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9 Apr 2020

Dariusz Kalan, Balkan Insight, Reporting Democracy

Poland: Gig economy workers hit hardest by COVID-19 crisis

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"The music dies for Poland's gig economy workers", 8 April 2020

Polish musicians, artists and freelancers of all kinds struggle as the coronavirus crisis hits workers on 'junk' contracts...

[M]illions of employees [are] on contracts known in Polish as “smieciowki” — literary meaning “junk” or “trash” contracts  or other non-standard forms of employment. This includes all sorts of freelancers, artists, entrepreneurs and professional service providers...

Under an economic aid package passed by parliament on March 31, the self-employed and firms employing up to nine people can apply to have their healthcare and pension contributions scrapped for three months if they meet certain eligibility requirements, though they still have to pay income tax.

Some self-employed and some on “smieciowki” contracts can apply for a one-off handout of around 2,000 zloty (440 euros), which is 80 per cent of the living wage...

Some commentators say that if there is any silver lining to the crisis, it might be the opportunity to radically reform Poland’s labour market and do away with “junk” contracts entirely...