Considering employing someone in Poland? To do that compliantly, an employer has a lot of obligations they have to fulfil. One comprehensive and important topic is the set of local employee rights a remote worker in Poland is entitled to.
Below is a guide to employee rights in Poland to help you understand what you need to comply with. (You can read about employee rights in Australia, Ireland, the UK, Portugal, Germany, and The Netherlands).
To employ someone in Poland, you need to be a registered employer. To get a full overview of what employing someone in Poland would take and see all the obligations you will have as an employer, please read our Poland Country Guide. (For a more general list of what you need to do in every country to employ someone, check out this list).
Alternatively, you can work with an Employer of Record, such as Boundless, which will employ the worker on your behalf locally. That would spare you any registrations and ensure compliance with employment and tax law, all the while assuring harmonised experience for your employees there.
Regardless of the employment approach, all employees in Poland are entitled to the following employee rights.
General Employee Rights in Poland
There are three types of contracts in Poland – a trial period agreement (maximum three months), an indefinite period contract, and a definite period contract.
The purpose of a trial period contract is to check the employee’s qualifications and employment possibility. It is possible to re-sign an employment contract for a trial period with the same employee:
- If the individual will be employed in another job
- After a lapse of at least three years since the employee last held that job
A company can have a maximum of three consecutive definite period employment contracts with an employee, extending to a total of 33 months. If either limit is exceeded, the fixed-term employment transforms into an indefinite period employment contract. However, the two sides are allowed to exceed the limitations mentioned above if the fixed-term employment contract is signed for one of the following reasons:
- Substituting an employee during a justified absence from work
- Completing occasional or seasonal work
- Performing work during the term of office
- If the employer points to objective reasons on their side
Employment contracts must be in writing. Failure to sign a contract in writing is an offence by the employer which is punishable by a fine. The employer should inform the Social Security Institution about the new hire no later than seven days after employment starts. Further, the employer has to report a set of specific statements and forms to authorities.
Employment contracts must be in Polish. They may be bilingual as long as one of the languages is Polish. According to the Polish Labour Code, an employment contract must at least include the following terms:
- The sides of the agreement
- The type of contract
- Date of execution
- Employment terms and conditions, such as:
- Type of work (i.e. duties to be performed)
- Place of work (i.e. work office or home office)
- Remuneration details (including variable compensation/bonus – treated as additional salary and taxable just as base income)
- The length of working time
- Start date
The employer must also inform the employee of the following within seven days of the employment contract being executed:
- Daily and weekly working-time hours
- How often the salary is paid
- Holiday entitlement
- Notice period
- Any collective agreement, if applicable
If work regulations have not been adopted in the employing establishment, the information must also outline:
- Nighttime hours
- Place, date and time of remuneration payment
- The procedures for confirming arrival and presence at work and justifying absence from work
Health & Safety
Employers must provide healthy and safe working conditions for their employees and have adequate knowledge of health & safety at work. The employer must provide an initial OHS training for employees (before they are allowed to work) and follow that with periodical sessions.
The employer is obliged to protect employees’ health and wellbeing by ensuring appropriate health and safety conditions. Some of their obligations include:
- Organise work so it’s safe and hygienic, reduce its strenuousness, particularly when monotonous or at a fixed pace
- Make sure the principles of health and safety are followed by everyone, issue instructions to remedy breaches, and supervise the implementation of instructions
- React to changing health and safety needs and improve the existing protection level given the changing work conditions
- Develop a coherent policy preventing accidents and occupational diseases
- Protect the health of young employees, pregnant employees and breastfeeding and disabled employees
- Implement orders, submissions, decisions and decrees issued by the authorities supervising the conditions of work
- Ensure the implementation of recommendations of a social labour inspector.
Employees should not bear any of the health and safety costs.
An employer with 100+ employees must create health & safety at work service.
Rights of employees under OHS:
- A right to work in safe and healthy conditions
- Refrain from work and notify their manager immediately if the conditions of work do not correspond to the health and safety provisions or if they pose a direct danger to their health or wellbeing
- Further to the above, the employee can move away from the place of danger and to notify their superior
Employers should treat employees equally during hiring and dismissal, when receiving a promotion or training to improve professional qualifications or under any other employment terms and conditions, such as salary and work-related benefits.
In the event of a breach of non-discrimination regulations, an employee can claim compensation that cannot be lower than the minimum wage. The employer must prove that there was no discrimination.
Employees are entitled to initial, periodic and follow-up medical examinations. The employer bears the medical examination costs and, if possible, should schedule them during work hours. Employees cannot start working without a valid medical certificate stating that there are no contraindications to working in a specific role.
Protection from discrimination
Under the Polish Law, it is illegal to directly or indirectly discriminate an employee because of their gender, age, disability, race, religion, ethnic origin, nationality, sexual orientation, political or religious beliefs or trade union membership or in respect of the conditions of employment for a definite or an indefinite period, or full or part-time.
Protection from harassment, bullying and other forms of violence
In the event of any harassment, employees enjoy similar protection and rights as discriminated employees. Sexual harassment may also result in criminal liability and lead to a fine or imprisonment. The employer must act against workplace bullying and other forms of violence in work.
An employee with health problems resulting from workplace bullying may claim compensation from the employer as a money equivalent for the damage sustained. An employee who has been bullied or who terminates their employment contract due to workplace bullying has the right to claim compensation from the employer that is no less than the minimum remuneration for work, as specified under separate provisions.
Protection in the case of a business transfer
If the entire company or part of it is transferred to another organisation, some or all employees are automatically transferred to the new employer. In addition, the former and the new employer are jointly liable for the obligations arising from employment relationships created before the transfer date.
Within a year of the transfer date, the new employer must ensure that the transferred employees are covered by any collective labour agreements executed in the new employer’s company.
Although transferred employees are generally entitled to the same working terms and conditions after the transfer, changes are allowed by Polish labour law. However, any changes, particularly those that are disadvantageous to the transferred employees, can only be made following the procedures laid down in the Labour Code. The transfer of the work establishment, or part of it, should not be the single or primary reason for the changes.
Protection against dismissal
Employers need to state a valid reason to dismiss an employee on an indefinite period contract.
Moreover, certain types of employees have superior protection against termination during certain circumstances, including:
- Employees within four years of retirement (65 men, 60 women), if their seniority allows them to acquire the right to retirement pension by reaching this age
- Pregnant employees or those on maternity leave, with or without notice, unless there are reasons for disciplinary dismissal
- Members of a trade union and those with specific functions in them, both at the company or above-company level
- Terminating the employment contract will require either consulting the relevant labour union or getting the union’s consent for it
The Act regulating dismissals for reasons attributable to the employer, including collective dismissals, applies to employers with more than 20 employees. It comes with an obligation to pay severance.
Employees should not bear any negative consequences of membership or non-membership in a trade union or for holding a function in one. In particular, this cannot constitute a condition for entering into an employment relationship, maintaining one, or being promoted.
The company trade union organisation has a lot of power and plays a critical function in the organisation. Its rights are vested in an organisation with at least ten members and covers:
- Employees of an employer covered by this organisation
- Individuals who carry out paid work for at least six months for an employer covered by this organisation
Employee capital plans (PPK)
PPK is a long-term savings system that allows employees to systematically accumulate capital for their retirement with the employers’ and the state’s support. It is a mandatory benefit that all employers must provide to employees, although employee participation is optional. An employee may at any time resign from making payments to the PPK by submitting a written declaration to their employer.
Want to see all benefits in Poland in a neatly packed visual way and see how leading employers augment these benefits? Download our Poland benefits benchmark infographic
Want to employ someone in Poland?
Adhering to employment law and employee rights in Poland will require a commitment to learning and working with a lot of local regulations. We are here to help you on that journey and take the time to make sense of complex legislative information, which we turn into easy to understand resources and comprehensive country guides (check our guide to Poland).
However, staying on top of Polish employment law may not be a top priority for you right now. That doesn’t mean you should give up on employing your next remote worker out of Poland or opt for hiring them as an independent contractor instead (which is a bad idea).
Boundless can help you employ anyone in Poland legally and hassle-free. We own and operate a Polish Professional Employer Organisation as part of our multi-country offering. Through the Employer of Record model, we act as the legal employer to your remote workers and take care of the many obligations that come with adhering to these employee rights in Poland. Learn more.
The making available of information to you on this site by Boundless shall not create a legal, confidential or other relationship between you and Boundless and does not constitute the provision of legal, tax, commercial or other professional advice by Boundless. You acknowledge and agree that any information on this site has not been prepared with your specific circumstances in mind, may not be suitable for use in your business, and does not constitute advice intended for reliance. You assume all risk and liability that may result from any such reliance on the information and you should seek independent advice from a lawyer or tax professional in the relevant jurisdiction(s) before doing so.