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The rapid spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is a major public health challenge that is affecting businesses and individuals both globally as well as causing disruption for the economy in Poland.
On 31 March 2020 the Polish Parliament adopted a so-called “rescue package” (the “Rescue Package”)1, with the aim of supporting Polish businesses and individuals, and to the extent possible shielding them from the effects of Covid-19 related disruptions. The Rescue Package was signed by the President, published in the Journal of Laws and entered into force on 31 March 2020.2
The Rescue Package consists of multiple measures related to, among others, labour, tax, real estate, commercial and financial law. This alert highlights in relation to key business sectors, some of the material provisions of the Rescue Package in relation to key business sectors, which may apply to your business.
During the period of the restrictions in commercial activity conducted in buildings with a retail surface exceeding 2,000 sq. m., the mutual rights and obligations of the parties to leases, tenancy agreements or other similar agreements, under which retail premises are used, shall temporarily expire. The deadline for payment of the tax on revenue from commercial buildings will be postponed and relevant deadlines in administrative proceedings will not start to run and those which are pending will be suspended.
The new Covid-19 regulation introduces numerous changes to the functioning of the Polish justice system for all kinds of cases, including commercial, administrative and civil ones – both with regard to the activity of state courts, as well as administrative courts and administrative authorities, the lapse of numerous time limits, as well as the rights of participants of various proceedings.
The Rescue Package has implications for the competition and consumer protection enforcement in Poland. As regards competition law: (i) new regime of maximum prices for certain products is introduced, (ii) the review timelines in merger control proceedings are halted and (iii) support instruments constituting state aid for undertakings are provided. In the sphere of consumer protection the Rescue Package (i) cuts the costs of consumer credit and (ii) shifts introduction of new consumer-alike regime for contracts with SMEs to next year.
The Rescue Package is intended to bring about several important changes affecting also the Polish capital market. The specific solutions further develop the ideas presented by the Polish Financial Supervision Authority and included in its extraordinary Supervisory Stimulus Package for Security and Development to support the capital market, updated on 27 March 2020.
The Rescue Package in the area of Lending includes topics: Guarantees for large and medium companies, loan prolongation and suspension for SMEs, credit export - widening of insurance catalogue, technology innovation loans, lowering of consumer lending costs, preferential mortgage loans treatment.
The Rescue Package introduces, among other things, significant amendments to the Polish Code of Commercial Companies with respect to the operation of corporate bodies of Polish commercial capital companies, which are primarily aimed at facilitating the decision-making process within corporate bodies in commercial capital companies.
Measures available for the employer under the Rescue Package provide various solutions aiming at customization of the conditions of work and pay of the employees to the economic situation of the employer affected by the Covid-19, including: (i) reduction of remuneration during economic downtime, (ii) reduction of working time and remuneration, (iii) application of less favourable conditions of work and pay, (iv) flexible organization of working time. In case of application of certain of the referred measures the employer, upon meeting determined conditions, may receive subsidies to the remunerations of the employees. There are also several other temporary solutions regarding certain practical aspects of employment relation introduced to address current problems of the employers. We discuss below selected major ones.
The Rescue Package also includes a number of tax measures aimed at supporting Polish taxpayers in these difficult times. We have prepared a brief summary of some of the most important ones in our opinion.
1 The Rescue Package comprises the following acts:
(i) The act on amending the COVID-19 Prevention Act (Polish: ustawa o zmianie ustawy o szczególnych rozwiązaniach związanych z zapobieganiem, przeciwdziałaniem i zwalczaniem COVID-19, innych chorób zakaźnych oraz wywołanych nimi sytuacji kryzysowych oraz niektórych innych ustaw);
(ii) The act on amending certain acts related to public health protection and prevention of COVID-19 (Polish: ustawa o zmianie niektórych ustaw w zakresie systemu ochrony zdrowia związanych z zapobieganiem, przeciwdziałaniem i zwalczaniem COVID-19);
(iii) The act on amending the act on the development system (Polish: ustawa o zmianie ustawy o systemie instytucji rozwoju).
2 Journal of Laws dated 31 March 2020 No. 567, 568 and 569.