02 January, 2024

Announcements by the new government majority relevant to posting entrepreneurs – the (real) New Order?

In the shadow of big politics and the events surrounding the formation of the new Polish government, it is worth reviewing the Coalition Agreement of the parties forming the government majority in terms of announcements that may affect the legal situation of posting entrepreneurs.

This is particularly true of the promises declared in the areas of labour law, social security as well as payroll and contributions. I present below a subjective selection of the most important of them. They primarily include:

  1. Proposed changes to sickness contribution and other business-related changes
  •  The Coalition parties promised to introduce the principle that an worker's sick pay would be paid by the Polish Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) from the first day, and not, as before, only after 33 (or after 14 - for workers aged fifty and over) days of illness in a given year.
  •  Entrepreneurs paying contributions for themselves - are to be granted a temporary exemption from the obligation to pay social security contributions
  •  The coalition is to ensure a so-called cash basis for personal income tax (PIT) and to introduce "favourable and clear rules for calculating the health contribution" (the exact nature of the "favourable" and "clear" rules is not indicated).

     2.  Subsidising the National Labour Inspectorate (PIP)

The call for the National Labour Inspectorate to be subsidised in order to 'effectively' defend the rights of the '16 million workers' was clearly indicated. Such an underlined circumstance may translate into an increase in the volume of inspections, carried out by the Inspectorate.

    3. Comprehensive social policy solutions

In this respect, the Coalition announced, among other things:

  •  supplementing social benefits in the area of systemic support for caregivers of dependent persons and senior citizens
  •  enactment of the law on assistance for dependant persons
  •  the introduction of measures to increase the activity of the elderly (perhaps involving incentives/facilitation for employers employing such people).

     4. Changes to the tax system

The coalition declares:

  •  willingness (although without specifics provided) to reduce the tax burden on working people
  • the introduction of the principle of a minimum 6-month vacatio legis for changes in tax law - that the tax system is supposed to be ‘stable, friendly and fair’ - although this may mean both that the tax burden will decrease and that it could actually increase (!)
  •  the return of predictability to the tax system involves, among other things, restoring dialogue with employers' organisations and trade unions.

     5. Work together to close the wage gap and eliminate other barriers to equal treatment in the labour market

This promise is essentially the result of the obligations imposed on Member States by the Council Directive of the European Parliament and the Council 2023/970 on pay transparency (the deadline for its implementation into Polish law is 7 June 2026). This is to be accompanied by, inter alia, the following measures:

  •  the provision of additional support for women to return to work after maternity leave (with no details of the regulatory proposals indicated in this regard);
  • effective enforcement of maintenance rights;
  •  other measures to strengthen women's rights.

‘Great absentees’ topics of the Coalition Agreement

Among the 'great absentees' of the Coalition Agreement themes, it is worth noting in particular:

  1.  issues concerning Ukraine - mentioned virtually only in para. 1 of the Agreement in the context of security and in para. 14 - in the context of agriculture and ‘normalisation of relations with third countries’)
  2. the government's plans for the full taxation of contracts of mandate, included as part of the reforms programmed by the government in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (KPO). The KPO does appear in the Coalition Agreement, but in the context of unlocking funds from that Plan and allocating them to investment in renewables and key local government investments.
  3.  the so-called ‘entrepreneur test’, already postulated previously by left wing politicians. It would supposedly make it easier to verify whether a person switching from an employment contract to self-employment actually intends to be self-employed. However - from other political camps - there are claims that this would be an unnecessary complication of an already complicated system. This issue is likely to come up again and again in debates and subsequent proposals.

Interesting facts and last-minute information

Of interest, it is particularly worth pointing out that the name of the Ministry headed by Left MP Dr Agnieszka Dziemianowicz-Bąk has returned to bear ‘labour' (from now on it will be the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy, MRPiPS).

In turn, the second Ministry involved in cross-border labour mobility, the Ministry of Development and Technology (MRiT), was taken over by the well-known acquaintance of the ELMI (from the time of the substantive meetings in Brussels and Strasbourg when negotiating the text of Directive 2018/957) – Mr. Krzysztof Hetman.

In turn, Prof. Maciej Duszczyk, another acquaintance of the ELMI, has been appointed Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration (MSWiA). He will be in charge of international issues and migration policy at the Ministry. Prof. Duszczyk is one of the best specialists and most thorough researchers of migration policy in Poland, who is also open to the pains and challenges reported by entrepreneurs operating in a cross-border context. Thus, there is a chance for a systemic and reasonable approach to this extremely important issue. This circumstance is all the more important as it coincides with the fact that the EU Council and the European Parliament on 20 December 2023 reached an agreement on the reform of the EU asylum and migration system - the so-called Migration Pact.

Marcin Kiełbasa, PhD