February was the month when an important project appeared regarding changes in the length of periods of receiving sickness benefits and the rules for determining the sickness basis. The planned changes are far-reaching and raise a lot of controversy. There is also a new position of the Ministry of Development, Labor and Technology regarding the reduction of working time in the period in which the employee is entitled to parental leave. Once again, in connection with the applicable restrictions, the possibility of working parents to take advantage of the additional care allowance was extended in connection with the introduction of remote learning in grades 1-3 of primary schools. You can read about this and other issues in the following summary of the topics that we discussed in our HR and payroll blog in January and November.
1. Occupational Health and Safety and Occupational Medicine during the pandemic
Due to the prevailing coronavirus pandemic, under the Anti-Crisis Shield 2.0 (Act of April 16, 2020 on special support instruments related to the spread of SARS-CoV-2 virus, Journal of Laws, item 675), a temporary change was introduced in training in occupational health and safety as well as occupational medicine examinations.
The method of performing occupational health and safety training has changed, as well as the applicable deadlines for their implementation and for the performance of occupational medicine examinations.
2. Additional care allowance after January 31, 2021
In the Journal of Laws, a regulation appeared on the determination of a longer period of receiving additional care allowance in order to counteract COVID-19. Application for additional care allowance for parents of children under 8 years of age is possible until February 28, 2021.
The rules for applying for an additional benefit from ZUS and the conditions for granting it set out in the regulation have not changed compared to the ones previously in force. To take advantage of the benefit, it is enough to submit an appropriate application to your employer.
3. Inspections of the National Labor Inspectorate in 2021
The National Labor Inspectorate for 2021 has planned that it will conduct 52,000 inspections of entrepreneurs. To the existing areas that have been inspected by the National Labor Inspectorate, control activities should be added, which will be aimed at verifying compliance with the regulations related to the coronavirus pandemic, introduced by numerous Anti-Crisis Shields.
PIP inspections in this respect will focus primarily on the correctness of the solutions applied under Art. 15g, which assume a reduction in the working time or the introduction of economic downtime in order to receive funding for jobs. The anti-crisis shields also assume special solutions in terms of working time, thanks to which it is possible for employers to introduce equivalent working time or less favorable terms of employment. The abuses will also be investigated in the regulations on sending employees to use the outstanding holidays or limiting the amount of severance pay or compensation payments to employees.
4. Reducing the working time does not reduce the amount of parental leave – the latest position of the Ministry of Development, Labor and Technology
After using the maternity and parental leave, the employee has the option of taking up to 35 months of parental leave. During this absence, the employee may take up paid work both for his employer and in another workplace, if it does not prevent the direct care of the child. If an employee would like to return to work, one of the options is to work on a reduced-time basis with his employer.
The employee has the option of submitting an appropriate application for reducing the working time to his Employer. Based on Article. 1867 § 1, the reduction of the working time shall not exceed half of full time working.
So far, the dominant position of specialists presented in the literature in this area assumed that taking advantage of such a reduction in the working time in the period in which an employee could take a childcare leave also reduces the so far unused period of parental leave. It was caused mainly by the view that the right contained in Art. 1867 § 1 with the entry “an employee entitled to parental leave”, is directly related to the use of the parental leave, and thus reduces the limit of leave to be used.
5. Additional day off for donating blood or plasma
Employees donating blood or its components, including plasma, after a history of COVID-19 disease from January 26, 2021, pursuant to art. 3 of the Anti-Crisis Shield (Act amending the Act on special solutions related to the prevention, counteracting and combating COVID-19, other infectious diseases and crisis situations caused by them, and some other acts), you are entitled to 2 days off with the right to remuneration.
Until now, employees for blood donation were entitled to only one day off pursuant to Art. 9a paragraph. 1 point 1 of the Act on blood service (Act of August 22, 1997 on public blood service, Journal of Laws 1997 No. 106 item 681). Pursuant to the new wording of the article, an employee donating blood or blood components is entitled to a day off on the day on which he donates blood and on the following day. The amendment to the regulation is related to the coronavirus pandemic and remains in force only for the duration of the epidemic emergency or epidemic state. After the end of this period, in accordance with the original wording of the regulation, employees will again be entitled to only one day off, as it was before.
6. New interest rates for accident insurance from April 1, 2021
The Ministry of Family and Social Policy has published on its website a draft regulation of February 1, 2021 on changing the interest rate for accident insurance. The regulation introduces changes to the percentage of the accident insurance premium for 24 groups of activities. The change applies to contribution payers who in 2020 reported an average of at least 10 insured persons for accident insurance, and thus were obliged to submit the ZUS IWA form to ZUS by January 31.
The new interest rates will apply from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022. Employers who have been required to submit a ZUS IWA declaration for the last 3 years will receive information from the Social Insurance Institution about the accident insurance rate applicable from April. This information will be visible on the payer’s account on the ZUS PUE portal.
7. Important changes to the benefit act planned
On January 27, 2021, the Ministry of Family and Social Policy published a draft act amending the act on the social insurance system and some other acts. The changes contained in the draft mainly concern the issue of payment of sickness benefits for the period of inability to work. The proposed regulations are controversial and the draft itself is currently at the stage of public consultations.