The end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 is promising to be a time of change in labor and HR law. Rules on monitoring employees and the protection of company business secrets have already changed, and as from 2019 rules on keeping employee records, minimum wages and the basic form of payment of remuneration will also change. It is planned to abolish the social security contribution limit. Below, we briefly describe what these changes are and what the employers should do. Employee Capital Plans (Polish abbreviation: PPK) will be described by us separately.

New rules on monitoring employees

What has changed?

The scope of the video monitoring (CCTV) as well as e-mail monitoring is now regulated. Currently, CCTV monitoring can be used if it is necessary to ensure the safety of employees or to protect property or to control production or to keep confidential information which might expose the employer to detriment if disclosed. E-mail monitoring and other forms of monitoring may be used if it is necessary to ensure the organization of work enabling full use of working time and proper use of work tools made available to the employee.

The storage of CCTV recordings is to be limited to no more than 3 months (unless it is to serve as evidence in proceedings).

What should employers do?

  • Make changes to their work regulations or collective labor agreements, and indicate the objectives, scope and manner of monitoring.
  • Mark the rooms and areas monitored in a visible and legible manner, e.g. with pictograms.
  • Provide employees with information about the objectives, scope and manner of monitoring in writing.
  • Store monitoring recordings for no longer than 3 months (unless it is evidence in proceedings).

Employer should take the above actions as soon as possible.

Protection of company business secrets

What has changed?

From September 4, 2018, the Act on counteracting unfair competition removed the provision that an employee may not disclose or use the business secret of his/her former employer for a period of 3 years after the termination of his/her employment (unless the agreement provided otherwise). In the current legal situation, it may raise doubts whether an employee with whom confidentiality agreements have not been concluded may use the secret of the former employer's business in the future.

In the current legal situation, in the absence of a confidentiality agreement, it is not clear whether the employee is bound by the obligation not to use the former employer's business secrets in the future.

What should employers do?

In these circumstances, we recommend introducing confidentiality clauses into employment contracts which are valid during and upon termination of employment (in the form of an annex) or concluding separate agreements in this respect. Such an agreement should be concluded for a fixed period of time after termination of employment and does not have to provide for additional remuneration. Employers should take action as soon as possible to secure the secrets of their company for the future.

Changes in employee records

What has changed?

From January 1, 2019, employers will be able to keep employee personal files in paper or electronic form.

Moreover, the employee will be able to request a copy of all or part of his/her records.

The retention period of employee records will also change. For employees employed from 2019, it will be 10 years. In relation to employees employed in 1999-2018, it can be reduced from 50 years to 10 years. In relation to employees employed before 1999, the current 50-year period for storing records remains in force.

With the termination of employment, the employer will be required to inform the employee about: (i) the period of retention of the employee's records, (ii) the possibility of its receipt for one month after the end of the storage period; and (iii) the destruction of these records if they are not received within the above time limit.

In addition to the form, the manner of keeping personal files is also to be changed. Currently, the new shape of the regulation on keeping the employee documentation is being discussed. The proposed changes include amongst others: (i) the division of personal files into four, not three parts (as before), (ii) clarifying the scope of employee documentation which is not stored in personal files but have the same retention period and (iii) a description of the technical conditions that will have to be met in order to keep personal files in electronic form.

What should the employer do?

  • If an employer wishes to keep employee files in electronic form, the documents will have to be scanned and labeled with a qualified electronic signature as well as appropriate technical conditions for storing documents in this form should be maintained.
  • HR departments should review the employee documentation and prepare themselves to meet the new requirements resulting from planned changes to the law.
  • To shorten the period of storage of personal files of employees employed in the years 1999-2018, an appropriate informational report should be submitted to the Social Security Institution (ZUS).
  • Personal files of employees employed before 1999 will have to be stored on the current basis.
  • Prepare the HR department staff that employees can request copies of their employee records from January 1, 2019.
  • Prepare a template of information about: (i) the period of retention of the employee's records, (ii) the possibility of its receipt for one month after the end of the storage period; and (iii) the destruction of this records if it is not received within the above deadline.

New minimum wages

What has changed?

As from January 1, 2019:

  • the minimum monthly remuneration for work will be PLN 2,250 gross,
  • the minimum hourly rate for contractors will be PLN 14,70 gross.

What should employers do?

Ensure that the salaries paid are at the statutory rates. Non-compliant contracts should be amended.

New rules on payment of remuneration

What has changed?

From January 1, 2019, the basic form of payment of remuneration for work will be paid into a bank account. Payment in cash will be possible only at the employee's request in written or electronic form.

What should employers do?

Until January 22, 2019, employees still paid in cash should be informed about the obligation to provide a bank account number or submit an application for continuing payments in the current manner.

Proposed abolition of the social security contribution limit

What could change?

The limit of social security contributions could be abolished as from January 1, 2018. This means that retirement and pension contributions will have to be paid for the entirety of income, and not only for income of up to 30 times the average remuneration. As a consequence, employment costs will increase for employers, while at the same time net pay will be lower.

At present, it is not clear whether this change will come into effect, and if so, as from when. We are still awaiting the decision of the Constitutional Tribunal, which is to examine whether the new provisions are consistent with the Constitution. The hearing in this respect is scheduled for October 30, 2018.

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