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Poland: On the road to suitable solutions in family policy

Decreasing but still high level of child poverty or social exclusion in Poland (29.8% in 2013) is compounded by the lack of appropriate childcare facilities, especially for children less than 3 years old. In order to improve the conditions for families and increase low fertility rates (1.3 in 2013), the Polish government is successively implementing a set of supportive measures. In 2013-2014 some of them were introduced, including parental leave and The Big Family Card as well as new instruments for the unemployed coming back on the labour market after taking care of the dependent person.

Access to adequate resources

With a total employment rate of 66.8% in 2013, female full-time employment (53.4% in 2013) remains behind the EU-28 average of 58.8%. The employment rate for mothers of children under six (57.9% in 2013) was lower than the EU average (59.0% 2013).

In June 2013 additional measures came into force including:

the extension of the additional maternity leave to 6 weeks (basic maternity leave lasts 20 weeks),

the introduction of paid parental leave to 26 weeks. This can be used by both parents at the same time. The cumulated length of paid leaves for the birth of one child amounts to 52 weeks.

In May 2014 new instruments for the unemployed, coming back on the labour market after taking care of the dependent person, were introduced (activation benefit and telework grant).

Polish expenditure on family/child-related benefits is low compared to other EU countries. In 2012 it amounted to 0.8% of GDP compared to the EU average of 2.2%.

In November 2014 the income threshold entitling to family benefit will increase from 539 PLN to 574 PLN net per person (around €137) and from 623 PLN to 664 PLN for families with a disabled child (around €158).

Child benefit ranges from 77 to 115 PLN (€18 to €27) monthly per child and can be complemented by other allowances.

Since January 2013 tax relief increased for the third child (annually 1668 PLN) and for the fourth and the following child (annually 2224 PLN).

Access to affordable quality services

According to Eurostat data, in 2012 only 6% of children under 3 and 36% of children between 3 and school age attended formal childcare. Since 2011 the formal childcare for children under 3 years old includes: crèches, kids clubs, childminders and nannies. Paralelly, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy launched the “Maluch” (“Toddler”) Programme to encourage local self-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.

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 (0.20 EUR).
In July 2014 the government approved the Programme “Wyprawka szkolna” (“School equipment”), which helps parents of pupils to get a subsidy to purchase textbooks.

Although in Poland children and youth are entitled to free health care and a full refund of certain drugs, the children from 0 to 3 years old are subject to a special attention in health care.

Since January 2014 young adults (up to the age of 35) can receive support from the state while buying their first flat in the framework of the Programme “Flat for the young”. Their own contribution will be subsidized. Families with three or more children can receive an additional support from the state not only to contribute, but also to finish payment of the mortgage earlier.

Children’s right to participate

In June 2014 Poland introduced The Big 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 program, including cheaper public transport, discounts in museums, theatre, national parks, as well as sport and recreational facilities The discounts will be available to 3.5 million people.

In Poland, all municipal residents can take part in vote on participatory budget of the municipality regardless of their age. An example is the vote on the participatory budget for the year 2015 in Warsaw.
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.

Conclusion/outlook

In August 2014 the government approved The National Plan for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion 2020: a new dimension of active inclusion. One out of 5 operational goals is focused on reduction of child poverty and social exclusion bearing in mind the Commission Recommendation Investing in Children. Among many activities envisaged in the Plan, some of them will indeed contribute to child well-being. One flagship initiative is to feed annually 1.1 million of children. Additionally, in 2015 the verification of the amount of family benefit is envisaged as well as the income threshold entitling to this benefit.

The information in the country profile was last updated in February 2015.

Innovative approaches

To boost development of formal childcare institutions for the children under 3 years old, The Ministry of Labour and Social Policy launched, in 2011, the “Maluch” (“Toddler”) Programme. Its goal is to encourage local self-governments to establish crèches and kids clubs. In addition to local self-governments also other companies are entitled to apply for funding from the state budget to subsidize the creation and maintenance of places in institutions of childcare.

In July 2013 some rules of “Maluch” Programme were modified, which means the reduction of the municipality’s own contribution from 50% to 20% of the establishment and operational costs of childcare institutions. Besides this, from now on there is the possibility of organizing, by childcare institutions for children under three years, joint administrative, financial and organizational support.

In 2011-2013, the state budget allocated 217.3 million PLN to subsidize the creation and maintenance of places in childcare institutions for the children under 3 years old. For this purpose, 251.9 million PLN was allocated from EU structural funds in 2012-2013.

As a result of the “Maluch” Programme, the number of childcare institutions for the children under 3 years old has tripled within three years [from 511 in 2010 to 1511 in 2013].