Tomasz Pleśniak

Attorney at law (Poland)
Senior Associate
Phone: +48 71 606 04 13

Employers have less than a month to comply with the requirement imposed by one of the biggest amendments to the Polish Labour Code in 2016. If they fail to act before the deadline, they may bear serious legal consequences including establishment of an unwanted employment relationship for indefinite period of time.

22 February 2016 saw revolutionary changes to the Polish Labour Code, primarily with respect to fixed-term employment contracts. From that date, the employment relationship automatically turns into an indefinite employment contract after more than 33 months of work or signing a fourth-in-turn fixed-term contract. 

However, the lawmakers have allowed fixed-term contracts under certain circumstances in spite of the above restrictions. The exceptions apply, above all, to employment contracts to replace another employee, as well as contracts for casual or seasonal work, term of office, or whenever you as an employer show a fair reason on your part.

If you want to use one of the above options, you must meet special statutory conditions in respect of your employees hired before 22 February. This means that the contract needs to include information about the purpose or circumstances that justify the departure from the above-mentioned restrictions, in other words, the objective rationale behind such a contract. You have less than a month to meet that requirement because the lawmakers have set the deadline on 22 May 2016.

If you fail to take any actions before the deadline, the legal consequences may be severe. For instance, if you hire a replacement worker for over 33 months or sign a fourth replacement contract with him, the employment contract will automatically become an indefinite contract. Consequently, the expiry date of the employment contract (the day when the replaced employee returns to work) will be void and if you want to terminate such a contract, you have to give specific reasons.

Noteworthy, all contracts signed before 22 February of the instant year must contain information about the contract purpose already on the signing date. Otherwise, as the employer you may face the adverse consequences mentioned above.

We would be glad to assist you if you are interested in this issue, especially in adding the necessary provisions to your contracts. Our attorneys at law, provide assistance and legal advice in the field of labor law in Poland at the Rödl & Partner offices in: Cracow, Gdansk, Gliwice, Poznan, Warsaw, Wroclaw.