The government’s bill to amend the Labour Code and certain other acts, which seeks to implement solutions provided under EU Directives into Polish legislation, may have a significant impact on the employees’ rights and on the corresponding employers’ obligations. The amendment seeks to extend parenthood rights, including by extending parental leave (in the spirit of work-life balance) and to make revolutionary changes in how employment contracts are terminated. In desiring to achieve the greatest possible transparency and predictability in employment, it also seeks to modify the compulsory elements of an employment contract and to significantly affect (broaden) the information obligations of employers with respect to employees.
The draft amendment clarifies and extends the list of compulsory elements of an employment contract. It postulates that in specifying the parties to a contract it should be compulsory to provide the address of the employer’s registered office, and if the employer is an individual without a registered office, then the employer’s place of residence. In principle, this change should be regarded as reflecting the practice that has already established itself in regulations of law: the market standard is to provide an accurate definition of both parties to an employment.
As for fixed term contracts, whether for a probationary period or for a definite term, the draft also introduces an obligation for its duration or date of termination to be made explicit. This change should also be perceived as sanctioning the actual situation that already exists, because in practice employment contracts of this type include provisions that clearly specify their duration.
Due to a change in the regulations governing probationary period employment contracts, it is to become compulsory for such contracts to also include provisions on:
- extending a contract to include a period of holiday leave, as well as for periods of other justified absences of the employee from work, if such absences occur;
- the period for which the parties intend to conclude a definite-term employment contract: if this period determines the permissible length of the probationary period (which, under the draft provisions is to be a maximum of 1 month, if the intention is to subsequently conclude a definite-term employment contract for less than 6 months, or 2 months, if the intention is to conclude such contract for less than 12 months);
- extending a contract that was concluded under the above-mentioned regulations, for a period of 1 or 2 months, if justified by the type of work.
Additional information associated with employment
One should, however, regard as revolutionary the change proposed in the amendment concerning the scope of the obligatory additional employment-related information that the employer must provide to an employee within 7 days (according to the draft amendment, from the date of the employee’s admission to work while, currently, from the date of conclusion of the employment contract). Under the current regulations, this should include information on:
- the daily and weekly working time standards that apply to the employee;
- the frequency of payment of remuneration for work;
- the amount of holiday leave entitlement;
- the binding period of notice for terminating the employment contract; and
- collective labour agreements to which the employee is subject.
Moreover, if the employer is not required to establish work regulations, the additional information must also include information on night time, place, date and time of payment of remuneration and the method used for confirming employees’ arrival and attendance at work and for justifying their absences from work. In practice, the document drawn up to fulfil the obligation to provide employee with the above information is usually only one page long. The legal reasons of including the above-mentioned elements in this unilateral information is due to their organizational nature. In view of this nature, it is reasonable for the employer to have freedom of decision in forming them (but within the limits of the law). At the same time, the employees should enjoy (and do) a secure prospect of obtaining knowledge about them. In the extent in which these elements have not been regulated in the employment contract, the employees’ consent to their modification will not be required.
The draft act envisages that apart from or in place of certain elements mentioned above, the additional information is to also include details of:
- the employee’s entitlement to breaks;
- the employee’s entitlement to daily and weekly rest;
- the rules on working overtime and compensating for it;
- in the case of shift work, the rules on changing from one shift to another;
- in the case of several places of work, the rules on moving between the places of work;
- the components of remuneration and benefits in cash or in kind other than those specified in the employment contract;
- the employee’s entitlement to paid leave, in particular holiday leave, or, if it cannot be determined at the time when the information is given to the employee, the procedures for determining and granting it;
- the procedure in force for terminating employment, including formal requirements, periods of notice and the deadline for appealing to a labour court, or, if it is not possible to specify the periods of notice at the time when the information is given to the employee, the method for determining the periods of notice;
- the employee’s right to training, if provided by the employer, and in particular the general principles of the employer’s training policy; and
- the collective labour agreement or other collective agreement to which the employee is subject and, if a collective agreement has been concluded outside the workplace by umbrella bodies or institutions, the name of such bodies or institutions.
All changes to elements that constitute additional information should be communicated to employees without delay.
As a result of the proposed changes, the additional information on employment will often involve a multi-page and sometimes complicated document. Moreover, in view of the fact that the elements it contains may change on a regular basis, each modification will create an obligation for the employer to provide an updated version to employees. This will, in turn, generate additional and, it would seem, unjustified bureaucracy in the workplace.
What is more, in accordance with the draft amending act, for employment contracts that are in force on the date when the act enters into force, the employer will be required, at the employee’s request, to appropriately supplement (update) the additional information provided by the employer within 3 months from the date of submission of the employee’s request.
Employers are also to be required to inform employees, within 30 days at the latest from the date of their admission to work, of the name of the social security institution to which their employment–related social security contributions are being paid and of the social security protection provided by the employer, as well as of each change in the address of the registered office or residence of the employer – in this case, within 7 days at the latest.
Information obligations associated with posting an employee abroad
The draft legislative changes also affect the obligations associated with sending an employee abroad. On the one hand, lawmakers intend to extend the information obligations introduced into the Labour Code also to cases where an employee is sent to work or to perform a task abroad to a country which is a Member State of the European Union (and not only to a country outside the European Union), and on the other hand, to modify and extend the range of information provided to the employee.
Under the amendment, if an employee is sent abroad for a period that exceeds 4 consecutive weeks, the employer will be required to provide information before this to the employee on:
- the state or states in which the work or the task abroad is to be carried out;
- the expected duration of the work or the task;
- the currency in which the employee will be paid while performing the work or the task;
- the benefits in cash or in kind connected with the performance of the work or the task, if such benefits are provided for in the provisions of labour law, unless this follows from the employment contract;
- the provision or absence of provision for the employee’s return to Poland;
- the conditions of the employee’s return to Poland, if this return is provided for.
In addition, irrespective of the above and of the elements that constitute the additional employment-related information, before posting an employee to work in another Member State for a period exceeding 4 consecutive weeks, the employer is to be required to inform the employee about:
- the remuneration to be paid for work in accordance with the law of the Member State to which the employee is being posted;
- the posting allowance and / or the arrangements for the reimbursement of travel, board and lodging expenses, if such benefits are provided for by labour legislation, regulations, statutes, collective labour agreements or other collective agreements and / or the payment of expenses connected with the business trip;
- a link to the official website hosted by the Member State to which the employee is being posted containing information on the terms and conditions of employment which must be applied to posted employees.
As a rule, the employer will be required to inform the employee immediately of any change concerning the above elements, and not later than on the date when the change comes into effect.
Similarly to employment-related additional information, in the case of employment contracts that are in force on the date of entry into effect of the amending Act, the employer will be required, at the request of the employee, to provide information on all of the above-mentioned elements within 3 months from the date of submission of the employee’s request.
The full text of the legislative draft is available at the website of the Government Legislation Centre. The planned date for the Act’s entry into force is 1 August 2022. But it needs noting that this bill has not yet been sent to the Sejm.
 Directive (EU) 2019/1152 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union and Directive (EU) 2019/1158 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on work-life balance for parents and carers and repealing Council Directive 2010/18/EU.