In the month of March, due to the closure of kindergartens and nurseries, the period in which working parents can apply for additional care allowance was extended until April 9. Changes are also planned in the scope of control powers held by the Social Insurance Institution. The proposed changes are far-reaching and raise a lot of controversy. There was also a Senate project to extend the deadline for the implementation of Employee Capital Plans for employers employing less than 20 people. We invite you to read the following summary of the topics that we covered in our HR and payroll blog in March.
1. Digitization of services at the Social Insurance Institution and the Tax Office
From February 1, 2021, the National Tax Administration together with the Ministry of Finance launched the e-Tax Office platform on the website taxki.gov.pl.At the moment, a basic package of services is available that can be used as part of the functioning of the new portal, but the target September 2022 is the date of implementation of all functionalities. Until then, new services will be implemented in stages.
The Social Insurance Institution is also not lagging behind. In the last interview for the Polish Press Agency, the President of ZUS, Mrs. Gertruda Uścińska, announced the digital transformation of the entire social security system. One of the most important assumptions of this project is to relieve entrepreneurs in the field of documentation currently submitted to ZUS. According to the announcement, the so-called Uniform Insurance File, which is to automatically download most of the data used to settle insurance premiums in a given month without the need for the contribution payers to submit extensive documentation as before. A novelty offered by ZUS is also to provide insured persons and contribution payers with a mobile application that will allow, inter alia, the payment of ZUS contributions, tracking the status of cases conducted by the Institution, as well as quick verification of settlements with ZUS.
2. Will the deadline for implementing PPK in small enterprises be extended?
The Sejm received a bill in which senators propose to postpone the fourth stage of implementing the PPK (this applies to employers employing less than 20 people). They propose that these entities could conclude a contract for the management of the PPK by December 31, 2021. However, the contract for the management of the PPK – on January 10, 2022. The Act has not yet been adopted by the Sejm.
3. ZUS ZSWA to ZUS no later than March 31, 2021
Employers obliged to pay contributions to the Bridge Pension Fund (FEP) are also required to submit information to the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS ZSWA). It is a notification containing information about periods of work in specific conditions or conditions of a special nature by employees.
The ZUS ZSWA form for the previous calendar year should be submitted to ZUS no later than the end of March.
4. Will ZUS gain new powers to control?
On January 27, 2021, the Ministry of Family and Social Policy published on the website of the Government Legislation Center 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 incapacity for work.
In addition to changes in the benefit periods or the method of determining the sickness basis, important changes may be introduced in the scope of control powers that the Social Insurance Institution will have at its disposal. Specialists in the field of labor law indicate a significant extension of the existing control possibilities possessed by ZUS officials. In the justification to the draft provided by the Ministry, it was indicated that the provision in this form was intended only to accelerate the procedure for paying benefits to the insured.
5. It is necessary to equalize the pay of women and men? – a new draft directive of the European Commission
On March 4, the European Commission presented a proposal on the transparency of wages of women and men employed in the same positions. The project is primarily aimed at eliminating discriminatory behavior with regard to the remuneration policy. This is one of the priority projects of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.
The project primarily involves:
• providing information on remuneration for candidates applying for a given job position,
• the right to obtain information on the level of remuneration of people employed in the same position in a given company, in compliance with the provisions on the protection of personal data,
• the obligation for large enterprises to submit reports that take into account the level of the gender pay gap.
If a difference of more than 5% in the level of wages of men and women performing the same work is detected and the employer is unable to justify this fact, the employer is obliged to implement measures to eliminate the detected disproportions.
The document also includes tools to help employees enforce the right to equal pay, e.g. through access to animated data on salaries for the same positions.
The draft also provides for the obligation of European Union Member States to introduce sanctions for entrepreneurs who do not comply with the principle of equal pay, as well as regulations relating to the level of compensation for discriminated employees. As far as evidence is concerned, the burden of proof will rest with the employer, who will have to prove in court that he has not committed wage discrimination.
6. Does an employee employed under a fixed-term contract enjoy special protection against termination of an employment contract?
Before retiring due to reaching the retirement age, an employee is subject to special protection of the employment relationship. Thanks to this rule, the employer cannot terminate the employment contract concluded with the employee in the period of 4 years before the employee reaches the retirement age.
In art. 39 of the Labor Code (Act of June 26, 1974, Journal of Laws of 1974 No. 24, item 141), a provision was made that guarantees the employees special protection of the employment relationship in the pre-retirement period, because according to the code regulation, the employer cannot terminate the work for an employee with no more than 4 years remaining until the retirement age, if the remaining period of employment enables such employee to obtain the right to retirement pension upon reaching that age.
It should be remembered, however, that despite the fact that a person in pre-retirement age, employed on a fixed-term contract, is covered by the protection of the employment relationship pursuant to Art. 39 of the Labor Code, the employer is not obliged to extend such a contract until the employee reaches retirement age. The fixed-term contract is terminated with the expiry of the period for which it was concluded.
7. Change in the accident insurance rate in the period from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022
From April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, new rates for accident insurance will apply, the amount of which depends on the nature of the business activity. In accordance with the published ordinance of the Ministry of Family and Social Policy, changes will be made to the percentage of accident insurance contributions for certain groups of activity. The change applies to premium 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 accident premium rate for employers who in 2020 reported less than 10 insured persons for accident insurance in 2020 and amounts to 1.67%, as in the previous period, will not change.
Please note that in the event of a change in the interest rate, the new rate should be applied to all wages paid from April 1, 2021. If wages are paid for March by the 10th day of the following month, the new accident insurance rate already applies.