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Employee Rights

Employee Rights in Poland

General Employee Rights in Poland

Employment contract

Poland has three employment contract types - a trial period agreement (maximum three months), an indefinite period contract, and a definite period contract.

The purpose of a trial period contract is to check the employee's qualifications and employment possibility. It is possible to re-sign an employment contract for a trial period with the same employee:

  1. If the individual will be employed in another job
  2. After a lapse of at least three years since the employee last held that job

A company can have a maximum of three consecutive definite period employment contracts with an employee, extending to a total of 33 months. If either limit is exceeded, the fixed-term employment transforms into an indefinite period employment contract. However, parties are allowed to exceed the limitations mentioned above if the fixed-term employment contract is signed for:

  1. Substituting an employee during a justified absence from work
  2. Completing occasional or seasonal work
  3. Performing work during the term of office
  4. If the employer points to objective reasons on their side
    1. For example, satisfying a periodical demand

Employment contracts must be in writing (failure to conclude a contract in writing is an offence by the employer punishable by a fine). The employer informs the Social Security Institution about the new hire no later than seven days after employment starts. Further, the employer has to report a set of specific statements and forms to authorities.

Employment contracts must be in Polish. They may be bilingual as long as one of the languages is Polish. According to the Polish Labour Code, an employment contract must include the below elements at a minimum:

  • Parties to the agreement
  • The type of contract type
  • Date of execution
  • Employment terms and conditions, such as:
    • Type of work (i.e. duties to be performed)
    • Place of work (i.e. work office or home office)
    • Remuneration details (including variable compensation/bonus – treated as additional salary and taxable just as base income)
    • The length of working time
    • Start date

The employer must also inform the employee of the following within seven days of the employment contract being executed:

  • Daily and weekly working-time hours
  • How often the salary is paid
  • Holiday entitlement
  • Notice period
  • Any collective agreement, if applicable

If work regulations have not been adopted in the employing establishment, the information must also stipulate:

  • Nighttime hours
  • Place, date and time of remuneration payment
  • The procedures for confirming arrival and presence at work and justifying absence from work

Health & Safety

Employers must provide healthy and safe working conditions for their employees and have adequate knowledge of health & safety at work. The employer must provide an initial OHS training for employees (before they are allowed to work) and follow that with periodical sessions.

The employer is obliged to protect employees' health and wellbeing by ensuring appropriate health and safety conditions. Some of their obligations include:

  • Organise work so it's safe and hygienic, reduce its strenuousness, particularly when monotonous or at a fixed pace
  • Make sure the principles of health and safety are followed by everyone, issue instructions to remedy breaches, and supervise the implementation of instructions
  • React to changing health and safety needs and improve the existing protection level given the changing work conditions
  • Develop a coherent policy preventing accidents and occupational diseases
  • Protect the health of young employees, pregnant employees and breastfeeding and disabled employees
  • Implement orders, submissions, decisions and decrees issued by the authorities supervising the conditions of work
  • Ensure the implementation of recommendations of a social labour inspector.

Employees should not bear any of the health and safety costs.

An employer with 100+ employees must create health & safety at work service.

Rights of employees under OHS:

  • A right to work in safe and healthy conditions
  • Refrain from work and notify their manager immediately if the conditions of work do not correspond to the health and safety provisions or if they pose a direct danger to their health or wellbeing
  • Further to the above, the employee can move away from the place of danger and to notify their superior

Equal treatment

Employers should treat employees equally during hiring and dismissal, when receiving a promotion or training to improve professional qualifications or under any other employment terms and conditions, such as salary and work-related benefits.

In the event of a breach of non-discrimination regulations, an employee can claim compensation that cannot be lower than the minimum wage. The employer must prove that there was no discrimination.

Medical examination

Employees are entitled to initial, periodic and follow-up medical examinations. The employer bears the medical examination costs and, if possible, should schedule them during work hours. Employees cannot start working without a valid medical certificate stating that there are no contraindications to working in a specific role.

Employee Protections in Poland

Protection from discrimination

Under the Polish Law, it is illegal to directly or indirectly discriminate an employee in respect of gender, age, disability, race, religion, ethnic origin, nationality, sexual orientation, political or religious beliefs or trade union membership or in respect of the conditions of employment for a definite or an indefinite period, or full or part-time.

Protection from harassment, bullying and other forms of violence in work

In the event of any harassment, employees enjoy similar protection and rights as discriminated employees. Sexual harassment may also result in criminal liability and lead to a fine or imprisonment. The employer must act against workplace bullying and other forms of violence in work.

An employee with health problems resulting from workplace bullying may claim compensation from the employer as a money equivalent for the damage sustained. An employee who has been bullied or who terminates their employment contract due to workplace bullying has the right to claim compensation from the employer that is no less than the minimum remuneration for work, as specified under separate provisions.

Protection in the case of a business transfer

If a work establishment or a part of it is transferred to another company, some or all employees are automatically transferred to the new employer. In addition, the former and the new employer are jointly and seriously liable for the obligations arising from employment relationships created before the transfer date.

Within a year of the transfer date, the new employer must ensure that the transferred employees are covered by any collective labour agreements executed in the new employer's work establishment.

Although transferred employees are generally entitled to the same working terms and conditions after the transfer, changes are not prohibited by Polish labour law. However, any changes, particularly those that are disadvantageous to the transferred employees, can only be made following the procedures laid down in the Labour Code. The transfer of the work establishment, or part of it, should not be the single or primary reason for the changes.

The transfer of an undertaking, or part of it, cannot be the single or primary reason for an employer ending employment with notice.

Protection against dismissal

Employers need to state a valid reason to dismiss an employee on an indefinite period contract.

Moreover, certain types of employees have superior protection against termination during certain circumstances, including:

  • Employees within four years of retirement (65 men, 60 women), if their seniority allows them to acquire the right to retirement pension by reaching this age
  • Pregnant employees or those on maternity leave, with or without notice, unless there are reasons for disciplinary dismissal
  • Members of or having a specific function in a trade union, both at the company or above-company level
    • Terminating the employment contract will require either consulting the relevant labour union or getting the union's consent for it

The Act regulating dismissals for reasons attributable to the employer, including collective dismissals, applies to employers with more than 20 employees. The application of the Act is connected, among other things, with the obligation to pay severance pay.

Job safety in Poland

Union

Employees should bear no negative consequences of membership or non-membership in a trade union or for holding a function in one. In particular, this cannot constitute a condition for entering into an employment relationship, maintaining one, or being promoted.

The company trade union organisation has a lot of power and plays a critical function in the organisation. Its rights are vested in an organisation with at least ten members and covers:

  • Employees of an employer covered by this organisation
  • Individuals who carry out paid work for at least six months for an employer covered by this organisation

Required Employee Benefits in Poland

Employee capital plans (PPK)

PPK is a long-term savings system that allows employees to systematically accumulate capital for their retirement with the employers' and the state's support. It is a mandatory benefit that all employers must provide to employees, although employee participation is optional. An employee may at any time resign from making payments to the PPK by submitting a written declaration to their employer.

This page was last updated on 
08 March, 2022,
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