A significant impact on the decision of having a child/more children have the factors related to the economic stability. Some of them discourage decisions to starting a family/having more children: harsh living conditions, uncertain future, the high cost of raising children and poor housing conditions.
In order to increase low fertility rate (1.29 in 2013) and to improve living conditions of families, the Polish government is successively implementing a set of supportive measures. In 2015-2016 some of them were developed and/or introduced, including new parental benefit (500+), family benefits’ mechanism “zlotowka za zlotowke” ("penny for penny") as well as raising the minimum wage, including the minimum hourly wage, or the continuous development of childcare services.
With a total employment rate of 61.7% in 2014, female employment (55.2% in 2014) remains behind the EU-28 average of 59.6%. Fortunately, the employment rate for mothers of children under six (60.5% in 2014) was similar to the EU average (60.7% 2014).
In May 2014 new instruments for the unemployed, coming back to the labour market after taking care of the dependent person, were introduced (activation benefit and telework grant).
Since January 2016, the leave system associated with childbirth was uniformed and made more flexible. Currently, the maternity leave lasts 20 weeks and paid parental leave lasts 32 weeks (can be divided into 4 parts). The cumulated length of paid leaves for the birth of one child amounts to 52 weeks. Fathers have 2 years for using 2 weeks of paternity leave they are entitled to.
Additionally, the minimum hourly wage (12 PLN, around €2.7) will be mandatory for civil contracts probably from July 2016.
Polish expenditure on family/child-related benefits, according to ESSPROS, is low compared to other EU countries. In 2012 it amounted to 0.8% of GDP compared to the EU average of 2.4%.
However, number of tools to improve the income situation of the families comes into force at present (since January 2016).
First of all, the income threshold entitling to family benefits increased from 574 PLN (around €130) to 674 net per person (around €152) and from 664 PLN (around €150) to 764 PLN for families with a disabled child (around €173).
Child benefit ranges from 89 to 129 PLN (around €20 to €29) monthly per child and can be complemented by other allowances. Allowance of lonely child upbringing increased from 170 PLN to 185 PLN (from around €38 to €42) and allowance raising a child in a large family: from 80 PLN to 90 PLN (from around €18 to €20).
Since January 2016, a new mechanism was introduced to the system of family benefits called “zlotowka za zlotowke” (“penny for penny”). Thus, the family will not completely lose the right to the benefit, but the benefit will be gradually reduced in so far as the family income exceeds the threshold entitling to family benefits Thereby additional 160.000 of families will be supported.
Since January 2016, new parental benefit came into force. Monthly provision of 1000 PLN (around €226) granted to persons who gave birth and are not entitled to maternity allowance. Entitled to receive this benefit are, amongst others, the unemployed, students, farmers and also employed on the basis of civil contracts.
Since January 2015 tax relief increased for the third child (annually 2000 PLN, around €453) and for the fourth and the following child (annually 2700 PLN, around €612)). Since 2015, the tax credit was introduced for the families who, because of low income and low tax, were unable to deduct child tax relief in full.
There is a plan to introduce, since April 2016, a new payment to families (new parental benefit called 500+) that amounts to 500 PLN per child (around €113) for second and consecutive children in every family as well as first child when the income threshold is met.
According to Eurostat data, 5% of children under 3 attended formal childcare in 2013. Since 2011 the formal childcare for children under 3 years old includes: crèches, kids clubs, childminders and nannies. From this moment, the number of childcare institutions increased fivefold: from 571 in 2011 to 2910 in 2015. The incentives to legalize the employment of nannies were introduced as the state budget contributions to social and health insurance for contracted nannies.
Paralelly, the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy launched the “Maluch” (“Toddler”) Programme to encourage local governments to establish crèches and kids clubs. In July 2013 some rules were modified, mainly the reduction of the municipality's own contribution from 50% to 20% of the establishment and operational costs of childcare institutions. Funds earmarked for the development of care within the "Maluch" steadily growing in 2011-2015: from 15.2 million PLN to 151 million PLN (from around €3.4 million to €34 million). In 2016, 151 million PLN (around €34 million) will be allocated for the programme. As a result of the “Maluch” Programme, additional 9,000 new childcare places were created.
From 2015 onwards, the programme was expanded by an additional module in which funds are allocated for the creation of approx. 1,436 childcare places at universities.
Since September 2013, the Polish government reduced the charge for the stay of children in kindergarten. Each additional hour, over specified time of free child stay in the kindergarten, cannot cost more than 1 PLN (around €0.2).
Since January 2016, there is the obligation to employ additional staff in public schools and kindergartens, in which disabled children are taught.
In the school year 2015/2016 textbooks will be for free - from the point of view of a parent - for pupils in the first, second and fourth class of primary school and the first year of junior high school. Students, who have difficulties in learning and/or communication, receive free textbooks adaptations. Since 2017 free textbooks and exercises will be given to all pupils from primary or junior high schools.
Children and young people in Poland are guaranteed free preventive health care. It involves, among others, systematic control of their physical, mental and intellectual conditions. Important elements of this care are health education and health promotion. Mandatory vaccinations are free of charge. The children from 0 to 3 years old are subject to a special attention in health care system.
Children with chronic illnesses and disabilities have the right to attend public kindergartens and schools. Their education should be carried out in accordance with individual development and individual educational needs.
Disabled children are entitled to receive the support also from outside the health care system. They can obtain a refund for the purchase of orthopedic devices or obtain funding to attend rehabilitation camps.
Since January 2014 young adults (up to the age of 35) can use state support while buying their first flat, at the primary and secondary markets, in the framework of the Programme “Mieszkanie dla mlodych” (“Flat for the young”). Their own contribution will be subsidized. Families with three or more children can use additional state support not only to contribute, but finish payment of the mortgage earlier. The total amount granted, since the beginning of the programme, is 3.7 billion PLN (around €0.8 billion) and the aid from the state budget to the borrowers is 461.7 million PLN (around €104 million).
In primary schools throughout Poland, there is the programme "Umiem plywac” (“I can swim") for pupils from the first three classes (children aged 7 to 10). Learning to swim is compulsory within the framework of physical education at school.
Additionally, there is a programme of development of schools’ sport infrastructure in order to ensure adequate, safe environment to play sports at school. The construction or modernization of sport facilities is subsidized, those located at school or in the proximity of the school.
With the government programme “Szczesliwa szkola” (“Happy school”) in the years 2009 - 2014 it was possible to create playgrounds for the youngest pupils in primary schools. More than 12 thousands schools benefited from the programme throughout the country, representing 95% of eligible schools. 1 104 477 pupils used colourful and modern playgrounds. For this purpose, the state budget spent over 104 million PLN (around €23.5 million) in the years 2009 – 2014.
In June 2014 Poland introduced The Large Family Card. It is a document which guarantees special rights to families with at least three children, irrespective of their income. In practice, it is about discounts for the offer of the institutions/companies which have joined the programme, including cheaper public transport, discounts in museums, theatre, national parks, as well as sport and recreational facilities.
All municipal residents, who are over 16 years old, can take part in the process of discussion and decision-making on how to spend part of the municipal budget (participatory budget). In the past three years, the participatory budget was introduced in more than 70 Polish municipalities.
Apart from that, youth municipal councils can be created in Poland. There are about 100 youth councils, including such big cities as Warsaw, Lodz and Poznan.
Moreover, in the most schools of Poland, there are students’ councils. The decisions, relevant to students, are taken through consultation or co-decision. Important school documents are consulted with representatives of male and female students.
The main objective of Polish family policy is to convince prospective parents to have children in order to reverse negative demographic trends. The main purpose of the planned monetary support is to reduce the financial burden of families associated with raising their children. Moreover, the increase of tax-free amount to 8,000 PLN (around €1,810) is also planned for the families.
Help for families will not be limited only to the financial support. It also involves the development of social services. Facilitating access to early childcare institutions and kindergartens will be possible thanks to the expansion of their networks and the introduction of cheaper child care for families with low and medium incomes. Support for families in gaining their own homes will be possible through housing programme, which involves the construction of affordable housing for rent on the plots provided by the state.
Some activities related to the labour market are also family-oriented, among others, raising the minimum wage, including the increase in the minimum hourly wage to 12 PLN (around €2.7).
The information in the country profile was last updated in February 2016.
In June 2014 Poland introduced The Large Family Card. It is a system of discounts for families with at least three children irrespective of their income. The discounts are offered both by public institutions and private companies, which entered the Programme.
The owners of the Large Family Card benefit from cheaper use of cultural institutions, sport and recreation centers throughout the country. The Card helps large families to reduce the costs of everyday life.
In practice, the Large Family Card provides discounts when buying food and cosmetics, clothing and footwear, books, toys and fuel. It also saves the costs of telecommunication services bills or bank services. It also allows for cheaper fares trains and public transport in some localities.
Large Family Card holders can use the offer in more than thousand companies and institutions from all over Poland.
Until December 2015, 1.4 million of Large Family Cards were issued. The target beneficiaries of the Large Family Card are estimated on the level of 3.4 million members of large families.