We have put together a series of questions and answers to make it easier for you to navigate this difficult time.


Work

  1. During an epidemic or an epidemiological risk, can I legally work in the course of proceedings for granting international (refugee) protection without the need to obtain a certificate from the Office for Foreigners authorizing me to work in Poland?
  2. The Refugee Board has issued a negative refugee decision in my case. Can I work during an epidemic or epidemiological risk?
  3. Am I allowed to work legally?
  4. Can I work under a humanitarian visa?
  5. My employer is having financial problems because of the coronavirus. I am employed under a contract of employment. Can I apply for a downtime benefit?
  6. My employer suffers financial problems during the coronavirus. I am employed on the basis of a civil-law contract (e.g. commission, for specific work contract). Can I apply for a downtime benefit?
  7. I work on the basis of an employment contract. Due to the closure of a school, kindergarten, children’s club or crèche, I have to look after my child and I am unable to work. Am I entitled to any compensation for this?
  8. I had an employment contract. My employer refuses to pay my full salary, claiming that there is no money. What can I do?
  9. I worked on the basis of a commission or contract for a specific work, I did not receive an agreed remuneration. My principal claims that there is no money. In such a situation, how can I properly claim my rights, what should I consider?
  10. Can an employer send me on compulsory leave or unpaid leave in connection with coronavirus, without my consent?
  11. Due to the coronavirus epidemic, my employer has no job for me. I was employed under a contract of indefinite duration. How can this affect my work situation?
  12. If my employer has dismissed me from work, can I receive unemployment benefits and for what period?

Documents

  1. I am afraid that the validity of my Temporary Foreigner’s Identity Card (TZTC) or Residence Card will expire during an epidemic or an epidemiological risk and I will not be able to obtain new documents.

Proceedings in the offices

  1. I received a negative decision on granting a residence permit in Poland (temporary residence, EU long-term residence permit). What should I do?
  2. May I file an appeal against a negative decision by electronic means?
  3. The proceedings before the office in my matter concerning a residence permit or a work permit are taking longer than they should. What can I do about it?

General issues

  1. The anti-crisis shield extended my legal stay in Poland. May I also travel within the EU?
  2. I lost my job or my salary was reduced. May I apply for a reduction of the rent for my flat?
  3. May I return to my country during the state of epidemic threat or the state of epidemic?
  4. I want to handle an official matter without leaving home. How may I do that?
  5. I received a negative decision concerning the grant of international protection, how long will I receive social assistance and medical care?

Work

1. During an epidemic or an epidemiological risk, can I legally work in the course of proceedings for granting international (refugee) protection without the need to obtain a certificate from the Office for Foreigners authorizing me to work in Poland?

Unfortunately, no. In order to be able to legally undertake work in the course of the asylum proceedings (proceeding for granting international protection) it is necessary to obtain from the Head of the Office for Foreigners a certificate which confirms that the case for granting international protection was not completed within 6 months and the delay was not caused by the applicant. The Anti-Crisis Shield does not provide for any specific solutions in this respect. On the other hand, if you hold a certificate issued by the Head of the Office for Foreigners which confirms that the case concerning granting international protection has not been completed within 6 months and the delay was not caused by your fault, but the validity period of your Temporary Foreigner’s Certificate has expired in the course of an epidemic or epidemiological risk, you are allowed to continue working legally. Your Temporary Foreigner’s Identity Certificate is legally valid until the 30th day after the end of an epidemic or epidemiological risk (you do not have to submit any application to the office for this purpose).

2. The Refugee Board has issued a negative refugee decision in my case. Can I work during an epidemic or epidemiological risk?

Unfortunately, no. Although in certain situations your obligation to leave Poland and possibly submit a complaint to the administrative court has been extended for the duration of the epidemic, this does not apply to your entitlement to work. You may, however, file a complaint with the administrative court with a request to suspend the execution of a negative refugee decision. If during the refugee proceedings you were entitled to work and the Refugee Board or an administrative court suspends the execution of the decision refusing to grant you international protection, from that moment you will again be entitled to work legally in Poland (together with the Temporary Foreigner’s ID). You will be able to work legally until the administrative courts have given their final judgment in your case.

3. Am I allowed to work legally?

  • The residence documents of foreigners (including the residence and work permit) whose validity expires in the period of an epidemic or an epidemiological risk shall be automatically extended to 30 days after the date of revocation of an epidemic or an epidemiological risk. This means that during this period you are allowed to work for the employer named in your permit on the same basis as before;
  • foreigners who have a declaration on entrusting work and the period of work indicated in the declaration ends during an epidemic or an epidemiological risk, may perform the work specified in the declaration with the same employer until the 30th day following the date of revoking the state of epidemic/ epidemiological risk, without the need to apply for a new work permit;
  • the period of validity of the work permit and the seasonal work permit, the last day of which falls within the period of an epidemic or an epidemiological risk, shall be extended until the 30th day following the date of revocation of the epidemic or an epidemiological risk (this also applies to decisions to extend the above permits)If you applied for a residence and work permit before the introduction of an epidemiological risk and received a stamping, you are allowed to continue working for your current employer under the same conditions. However, if you wish to change jobs and your new employer obtains a new work permit or declaration of employment for you – you may also undertake legal employment (condition: only for those who have previously worked

4. Can I work under a humanitarian visa?

Yes, from 1 December 2020, persons who are staying in Poland on the basis of a humanitarian visa may undertake work without the need to obtain additional work permits. During the period of validity of your humanitarian visa, you are thus entitled to work legally in Poland.

Remember, if your humanitarian (national) visa expires during the epidemiological risk or epidemic state, your visa will be automatically extended until the 30th day after cancelling the last state (emergency or epidemic). During this extended period of validity, you will also have the right to work in Poland.

5. My employer is having financial problems because of the coronavirus. I am employed under a contract of employment. Can I apply for a downtime benefit?

Only your employer may apply for the downtime benefit if they meet the conditions stipulated in the regulations. As an employed person, you cannot claim downtime benefit yourself. However, if you are ready to work and due to a stoppage in your employer’s activities you cannot perform work (and your employer has not entered into an agreement with workers’ representatives or trade unions), your employer is obliged to compensate you for the normal pay for this period. If your employer makes use of the possibility provided for in the Anti-Crisis Shield to claim economic downtime benefits, your remuneration can only be changed if your employer enters into an agreement with employee representatives or trade unions. However, your salary cannot be lower than the minimum wage. If your employer refuses to reimburse you for this period, you can contact the Labor Inspectorate or Labor Court for help. You can also apply for help from the Association for Legal Intervention (Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej).

6. My employer is having financial difficulties during the coronavirus pandemic. I am employed on the basis of a civil-law contract (e.g. mandate, for a specific work). Can I apply for a downtime benefit?

If there has been a reduction or suspension of services due to the coronavirus, on the basis of civil law contracts you have entered into (e.g. mandate, for a specific work), you may apply for a downtime benefit if:

  • The contract under which you work was concluded before 1 April 2020
  • You are legally residing in Poland
  • You have no other title to social security (e.g. you are not employed anywhere else)
  • The income from the contract obtained in the month preceding the month in which you apply for downtime benefit was not higher than 300% of the average monthly remuneration from the previous quarter announced by the President of the Central Statistical Office (https://stat.gov.pl/sygnalne/komunikaty-i-obwieszczenia/18,2020,kategoria.html), valid as at the date of submission of the application (the average monthly remuneration in the Q3 2020 was PLN 5 168.93, so if you submit the application before December 31st 2020, your income from civil law contracts in the month preceding the submission of the application cannot exceed PLN 15 506.79)

How much is the downtime benefit?

The downtime benefit is generally in the amount of 80% of the minimum remuneration for work, i.e. PLN 2,080.

If the sum of revenues from the contract obtained in the month preceding the submission of the application was less than 50% of the amount of the minimum remuneration for work (the current amount of the minimum remuneration for work is PLN 2,600 gross), the downtime benefit will be entitled to the amount of the obtained remuneration for the performed contracts.

How to apply for a downtime benefit?

  • The downtime benefit is granted on application, which must be submitted by your employer to the Social Insurance Institution. In case of refusal to submit the application by the ordering party, you may submit the application personally (form no. RSP-CZ).
  • The application may be submitted only in the form of an electronic document on the PUE ZUS platform.
  • The benefit may be granted again on the basis of a declaration, if it is shown that the applicant’s financial situation has not changed.
  • The entitlement to the downtime benefit shall be refused by way of a decision which may be appealed against in court.

More information is available here: https://www.zus.pl/baza-wiedzy/biezace-wyjasnienia-komorek-merytorycznych/-/publisher/details/1/swiadczenie-postojowe-dla-osob-wykonujacych-umowy-cywilnoprawne/2551448

7. I work on a contract of employment. Due to the closure of a school, kindergarten, children’s club or nursery, I have to look after a child and I cannot work. Is there any compensation available to me in this regard?

Yes, if you have to look after your child personally in connection with the closure of a school (kindergarten, children’s club, crèche), you may apply for an additional care allowance. Remember, however, that this only applies to the care of:

  • a child under 8 years of age or
  • a child with a severe or moderate degree of disability (until the age of 18) or
  • or a child with a disability certificate (until the age of 16 there is no disability certificate) or
  • a child with a special education requirement certificate.

Therefore, if you have a child who is older than 8 years and does not have a recognized disability or need for special education, you cannot claim additional care allowance even though your child is not in school.

If you are eligible for additional childcare allowance, you are required to make a declaration to your employer that you are personally caring for your child. Indicate the actual period when you had personal childcare in connection with the closure of schools. You can find a model statement here: https://www.zus.pl/o-zus/aktualnosci/-/publisher/aktualnosc/1/zmiany-w-dodatkowym-zasilku-opiekunczym/3264328

Your employer should undertake further action. If you receive additional care allowance, you will not receive normal remuneration. During the period of personal childcare, you will receive 80% of your salary.

Currently, the allowance can be received to 24 December 2020. This period can be extended if schools are still closed.

8. I had an employment contract. My employer refuses to pay my full salary, claiming that there is no money. What can I do?

If your employer does not pay you for the period you have been employed under an employment contract, you can inform the National Labor Inspectorate. You can do this electronically via the website: https://www.pip.gov.pl/pl/kontakt-inne/57468,aby-przejsc-do-strony-formularza-nalezy-wybrac-odpowiednia-jednostke-panstwowej-inspekcji-pracy.html or by post (address can be found here: https://warszawa.pip.gov.pl/pl) If you have not received the remuneration you are due for your work, you can also file a lawsuit at the labor court. Consult a lawyer for advice. You can make an appointment with the Association for Legal Intervention (Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej) and ask a lawyer to help you prepare your claim. If your employer, due to financial problems, declares bankruptcy and consequently cannot pay your salary, you will be able to claim benefits from the Guaranteed Employee Benefits Fund (as a rule, only for 3 months when you have not received your remuneration). Remember, if your employer does not provide you with remuneration or pays you partially, you are entitled to terminate your employment without notice. If you suspect that your employer’s financial situation will not improve and he will no longer be paying you all your remuneration, you should consider terminating your employment contract as soon as possible. If your employer has temporarily closed your workplace because of coronavirus, this does not mean that he is not able to compensate you. If your salary is determined by the hourly or monthly rate of pay, you should continue to be paid at that rate. If your remuneration was agreed otherwise (e.g. piecework, commission-based), you are entitled to 60% of the remuneration. Your salary can never be lower than the minimum wage for work (currently PLN 2 600 PLN gross). If your workplace is closed due to the coronavirus and your employer has met additional conditions (e.g. conclusion of an agreement with workers’ representatives or trade unions) your remuneration may be reduced by 50%. However, your salary cannot be lower than the minimum remuneration for work (currently PLN 2 600 gross if you work full time). Remember, lowering the salary without your consent is possible only after signing an agreement with employee representatives or trade unions. Your remuneration can also be changed if you sign an annex to your contract of employment with your employer or by way of changing notice (change of remuneration and working conditions).

9. I worked on the basis of a commission or contract for a specific work, I did not receive an agreed remuneration. My principal claims that there is no money. In such a situation, how can I properly claim my rights, what should I consider?

If you have not received the remuneration due to you under the contract of commission or specific work, you can sue for payment against your employer / principal. Remember to collect contracts of employment, email correspondence with your employer, and other documents proving that you actually worked for him and to what extent. Before filing a lawsuit, issue a demand for payment to your principal. You can make an appointment with the Association for Legal Intervention (Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej) and ask lawyer to help you prepare your claim and request for payment. Due to the coronavirus, regulations now provide for temporary special protection for people working on the basis of a contract of commission or specific work. If, because of the coronavirus, the provision of services has been limited or suspended on the basis of civil law contracts you have entered into (e.g. commissions, specific work contract), you may apply for a downtime benefit. You will read more about a downtime benefit in this situation in answer to question 6.

10. Can an employer, without my consent, send me on compulsory leave or unpaid leave in connection with coronavirus?

It is not possible for an employer to force an employee to take unpaid leave. Only the employee may apply for such leave.

Generally speaking, even though your employer has problems, he cannot forcefully send you on holiday leave. You, in consultation with your employer, set the date of your leave. Your employer may compulsorily send you on holiday leave during the notice period.

Your employer may also send you on holiday leave, without your permission, for up to 30 days’ leave if you are entitled to unused holiday leave for 2019 or earlier.

11. Due to the coronavirus epidemic, my employer has no job for me. I was employed under a contract of indefinite duration. How can this affect my work situation?

If your employer has a decrease in turnover due to the coronavirus, they may enter into an agreement with the trade union or workers’ representatives to reduce your pay or working hours and remuneration. Then your salary can be reduced even without your consent. Remember, it cannot be lower than the minimum salary (PLN 2 600 gross) if you work full time. Otherwise (if no such agreement has been made), you are entitled to a regular remuneration during the downtime. More about its amount in reply to question 8. Together (in agreement) with your employer you can also sign an annex to your employment contract. In this annex you can, by mutual agreement, amend the conditions of your work (e.g. work time) or remuneration (amount of salary). If you do not agree, your employer may unilaterally terminate your remuneration and working conditions. Then you will have a certain amount of time to decide whether you accept the amended conditions or not. If you do not accept them, your employment contract is terminated. This notice of termination of pay and working conditions and the termination of the employment contract itself may later be challenged in an employment court if it has been made against the law. Your employment contract may also be terminated by mutual agreement or by notice from your employer. If your employer terminates your contract by notice, you must be given a concrete and real reason why he is terminating the contract with you. Afterwards, you will be able to appeal against such termination in court. During the notice period, you should receive regular remuneration. Remember that in some situations your employment contract cannot be terminated, for example when you are pregnant or on holiday. Remember! If you have not yet concluded a new contract and agree to terminate your existing one by mutual agreement, you will not be entitled to unemployment benefit for 6 months! More about unemployment benefits in reply to question 12.

12. If my employer has dismissed me from work, can I receive unemployment benefits and for what period?

You are required to meet a number of conditions to apply for unemployment benefit. These include:

  • You have not terminated your employment contract by mutual agreement or by notice of termination within the last 6 months,
  • Your employment contract has not been terminated “without notice” due to your fault in the last 6 months,
  • You have worked for the last 18 months for at least 365 days in total (not necessarily in a single period) and have received the minimum remuneration (currently in 2020 – PLN 2 600 gross, in 2019 – PLN 2 250 gross). It could be a contract of employment, but also, for example, a commission or for specific work contract. Please note that if you are a citizen of Ukraine and have also worked in Ukraine in the last 18 months, the period of your work in Ukraine is counted to the indicated period of 365 days (provided that you meet the other conditions, including the amount of your salary).
  • You do not conduct your own business,
  • If you are a woman, you are no more than 60, and if you are a man, you are no more than 65,
  • You do not receive a permanent allowance,
  • You are staying in Poland on the basis of, inter alia, refugee status, subsidiary protection, permanent residence permit or long-term resident’s EU residence permit, permit for humanitarian reasons or permit for tolerated stay, temporary residence permit (pursuant to Article 127 or Article 186(1)(3) of the Act on Foreigners), temporary residence permit pursuant to Article 186(1)(3) of the Act on Foreigners), temporary residence permits pursuant to Article 114(1) or (1a) or Article 126(1) of the Act on Foreigners or a visa for employment purposes, if immediately before registration as an unemployed person you were continuously employed in Poland for at least 6 months, you are a family member of a Polish citizen and therefore you have obtained or are applying for a residence permit in Poland.

By applying for or claiming unemployment benefit you can be directed to training, work or socially useful work (maximum 10 hours per week). If you refuse without justifiable reason, you may not receive or lose unemployment benefit.

Generally, you will be able to receive unemployment benefit for 6 months. On the other hand, if, among other things, you alone bring up at least one child younger than 15 years or if you bring up a child younger than 15 years and your partner is also unemployed and is no longer entitled to unemployment benefit, the period for which they grant you unemployment benefit will be extended to one year.

The amount of unemployment benefit is

  • PLN 861.40 per month for the first 90 days of entitlement to the benefit,
  • PLN 676.40 per month for further period.

The amount of the benefit may be reduced (80% of the above amount) or increased (120% of the above amount) depending on your seniority.

Documents

13. I am afraid that the validity of my Temporary Foreigner’s Identity Card (TZTC) or Residence Card will expire during an epidemic or an epidemiological risk and I will not be able to obtain new documents.

Do not worry. If the validity of the TZTC or the Residence Card expires during an epidemic or an epidemiological risk (from 14 March 2020), its validity is automatically extended. Your documents will be valid for a period of 30 days from the date of the end of the epidemic or an epidemiological risk (whichever was the last). So for example, if an epidemic ends on 1 June 2020 and no emergency situation is introduced, your documents will be valid until 1 July 2020. You do not have to submit any additional applications in this regard.

Proceedings in the offices

14. I have received a negative decision on my residence permit in Poland (temporary stay, stay of a long-term EU resident, permanent stay). What should I do?

You must submit your appeal within the time limit specified in the instructions (usually within 14 days). You can submit your appeal by post (with a confirmation of posting), electronically (using a trusted profile or electronic signature) or in person at the application office. If the authority that issued the decision in your case in the first instance has an open application office, you can appeal there in person. Remember to request a confirmation of your appeal on an additional copy.

In connection with the requirement to minimise interpersonal contacts during an epidemic, it is worth considering sending an appeal by e-mail or post (while maintaining the necessary safety measures – including a mask, appropriate distance from others).

15. May I file an appeal against a negative decision by electronic means?

Yes. If you want, you may file an appeal against administrative decisions by electronic means. In order to do so, you must have the Trusted Profile. In order to register one, you will need a PESEL number. In order to find out how to register a Trusted Profile please access: https://www.gov.pl/web/gov/zaloz-profil-zaufany You may then file an appeal with a specific office by means of the epuap.gov.pl. platform. Please remember to sign the appeal with your trusted profile before submitting it to an office. After submitting the appeal to the office, in your electronic inbox you should have an Official Proof of Submission or an Official Proof of Receipt. It is assumed that you submitted the appeal on this day.

16. The proceedings before the office in my matter concerning a residence permit or a work permit are taking longer than they should. What can I do about it?

Usually proceedings in your matters before offices (e.g. legalizing stay, work permits) should be concluded in the first instance within one month, and if the matter is particularly complicated then within two months. An appeal against a negative decision should be reviewed within one month. The running of these terms was suspended between 14 March 2020 and 15 May 2020 due to the coronavirus epidemic. If you submitted an application with an office at the beginning of March 2020, the authority was still entitled under the law to refrain from issuing a decision in your matter. The period between 14 March 2020 and 15 May 2020 was not taken into account for calculating the expiry of the (one-month or two-month) term within which your matter should be concluded. If, nonetheless, the proceedings in your matter are taking too long, you may request for expediting the review process and then file a complaint to the administrative court. If you submitted an application in your matter to an administrative office a long time ago and the body should have already issued a decision until 14 March 2020, you may request for expediting the review process and then file a complaint to the administrative court. To learn more about the procedure, and find up-to-date forms please go to: https://interwencjaprawna.pl/en/have-you-been-waiting-for-a-decision-too-longact-on-it/

General issues

17. The anti-crisis shield extended my legal stay in Poland. May I also travel within the EU?

If the term of your legal stay (on the basis of a visa, residence permit, visa-free traffic) ended within the duration of the state of epidemic threat or state of epidemic, the anti-crisis shield extended your legal stay right in Poland. Your stay in Poland is legal until 30 days have lapsed after the lifting of the state of epidemic threat or the state of epidemic (depending which one of them was in force last). This does not grant you the right to stay or travel in other countries from the Schengen Area. Even though you have a legal stay right in Poland, you may not legally travel to another European Union country by invoking the provisions of the anti-crisis shield.

18. I lost my job or my salary was reduced. May I apply for a reduction of the rent for my flat?

Currently, the anti-crisis shield does not provide any specific regulations that would address such situations. You may try to renegotiate your rental agreement with your landlord. Tell him or her about the difficult situation you found yourself in. Maybe you will manage to come to an arrangement and reduce the rent for the time of the epidemic by means of an annex to the agreement. In certain situations, you may apply for a housing benefit which will help you cover the costs of rental. The benefit will help you cover a specific part of the rent (up to 20%). In order to be eligible for the housing benefit you must meet ALL of the following conditions:

  • Have a right to the flat (e.g. a rental or subrental agreement)
  • Your average monthly income for the 3 months preceding the day of the application does not exceed PLN 2100.00 if you live alone. If you live with your family then the monthly income per each family member cannot exceed PLN 1500 (so if you have a family of three, then your family’s income during the three months before the day of the application cannot exceed on average PLN 4500). Caution! Income does not include the amounts received as social assistance benefits or 500+.
  • The flat or house that you live in cannot exceed the square meterage criterion. As a rule, the square meterage criterion is as follows
    Number of persons in the householdMaximum surface (in sq. m)Maximum surface, if the share of the surface of rooms and kitchen in the entire livable surface of the living unit does not exceed 60% (in sq. m)
    1 45,5 52,5
    2 52 60
    3 58,5 67,5
    4 71,5 82,5
    5 84,5 97,5
    6 91 105
    For every additional family member the following surface should be added 6,5 7,5
    You may submit the application for the housing benefit to the city (district) council competent for your place of residence

19. Can I go back to my country during an epidemiological risk or epidemic state?

Unless you are in official quarantine, there is no formal obstacle to you returning to your country. Remember, however, that due to restrictions on the functioning of border crossings (currently open Polish border crossings you can check here: https://granica.gov.pl/index.php?v=pl), as well as restrictions on air and coach traffic, it may be difficult to actually organise a return to your country. If you plan to transit, before leaving, make sure you have the right to cross the country without quarantine or other additional requirements (e.g. COVID-19 test).

20. I want to handle an official matter without leaving home. How may I do that?

A large number of official matters, such as the submission of applications, appeals, complaints to administrative courts, letters to offices, can be handled without leaving home. These are the type of cases which do not require your physical presence (unlike e.g. providing your fingerprints). In order to make use of this possibility you must own or register a Trusted Profile in the ePUAP platform. For this you will need a PESEL number. In order to find out how to register a Trusted Profile please access: https://www.gov.pl/web/gov/zaloz-profil-zaufany Afterwards, you may submit documents with offices using the epuap.gov.pl platform.

21. I received a negative decision concerning the grant of international protection, how long will I receive social assistance and medical care?

If the period during which you are eligible for social assistance and medical care as part of the refugee proceedings was to elapse within the duration of the state of epidemic threat or state of epidemic (after 14 March 2020), your situation as regards social assistance and medical care remains unchanged. You will be eligible for social assistance and medical care, without the need to undertake any additional actions, until 30 days have lapsed after the end of the state of epidemic threat or the state of epidemic (depending which one of them was in force last).

Remember! If you received a negative decision from the Head of the Office for Foreigners and you would like to file an appeal against it, you will have to do it anyway within 14 days from receiving it (or 7 days, if the decision was issued in an expedited procedure)! If, however, you received a decision from the Council for Refugee Affairs, with which you disagree, you have 30 days for filing a complaint against the decision.

Photo by Fusion Medical Animation / Unsplash