The government’s announcements of changes in the rules for granting aid met with some expectations of entrepreneurs. Extension of the possibility of obtaining partial exemption from the obligation to pay contributions, the possibility of longer use of the so-called idle time pay and the announcement of launching financial support coordinated by the Polish Development Fund are the main instruments that have been introduced into Polish law in connection with the Government’s actions under the so-called anti-crisis package.
1. Extension of the possibility of exemption from the obligation to pay contributions to ZUS
The group of entrepreneurs who can apply for exemption from paying social security contributions for the period from March to May this year was extended to include small entrepreneurs who employ from 10 to 49 people. The ZUS exemption covers 50% of the contributions for each employee. The application can also be submitted by entrepreneurs who started their business after 1 February 2020, which is new compared to the first version of the package. The introduced change assumes that if an entrepreneur who, due to the amendment, has applied for exemption for contributions already paid (e.g. for March), will receive a refund of “overpaid” contributions, that is 50% of the amount.
At the same time, contrary to the postulates of entrepreneurs, the income limit amounting to three times the average salary that applies to persons running a sole proprietorship was maintained.
2. Changes in idle time pay
This benefit, in addition to the employee’s remuneration subsidies, is a measure to ensure the financing of the costs of sole proprietorships or self-employed persons. In relation to the first version of the package, primarily the income limit for persons conducting economic activity was abolished. The benefit may be granted three times, and not just once, as previously assumed.
3. Dismissals in the case of receiving a subsidy
The amendment to the Anti-Crisis Package removes the ban on terminating employment contracts in the period after receiving funding. Currently, an employer cannot dismiss employees during the period for which it receives remuneration subsidies, but this ban will cease to apply as soon as the public support ceases.
4. Subsidising through the Polish Development Fund in the form of partially and conditionally non-returnable subsidies
This instrument is not yet available to entrepreneurs and the notification of the European Commission’s rules is currently under way. This support may turn out to be a rescue for many enterprises, as it is based on the possibility of obtaining financial support, 75% of which can be non-returnable, provided that the entrepreneur meets the requirements set forth in the Act.
The support covers the whole sector, from micro to large enterprises. Entities from the micro and SME sector will be able to apply for aid through the electronic banking system of selected commercial banks. Large enterprises will be managed through a special form.
As regards the details and amounts of the subsidies, these are as follows:
- Micro entrepreneurs, employing between 1 and 9 people and whose turnover has fallen by 25% due to COVID-19, will be able to apply for funding of up to PLN 324,000 in a three-year perspective. The subsidy is non-returnable in 75%, as long as the entrepreneur will continue to operate and maintain employment levels.
- Small and medium entrepreneurs, employing from 10 to 249 people, can count on support in the amount of up to PLN 3,500,000 in a three-year period. The 75% of the subsidy is non-returnable, as long as the entrepreneur continues to operate, maintain employment levels and record sales losses.
- Large entrepreneurs, employing over 250 people, who have lost the ability to manufacture or provide services in connection with COVID-19, have recorded a decrease in turnover of at least 25%, do not have the possibility to take advantage of credit limits and do not have access to capital markets, may apply for individually determined financing, in the form of bonds, loans or capital instruments, in the amount of up to PLN 1 billion.
In each of the above cases, support applies to entrepreneurs who ran their businesses before 31 December 2019 are not in arrears with payment of taxes and contributions for this period, and who have tax residence in Poland (applies to real beneficiaries). The amounts of the subsidy should be used to cover the costs of running the activity. Each time, the details of obtaining a subsidy will be specified in the agreement.