26 June, 2023

The cancellation of an epidemic emergency and (some of) its consequences

On 16 June 2023, a decree of the Minister of Health dated 14 June this year was published in the Journal of Laws of the Republic of Poland, by virtue of which, as of 1 July 2023, the state of epidemic emergency in force in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic was revoked in Poland. This state, introduced in May 2022, replaced the state of epidemic - i.e. the further-reaching of the two regulatory states, in force since March 2020.

During both of the above-mentioned states, a number of specific legal solutions were introduced under the Covidium Act. Some of these have already ceased to apply after 16 May 2022 with the lifting of the epidemic state. However, it is worth highlighting two (of many) areas that are particularly worth looking at in the near future.

(Short) deadline for extension of legal residence and employment

Firstly, the cancellation of the epidemic emergency implies that the documents that legalise the residence and work of third-country nationals, which were extended after March 2020 on the basis of the covidium special law, will expire on 31 July 2023. On this date, the possibility to legally employ third-country nationals on the basis of the work permits and declarations of entrustment of work to the third-country national concerned, thus extended, will also end.
This results in the fact that, by 30 July this year at the latest, third-country nationals still using the 'covidova fiction' should submit the relevant applications extending their stay (and regulating their employment) in the Republic of Poland.

It is worth noting that the above does not generally apply to Ukrainian nationals, whose legal residence is, in fact, overwhelmingly based on temporary protection. With regard to their situation, it is also worth noting that the President signed another amendment to the Ukrainian special law (Act of 14 April 2023 on changing the names of state service universities supervised by the minister responsible for internal affairs, amending the Act on the Police, the Act on the Border Guard, the Act on the State Fire Service and some other acts). It extends until 4 March 2024 the period of validity of the stay of Ukrainian citizens who either fled from war or whose visa/visa-free period / temporary residence permit expired after 24 February 2022. Even longer will be the period of legal residence in Poland for persons with Ukrainian citizenship studying in Polish schools - until 31 August 2024 (in certain cases - even until 30 September 2024. - in the case of high school graduates taking the exam on a resit date). The above deadline also applies to parents or guardians of such students.

As an aside, in the context of third-country nationals, it is worth adding that the effect of the revocation of the epidemic emergency will also be that taxpayers will be required to hold up-to-date certificates of residence.

Compulsory periodic occupational health examinations return

Another important consequence of the revocation of the epidemic emergency is the return of the obligation to perform periodic occupational health examinations.
On the basis of one of the provisions of this covidium spec, the obligation for employees to perform periodic examinations was abolished. The planned cancellation of the epidemic emergency by the Minister of Health will result in the reinstatement of this obligation. It will therefore be necessary to perform the outstanding examinations within a period of no more than 180 days from 1 July 2023 (the date of the revocation). Therefore, tests that were not performed during the epidemic/emergency state will have to be performed within the aforementioned period. As the shortage of occupational physicians is a notorious fact, it is advisable to plan in advance to supplement the aforementioned examinations for employees.

r. pr. dr Marcin Kiełbasa