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The Warsaw Voice » Law » May 27, 2011
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Law in brief
May 27, 2011   
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Incentives for Startups
Business start-ups will not have to pay social and health insurance contributions for four months after putting out a shingle, under a proposal drafted by a parliamentary committee.

Those deciding against taking advantage of this incentive and opting to pay social security contributions will be eligible for a reduced rate for 24 months after registering their company.

“We want to encourage young people, especially those unemployed, to start their own businesses,” said the committee’s chairman Adam Szejnfeld. “Money saved on social and health insurance contributions will help them develop their companies.”

Ad Revenue on a Slow Rise
The theoretical rate-card advertising revenues of Poland’s seven largest terrestrial television channels (public channels TVP1, TVP2 and TVP Info and private stations TVN, Polsat, TV 4 and TV Puls) totaled zl.2.26 billion in the first quarter of this year, an increase of 1.54 percent in year-on-year terms, according to Nielsen Media Research. Polsat recorded the highest revenue, at zl.663 million, 17.2 percent more than in the first quarter of 2010. The runner-up TVN channel reported zl.604.2 million, 0.8 percent up from the first quarter of 2010.

The figures do not take into account discounts which the largest TV stations offer to advertisers. Experts believe that the actual revenues may have been up to 60 percent lower than the rate-card revenue and so with the discounts, the seven channels may have earned no more than zl.900 million from commercials between them.

More Law Classes in Schools?
High school curricula may be expanded to include regular law classes, under a joint proposal by the justice ministry and associations bringing together legal counselors.

The idea was inspired by a pilot educational program that ended in April and in which 25 legal counselors taught practical law courses, telling about 3,000 high-school students in the central city of ŁódĽ about their rights and responsibilities as citizens. During the classes, the lawyers showed the students how to use legal regulations in specific situations in everyday life.

According to Justice Minister Krzysztof Kwiatkowski, 80 percent of students surveyed say such courses are needed.

Polish Television Archives Online
Polish Television Theater productions, the history of the Chopin international piano competition and other archive footage from the vaults of the Telewizja Polska (TVP) public television broadcaster will be available online in digital format under new plans. Culture Minister Bogdan Zdrojewski, TVP CEO Juliusz Braun and Michał Merczyński, the director of the National Audiovisual Institute have signed a letter of intent to launch the project. The digital-format footage will be available at the institute’s website at www.nina.gov.pl

The project is part of a long-term government program called “Culture+. Priority: Digitalization.”

Poland to Accept More Refugees
New legislation is being drafted to enable Poland to accept refugees relocated from other European Union countries. Work is in progress to amend a law on granting protection to foreigners in Poland and on the Aliens Act. The government has preliminarily approved a proposal to this effect from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration.

The changes will make it possible for Poland to grant assistance to foreigners transferred to this country from other EU countries as part of relocation or resettlement programs. Foreigners relocated to Poland from other EU countries will be eligible for international protection under a principle that calls for EU member states to share responsibilities and costs. Those resettled from third countries to Poland will include foreigners qualifying for international protection and awaiting refugee status as well as those who cannot return to their native countries because this could mean they would be killed or tortured there.

The government will issue regulations to determine the number of foreigners that can be relocated or resettled to Poland. The regulations will also specify the amount of funds earmarked for this purpose. Refugees will be able to count on financial assistance from the Polish government to pay for their food expenses. They will also be eligible for additional benefits such as learning Polish, school supplies for their children, and, wherever possible, paying for extracurricular activities for children, including recreation and sports.

Free Legal Advice
The Warsaw-based Institute of Public Affairs, a public policy think tank, has granted zl.600,000 to social organizations providing free legal advice to citizens this year. Grants as part of the Citizens and Law program have gone to 15 nongovernmental organizations that provide legal advice to clients including deaf people, refugees, victims of discrimination, and victims of medical malpractice.

Institutions subsidized by the Institute of Public Affairs have included the Iris Academy, which provides free counseling on housing issues, the Center for Women’s Rights, the Nobody’s Children Foundation, the Institute for Patients’ Rights and Health Education, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the Committee for the Protection of Children’s Rights, and the Misericordia Association, which provides legal assistance to the elderly and physically disabled.

Anti-Drug Plan Unveiled
The government has come up with a program for preventing drug addiction. Minors are the special focus of the program for 2011-2016. This group is particularly vulnerable to substance abuse, according to officials. It includes children and adolescents remaining without parental care, street kids and adolescents with behavioral problems and attention and concentration deficit disorders. The risk group also includes young people requiring special preventive measures to encourage changes in lifestyle and stop them from using drugs—in particular activities designed to raise awareness of the consequences of drug use.

Research shows that 15 percent of school students in Poland have used a drug or other illegal substance at least once.

New Rules on Hiring Foreign Workers
The Ministry of Labor and Social Policy plans to modify the rules for employers hiring workers from Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine. At the moment, Polish employers can easily hire them without much paperwork if the period of employment does not exceed six months during a year. It is enough for a company notify the local employment agency about its intention to hire such a worker. This statement is sent to the foreign worker in question and makes them eligible for a Polish visa.

Under the new rules, an employer’s statement will have to include information about the salary offered to the foreign worker. On this basis, the consul making the decision to either issue or refuse the visa will be able to determine if the foreigner will be in a position to pay for their stay in Poland.

In addition, the employer will have to state clearly in this document that they have tried to look for workers in Poland, but have been unable to find a suitable candidate—which explains why they have decided to hire a foreigner. In addition, the statement will also include information that the employer is not behind in paying social security contributions and taxes.

Last year almost 200,000 workers from countries beyond Poland’s eastern border came to work in Poland on the basis of the current, simplified rules governing their arrival. Most of them were Ukrainians.

River Information System Planned
A special information system called River Information Service (RIS) will be introduced on inland waterways in Poland, under a piece of legislation approved by the government. The system is needed to bring Polish regulations in this area in line with EU law.

The RIS is especially needed on international shipping routes, officials say. To begin with, the system will be launched on the Oder River.
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