Basic selected practical information for employees and employers resulting from the provisions of the Act dated 2 March 2020 (published in the Journal of Laws on 7 March 2020, item 374) on special solutions related to preventing, counteracting and combating COVID-19, other infectious diseases and crisis situations caused by them, hereinafter referred to as the “Special Act”.
The introduced changes are in force for 180 days from the day the Special Act entered into force, that is from 8 March 2020.
Place of work
Pursuant to the Special Act, the employer may request the employee to perform work specified in the employment contract outside the hitherto place of work (remote work) for a fixed period. Such a request to perform remote work does not require any special form. The provision does not specify whether the employee can choose to work remotely and inform the employer of their decision. In our opinion, such a situation would require the employer’s consent for the employee to work remotely.
Closing schools and preschools
As regards closing educational establishments in the whole country (until 25 March) due to the COVID-19 epidemic, we would like to inform you that the insured (the employee) released from work, because they have to personally take care of a child up to 8 years of age, is entitled to an additional care allowance for a period not longer than 14 days. This pertains to the persons whose children attend schools of all degrees, preschools, as well as crèches and playgroups, both public and non-public.
The care allowance is paid out for each day of care. If both parents who have a child up to 8 years of age work, then one of the parents may apply for the additional care allowance. The parents may also split the care of the child within the 14-day limit. The parents are entitled to additional care allowance for 14 days in total, regardless of the number of children that need to be taken care of. The Social Insurance Fund (ZUS) pays out the allowance. The parent can use the free time in order to take personally care of their child and apply for the appropriate care allowance on the basis of a declaration. The declaration should be filed with the employer.
According to ZUS’s information, when filing the declaration, it is enough to state the whole period of taking care of the child or deduct the days when the parent was not obliged to work from this period, e.g. Saturday and Sunday, or a period when the child was under the care of a different person.
It is not necessary to obtain a sick leave from a doctor or to file the Z-15A application.
Chief Sanitary Inspector’s entitlements
The Chief Sanitary Inspector or a national voivode sanitary inspector acting on their behalf may issue decisions with regard to legal persons, natural persons, organizational units without legal personality, and employers. The decisions may impose various obligations on these entities. These obligations include in particular:
- taking specific preventive or control measures (and reporting information with this respect);
- distributing medicinal products, foods for special nutrition purposes or medical devices – with regard to pharmaceutical wholesalers;
- distributing personal care products – with regard to producers, distributors, or importers;
- cooperating with other public administration authorities.
The Chief Sanitary Inspector can also issue recommendations and instructions specifying the course of action when implementing measures in the case of e.g. announcing the state of epidemic threat, announcing the state of epidemic, or when there is a risk of spreading of an infection or infectious disease which may pose threat to the public health.
The Inspector’s decisions are implemented immediately when delivered or announced. They may be issued without keeping the written form, for example, orally, and they do not require a justification.
The Special Act also amends permanently the provisions of the Act dated 5 December 2008 on preventing and combating human infections and infectious diseases. It provides, among others, for the following:
- the possibility of keeping the infected people under obligatory quarantine up to 21 days (this includes the healthy persons who have been in contact with the persons with infectious diseases);
- the possibility of obligatory hospitalization (even when only a disease suspicion occurs).
Additional obligations for employers
The Prime Minister, at the voivode’s request, and after informing the competent minister in charge of economy, may give instructions applicable to entrepreneurs with regard to counteracting COVID-19. Such instructions are given in the form of an administrative decision, are immediately enforceable and do not require a justification. The entrepreneur performs the obligations imposed on them on the basis of an agreement concluded by the entrepreneur and the competent voivode which is financed from the government budget funds at the voivode’s disposal. The entrepreneur finances the preparatory works which are of a planning nature. The public procurement provisions are not applicable.
If the entrepreneur refuses to conclude the agreement, the aforementioned obligations are imposed in the form of an administrative decision which is immediately enforceable.
The Special Act relaxes the formal requirements or the liability for damages, in particular related to:
- construction law,
- public procurements,
- effects of cancelled tourist trips,
- liability of station operators and carriers within 180 days from the Special Act entering into force.
The Special Act amends a number of other legal acts, usually pertaining to the public sector entities.
If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact our office.