On 18 April, new regulations of the anti-crisis shield entered into force, allowing, among others, to extend the legal residence of foreigners staying in Poland during the coronavirus pandemic and to extend their legal work.
Provisions on the residence and work of foreigners within the territory of the Republic of Poland, introduced on 18 April 2020 as part of a package of acts forming the so-called “anti-crisis shield”, include an extension, until the 30th day following the date of cancellation of the state which was last in force (an epidemic hazard state or a state of epidemic):
Furthermore, the amendments to the anti-crisis shield provide for a postponement until the 30th day following the date of cancellation of one of the states that was last in force (epidemic or epidemic hazard):
The package of acts forming the shield introduces an extension by operation of law, until the 30th day following the date of cancellation of a state of pandemic or epidemic hazard, of work permits, seasonal work permits and permissible periods of performing work on the basis of the declarations of entrusting work to a foreigner entered in the register.
Normally, work permits, granted by voivodes, are issued for a fixed period of time, not longer than 3 years (5 years – in the case of holding a position in the board of a legal entity employing more than 25 people as of the date of application). Seasonal work permits for foreigners are issued for a period not longer than 9 months in a given calendar year.
The situation is different in the case of declarations on entrusting work to a foreigner. This form of work permit, providing a foreigner with access to the Polish labour market, is usually valid for a period not longer than 6 months within the next 12 months and is intended for citizens of 6 countries: the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Georgia, the Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
The Act on the anti-crisis shield extends all above-mentioned work permits for foreigners (work permits, seasonal work permits and declarations on entrusting work to foreigners) by operation of law until the 30th day following the cancellation of the state (epidemic hazard or epidemic) which was in force as the last one, provided that the rights resulting from the granted permits end during a state of epidemic hazard or a state of epidemic.
This means that a person whose work permit or declaration on entrusting work expire during a state of epidemic hazard or a state of epidemic will be able to work legally until the 30th day following the date of cancellation of one of these states which was last in force.
As a result of the current ban on entrusting a foreigner with work under conditions other than those specified in the work permit or the declaration of entrusting work, there have been doubts as to the possibility of applying solutions provided for in the anti-crisis shield by companies employing foreigners.
In order to obtain a subsidy for employees’ remuneration under the anti-crisis shield, an employer must reduce employees’ work time or remuneration, and this would result in non-compliance with the above principle of not entrusting a foreigner with work under conditions inconsistent with a work permit.
Opinions on whether the regulations of the anti-crisis shield give the possibility to cover employees who are foreigners with downtime or reduced work time are divided. Admittedly, the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy has announced that appropriate amendments to the Act on the anti-crisis shield enabling employers to apply the introduced support solutions without the need to apply for additional changes in residence cards or new permits for their employees will be introduced, but so far no such provisions have been implemented.
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