Shield 4.0 as the last part of the economic protection system during a pandemic
On May 20, 2020, the Polish government adopted the fourth and final package of anti-crisis solutions known as "Shield 4.0". The draft changes assume, among others, protection of Polish companies against acquisitions, credit holidays, simplifications in tax and public procurement law and changes in the Labor Code.
In Shield 4.0 there are certain restrictions in relation to the process of taking over Polish commercial companies, by investors from outside of EU, by introducing the obligation to notify each transaction of the purchase of a significant number of shares to the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection. President of UOKiK will have the right to object to any such transaction. However, the protection applies only to enterprises whose revenues in the territory of the Republic of Poland have exceeded the equivalent of EUR 10 million in any of the last two years. Protection is also limited to the most important sectors of the Polish economy, such as: public companies, IT, energy and fuels, telecommunications, food processing, pharmaceutical and arms industries.
Suspension of loan repayments
The Shield 4.0 project provide for the borrowers the right to suspend repayment of the loan taken for up to 3 months without charging interest and other fees. Persons who have lost their job or another principal source of income after March 13, 2020, and therefore individuals who run individual business activities and contractors also, are entitled to submit an appropriate application. The solution indicated in the drafted Act will apply to loan agreements concluded before March 13, 2020, if the end of the loan period specified in these agreements falls after six months from March 13, 2020.
Amendments to the Labor Code
- The proposed act clarifies the rules of performing remote work and prevents abuses involving the use of remote work by persons who do not have the conditions to do so.
- The obligation to collect overdue holiday leaves until September 30 this year has been suspended. When the act will be in force, this change will allow the employer to send the employee on overdue leave, even without his/her consent. The purpose of this regulation is to prevent the accumulation of holidays during the summer period.
- Employers, principals and awarding entities will be entitled to unilaterally terminate the non-competition agreement in force after the termination of a given legal relationship. Thanks to this, with the expiry of the contract, their obligation to pay compensation over the duration of the contract will expire.
- The maximum severance pay or compensation in the event of termination of an employment or termination of the agency contract, mandate or service contract have been limited to 10 times the minimum wage. The above change may significantly affect the public enterprise sector, where employees often receive such severance pay upon termination of the contract.
- The Shield 4.0 project also provides for the possibility of receiving support from the Guaranteed Employee Benefits Fund by those entities which, despite the decline in economic turnover following COVID-19, did not decide to cover employees with economic downtime or reduce working time.
Banks which will conclude an agreement with Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego will grant privileged loans to enterprises affected by the COVID-19 - BGK will pay additional interest to these loans from state budget funds. This year, over 296 million PLN will go from the state budget for this purpose, and over 271 million PLN next year. Entrepreneurs will be able to apply for co-financing regardless of the size of the enterprise, while the small or medium-sized entrepreneur will receive a subsidy corresponding to 2 percentage points of interest, and the remaining enterprises - 1 percentage point. The maximum support in this respect cannot exceed EUR 800,000 and the loan agreement should be concluded until December 31, 2020.
Changes in public procurement law
- Lifting the obligation to demand a security in proceedings with an estimated value above the EU thresholds.
- Introduction of the obligation to pay remuneration in parts or to make advance payments in the case of longer public procurement contracts.
- Reduction of the value of collateral on due performance of the contract.
- Prohibition of deducting contractual penalties from the contractor's remuneration or other claim, regardless of whether the non-performance of the contract was caused by circumstances related to COVID-19, if the deadline has expired during the epidemic.
- Enable tax deduction by taxpayers, including taxpayers conducting business activity (on general principles using a tax scale or a 19% linear tax rate) for donations in the form of computers.
- Enabling the cost of production or purchase price of items or rights to be recognized as tax deductible costs, which the taxpayer will then provide in the form of a donation, from January 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020.