1 Legal framework

1.1 Are there statutory sources of labour and employment law?

Yes, labour law is codified in Poland. The basic legal act governing employment relations is the Labour Code, which regulates issues such as:

  • the mandatory content of the employment contract;
  • termination of employment contracts;
  • protection of remuneration;
  • working time and additional compensation due for overtime work or work performed on special days (eg, Sundays or public holidays) or at night;
  • annual leave;
  • employees' rights relating to parenthood;
  • health and safety requirements; and
  • offences against employee rights and penalties therefor.

Some specific issues are regulated in separate legislation. These include:

  • the employment of temporary workers;
  • collective and individual redundancies;
  • trade union membership and trade union rights and entitlements;
  • the establishment and rights and entitlements of works councils; and
  • employers' social benefits for employees.

These regulations generally apply only to employment relations. Some flexible forms of employment used may take the form of civil law contracts. The provisions of labour law and the measures of employee protection resulting therefrom will not apply in such cases.

1.2 Is there a contractual system that operates in parallel, or in addition to, the statutory sources?

In Poland, there is no such parallel contractual system, as exists in some European countries, such as France. Polish labour law does not recognise sector-wide collective bargaining agreements. However, it does recognise collective bargaining agreements that regulate the rights and obligations of parties to employment contracts concluded at both the intra-company and inter-company (covering several employers) levels. Thus far in Poland, inter-company collective bargaining agreements have covered employees in the energy, mining and railway sectors, among others.

Collective bargaining agreements are concluded between employers and trade unions, at the initiative of either party, through the collective bargaining procedure. They regulate, in particular, the rules of employment and remuneration. Their provisions constitute the basis for determining the individual content of employment relationships and cannot be less beneficial to the employees than those of the Labour Code. As a rule, they apply only to those companies that are parties to the particular collective bargaining agreements.

If a collective bargaining agreement is not in force, companies that employ at least 50 employees are obliged to introduce specific work and pay bylaws. Such bylaws are usually adopted unilaterally by the employer (in some cases, the cooperation of employee representative bodies may be required). Their provisions cannot be less favourable to employees than those of the Labour Code. Apart from the obligatory bylaws, employers may also establish voluntary bylaws (eg, required by organisation). Properly introduced bylaws constitute a binding internal source of labour law.

1.3 Are employment contracts commonly used at all levels? If so, what types of contracts are used and how are they created? Must they be in writing must they include specific information? Are implied clauses allowed?

Employment contracts are the most popular basis for employment in Poland, including for management staff (no specific type of employment contract is provided therefor). Replacing employment contracts with other forms of employment is prohibited and may qualify as a labour offence subject to a fine of up to PLN 30,000. In practice, however, it is considered acceptable to employ managers under non-employment models or to enter into consultancy contracts (self-employment) in certain fields.

The form of employment should be adapted to the conditions of its performance. Failure to do so may result in the contract's reclassification by the authorities.

Employment contracts may be permanent, fixed term or probationary.

As a rule, the maximum number of fixed-term contracts that may be concluded with one employee is three. The fourth such contract converts into a permanent contract by operation of law.

The maximum period of fixed-term employment is 33 months. The maximum period of probation is three months.

The employment contract should be concluded in writing and specify:

  • whether it is concluded for an indefinite term, a fixed term or a probationary period;
  • the type of work;
  • the place where it is to be performed;
  • the remuneration, with an indication of its components;
  • whether the employment is full time or part time; and
  • the commencement date.

The contractual regulations may be more favourable to employees than the statutory provisions. Otherwise, in general, the statutory regulations will apply. The same holds true for issues that are not regulated in the contract.

These rules do not apply to civil law contracts.

2 Employment rights and representations

2.1 What, if any, are the rights to parental leave, at either a national or local level?

All pregnant employees who work on the basis of an employment contract in Poland are entitled to maternity leave directly after giving birth. As a rule, maternity leave is mandatory (although it may be reduced at the mother's request and transferred to the father).

After the maternity leave has been used up, an employee is entitled to voluntary parental leave, which may be granted to either parent.

It is possible to work part time while on parental leave (but not on maternity leave), with the employer's consent. In this case, parental leave is granted for the remaining working hours (its nominal length is respectively extended).

Additionally, all insured fathers are entitled to two weeks of voluntary paid paternity leave, which can be taken until the child is 24 months old. Paternity leave is independent from maternity leave.

As a rule, until the end of the calendar year in which the child turns six years old, parents can apply for voluntary upbringing leave or, alternatively, to have their working hours reduced (to no less than 0.5 full-time equivalent).

Pregnant employees and employees on maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave or upbringing leave are protected against termination of their employment. The same applies to employees with reduced working hours. In the latter case, however, the protection exists only during the first 12 months.

These rules do not apply to persons who are employed under civil law agreements.

2.2 How long does it last and what benefits are given during this time?

Maternity leave lasts for 20 weeks, six of which can be taken before the birth date. In case of a multiple birth, the leave will be extended to up to 37 weeks, depending on the number of children.

Parental leave may last up to 32 weeks (34 in case of a multiple birth). If the parents take their parental leave simultaneously, the combined number of weeks cannot exceed the number indicated above.

Upbringing leave may last up to 36 months.

Benefits for the birth of a child are paid by the state and are awarded to persons covered by sickness insurance (which as a rule is mandatory for all employees, but voluntary for some contractors).

The whole period of both maternity and parental leave is payable. If the employee takes both types of leave in full, the average benefit will amount to 80% of average salary, although the exact figures may vary depending on the case.

Paternity leave is paid in the amount of 100% of the average salary.

No benefits are granted during upbringing leave.

Regardless of the above, parents are entitled to receive child benefit paid by the state in the amount of PLN 500 per month per child, until the child turns 18.

2.3 Are trade unions recognised and what rights do they have?

In principle, in order for a trade union to exercise its rights vis-à-vis an employer, the union must have at least 10 members.

The powers of a trade union include, in particular:

  • representing individual employees and contractors in their relations with the employer (eg, giving an opinion or, in some cases, approval to the termination of an employee);
  • influencing the content of regulations regarding the conditions for collective redundancies;
  • influencing the content of labour and pay regulations at the company;
  • determining the rules for the use of funds allocated by the employer for social activities for the benefit of employees and their families; and
  • controlling the safety of working conditions.

Trade unions also have the right to receive from the employer information necessary for the conduct of trade union activities, in particular concerning:

  • work and pay conditions;
  • the employer's activities and economic situation in relation to employment, and projected changes in this respect;
  • the state, structure and anticipated changes in headcount, and measures to maintain employment levels; and
  • activities that may cause significant changes to the organisation of work or the basis of employment.

In practice, some of the trade union's powers overlap with those of the works council.

Members of union authorities are also protected against termination and are entitled to receive remuneration from the company even when performing their roles in the union.

The unionisation level Poland currently stands at approximately 13%.

2.4 How are data protection rules applied in the workforce and how does this affect employees' privacy rights?

In addition to general privacy rules stemming from the General Data Protection Regulation, the use of the personal data of job applicants and employees is also regulated in the Labour Code.

In Poland, it is forbidden to request job applicants to provide any information that falls outside a detailed list of data set out in the Labour Code. The employer can ask job applicants and employees for certain information provided that there are legal grounds for such request.

This makes all forms of background checks or recruitment processes for undisclosed employers legally questionable.

The Labour Code also sets out rules on employee surveillance. All forms of surveillance (eg, closed-circuit television (CCTV), email monitoring, network monitoring, GPS) must be announced to employees before implementation and monitored zones must be clearly marked.

Where work bylaws are in place, all forms of employee surveillance must be introduced by their amendment, which requires consultation with employee representatives.

Moreover, surveillance can be implemented only to achieve objectives that are recognised by law. An employer may use CCTV if this is necessary to:

  • ensure the safety of employees;
  • protect the employer's property;
  • control production; or
  • keep confidential information whose disclosure could harm the employer.

Email monitoring and other forms of surveillance may be implemented to ensure the full use of working time and the proper use of the work tools provided by the employer.

Irrespective of any information included in the applicable bylaws, employees must be properly and individually informed about the ways in which their employer processes their personal data.

2.5 Are contingent worker arrangements specifically regulated?

Freelancers, independent contractors and consultants are not covered by any specific regulations. They are usually engaged directly by companies as external specialists, on the basis of civil law contracts, often within the framework of the business activity they run (under a business-to-business model). Arrangements regarding their pay must observe the statutory minimum hourly rate set for civil law relationships, which is PLN 18.30.

The on-demand labour pool in Poland is comprised of temporary workers, whose engagement is subject to specific statutory regulations. Such employees are engaged by a registered temporary work agency based on employment or civil law contracts, and are subsequently directed to the agency's customers to perform tasks of, for example, a seasonal or ad hoc nature, or to replace an absent employee (certain types of work, such as work in particularly hazardous conditions, are excluded). As a rule, each temporary worker cannot perform work for one customer for more than 18 months within a period of 36 consecutive months.

Although there is no direct relationship between the temporary worker and the customer, the latter has several obligations with regard to engaging temporary staff – for example, to retain the respective records and ensure proper health and safety conditions for them. The temporary work agency and the customer should liaise to determine the appropriate salary and other employment conditions for the temporary employee, who must not be treated less favourably in this regard than the customer's own employees in the same or similar position.

Other forms of employee leasing are not recognised by Polish labour law.

3 Employment benefits

3.1 Is there a national minimum wage that must be adhered to?

There is a minimum wage in Poland, which is generally uniform for all industries. It is announced no later than 15 September each year for the following calendar year (in exceptional cases twice a year).

An employee employed on a full-time monthly basis may not be paid less than the minimum wage. The minimum wage is not only the basic wage. However, the calculation of an employee's remuneration does not include such components as overtime pay or seniority allowance. In the case of part-time employment, the minimum wage is calculated pro rata.

Paying less than the minimum wage is a labour offence subject to a fine of up to PLN 30,000.

The level of the minimum wage affects the calculation of certain benefits paid as part of the employment relationship, such as:

  • allowance for night shift work (20% of the hourly rate calculated on the minimum wage for each hour of night shift work); and
  • the maximum statutory severance pay for collective or individual redundancies (15 times the minimum wage).

The minimum wage applies only to employment relationships. However, in civil law relationships, a minimum hourly rate applies (there is no monthly lump sum specified). The amount of the hourly rate is generally determined through the same procedure as the minimum wage.

The minimum wage for 2021 is PLN 2,800 and the hourly rate in civil law relationships is PLN 18.30.

3.2 Is there an entitlement to payment for overtime?

Overtime work is permitted where this is necessary to undertake rescue operations or where special needs of the employer arise. In the latter case, the limits on minimum uninterrupted daily rest of 11 hours apply.

In Poland, there are daily limits on working time; if these are exceeded, this constitutes overtime, which must be settled on a monthly basis. Overtime that is not settled in this way must be settled at the end of the settlement period adopted by the employer.

In general, for each hour of overtime, an employee is entitled to:

  • 100% of his or her hourly rate of base salary; and
  • an overtime allowance.

The allowance for each overtime hour is 100% of the hourly rate of base salary in the case of additional work:

  • at night;
  • on Sundays or public holidays which are not working days for the employee; and
  • on days off granted to the employee in lieu of Sundays or public holidays.

The same rate is applied to overtime that is settled at the end of the settlement period.

In other cases, the overtime allowance is 50% of the hourly rate.

Overtime may also be compensated by time off in lieu, applying the following ratio of overtime to time off:

  • 1:1 where this is requested by the employee; and
  • 1:1.5 where this is at the employer's initiative.

With few exceptions, management staff are not entitled to overtime settlement.

The above rules do not apply to persons employed under civil law contracts.

3.3 Is there an entitlement to annual leave? If so, what is the minimum that employees are entitled to receive?

Employees have a statutory right to paid holiday. The amount of leave is:

  • 20 working days where the employee's length of service (in total, not only with a specific company) is less than 10 years; or
  • 26 working days where the employee's length of service is 10 years or more.

Only employment within the labour law regime is included when calculating the length of service. The parties may contractually increase the holiday entitlement. On the other hand, any reduction in holiday entitlement will not be effective.

The amount of leave for part-time employees is determined pro rata.

Certain periods of education are also counted as length of service for the purpose of determining holiday entitlement. For example, eight years are added to the length of service of a university graduate.

Holiday leave that is not taken in a given year can be carried forward to subsequent years, but becomes time barred after three years. Failure to grant annual leave to employees constitutes a labour offence. Therefore, although leave is generally granted at the request of the employee, a large number of accumulated leave days may result in the imposition of a fine on company officers.

Leave that is not taken by the date of termination of the employment contract must be paid in the form of an allowance as part of the exit package.

These rules do not apply to persons employed under civil law contracts. If such persons are to be entitled to leave, their contract must regulate this comprehensively.

3.4 Is there a requirement to provide sick leave? If so, what is the minimum that employees are entitled to receive?

During a period of sickness, employees are entitled to either sick pay or sickness benefit. Sick pay is payable for the first 33 days of sick leave in a calendar year (14 days in the case of employees who are over 50) and is funded by the employer. Sick days need not be consecutive. Nor do they have to be due to the same illness.

After the above period of sickness, the employee is generally entitled to state-funded sickness benefit.

The amount of sick pay and sickness benefit is in principle the same and amounts, as a rule, to 80% of the employee's average salary (the principles for calculating average salary are strictly defined by law). Sick pay and sickness benefit are increased to 100% of average salary in certain cases – for example, where inability to work is caused by an accident on the way to or from work or during pregnancy. On the other hand, sickness benefit is reduced to 70% for the duration of the employee's hospitalisation.

These rules do not apply to persons employed under civil law contracts. In particular, they are not entitled to sick pay; and they are entitled to sickness benefit only if they have paid sickness insurance contributions, which in their case are voluntary. The rules for calculating the benefit may also differ from those applicable to employees.

3.5 Is there a statutory retirement age? If so, what is it?

The retirement age in Poland is currently 60 for women and 65 for men. However, reaching the retirement age does not automatically result in termination of the employment contract. In addition, it cannot constitute a reason for terminating the employee's employment contract; this would be considered discrimination on the grounds of age.

Four years before reaching the retirement age, employees gain protection against involuntary termination. Their employment contracts can therefore be terminated only in exceptional cases.

Retiring employees are entitled to a one-off severance payment, which is payable by the employer. The amount of severance pay is equivalent to one month's salary of the relevant employee.

These rules do not apply to persons employed under civil law contracts.

4 Discrimination and harassment

4.1 What actions are classified as unlawfully discriminatory?

Unequal or less favourable treatment – whether direct (transparent, deliberate) or indirect (hidden) – of an actual or potential employee in relation to the following constitutes discrimination and is therefore prohibited:

  • the establishment and termination of the employment relationship;
  • the conditions of the employment relationship;
  • promotions; and
  • access to training to improve professional qualifications.

According to the Labour Code, actions which will not be considered unlawful discrimination include:

  • differentiation of the legal situation of an employee on the grounds of parental protection, age or disability;
  • differentiated conditions on the establishment and termination of an employment relationship, and on remuneration, promotion and access to training to improve professional qualifications, based on job seniority; and
  • temporary measures aimed at equalising opportunities for a specific group of employees by reducing inequalities.

Examples of unlawful discrimination include:

  • job ads addressed specifically to young people, women or men, regardless of the fact that age or gender is not an indication of competence;
  • the offer of additional training to full-time employees only; and
  • sexual harassment.

4.2 Are there specified groups or classifications entitled to protection?

The list of characteristics that may constitute grounds of possible discrimination is not exhaustive. The Labour Code lists examples such as sex, age, disability, race, religion, nationality, political opinion, trade union membership, ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, indefinite or fixed-term employment and/or full or part-time employment.

4.3 What protections are employed against discrimination in the workforce?

Preventing discrimination in employment is one of the employer's fundamental duties. It is also the employer's responsibility to organise work in a way that does not lead to unequal treatment of employees (or sexual harassment).

The Labour Code does not specify certain actions that should be taken to counteract discrimination. In order to avoid what may be considered as discriminatory practices in companies, employers often:

  • introduce anti-discrimination procedures that, in particular, outline how such behaviour can be reported and how the employer will proceed once a complaint has been submitted;
  • appoint an anti-discrimination officer,
  • have transparent pay policies; and
  • provide training for employees and managers on how to identify and prevent discrimination.

Employees' exercise of their rights in relation to discrimination cannot constitute grounds for disadvantageous treatment or cause any negative consequences; in particular, this cannot constitute grounds for terminating the employment relationship with or without notice. The same applies to a colleague who offers any form of support to an employee exercising these rights.

4.4 How is a discrimination claim processed?

Discrimination (as well as sexual harassment and bullying) claims are usually handled by a competent court in the course of a regular dispute or, less frequently, by means of out-of-court settlement.

Before filing a lawsuit (or a demand for settlement), an employee may approach the employer to resolve the conflict amicably. This step, however, is not mandatory.

The responsibility for preventing discrimination and bullying rests with the employer. This is why a discrimination or bullying claim is brought against the employer, even where it is not the employer (but rather a co-worker or direct supervisor) who has directly infringed the employee's rights.

In discrimination disputes, the employee should present evidence to support the probability that direct or indirect discrimination took place. The burden of proof then shifts to the employer, which can defend itself by proving that there were objective reasons to differentiate between employees.

4.5 What remedies are available?

An employee who has been subject to discriminatory practices is entitled to claim compensation, without any need to prove the exact amount of damage suffered. The amount of this compensation is not fixed; however, it cannot be lower than the minimum wage (in 2021, PLN 2,800). The compensation is usually set by the court and is seldom granted amicably by the employer.

In cases where discrimination may qualify as a serious breach of the employer's obligations, an employee can exercise the right to terminate the employment contract without notice.

4.6 What protections and remedies are available against harassment, bullying and retaliation/victimisation?

‘Bullying' is understood as persistent and long-lasting actions or behaviour which:

  • insults, intimidates, humiliates or ridicules an employee;
  • devalues his or her professional capabilities; or
  • isolates or eliminates him or her from a team.

Such actions and behaviour are prohibited, and employers are obliged to prevent bullying.

Employers' actions to prevent bullying usually include:

  • providing appropriate training for staff and management; and
  • implementing internal reporting and complaining procedures.

An employee who has suffered bullying or who, as a consequence thereof, has terminated his or her employment contract has the right to claim compensation in the amount of at least the minimum wage (in 2021, PLN 2,800). If the bullying has also caused health issues, the employee can claim a relevant amount from the employer as cash compensation for the harm suffered.

An employee's submission to or resistance of harassment or sexual harassment, and exercise of his or her rights in this regard, cannot constitute grounds for adverse treatment or cause any negative consequences; in particular, this cannot constitute grounds for terminating the employment relationship with or without notice. The same applies to a colleague who offers any form of support to an employee exercising these rights.

5 Dismissals and terminations

5.1 Must a valid reason be given to lawfully terminate an employment contract?

The reasons for termination must be indicated in case of:

  • termination of a permanent employment contract (there is no such obligation for fixed-term or probationary contracts); and
  • summary dismissal (regardless of the type of employment contract).

The Labour Code does not contain a list of accepted reasons for terminating an employment contract with notice. However, the reason indicated in the termination notice must be true, specific and up to date as of the date of issue of this statement. It may be:

  • attributable to the employee (eg, underperformance); or
  • completely independent of the employee (eg, liquidation of the position occupied by the employee).

In case of summary dismissal (termination with immediate effect), only the following reasons can be indicated:

  • serious breach by the employee of his or her basic duties (eg, violation of health and safety rules);
  • the commission by the employee, during the term of his or her employment, of an offence which makes it impossible to continue to employ him or her in the position held, if the offence is obvious or has been established by a final judgment (eg, theft of the employer's property); or
  • the loss, due to the employee's fault, of the qualifications necessary to perform the work in the position held (eg, suspension of a driver's licence).

The above rules do not apply to civil law contracts. These usually contain comprehensive regulations on the terms and manner of their termination.

5.2 Is a minimum notice period required?

Yes. In the case of indefinite and fixed-term contracts, the length of the notice period will depend on the employee's length of service at the given company. It generally ranges from two weeks where the length of service is less than half a year to three months where this is three years or more.

The length of the notice period for probationary contracts depends on the duration of the contract and varies from three working days for a trial period of less than two weeks to two weeks for a trial period of three months.

The length of the statutory notice period is the same regardless of which party gives notice of termination.

The end of a notice period falls on a Saturday where this is set in weeks and at the end of a calendar month where this is set in months.

When entering into an employment contract, the parties may agree on a longer notice period or stipulate different notice periods depending on which party gives notice, provided that this is more favourable to the employee than the statutory arrangements. It is usually assumed that an extension of the notice period for a statement made by the employer is favourable to the employee.

In the event of disciplinary dismissal, termination is always effective immediately. It is not permissible to set a later date for termination.

These rules do not apply to civil law contracts, where the flexibility is far greater.

5.3 What rights do employees have when arguing unfair dismissal?

Employees may appeal against termination of the employment contract to the labour courts in case of formal flaws and, in some cases, also based on the grounds for termination.

The claims that employees may make will depend on the relevant scenario and the type of employment contract terminated.

In case of involuntary termination with notice of a permanent employment contract, the employee may in principle demand:

  • reinstatement to his or her position and compensation of up to two months' salary (in the case of certain groups protected against termination, such as pregnant women, this may be the equivalent of the salary for the entire period of the employee's unemployment); or
  • compensation of up to three months' salary.

The court may convert the employee's demand for reinstatement to compensation if it considers that reinstatement would be impossible or unreasonable in the circumstances.

In case of the involuntary termination of a fixed-term or probationary contract, the employee may claim compensation. However, if he or she belongs to a certain group that is protected against termination (eg, pregnant women), he or she may also claim reinstatement to his or her position.

In the case of summary dismissal, employees are generally entitled to make the same claims as in the case of involuntary termination of a permanent contract.

These rules do not apply to civil law contracts, and disputes on the grounds of their termination are dealt with by the civil or commercial courts.

5.4 What rights, if any, are there to statutory severance pay?

Statutory severance pay is payable only in the event of collective or individual redundancies. However, the obligation to pay statutory severance pay applies only to employers with a headcount of at least 20 employees (employed under an employment contract).

The amount of severance pay will depend on the employee's length of service with the given company and will range from one month's average salary for persons employed for less than two years to three months' average salary for persons employed with the employer for at least eight years. The amount of statutory severance pay is also limited to 15 times the minimum wage. In 2021, this cap is PLN 42,000.

The cap may be waived and the severance pay may be increased:

  • by the parties by way of an agreement; and
  • in the case of collective redundancies, where the employer waives it in internal documents setting out the rules for carrying out such redundancies.

A reduction in the amount of the severance pay either by the parties or by unilateral decision of the employer is generally not permissible.

All employees who are made redundant are entitled to severance pay regardless of whether they were employed under a permanent or fixed-term contract.

Polish law does not provide for an obligation to pay statutory severance pay to persons employed under civil law contracts. In practice, however, contracts of this kind concluded with key personnel provide for contractual severance pay instead.

6 Employment tribunals

6.1 How are employment-related complaints dealt with?

Labour law disputes are most often settled by the labour courts. These are separate departments within the structure of local courts, which deal exclusively with disputes in this area. In practice, employment disputes are rarely resolved through conciliation, although the law allows for this possibility in principle, albeit with some exceptions.

Polish labour law prohibits the waiver of certain claims by employees, such as the right to remuneration and the right to holiday leave. Therefore, even if an out-of-court settlement is concluded with an employee with regard to disputable claims, if it is not preceded by ‘formalisation' of the dispute, this will not preclude the employee from asserting them.

These rules do not apply to persons employed under civil law contracts. Disputes in this case are dealt with by the civil or commercial courts.

6.2 What are the procedures and timeframes for employment-related tribunals actions?

Most cases arising from the employment relationship are heard by the courts after the filing of a lawsuit.

As a general rule, an employee's claims arising from the employment relationship become time barred three years after the claim arose. This limitation period applies, for example, to a claim for the payment of remuneration and its individual components.

However, in the case of an appeal against involuntary termination of the employment contract or summary dismissal, the time limits are much shorter and amount to 21 days from effective delivery of the termination notice to the employee. If the employee misses this deadline for reasons beyond his or her control, the court may, at the employee's request, extend the deadline for filing a claim.

The limitation period for an employer's claims for damages caused by the employee is generally one year.

Further time limits in the process of asserting claims under the employment relationship arise from either:

  • the court's decision (eg, the time limit for submitting evidence); or
  • procedural regulations (eg, the time limit for appealing a judgment).

These rules do not apply to persons employed under civil law provisions. In this case, the length of the limitation period will depend on the nature of the cooperation between the parties and the nature of the claim (specific limitation periods are provided for certain claims).

7 Trends and predictions

7.1 How would you describe the current employment landscape and prevailing trends in your jurisdiction? Are any new developments anticipated in the next 12 months, including any proposed legislative reforms?

One of the main ambitions regarding Polish labour law is to make it more flexible. New regulations on remote working necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which are expected to be introduced in 2021, reflect this trend. The draft regulation assumes that the terms and conditions of remote working will, in principle, be regulated through an agreement between the employer and employee. Draft amendments to the Labour Code concerning remote working are at an early legislative stage.

Other planned changes result from the need to implement EU law. These include, among other things, the introduction of at least two months of parental leave to be used exclusively by fathers. Poland must adopt regulations in this regard by mid-2022.

Discussions have also been initiated by trade unions in relation to changes to the working time regulations and the extension of annual leave from 26 to 31 working days for employees with an overall length of service of 30 years or more, among other things. However, these are at a very early stage and the outcome of these discussion is difficult to predict.

8 Tips and traps

8.1 What are your top tips for navigating the employment regime and what potential sticking points would you highlight?

Polish labour law sets out minimum guarantees for employees as the weaker party in the employment relationship. Thus, any contractual changes in this respect will be binding only to the extent that they are more favourable to the employee. However, the assessment of the advantageousness of the change may sometimes differ from a simple economic calculation, and it may be necessary to take into account the broader context of the case. The interpretative guidelines in this regard should be sought from the case law.

Although the labour law regulations are quite detailed, further guidelines on principles of conduct have been developed through court rulings. Although court rulings in Poland are binding only on the relevant parties, the lower courts tend to follow the rulings of superior courts, in particular the Supreme Court.

Certain solutions may also be influenced by the practices of offices (including tax offices). This applies in particular to non-employment models of employment.

For some time now, discussions on the need to revise Polish labour law, make it more flexible and adapt it to current economic realities have been underway. Thus far, however, comprehensive solutions that have been proposed have not been processed further.

Changes to the rules regarding social security charges applicable to civil law contracts were also signalled several times by the government, with the aim of increasing the burden on this account. These, too, as a rule, have not yet been implemented.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.