Revocation of the state of epidemic threat in Poland
Published on 20th Jun 2023
On 1 July 2023, the state of epidemic emergency declared in relation to COVID-19 will be revoked in Poland.
What changes await employers as a result of its revocation?
Occupational health examinations
Medical certificates issued as part of initial, periodic and check-up medical examinations that expired after 7 March 2020 will remain valid until 180 days after the date of revocation of the epidemic emergency. This means that the 'overdue' medical examinations will have to be carried out by 28 December 2023 at the latest. From 1 July 2023, employers will no longer be able to exempt from initial medical examinations candidates applying for an administrative and office position who have a current medical certificate that there are no contraindications to work in such conditions. Thus, the general rule that (with the exceptions indicated in the Labour Code) all persons admitted to work undergo an initial medical examination will return.
Health and safety training
In a state of epidemic emergency, it was allowed to carry out initial health and safety training entirely by means of electronic communication (with the exception of the instructional placement of employees working as blue-collar workers, employees exposed to hazardous agents, students undergoing practical vocational training, and students undergoing student training). From 1 July 2023, initial health and safety training will have to take place in stationary form. In addition, if the date of periodic health and safety training fell during a state of epidemic emergency, a state of epidemic and within 30 days of their cancellation, such training must be provided by 30 August 2023 at the latest.
As of 1 July 2023, the possibility to terminate a non-competition agreement after the termination of the employment relationship, agency agreement, contract of mandate or contract of specific work with 7 days' notice will be abolished. The employer will therefore only be able to terminate a non-competition agreement after termination of employment if the post-employment non-competition agreement contains a relevant provision to that effect, i.e. providing for the possibility of such early termination by the employer.
The employer will lose the possibility to grant the employee, at a date designated by itself, without obtaining the employee's consent and bypassing the leave plan, the overdue annual holiday of up to 30 days of leave. From 1 July 2023, the general rule of granting annual leave in accordance with the leave plan or directly in agreement with the employees will return.
During the duration of the state of epidemics and the state of epidemic emergency, employers with a decrease in economic turnover or a significant increase in the burden on the salary fund as a result of COVID-19 were allowed to pay severance pay of up to ten times the minimum wage. From 1 July 2023, they will be obliged to pay these benefits on the same basis as other employers, i.e. up to fifteen times the minimum wage.
Fiction of delivery
The so-called "fiction of delivery" has been suspended during the state of epidemic emergency and the state of epidemic. Undeliverable letters sent by post subject to delivery against acknowledgement of receipt, which are due to be received during an epidemic emergency or a state of epidemics, cannot be deemed delivered while these states are in force and before the expiry of 14 days from the date of their abolition. This means that if an employer sent a notice of termination of employment to an employee by registered mail while either of these states is in force, the letter can only be considered delivered if the employee picked it up. If, on the other hand, the employee did not pick up the mail, the effect of delivery will occur at the earliest 14 days after the revocation of the epidemic state or epidemic threat. Due to the cancellation of the state of epidemic emergency on 1 July 2023, the so-called "fiction of delivery" will again apply.
Employment of foreigners
If the last day of validity of the work permit (statement on entrusting work to a foreigner) fell during the pandemic (or the state of epidemic emergency), their validity was extended by law until the expiry of the 30th day following the day of cancellation of the epidemic emergency / epidemic state. The lifting of the epidemic emergency means that employers should submit the relevant applications for work permits to legalise the work of foreigners by the end of July.
Foreigners staying in Poland, whose temporary residence permits and national visas expired during the pandemic (or the state of epidemic emergency), have their legal stay extended until the 30th day after the lifting of the epidemic emergency / epidemic state. The cancellation of the state of epidemic emergency, means that employees should apply for residence permits to legalise their stay in Poland by the end of July.
Possibility to perform remote work at the employer's instruction
Pursuant to the Labour Code, an employer may instruct an employee to perform remote work during a state of emergency, a state of epidemic emergency or a state of epidemic and for a period of 3 months after their revocation. Remote working then takes place on the basis of the employer's instruction, without the need to conclude agreements in this respect. The abolition of the state of epidemic emergency on 1 July 2023 means that the employer will only be able to exercise this entitlement until the end of September 2023.
If you have any questions or concerns about any consequences of the lifting of the epidemic emergency state, please contact us.