Tag: koronawirus

Suspension of administrative deadlines due to the COVID-19 epidemic

Under the terms of the Law on Counteracting the spread of COVID-19 (hereinafter referred to as “Special Act”’), during the period in which an epidemic emergency or state of  epidemic is in force, the time limits for administrative court proceedings and administrative proceedings do not start and are suspended for that period.

Suspended are:

  • Time limits on which legal protection in court or authority is dependent;
  • Time limits for a party to perform actions shaping its rights and obligations;
  • The statute of limitations;
  • Time limits, the failure to comply with which results in the expiry or modification of rights in rem and claims and receivables, as well as falling into delay;
  • Final dates, the failure to comply with which is subject to adverse consequences for the party;
  • The entities or organizational units subject to registration in the relevant register to perform activities which give rise to the obligation to report to that register, as well as time limits for the entities to perform their obligations under the regulations on their system.

Examples of such terms are those set out in the Code of Administrative Procedure or in the Law on Proceedings before Administrative Courts:

Applicable party to the proceedings:

  • 7-day period for submitting a complaint
  • 14 day period for submitting an appeal
  • 30-day period for submitting a complaint to the administrative court

The time limits applicable to public administration bodies for the consideration of cases:

  • In the case of cases requiring investigation, one month from the date of initiation of the procedure
  • In the case of particularly complex cases requiring an investigation, no later than two months from the date of initiation of the procedure
  • In case of appeal proceedings – one month from the date of receipt of the appeal

Failure to deal with cases involving the suspension of deadlines

In connection with the suspension of the application of the provisions governing the time limits to be observed by the parties and offices, we may encounter significant difficulties in obtaining a court decision or administrative decision. At the same time, the parties have lost the opportunity to assert their rights for inaction or protraction and the right to hear the case without undue delay.

These regulations may suspend any action in proceedings conducted by administrative offices and courts. Letters, motions, complaints, etc. submitted by the parties or participants to the proceedings during an emergency or epidemic may remain unrecognized and public administration bodies will not suffer negative consequences as a result. 

A quicker resolution depending on the will of the authority

The Special Act provides that the activities performed during the period of suspension of the commencement or suspension of the running of deadlines are effective. This means that courts and offices may continue their work in practice.

A party or participants to the proceedings are obliged to perform actions specified in the demand if failure to perform the action could cause a threat to life or health, serious damage to the public interest or threaten irreparable material damage, this also applies to public administration bodies, which have been asked to take a stand on the subject matter of the proceedings. A party may also voluntarily comply with an obligation imposed, even if the time limit for compliance does not run.

Consequently, ex-officio may be issued:

  • Decisions wholly in response to a request from a party or participant in proceedings,
  • Certificates of no grounds for objection.

An example of a decision that fully complies with a party’s or participant’s request is the following:

  • Decision on authorisation of use
  • Decision to transfer the building permit

A party may appeal against an administrative decision. The decision shall not be enforced before the expiry of the time limit for appeal. However, if it complies with the request of all parties, it shall be enforceable before the expiry of that period. It may also be considered to obtain a declaration from all parties/parties to the proceedings waiving the right to appeal the decision (action).

Thus, there are no obstacles to the parties’ requests being dealt with.

Facilitations in the field of social security in connection with the COVID-19 epidemic

The COVID-19 epidemic has put many companies in a very difficult situation. The loss of income and reduced demand for products and services has negatively affected the financial situation of businesses. In addition, the loss of financial liquidity makes it impossible to pay current social security contributions.

ZUS has declared assistance and prepared facilitations for companies operating in a difficult situation.

Payment in instalments and deferral of ZUS payments

If, due to the coronavirus epidemic, an entrepreneur has encountered problems with:

  1. payment of current contributions to ZUS, or
  2. same problems have arisen in a person running a business, who has concluded an agreement with ZUS to spread the debt to ZUS into instalments or an agreement to postpone the payment of contributions,

he may benefit from simplified forms of aid:

  • deferral of the date of payment of ZUS contributions by 3 months (for the period from February to April 2020),
  • extension of the deadline for repayment in instalments by 3 months (in cases where the deadline for payment was set between March and May 2020).

To receive the relief for entrepreneurs, you must fill in the application form available on the ZUS website (link)

The application should be sent using the PUE ZUS portal, submitted in a box available in ZUS offices or sent by post.

The application must indicate how the COVID-19 outbreak has affected the financial situation of the undertaking and that this situation makes it impossible to pay the fees on time.

ZUS emphasises that submitting an application does not ensure that the relief is granted.

If the application is successful, a contract will be sent to the e-mail address indicated by the applicant or by post (if no e-mail address is indicated in the application). The received document should be signed and then sent back to the sender as a scan.

Within 14 days counting from the end of the epidemic, paper originals of documents should be sent to ZUS. If this requirement is not met ZUS will consider that the agreement has not been concluded and the granted relief will be withdrawn. This will result in the calculation of interest on receivables covered by the agreement.

If the entrepreneur’s financial situation does not improve within 3 months, he will be able to request renegotiation of the contract.

Relief from social security contributions

Employers with less than 10 employees are entitled to be exempted from social security contributions for 3 months (March, April, May 2020) if:

  • as of 29 February 2020, less than 10 people were registered for social security, and
  • they will apply to the Social Insurance Institution by 30 June 2020 at the latest.

There is also a possibility of exemption from payment of social security contributions by persons conducting business activity, whose economic situation deteriorated due to the COVID-19 epidemic and in the first month of submitting the application the income from conducting business activity is less than 3 times the forecasted average gross monthly remuneration in the national economy in 2020, which is 15,681 PLN.

In addition, employers are exempted from paying the pro-long-up fee in the event of submitting, in the course of an epidemic emergency, an epidemic or for 30 days after their cancellation, an application to postpone the payment of contributions or spread the payment of contributions in instalments for the period from 1 January 2020.

Solutions of the “Anti-Crisis Shield” dedicated to employers

The amendment to the COVID-19 epidemic counteracting law, commonly referred to as the “Anti-Crisis Shield”, introduces many solutions important for employers. They mainly concern the possibility of obtaining subsidies for salaries, as well as the introduction of flexible working hours (after meeting a number of detailed conditions).

Salary compensation of employees

Benefits provided for by the amended law on special arrangements for preventing, preventing and combating COVID-19 of 2 March 2020. (‘Special Act‘) are not dependent on the number of employees.

The employer can receive a subsidy in the amount:

  • 50 % of the minimum wage for a full-time job, plus the amount of social security contributions payable by the employer on this benefit in the event of a reduction in the salary of an employee who is affected by economic downtime.
  • Maximum 40% of the average monthly salary in the case of a 20% reduction in the employee’s working hours (however, not less than 0.5 full-time).

No funding is available for those earning more than three times the average monthly salary.

For micro, small and medium-sized businesses, i.e. with no more than 249 employees and an annual net turnover of no more than EUR 50 million), benefits are also provided to subsidise employees’ salaries, depending on the recorded decline in economic turnover. Thus:

  • A decrease in turnover by at least 30% entitles to co-financing in the amount of maximum 50% of the minimum remuneration increased by the amount of social insurance contributions due from the employer;
  • A decrease in turnover by at least 50% entitles to co-financing in the amount of maximum 70% of the minimum remuneration increased by the amount of social insurance contributions due from the employer;
  • A decrease in turnover by at least 80% entitles to co-financing in the amount of maximum 90% of the minimum remuneration increased by the amount of social insurance contributions due from the employer.

This subsidy is possible for a maximum of 3 months. It also covers persons employed under a civil law contract (contract of mandate or other service contract).

The conditions for obtaining a subsidy vary, depending on whether it is applied for by means of economic downtime or a reduction in working hours or for a subsidy not related to these factors.

In case of stoppage or reduction of working time it is required that the employer enters into an agreement with trade unions or employee representatives (if there are no unions).

Other requirements include not being in debt for payment of taxes and social security contributions until the end of the third quarter of 2019 and maintaining the employment of subsidized employees for twice the subsidized period.

Flexible working hours for employees

The Special Act allows the employer to:

  • Apply less favorable terms and conditions of employment for employees than those resulting from employment contracts;
  • Reduce the mandatory rest periods for workers to a daily minimum of 8 hours and a weekly minimum of 32 hours (with an equivalent rest period of 8 weeks);
  • Introduce an equivalent system of working time and extending the daily working time to 12 hours, within a reference period of a maximum of 12 months.

The conditions for implementing the above solutions are:

  • Decrease in economic turnover due to COVID-19;
  • Not being in debt for payment of taxes and social security contributions until the end of the third quarter of 2019;
  • Conclusion of an agreement with trade unions or employee representatives (if there are no trade unions).

Preventive and initial staff screening

During an emergency or epidemic, the employers:

  • are not obliged to refer employees to periodic examinations. Suspended duties must be carried out within 60 days of cancellation of an emergency or epidemic;
  • Are obliged to send employees to preliminary and follow-up examinations before they are allowed to work. If the examination cannot be carried out by the labour doctor, another doctor may carry out the examination. An examination by another doctor is valid for 30 days after the cancellation of an epidemic or emergency.

Medical judgements that expired after 7 March 2020 shall remain valid, but no longer than 60 days from the date of cancellation of an emergency or epidemic condition.

Legalization of foreigners’ stay

Foreigners who would be obliged to submit an application for legalisation of their stay during an epidemic or emergency situation will benefit from the following facilitations:

  • Extension of the period of stay and the period of validity of the visa until the 30th day following the cancellation of an epidemic or emergency situation, and
  • Extension of the period of validity of the residence permit until the 30th day following the cancellation of an epidemic or emergency.

New restrictions on moving in public space

On 24 March, the Minister of Health issued a ordinance amending the ordinance on declaring the state of the epidemic in Poland.

Therefore, from 25 March to 11 April 2020, it is forbidden to travel, except for the purpose of:

  • performing professional activities or tasks and carrying out business activity – therefore, it is allowed to travel and return from work, and in connection with the performance of work, e.g. as a sales representative, courier or for business travel purposes;
  • carrying out an agricultural activity or work on an agricultural holding;
  • the purchase of goods and services connected with the performance of work, business or agricultural activity;
  • supplying essential basic necessities of everyday life such as food shopping, household purchases and visits to a doctor or psychologist;
  • supplying essential basic necessities of everyday life such as food shopping, household purchases and visits to a doctor or psychologist;
  • helping to counter the effects of coronavirus, including through volunteering;
  • participating in religious activities or rituals.

The regulation defines the acceptable way of moving:

  • Two people can simultaneously move along on foot at a distance of not less than 1.5 m from each other;
  • When using public transport, each public transport vehicle may carry a maximum number of people of not more than half the seats in the vehicle. This restriction does not apply to transport organised by employers for their employees (e.g. buses exclusively designed to transport employees to work).

The Ordinance does not specify the permissible way of travelling by private means of transport (e.g. passenger cars – their restrictions do not apply).

These restrictions do not apply to the relatives.

COVID-19 vs Taxes

The COVID-19 virus control period is a difficult for everyone, including businesses. The Ministry of Finance is implementing solutions in the field of tax law that will help entrepreneurs survive the difficult period of the epidemic.

First of all, it is necessary to mention the possibility of filing an application for a tax relief or remission of tax arrears for entrepreneurs who, due to the epidemic, will have problems with timely payment of tax dues. According to the information available on the Ministry’s website, applications submitted by entrepreneurs pursuant to Article 67a and subsequent articles of the Tax Ordinance Act will be considered first. 

Additionally, the Ministry of Finance is planning to introduce facilities, such as:

  • possibility to deduct losses incurred in 2020 from the tax due for 2019,
  • earlier VAT refunds,
  • facilitating VAT settlements by delaying the entry into force of the new Uniform control file (JPK) from 1 April to 1 July,
  • the abolition of the prolongation fee,
  • postponing the obligation to register in the Central Register of Real Beneficiaries to 1 July,
  • extension of the deadline for the remitters to make advance payments for tax on salaries collected for March and April.

The Ministry has not yet given details of the solutions prepared in connection with the current pandemic. We will keep you up to date with all the news.