Agnieszka Gliwińska

Tax adviser (Poland)
Senior Associate
Phone: +48 71 606 04 04

The act amending certain other acts to improve the legal environment for enterprises entered into force on 1 January 2017. The act is the first step in the Responsible Growth Plan being a part of the "100 changes for businesses" legislative package. The goal is to improve the legal conditions for doing business in Poland by, among other things, reducing some administrative duties and clarifying issues which raise concerns as to their interpretation. The act has modified several statutes, including the Labour Code of 26 June 1974 (Journal of Laws of 2016, item 1666). 

The first of the Labour Code amendments is to relax the requirements for small enterprises (hiring no more than 50 people). Under the old rules, when an employer hired just 20 workers or more, he had to implement a remuneration policy and the work rules. Refined Article 772 and Article 104 of the Labour Code raise the thresholds that make the remuneration policy and work rules obligatory when the headcount is from at least 20 to at least 50. Now, only an employer who hires at least 50 workers not covered by a collective labour agreement (or a multi-employer collective labour agreement) is obliged to include the remuneration rules in the remuneration policy and to introduce the work rules. Employers who hire less than 50 workers may still include the remuneration rules in their remuneration policy and introduce the work rules voluntarily. Please note that employers who have at least 20 but less than 50 workers and have a trade union within their organisation have to introduce the remuneration policy and the work rules if that trade union so requests.

Another change affects the rules for issuing work record certificates to workers who are hired by the same employer on the basis of successive fixed-term contracts or trial contracts. In the old legal status, Article 97 of the Labour Code required a work record certificate to be issued each time after 24 months of work for the same company, even though the employment relationship continued with the same employer on the basis of another trial contract or a fixed-term contract. Under the new regulations, the employer – as before – is obliged to issue a work record certificate immediately after the employment contract termination. However, there is now an exception whereby if another employment relationship is established with the same worker within 7 days of the termination or expiry of the previous relationship, the employer must issue a work record certificate only at the worker's request. If the worker does not request the certificate, he/she will not get it until the employment relationship with the employer is ultimately terminated. The certificate will then cover all employment periods of that worker.  

According to the transitional provisions, if on the act's effective date the worker is hired by the employer on the basis of a fixed-term contract or a trial contract but the 24-month period which obliges the employer to issue a combined work record certificate has not expired yet, the employer will have to issue a work record certificate covering all previously completed periods of employment not yet evidenced in a certificate, within 6 months of the effective date of the amended Labour Code. However, the work record certificates following the termination or expiry of an employment relationship based on a fixed-term contract or a trial contract that is in force on the act's effective date (i.e. 1 January 2017) will have to be issued according to the new rules.

The amended Labour Code deals also with consequences of the failure to observe the written form with respect to an agreement on shared financial liability of employees for the property entrusted to them. According to the new rules, the agreement on financial liability to be shared between the employer and the employees must be made in writing, or else it will be void. With this amendment which says explicitly that such an agreement must be made in writing the lawmakers have cleared the doubts present in the doctrine and the case law about this matter. Pursuant to the transitional provisions, the agreements on shared liability that are in force on the act's effective date should be governed by the old rules. 

Article 264 of the Labour Code has also been amended in such a way that it extends and unifies to 21 days the deadlines for (1) the employee to bring an action against the termination of an employment contract; (2) the employee to bring an action against the contract termination without notice; (3) the employee to demand reinstatement of employment. The old legal system had two different deadlines for appeals to the employment tribunal: 7 days in the case of termination of an employment contract and 14 days in the case of termination without notice – this was confusing for employees. The transitional provisions say that the time limits which began to run and did not expire before the act's effective date will be governed by the new rules. 

We would be glad to provide you with more information if you are interested in this or other issues in the area of labour law in Poland. Our attorneys-in-law also offer legal advice in Poland on other issues. They are at your disposal in Rödl & Partner offices in: Gdansk, Gliwice, Cracow, Poznan, Warsaw, Wroclaw.