On 1 July 2023, the state of epidemic emergency is revoked in Poland by the Regulation of the Minister of Health. For employers, this means that several important obligations will return, among others those concerning periodic examinations of employees. What else will change?
On 1 July 2023, the Regulation of the Minister of Health of 14 June 2023 officially revokes the state of epidemic emergency in Poland. Thus, on 1 July 2023, the Regulation of the Minister of Health of 12 May 2022 on the declaration of a state of epidemic emergency in the territory of the Republic of Poland becomes invalid.
End of the state of epidemic emergency – consequences for businesses
The end of the state of epidemic emergency means the return of a number of obligations and the expiry of the so-called covid provisions introduced during the epidemic. It should be recalled that the state of epidemic emergency was in force from May 2022 until 1 July 2023, and before that, an epidemic state was introduced in March 2020.
Return of employee medical examinations
conduct preventive medical examinations of employees and a return to the general pre-pandemic rules.
As of 1 July, the obligation to send job applicants to preliminary examinations who were previously exempted from this requirement under the special act returns and applies to persons who:
Let us also recall that, under the so-called special act, once the validity of medical certificates for preliminary, periodic and follow-up medical examinations expired after 7 March 2020, they did not lose their validity during the epidemic and now remain in force only until 28 December 2023, i.e. during 180 days from the date of cancellation of the state of epidemic emergency (1 July).
That means nothing more than the necessity to send employees whose certificates have expired for the required preventive medical examinations by 28 December this year at the latest.
Moreover, any certificates issued during the epidemic by a doctor other than an occupational physician will expire on 28 December and thus employers must ensure that employees have been directed and re-examined before 28 December 2023.
Back-dated leave under the old rules
The end of the state of epidemic emergency also marks the end of a special entitlement for employers – the opportunity to send an employee on leave accrued, i.e. leave not taken in previous years, at a date designated by the employer and not exceeding 30 days.
As of 1 July 2023, the above option will no longer be available, employers will lose the opportunity to send an employee on compulsory leave unless:
Higher severance payments are back
Severance payments to employees quitting during the pandemic were limited by covid provisions to ten times the minimum remuneration in force at that time.
As of 1 July, with the end of the state of epidemic emergency, the general rules governing the amount of severance payments under company regulations, legislation, employment contracts return.
Health and safety at work – periodic training
The cancellation of the state of epidemic emergency has implications also for employers’ health and safety training obligations.
All periodic trainings that were scheduled to take place between 14 March 2020 and 30 June 2023 must be conducted by 30 August 2023 at the latest.
Moreover, on 1 July, the obligation to provide initial training in on-site form also returns. The option of online training still remains, but it only applies to periodic training and is aimed at a selected group of employees:
Return of the so-called “fiction of delivery”
With the end of the state of epidemic emergency comes the end of the restriction on the recognition as delivered of letters not collected during the state of epidemic emergency or state of epidemic. The return of the so-called “fiction of delivery” will take place on 15 July 2023, i.e. there will be a termination of the contracts of those employees who have not accepted letters from their employers regarding the termination of their employment in the last 3 years.
Employers will therefore be obliged, among other things, to draw up employment certificates and pay compensation for the employee’s unused leave. Read also: New template for employment certificates from 23 May 2023
Let us recall that the covid provision concerning the suspension of the so-called fiction of delivery stipulated that unclaimed letters subject to delivery with acknowledgement of receipt by a postal operator within the meaning of the Postal Law Act, whose deadline for receipt specified in the notice of leaving the letter with information on the possibility of its receipt fell during the period of an epidemic emergency or epidemic state, cannot be deemed to have been delivered during the epidemic emergency or epidemic state and prior to the period of 14 days from the day on which these states were lifted.
Company Social Benefits Fund (ZFŚS) – return to pre-pandemic obligations
On 1 July 2023, there will also be no longer any legal suspension of the opportunity for an employer who has experienced a decline in economic turnover or a significant increase in burden to withdraw from the establishment or operation of the Fund, or to apply a higher allowance for the Company’s Benefit Fund than that specified in the Act, under the provisions of the company’s collective agreement or remuneration regulations.
The end of the state of epidemic emergency, therefore, means a return to the allowances for the Social Benefits Fund (ZFŚS) in the amount guaranteed by the collective agreement or the remuneration regulations.
However, the changes resulting from the cancellation of the state of epidemic emergency in Poland are not the only challenges faced by employers in recent times. In fact, this April, revolutionary amendments to the Labour Code came into force. Learn more: download our Guide – Changes to Labour Law in 2023