These IT freelancers live the remote-working dream. New guidelines may change that


Poland’s IT employees might contemplate emigrating elsewhere ought to new tax guidelines for freelancers come into impact.

Picture: Alistair Berg / Getty

For a few years, 37-year-old IT safety analyst Aleksander Dros did what most Polish IT employees did after they received a job provide overseas: he packed his luggage, accepted that he would see his household at most each different weekend, and moved to Brussels to work as a penetration tester. However after half a yr, he wished to return to Poland because of the beginning of his youngster.

“I managed to barter a brand new deal, the place I’d work two weeks monthly in Brussels, and two weeks from Poland,” the moral hacker says. “And after a yr, we re-negotiated it to 1 week in Brussels and three remotely, renting a co-working house. And when COVID-19 got here, I began to work totally from dwelling.”

The way in which Dros works is thru what in Poland has grow to be often known as the Enterprise-to-Enterprise (B2B) contract, which has grow to be steadily extra fashionable over the previous few years within the nation. Such contracts are, because the identify suggests, between two companies – however in observe, between a enterprise and a self-employed particular person – and are a lot much less inflexible than customary labour contracts. They’re meant for freelancers, however normally have a broader scope than options a typical freelance association may embody, reminiscent of fastened length or exclusivity.

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In accordance with analysis by NoFluffJobs, a Polish platform for IT freelancers, practically a 3rd of IT specialists within the nation work utilizing a B2B contract. Whereas it is nonetheless much less prevalent than the standard employment contract, it’s way more fashionable amongst skilled employees. On the subject of international locations, Nice Britain, Scandinavia and Germany are the most well-liked ‘digital’ locations. “In these instances of digital transformation, we see much more obstacles disappear, and there may be nothing that will cease individuals working remotely for international locations in Asia or Australia,” NoFluffJobs CEO Tomasz Bujok tells ZDNet.

The wages stay the principle perk of this working association. The price of dwelling in Poland is low in comparison with different European international locations, and freelancers working via B2B contracts are sometimes capable of make two to a few instances the cash they’d in any other case, even when wages within the nation are climbing quickly. As such, it affords most the chance to stay a reasonably snug middle-class life-style in Warsaw.

The B2B contract can also be the one viable association out there to Polish IT employees who wish to work for organizations out of the country with out shifting overseas. However even when that they had a alternative, the association would nonetheless stay extremely popular among the many specialists, largely due to different advantages it affords which might be designed to stimulate educated professionals to maneuver extra freely via the financial system.

“Taxes are decrease,” says Krzysztof Lis, who works as a standardization specialist for digital telecommunication. “If I needed to work as a freelancer from, say, the UK or Germany, I’d most likely should pay way more.”

Tax breaks and comfortable perks

Apart from tax breaks, IT employees may make the most of incentives just like the IP Field incentive, which affords an extra tax break for any work classed as analysis and improvement. Such perks and lenient freelancing guidelines in Poland enable IT employees to compete within the Western European and American job markets, to the advantage of firms there.

“The dearth of IT professionals is much extra critical in Scandinavia than it’s right here,” says Szymon Bialy, a programmer and IT architect working primarily on a venture foundation for a Danish firm. In accordance with the financial institution Pekao, Poland has a deficit of round 50,000 IT specialists on the job market. However a rustic like Sweden, which has lower than one-third of Poland’s inhabitants, is predicted to have a scarcity of 70,000 by 2022.

Guidelines for B2B contracts in Poland don’t require freelancers to have a minimal variety of prospects both, as is the case in lots of different international locations, permitting for exclusivity offers. In return, many people who find themselves working completely for organizations overseas get some sort of compensation for lacking out on advantages that labour contracts deliver.

“I believe the one perk I don’t get that these working on the American workplaces do is employer medical insurance, one thing that’s common in Poland anyway,” says Artur Piszek, an engineer who works completely for US-based Automattic.

“Proper now, I’m on parental go away, and I get a stipend to make use of for renting co-working areas. I need not monitor hours or something, and work-related journeys are totally paid for.”

On the subject of job certainty, which for these on a B2B contract is mainly non-existent, Piszek shrugs: “American firms can fireplace their individuals simply anyway, so my state of affairs is not any completely different.”

The pandemic has put distant working within the highlight everywhere in the world. However over time, it has grow to be second nature. Dros used to work in a co-working house utilizing an additional allowance till the pandemic hit. Now, he merely works from a house workplace.

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Lis has been working from dwelling since he turned self employed 4 years in the past. “The loneliness is an enormous disadvantage,” he admits. “However I’ve received good neighbors.” For each of them, COVID-19 has confirmed to be an equalizer of a kind, the place distant working has grow to be extra of a norm slightly than a disadvantage.   

One other draw back is the dearth of networking alternatives, particularly for these preferring a extra conventional freelance life with a number of shoppers and initiatives.

Constructing such a community by yourself is hard, and nearly a no-go whenever you look throughout borders, says Bialy, who works via a Poland-based company that provides nearshoring providers. Bialy says that companies just like the one he works with take round 25% of the full price, however it’s a value he’s prepared to hold.

“One other professional is that there’s additionally a greater stability between the consumer and the employee. The connection between two organizations is way more business-like.”

Such flexibility advantages the financial system generally, and justifies the tax breaks this group is getting, says Przemyslaw Pruszynski, secretary of the Tax Council of Lewiatan, Poland’s largest enterprise affiliation.

Pruszynski tells ZDNet: “On prime of [paying income tax] they should pay their healthcare insurance coverage and pensions themselves. In addition they take extra of a threat, and it is usually more durable to achieve your revenue this manner.”

An finish to the dream?

However as is going on in different European international locations, debate rages in Poland about the advantages the self-employed get pleasure from. A brand new tax package deal proposed by the conservative authorities – marketed as The Polish Deal – seeks to even out the variations with standard workers.

The largest proposed change is to abolish the flat price for state medical insurance and the state pension for the self-employed, which might drastically hike up their well being funds. Regardless of a proposed compensation within the type of a better tax-free allowance, it would nearly actually make IT employees pay extra.

For some, this may be motive sufficient to maneuver to a distinct nation, says Pruszynski, who warns that the proposal may even have a cooling impact on Poland’s IT specialist market.

B2B employees themselves are, unsurprisingly, universally detrimental in the direction of the proposals. Whereas one of many acknowledged objectives of climbing taxes is to enhance the nation’s lagging healthcare amenities, these interviewed by ZDNet aren’t assured that is the place the cash will go. “I would wish to pay extra into the state pension system, whereas I’d nonetheless get the identical low pension cost in return,” Lis stated. Dros and Piszek hate the thought as nicely, although acknowledge that taxes can be decrease than within the west.

Bialy, in the meantime, is already drawing up a plan B. “I’m already trying into attainable emigration to the Czech Republic if the plans undergo, however that is actually a final resort,” he says.

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