The new safety procedures, the increased sanitary regime, the introduction of yellow and red zones, the temporary lockdown – these are just some of the changes that the coronavirus pandemic has brought about in the functioning of the society and the economy since mid-March.
Has it also had an impact on the Polish labour market? If so, what impact? What is the mood of employees and employers?
The second quarter of 2020 in many companies ended with job cuts, cost reductions and the transfer of as many tasks as possible to remote working. According to the estimates of the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy, at the end of 2020 the unemployment rate will be between 7.1% and 8%. What is the situation of foreign employees, especially from Ukraine, employed in Polish companies compared to these data? Have workers from the East returned home? Do they still want to work in Poland? And is there still work for them?
It is estimated that by 30 April 2020, nearly 200,000 Ukrainian citizens left Poland. According to the Report ‘A foreign employee in Poland during the coronavirus pandemic’ presented by EWL S.A., the Foundation for the Support of Migrants on the Labour Market ‘EWL’ and the Centre for East European Studies at the University of Warsaw, those who decided to stay mostly benefited from the automatic extension of the permits for legal residence and work in Poland, proposed by the Polish government (63.5% of the respondents). Many foreigners in Poland feel safer than in their home country (72.5% of the respondents) and do not want to return to their home country during the pandemic (85% of the respondents).
The study conducted in the first half of April 2020 shows that over ¼ of the respondents were forced to change their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic. For over 21%, the loss of work was also associated with the necessity to relocate, often to a completely different, very distant town/city in Poland. However, thanks to mobility, flexibility and motivation to work employees from abroad adapt quickly to the changing conditions. Over 55% of those surveyed decided to stay in Poland, among other things, because they have real opportunities to work and earn money here, even during the pandemic.
The situation on the market is changing rapidly. For many companies, the summer period was the peak of the season, which translated into the need to increase human resources. At the end of August the number of the registered unemployed fell by half a thousand, and the number of Ukrainians registered with the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) increased by over 27,000 compared to July 2020. It is estimated that there are currently (October 2020) more foreigners living and working in Poland than in February of this year, that is in the period before the pandemic. Despite a temporary lockdown and a slowdown in the economy, there is no shortage of work for Ukrainian citizens. Many companies are still recruiting and employing people. However, fearing the autumn wave of the pandemic entrepreneurs are more cautious about increasing fixed costs. Therefore, they decide on solutions which combine flexibility and security, namely temporary work and outsourcing of services.