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Poland

Staff

Updated 07/2012

Legal requirements

The Polish Labour Code is the basic document that sets out the rights and obligations of employers and employees.

The Labour Code regulates in particular the start and termination of employment relationships, the basic rules of determining remuneration, matters related to working time and annual leave, the employment of minors, and health and safety at work.

In addition to the Labour Code, there are many acts governing these matters in more detail, including:

  • the Minimum Pay Act,
  • the Temporary Workers Act and the Act on the detailed rules of termination of employment relationships for reasons not attributable to employees.

Employment law can also be shaped by collective labour agreements between employers and trade unions. These agreements can set more favourable employee entitlements than those in the Labour Code or other regulations. Detailed information about these agreements can be found on the website of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.

The National Labour Inspectorate is the body that supervises and controls adherence to labour law in Poland.

Employment conditions

Working time

Working time cannot exceed 8 hours a day and an average of 40 hours in a given settlement period. Weekly working hours together with overtime cannot exceed an average of 48 hours in a given settlement period. Employees can receive additional remuneration or time off for overtime.

Annual leave

In a calendar year, full-time employees are entitled to annual leave as follows:

  • 20 days - if an employee has been employed for less than 10 years,
  • 26 days - if an employee has been employed for at least 10 years,

Employees who commence work for the first time accrue their leave entitlement for the calendar year in which they start working at the rate of 1/12 for each month worked, to which they would be entitled after they have worked for a year.

Remuneration

Remuneration should be fixed so that it corresponds to the particular type of work performed and the qualifications required to perform it. It should also match the workload and quality of the work performed.

In order to protect employee remuneration, the Polish Labour Code contains a provision that employees cannot renounce their right to remuneration or transfer this right to another person.

Poland has a minimum pay that is statutorily guaranteed. In 2012, the minimum pay was PLN 1,500 per month for full-time employees.

Types of employment contracts

The following types of employment contracts are listed in the Labour Code:

  • employment contract for a probation period - this contract can precede any other contract and cannot be concluded for a period longer than 3 months,
  • fixed-term employment contract - this contract is signed for a fixed period of time.  This category includes also replacement contracts to cover for other employees during their unjustified absences,
  • employment contract for the period required to carry out specified work,
  • employment contract for an indefinite period of time - this contract does not specify the period of employment

Moreover, the rules of hiring temporary workers by temporary employment agencies and sending them to work for employers are set out in the Employment of Temporary Workers Act.

Concluding an employment contract

An employment contract should be concluded in writing; it should name the parties, specify the type of contract, and in particular:

  • the type of work,
  • place of work,
  • date the employment commences,
  • remuneration for work that corresponds to the type of work,
  • working time.

Employing foreigners

The nationals of all 26 EU member states, the EEA states and Switzerland are free to commence work on the territory of Poland without the necessity to obtain a work permit.

As a rule, a person who is not a Polish citizen and wants to take employment on the territory of the Republic of Poland is obliged to obtain a work permit. Work permit is issued by a voivode for a period of 3 years (5 years in case of a board member of a huge company) upon the application filed by the business entity delegating work. Then the non-Polish citizen applies for a visa at the consul of the Republic of Poland or for a residence permit at the voivode.

Apart from the EU nationals, the EEA states and Switzerland citizens (as well as their family members), the following individuals are not obliged to hold a work permit, amongst others:

  • holders of the EC long-term residence permit in the Republic of Poland;
  • non-Polish citizens holding a permanent residence permit;
  • forced migrants;
  • foreign language teachers at the educational system institutions;
  • graduates of Polish high schools or full-time studies at Polish universities;
  • citizens of five countries holding an employer’s declaration on the intention to provide employment, as registered in the District Employment Agency (for the period of 6 months throughout the subsequent 12 months).

According to the so-called “place of business” rule, under the Community regulations on the coordination of social security systems, the place where work is performed is the decisive factor for determining the applicable social security legislation. This means that an employee should be subject to social security law in the country where they work. However, Community regulations provide for certain exceptions to this rule.

The most important exception applies to the employees sent by their company to work to their benefit in another member state. These employees can remain in the social security system in the country from which they were sent  provided that the anticipated period of work does not exceed 24 months and the person is not sent to replace another person.

The current Community regulations do not provide for the extension of the period that the employee works abroad after the 24 months.

Companies that post employees to work in another EU member state have a duty to obtain an E-101 form, i.e. a certificate of continuing liability, from the social insurance institution in the sending country (the E101 form will be soon replaced by the so-called "transfer document": the A1 Certificate concerning the Social Security legislation which applies to the holder).

This document confirms that the posted employee is covered by the social security system in the sending country, and therefore, this employee should be exempt from the social security system in the country to which they have been sent to perform work.

Detailed information on the employees sent to work in another country can be found on the website of the Social Insurance Institution.

There are minimum social rules to follow, especially about non-discrimination, gender equality and health and safety.

Administrative procedures

Starting and ending employment

Employer’s obligations towards an employee

Before allowing an employee to commence work, employers are required to:

  • ensure that the employee has attended health and safety training
  • and provide an initial health check.

An employer signs a written employment contract with an employee. If an employment contract is not made in writing, the employer should confirm in writing the following: the parties to the employment contract, the type of employment contract and its terms and conditions at the latest on the day the employee starts work.

In addition, within 7 days from signing an employment contract, the employer has a duty to provide the employees with written information on the basic employment terms and conditions (including working hours, frequency of payment and annual leave entitlement).

An employer is also obliged to:

  • inform the employee about rules and regulations on health and safety at work, all risks involved in performing work and protection against such risks,
  • inform the employee about the work regulations (in case of employers employing more than 20 people).

Social insurance contributions

The rules on who pays social insurance and related deadlines and forms can be found on the website of the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS). It also provides information on the payment of contributions and the procedure for correcting declarations and reimbursement of incorrectly paid contributions.

Keeping employee files - records

Employers must keep employee personal files for all employees. An employee's file consists of three parts and includes:

  • Part A: documents gathered in connection with the application process,
  • Part B: documents regarding the commencement of an employment relationship and the employment itself,
  • Part C: documents connected with the termination of employment.

In addition, employers are required to keep timesheets and payrolls showing payments for the work performed and other benefits connected with work.

Dismissal

The Labour Code sets out the rules of termination of employment contracts. In addition, employers employing at least 20 workers are bound by the Act on the detailed rules of termination of employment relationships for reasons not attributable to employees, which applies to group layoffs and individual dismissals.

Termination of employment contract

An employment contract can be terminated:

  • by mutual agreement of the parties,
  • by notice,
  • without giving notice,
  • with the expiry of the term of the contract,
  • on the day the work for which the contract was signed is completed.

Termination of an employment contract by mutual agreement of the parties means that the employer and the employee give their consent to terminate the employment contract within the time limit agreed by the parties.

Termination of an employment contract by notice means that the contract is terminated by a written notification from the employer or employee while the notice period is observed.

The notice period of a fixed-term contract depends on the employment duration at a given employer.  Employees with contracts for an indefinite period are covered by the greatest protection.

The notice period in such a case is respectively:

  • 2 weeks: if an employee has been employed for less than 6 months,
  • 1 month: if an employee has been employed for at least 6 months, and
  • 3 months: if an employee has been employed for at least 3 years.

In case of contracts for a specific period of time, longer than 6 months, the parties can agree to an earlier termination with a two-week notice.

The notice period in case of a probation period contract is:

  • 3 business days, if the probation period does not exceed 2 weeks;
  • 1 week, if the probation period exceeds 2 weeks;
  • 2 weeks, if the probation period is 3 months.

Termination of an employment contract without notice means that the contract is terminated by a written notification from the employer or employee while the notice period is not observed.

An employer can terminate an employment contract in this mode only if the employee is at fault, meaning:

  • an employee commits a gross infringement of the basic work duties,
  • an employee commits a crime during the term of the contract, which makes it impossible to continue the current employment, if it is obviously a crime or if it is ruled by a legally-binding decision of the court;
  • an employee loses the right to perform work at their current post through their own fault.

In addition, an employer can terminate an employment contract due to reasons not attributable to the employee, for instance, in case of incapacity to work lasting for a specified period of time.

An employee can terminate an employment contract without giving notice:

  • if a doctor's statement confirms that performing work has a damaging effect on the employee's health, and the employer does not transfer the employee to another position suitable to their health and professional qualifications within the time limit set out in the doctor's statement,
  • if an employer commits a gross infringement of the basic obligations towards the employee.

Resources

EURES, the European job portal, offers employers information and support on recruiting across the EU. As well as assisting jobseekers, it helps entrepreneurs find workers from across the EU. In border regions, EURES provides information on cross-border commuting and helps workers and employers with problems that may arise.

Help & advice

Help & advice

E-mail a business organisation near you

The EU runs a network (Enterprise Europe Network) of local business organisations in most European countries that may be able to help you.

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