The recent key developments in Polish employment law are examined below.
1. Communication of changed notice period required
On 22 February 2016, new regulations came into force extending the notice period for a fixed-term employment contract. After the lapse of six months from the introduction of the new regulations (i.e. from 22 August 2016), the period of notice for such agreements already in force on the effective date of the new provisions was extended from two weeks to one month.
The employer is required to provide to the employee written information regarding the terms and conditions of employment which also includes the length of notice period. If the information provided to employees indicated a 2-week period of notice, employers had until 22 September 2016 to inform employees of the changed notice period.
2. Severance taxation
On 23 June 2016, the Minister of Finance issued a general tax interpretation regarding provisions of the Personal Income Tax Act. According to the interpretation, benefits stemming from voluntary redundancy programs are not exempted from personal income tax. Until now, Polish tax authorities worked on the basis that those benefits were exempted from personal income tax.
3. Draft amendments to the Act on the employment of temporary workers
The draft bill, drawn up by the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy, amending the Act on the employment of temporary workers is currently in the consultation (evaluation) stage. In its current wording, the bill provides for a limitation on posting a temporary worker to one employer for a total period of 18 months in the period of 36 consecutive months, regardless of how many temporary work agencies will post the temporary employee to that employer. The aim is to prevent situations in which a temporary worker – posted by various temporary work agencies – performs work for the same employer bypassing the time limits provided for in the Act.
4. Amendments to the Civil Code and the Code of Civil Procedure
On 8 September 2016, important amendments to the Civil Code and the Code of Civil Procedure came into force. They include the introduction of a new form of legal act – the “document form”. To comply with the document form of a legal act, it is sufficient to make a declaration of will in the form of a document, in a manner allowing the identification of the person making such declaration. A document constitutes any carrier of information enabling a review of its contents. According to the explanatory memorandum to the amendment, the content of the document may be freely disclosed (e.g. graphic symbols, sound, image etc), recorded on any carrier (e.g. paper or computer file) and by any means (e.g. pen, computer, mobile phone etc).
The new rules upgrade the legal status of content recorded and transmitted electronically. This will be of major importance for conducting legal disputes between parties to an employment relationship. Therefore, employers should be careful regarding information transmitted to employees e.g. by email, as such messages may be used in court as evidence of granting the employee a specific benefit (e.g. bonus) or changing the conditions of employment.
Art. 29 § 3 of the Polish Labour Code
to Art. 29 § 3(2) of the Polish Labour Code
Article 21 section 1 item 3 of the Personal Income Tax Act
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