Katarzyna Małaniuk

Attorney at law (Poland)
Senior Associate, Manager
Phone: +48 61 624 49 69

The amended Labour Code will come into force on 22 February 2016 to bring new rules of hiring employees on fixed-term contracts and trial periods. The new regulations will introduce the concept of employee's release from the obligation to report for duty.

The amended legislation provides for new rules of hiring employees for a fixed term. The main flaw of the old system was the lack of a maximum duration of the fixed-term contracts. According to the new regulations, the period of employment on one fixed-term contract, as well as the total duration on several fixed-term contracts signed between the same parties, cannot exceed 33 months. Pursuant to new Article 251 of the Labour Code, the same parties to an employment relationship can sign no more than three such contracts. If the period of employment on fixed-term contracts is longer, or if the number of contracts is more than three, the employee will be deemed to be hired on an indefinite contract. 

Exceptions to the above limitations on the total duration and number of fixed-term contracts will apply to contracts made: 

a) in order to replace an employee during his/her excused absence from work,

b) for seasonal or casual work,

c) for a term of office,

d) if the employer shows a fair reason on his part – if such a contract satisfies a real, temporary demand and is necessary under all circumstances.

Under the new regulations the employer will be obliged to notify in writing or by e-mail the regional labour inspector of a fixed-term employment contract signed due to a fair reason on his part, and naming those reasons, within 5 working days of the contract date. 

The amended legislation stipulates also new notice periods of fixed-term contracts, the length of which will depend, like in the case of indefinite contracts, on the total length of service for the employer, as follows:

a) 2 weeks – if the length of service for the employer is less than 6 months,

b) 1 month – if the length of service for the employer is at least 6 months,

c) 3 months – if the length of service for the employer is at least 3 years. 

Following the amendments the Labour Code will now distinguish three types of employment contracts: a fixed-term contract, an indefinite contract and a trial contract. A contract for a duration of specified work will be eliminated from the Labour Code. 

The new rules allow employers to unilaterally release an employee from the obligation to report for duty in notice period regardless of the type of terminated contract. However, such an employee will retain the right to his/her salary in the notice period. 

Another important change deals with trial contracts. Old regulations did not mention the purpose for which a trial contract could be concluded. Now, a trial contract of up to 3 months may be concluded to verify the employee's qualifications and suitability for a certain type of work. 

Old regulations generally permitted only one trial contract with an employee. The amended Labour Code lists circumstances under which another trial contract with the same worker can be signed, namely:

a) if the worker is to be hired in a different job,

b) after at least 3 years of termination or expiry of the previous contract if the worker is to be hired in the same job, in which case one more trial contract is allowed.

The amended statute contains a range of transitional provisions which may prove difficult in practice. We would like to mention here the most important of them. Under the new rules fixed-term employment contracts which are already in force on the new statute's effective date will be governed by the new rules of the maximum duration and number of fixed-term contract(s), but the employment period under fixed-term contracts will start to count on the statute's effective date. Furthermore, fixed-term contracts signed for more than 6 months terminable with a 2-week notice, which are already in force on the statute's effective date, will be governed by the new rules of terminating employment contracts. 

In this context, we would like to offer you our assistance in adapting your employment contracts to the new regulations. Additionally, we can carry out a legal check to see if the new legislation applies to employment contracts in your company.

If you have any questions about this tax, please do not hesitate to contact us

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.