Polish law describes and regulates various possibilities of employment. The main legal form of employment is the employment relationship regulated by the Polish Labour Code from 26th June 1974. The employment relationship is connected with the system of guarantees and rights of employees. In accordance with the Labour Code the employee has a right to:
- receive the remuneration for his work, the financial conditions which are defined in the employment agreement and the employer is obliged to pay it regularly to an employee. The employee may not earn less than the Polish minimum monthly salary which in 2016 is 1,850.00 PLN gross for full time employment. As of 1st January 2017 the minimum monthly salary increased to 2,000.00 PLN gross,
- use their holiday leave time - The employee has the right to an annual paid leave, the length of which depends on their seniority, but in general every employee is entitled to 20 or 26 days of paid annual leave. The employee is not allowed to renounce their leave and the employer is obliged to pay the equivalent to an employee for unused leave,
- receive sickness allowance,
- working time rules,
- special protection of some employees’ groups,
- procedure of termination of employment.
The Labour Code lists various forms of employment contract::
- for a probation period - This kind of contract may be concluded only once between a given employee and employer. Its purpose is to check the employee’s suitability to perform duties for an extended period of time. The trial period shall not exceed three months,
- for a fixed period - This kind of contract is defined by a specified date. The applicable law does not regulate the maximum duration of such an agreement, but terms of the contract should be reasonable. However, there is a limit to the number of such contracts which can be concluded with one employee. In accordance with Polish law, a permanent employment contract must follow after two consecutive contracts for a fixed period,
- for an indefinite period,
- for a period of absence of another employee (i.e. a replacement employment contract).
Starting from February 22nd 2016, the Polish Employment Code underwent substantial changes in relation to fixed term employment contracts. The maximum duration of a fixed time employment contract is now 33-months. Currently there is no distinction between an indefinite period employment contract and a fixed time employment contract in relation to notice periods, which are identical for both types of employment contracts. The notice periods can range from 2-weeks up to 3-months and are dependent on seniority in the enterprise. The maximum number of fixed time employment contracts that are allowed to be concluded at a time is now 3, but the duration of employment based on fixed term contracts cannot jointly exceed 33 months.
The employment contract must define:
- stipulate working hours,
- financial conditions,
- type of work
- and place of its performance.
Moreover it should be concluded in writing. Aside from the employment contract, the employee should receive from the employer a written information concerning the employment within 7-days counting from the day when the work has started. The employee is obliged to perform work in the hours specified in the contract, as well as to carry out the instructions of their supervisors and act in the best interest of the employer.
Apart from the employment relationship regulated by the Labour Code, there are other forms of employment based on the Civil Code - known as civil law contracts. These contracts give more latitude in formulating the content of legal relationship between the parties without any minimal guaranties which result from the Labour Code. The parties may decide on such matters as the amount of remuneration or working time because these factors are not regulated by the Civil Code. The most common contracts under the Civil Code are as follows:
- Task contract - this kind of contract is also called as agreement of result. The employee receives defined tasks which must be carried out in order to achieve specified results and the employer is obliged to pay the salary for the realization of tasks according to the provisions stipulated in the contract.
- Contract for services - based on the contract, the employee receives defined tasks and activities which must be realized by the employer. The employee performs the work by himself because there is no subordination or work performance under someone’s management, which is characteristic of an employment contract.
The contract expires automatically with the end of the term or when a given task or activity has been completed. An employment agreement may be terminated upon a mutual agreement of both parties (at any time and regardless of the type of contract), by one of the parties upon prior notice (at the end of a specified notice period), or by one of the parties without prior notice (if a serious breach on the side of the other party occurs or if employment cannot be continued for certain reasons). The notice period depends on the type of contract concluded by the parties and the actual duration of the employment. While choosing which agreement to conclude with an employee, the employer should bear in mind that a legal relationship in which there are elements of the employment relationship can not be regulated by a civil law contract.
In general (there are many exemptions in Polish law), foreigners who are going to perform work in Poland are obliged to obtain a work permit. The need to obtain the work permit concerns non-EU citizens who are going to work in Poland as an employee. In cases of citizens of non-EU countries who are members of the management board in legal entities in Poland, Polish law provides a simplification. Namely, they are allowed to perform work in Poland for a period not exceeding 6 months, within 12 months without a work permit, after receiving an appropriate legal document which permits the worker to stay in Poland.
Because of the recent changes in applicable Polish regulations concerning legalization of work and residence of foreigners in Poland, the procedure connected with obtaining a work permit in Poland has been simplified. Various types of work permits were implemented, but now there is no ‘promise’ to grant work permits anymore. A company which is intending to employ a foreigner receives a work permit after submitting a complete application with the required documentation. With the work permit, the foreigner can receive a visa in order to perform work or a permission to have temporary residence in Poland. The last step is signing a contract between the foreigner and the employer according to the conditions mentioned in the work permit. It should be noted that the newly implemented law stipulates severe penalties for employing foreigners who have not obtained indispensable permits.
Source: Polish Investment and Trade Agnecy, Poland your business Partner. Invest in Poland, 2016.