic turnover or a significant increase in the wage fund;
6. The introduction of the possibility to suspend the employer’s obligations in respect of the company social benefits fund, including the payment of holiday benefits, in the event of a significant drop in economic turnover or a significant increase in the salary fund by means of an agreement with representative trade union organisations
7. Introduction of the possibility to terminate a non-compete agreement in force after the termination of the employment relationship, agency agreement, mandate agreement, contract for specific work and other contract for the provision of services, subject to a 7-day notice period.
The new provisions will enter into force on the day following the date of announcement, with the exception of the provisions concerning the additional care allowance, which will be in force with effect from 25 May 2020.