A crucial amendment to the Polish Labour Code regarding fixed-term employment contracts will come into force on 22 February 2016.
Fixed-term employment contracts are quite often preferred by employers since their termination does not require any legal justification, unlike open-ended contracts. In order to prevent abuse of this form of employment the new provisions introduce clear rules regarding the maximum duration of fixed-term contracts. The aggregate term of such contracts may not exceed 33 months and the parties may not enter into more than 3 fixed-term contracts in total (both rules are subject to certain exceptions, for example, the limitations are not applicable to contracts for substitution of an absent employee). Furthermore, the termination periods of fixed-term contracts will now be the same as those applicable to open-ended contracts, that is, 2 weeks, 1 month or 3 months depending on years of the service at the given employer. In addition, it is now beyond doubt that it is possible to send an employee who has been dismissed, or who has resigned, on garden leave (which has been unclear until now).
What should I do?
Employers should revise their hiring policy with regards to fixed-term employees in light of these amendments. Fixed-term contracts that are currently in place might need to be adapted to suit the transitional provisions, however these are quite complex. For example:
- existing contracts which are not terminable upon notice under the current provisions will continue to be not terminable;
- existing contracts which are terminable upon notice under the current provisions, will continue to be terminable, however the length of the notice period will be calculated based on an employment record (starting from 22 February 2016 and not from the beginning of employment).
Should you proceed to hire fixed-term employees without consideration of the new rules it may lead to an automatic extension of fixed-term contracts into open-ended ones.
You can find the law on the change of the existing provisions here.
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