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21 May 2020

Anti-Crisis Shield 3.0 – a summary of changes

The next amendment of the Anti-Crisis Shield – Shield 3.0 – was signed by the President of the Republic of Poland on May 15th, 2020, and thus became effective. The final version of the Shield was adopted by the government during the third reading, after taking into account the emendations proposed by the Senate.

Shield 3.0 provides, inter alia, for the surcharge of the Industrial Development Agency (ARP), an extension of borrower’s protection mechanisms or further changes in the exemptions from the necessity to pay social security (ZUS) contributions.

Another amendment to the Anti-Crisis Shield is likely to be prepared.

Shield 3.0 – exemptions from social security contributions

The recent amendment brings an update of the provisions regarding the possibility of exemption from the obligation to pay ZUS contributions. Under the provisions of Shield 2.0, the following may apply for:

  • employers (contribution payers) who by February 29th, 2020, submitted no more than 9 employees for 100% social security contributions discount, and no more than 49 employees for 50% discount,
  • performing non-agricultural activities before February 1st, 2020, paying contributions for their insurance,
  • clergy.

Shield 3.0 extends provisions for self-employed, specifically those who have exceeded the 300% threshold of gross monthly salary forecast for 2020.

A necessary condition to be met by the self-employed is the documented payment of contributions for their insurance when their income exceeded 300% of the forecasted average monthly gross remuneration, but the income in the first month for which the application for exemption from paying contributions was submitted was not higher than 7,000 PLN.

In other words, Shield 3.0 offers ZUS concessions also for self-employed people who did not meet the income criterion (no more than 7,000 PLN) in February, but meet in the month in which they apply.

The government support includes exemption from contributions to:

  • social security,
  • medical insurance,
  • Labor Fund,
  • Solidarity Fund,
  • Guaranteed Employee Benefits Fund or Bridging Pensions Fund.

Additional support for the Enterprise Development Agency (ARP)

The amendment to the Shield provides for an increase in the budget of the Agency for Enterprise Development by an additional 900 million PLN. The amount is to be allocated to increase the number of investments carried out by companies.

Care allowance for carers of children/people with disabilities

The content of the first special Act of March 2nd, 2020, on special solutions related to the prevention and eradication of COVID-19, includes a provision on additional care allowance for the insured employee if the closing of nurseries, children’s clubs, and schools places him in a care situation over a child up to 8 years old.

Starting from May 25th, carers of able-bodied children will no longer be entitled to receive an additional 14-day childcare allowance.

Instead, carers of adults or children with a confirmed degree of disability will be entitled to it, under analogous conditions, when the closure of care institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic lasts.

Furthermore, the amendment introduces the possibility of receiving care allowance even if these facilities are opened during the COVID-19 pandemic (for a maximum period of 14 days). The care allowance is financed by the Social Insurance Fund.

Shield 3.0 – borrower’s protection

Shield 3.0 introduces the so-called anti-usury provisions, a set of regulations regarding the occurrence of real estate enforcement, and introducing prison sentences for criminals using loan agreements that violate laws of the Civil Code.

The basis of the new anti-usury laws is the ban of enforcement of real estate if the debt at risk of eviction does not exceed 1/20 of the value of the property. The contract which provides for the possibility of such enforcement in the case of such a low amount is to be automatically invalidated, and the lender would face up to 5 years imprisonment. At the same time, a new type of crime related to violation of the provisions on the maximum interest and non-interest costs will be introduced to the Penal Code.

The level of protection against usury practices is to be adjusted to the context, status, or health situation of the victim.

Changes regarding the judiciary system

The amendment also provides for new rules for “defrosting” the judicial system. From now on, cases with detention on remand, those that include consent to a medical procedure or conditionally suspended punishments – will be set as urgent.

Shield 3.0 also allows the possibility of conducting online hearings for civil matters, before administrative courts and when a civil judgment in closed session is taken into account. The conditions for conducting remote hearings will be further specified in the recommendations of the Ministry of Justice.

The amendment suggests that procedural, judicial, and administrative deadlines are to be unsuspended seven days after the amendment enters into force (publication date in the Journal of Laws: May 15th).

Free legal advice also for self-employed

Also, Shield 3.0 expands the group of people entitled to free civic counseling as part of the legal counseling system. New laws extend this possibility for persons conducting sole proprietorship. Previously, only natural persons and those planning to set up their businesses were entitled to take advantage of the free-of-charge system.

Consultations assume “informing the authorized person about the applicable legal status and their rights”.

Support for the lumber sector

The lumber sector (specifically organizational units of the State Forests) can count on several new concessions and exemptions, including:

  • resignation from a statutory interest in the event of delay in commercial transactions;
  • compensation for recovery costs;
  • contractual penalties if the contractor refuses to buy ordered wood.

Changes in National Waste Database

Important information for entrepreneurs keeping the waste register is the postponement of deadlines for submitting reports and analyses and a newly available form of keeping records. The new regulations allow keeping records in paper form – without prior finalization of registration in the National Waste Database (BDO). Waste collection will be possible without electronic registration of the waste transfer card.

All required reports can be submitted through BDO at a later date:

  • report for 2019 on municipal and post-consumer waste management under the content of the Act on maintaining cleanliness and order in municipalities – until August 31st, 2020 (regarding Article 9q of the previously-mentioned Act);
  • analysis of the state of municipal waste management for 2019 – by November 30th, 2020. (regarding Article 9q of the previously-mentioned Act) and by December 31st, 2020 (Article 9s);
  • entrepreneurs operating vehicle dismantling stations, shredders, placing vehicles, products, packaging, batteries and accumulators, electrical and electronic equipment as well as equipment recovery organizations on the market, will be able to submit annual reports for 2019 by September 11th, 2020.

Tax on streaming services

One of the more controversial provisions of Shield 3.0 is the tax imposed on entrepreneurs from the VOD sector (providing on-demand audiovisual media services).

The new tax obligation – commonly called “the Netflix tax” – assumes an amount of 1.5% of the revenue obtained from subscription fees to streaming portals available in Poland. According to the provisions of the amendment, all the collected amount will be transferred to the Polish Film Institute (PISF). Then, the PISF will have to pay the tax on the amounts obtained through the new tax.

Shield 3.0 – other significant changes

  • Micro-loans – an extension for micro-entrepreneurs who set up a company before April 1st (previously effective date: March 1st).
  • Demurrage – an extension for the self-employed who conducted their business before April 1st (previous effective date: February 1st).
  • Solidarity tribute – the possibility of submitting a tax declaration as well as the payment itself extended to May 31st, 2020.
  • Uniformed services:
    • Prison Service employees among the group of persons eligible for additional care allowance.
    • abolishing the overtime limit (which, according to the law, is 8 hours a week) which police officers can work in a week. The provision will remain in force until the end of the national state of an epidemic emergency.
    • full salary for quarantined officers.
  • Entities holding a legal title to a monument with the status of a monument of history or a monument inscribed on the World Heritage List may apply for additional funding for employees’ remuneration.
  • Waiver of the obligation to submit documents in person in case foreigners apply for a Polish visa.
  • Support for the transportation sector – increasing the maximum surcharge to one car kilometer to 3 PLN.

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