Significant changes to employment law in Poland
After winning a parliamentary majority in the last general election the Polish Law and Justice political party (PiS) will implement their manifesto proposals, some of which impact on Polish employment law.
Outline of the proposed changes
Civil law contracts (e.g. consultant contracts): to be subject to employee social security regime
Civil law contracts (contract, project or consultancy-based work not under an employment contract) are to be subject to the same social security contributions regime as employment agreements. This law will change the current position where contracts for specific work are not subject to any social security contributions, and so have risked being abused. Further to this, State Employment Inspectors will be granted power to audit the compliance of civil law contracts and to independently reclassify such contracts into employment relationships.
In order to protect your business against such action it will be important to properly classify the relationship from the outset. For example, where the hiring party has control over the place of work, time of work and treats the other party as a subordinate, the relationship is likely to be one of employment and should be documented as such.
Minimum wage increase
Minimum pay is proposed to be guaranteed at the level of at least 50% of the average remuneration in the national economy (currently, the minimum pay is PLN 1 850, 45% of the projected average remuneration PLN 4 080).
Extension to leave for parents
Employees will be allowed to take advantage of various types of family friendly leave, continuously, up until a child is 6 years old. It is not yet clear which types of leave will be extended to achieve this, at present the general types of leave available for employees who are parents are:
- 20 weeks of maternity leave
- 2 weeks of paternity leave
- 32 weeks of parental leave
- 36 months of childcare leave (upbringing leave)
More restrictive working time rules
Reference / settlement periods
According to the proposal, working time reference (settlement) periods will last no longer than 4 months. This means that the current possibility of their extension up to 12 months will no longer be available.
Working Sundays and bank holidays
The number of exceptions allowing employees to work on Sundays and bank holidays should be limited. It has been mentioned in some of the statements that this will be done by excluding shift work from the list of exceptions (see below), as well as limiting retail sales on Sundays and bank holidays. This is still to be confirmed.
Currently in Poland, work on Sundays and bank holidays is prohibited other than in limited exceptions including:
- circumstances when it is required to conduct a rescue operation to protect human health or life, property or the environment, or to repair a breakdown;
- continuous working time systems (such as introduced in manufacturing facilities that operate 24/7);
- shift work;
- necessary repairs;
- transport and public transport;
- fire brigades or rescue services of employing establishments;
- guarding property or protection of individuals;
- agriculture ;
- work necessary to attend to the daily needs of public;
- where employees are employed to work on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays only;
- certain types of work relating to information society and telecommunications services provided to recipients outside of Poland who work on Sundays or bank holidays.
What to expect in 2016?
Lowering of retirement age?
A Bill providing for the reinstatement of the previous retirement ages of 60 (women) and 65 (men), is currently being debated in Parliament. The current retirement age of 67 was introduced recently (2013) and was set to increase gradually.
Taxation of benefits paid by state owned businesses
It is also worth noting that the new Parliament adopted an act which provides for new taxation principles applicable to benefits payable by state controlled companies that exceed a specific limit.
The future will show to what extent other proposals put forward by PiS and the Government will transform into applicable law. Many of them are aimed at strengthening employees’ rights, which obviously may impact the situation of the employers. We will keep you informed of the developing picture.
Information on Civil Law contracts, here
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