Michał Prokop

Attorney at law (Poland)
Senior Associate, Manager
Phone: +48 22 244 00 76

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) challenged the Polish regulations which made the length of the notice period dependent on the type of the employment contract (judgement of 13 March 2014, case no. C-38/13). The two-week notice period for employees hired under fixed-term contracts is discriminatory. The judgement compels the introduction of relevant amendments to the Polish Labour Code. 

Doubts arose as to the proper application of the Community law in the case of an employee whose employment relationship had been terminated upon a two-week notice. The employee demanded that her employment contract be regarded as a non-fixed-term contract. In her opinion the fixed-term contract for a period of several years aimed at circumventing the regulations and depriving her of the rights available under non-fixed-term contracts. 

Article 33 of the Labour Code says that when concluding an employment contract for a fixed term of more than 6 months, the parties may provide that the employment contract may be terminated earlier upon a two-week notice. Different rules apply to non-fixed-term contracts. Pursuant to Article 36(1) of the Labour Code, the length of the notice period for such contracts depends on the term of employment with a given employer. The maximum notice period is 3 months. 

The European Court of Justice is of the opinion that such different regulations with respect to employees hired under fixed-term and non-fixed-term contracts cannot be objectively justified. A shorter notice period for employees hired on a fixed-term basis, who perform tasks similar to those performed by employees hired under non-fixed-term contracts, does not comply with the Community's requirement of equal treatment. The national legislation governing the length of notice periods is contradictory to the Framework Agreement on fixed-term work concluded on 18 March 1999, annexed to Council Directive 99/70/EC of 28 June 1999 concerning the framework agreement on fixed-term work.

Yet before the judgement in question, the Polish government announced amendments to the rules of employment under fixed-term contracts. Proposals of the Labour Ministry provide for, among other things, limiting the term of fixed-term contracts. 

Therefore, it is worth starting as soon as now to consider the likely amendments to the Polish labour law. 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.