Posted on Categories coronavirus

Anti-crisis Shield 4.0 and the Labour Code – which new regulations apply to employers?

The provisions of Shield 4.0 are already in force as part of the draft law on interest rate subsidies for bank loans to ensure the financial liquidity of entrepreneurs affected by COVID-19, as well as amendments to some other acts.

The new Act contains some solutions in relation to labour law to minimise the economic impact of the ongoing pandemic. This article presents some of the most important, recently adopted, employer rights and obligations which have been included in the regulations. 

Clarification of rules concerning remote work  

The law provides for the possibility of asking an employee to work remotely provided that he/she has the appropriate skills, suitable premises and technical facilities, and that their type of work allows for them to perform it remotely.

The work is to be performed using means provided by the employer. The employee may also use their own means, provided that they ensure adequate protection of sensitive information – personal data, business secrets and other information, which could put the employer at risk if disclosed.

Moreover, upon the employer’s instruction, the employee is also obliged to record the work time with a description of activities performed as well as the date and time of their performance.

The employer’s responsibility in the area of health and safety is limited only to accidents involving means or materials provided by the employer for the purpose of remote work, occurring during its performance.

Changes in providing overdue leave

Until now the employer was obliged to grant the employee overdue leave by 30 September of the year following the leave entitlement.

According to the new regulations, the employer may grant the employee their overdue leave on the date indicated by him without having to comply with the September deadline.

Limitation of termination benefits

If the employer’s turnover falls or remuneration funds are significantly burdened by the pandemic, the amount of benefits paid out in connection with employment termination and civil law contracts is limited. This includes severance payments (e.g. for collective redundancies), compensations, etc. If any one of the above conditions is met, the amount of the benefit cannot exceed ten times the minimum salary (amounting to PLN 2,600 gross in accordance with applicable regulations).

Possibility of suspending some of the obligations concerning the Employee Social Benefit Fund

It is also possible to suspend the application of certain provisions of collective-work agreements and remuneration regulations, which set a higher amount of write-off towards the social benefit fund and other social and welfare benefits than those set out in the Act. The Act gives this possibility in the event of a decrease in the employer’s turnover or a significant burden on the payment fund caused by the pandemic. In such a case, a statutorily defined amount of a write-off for this fund is applied.

Possibility to terminate a non-competition agreement

The Act provides for the possibility of unilateral termination of a non-competition agreement by the employer after termination of cooperation with a 7-day notice period, regardless of whether the agreement provides for such a right.

Possibility to receive support from the Guarantee Employee Benefits Fund for employees not covered by downtime or reduced working hours

Possibility to receive support from the benefit fund for employees not covered by downtime or reduced working hours.

The employer may apply for co-financing of employees’ salaries up to half the amount, but not more than 40% of the average monthly salary. Moreover, it applies only to employees whose remuneration does not exceed 300% of the average monthly salary.

Magdalena Zgłobica