With 26 confirmed cases, Poland has closed its schools and universities for two weeks to help combat the spread of coronavirus across the country. The school closure runs from 12 March to the 25 March and covers all kindergartens, nurseries, and children’s clubs. Polish ministers have said that limited care will still be provided to the youngest children.
Childcare Leave During the Shutdown
The decision to close schools has raised childcare concerns for employees across Poland who may have to take time off work to care for their children. In addition to its existing system of parental and sickness leave benefits, Poland has updated its childcare allowance to help employees deal with the crisis. With that in mind, Polish employees have the following options
- Existing child care benefits allow employees (along with a second parent) to take up to 60 days of child care leave to care for sick children up to 14 years old.
- Parents and carers are now also entitled to take an additional 14 days of leave to care for children under 8 years old as a consequence of the COVID-10 school shutdown. In order to take the leave, employees must fill out a statement detailing their childcare needs. This leave is not counted towards the existing 60 days leave limit
The additional 14 days leave can only be taken until the 25 March. Employees who don’t work on Saturdays and Sundays do not have to take leave on those days but cannot use any remainder of their 14-day allowance beyond the 25 March. Parents can choose to separate or stagger the days on which they take leave in order to work around shift patterns or to share responsibilities with another parent or carer.
For example: an employee who takes leave from the 12 to the 13 March, from the 16 to the 20 March, and from the 23 to the 25 March, would have used 10 days of their 14-day allowance.
Fighting the Outbreak
Poland’s Health Minister, Lukasz Szumowski has emphasized that the school closure is not about an increased risk to children’s health but a measure to combat the coronavirus outbreak: “There is no epidemiological threat in schools, we are just trying to prevent the virus from spreading”. The minister also advised that, during the shutdown, children should stay at home and not use public transport.
In addition to the school closures, Poland has also closed all museums, theatres, and cinemas from 12 March to 25 March. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, has said that the Polish response is one of preventative action to avoid a more severe outbreak: “We are in a very difficult situation, but we see in the example of Italy the position may be much more difficult.”
For more information on Poland’s childcare and social security system, browse activpayroll’s Global Insight Guide to Poland.