Amendments to the Labour Code which implement two EU directives into the Polish legal system - one on transparent and predictable working conditions and the other one on the work-life-balance - come into force on 26 April 2023. The changes to legislation are intended to help reconcile work and family life by, among other things, introducing new rights for employee-parents or extending their existing ones. Since the amendments are of substantial number and nature, employers should take urgent steps in order to adapt to the new situation.
What are the most important amendments?
1. The employer is now obliged to indicate the reason justifying the termination of a fixed-term employment contract (up until recently a fixed-term contract could have been terminated without indicating any reason). If the employee benefits from trade union protection, the union will need to be consulted on the intention to terminate this contract. When appealing to the court, the employee will be able to claim compensation or restoration of employment, as in the case of employment contracts for unspecified period of time.
2. An employee who has been employed by an employer for at least 6 months may request once in a calendar year to change the type of employment contract from a fixed-term contract to an employment contract for unspecified period of time or for more predictable and safer working conditions, including a change in the type of work or full-time employment. This does not apply to an employee on a probationary employment contract. The employer shall provide the employee with a response to the aforementioned request within 1 month and shall, if possible, grant the request and if the request is not granted, inform the employee about the reason for refusal.
3. The possibility of concluding probationary employment contracts has been restricted. The duration of the probationary employment contract has been made dependent on the duration of the planned further cooperation:
a) a probationary employment contract for a period not exceeding 1 month – if the parties intend to conclude later a fixed-term contract of less than 6 months,
b) a probationary employment contract for a period not exceeding 2 months – if the parties intend to conclude later a fixed-term contract for more than 6 and less than 12 months,
c) a probationary employment contract for a period not exceeding 3 months – if justified by the type of work.
4. An employer may not prohibit an employee from having simultaneous employment under employment contracts and other employment agreements concluded with another entity, unless a non-competition agreement has been concluded.
5. The information provided to an employee at the beginning of employment has been expanded to include, among other things, the following information: a) the work breaks to which the employee is entitled, b) other components of the employee’s remuneration and benefits that those agreed in the employment contract, c) the rules on moving between workplaces – if there are several workplaces, d) the rules on overtime work and its compensation, e) the employee’s right to training – if the employer provides it.
6. Additional breaks, included in the working time, for employees working according to a daily working schedule: a) longer than 9 hours – an additional break of at least 15 minutes, b) longer than 16 hours – an additional break of at least 15 minutes.
7. An employee is entitled to additional unpaid care leave of 5 days per calendar year to provide personal care or support to a family member or person living in the same household who requires care or support for serious medical reasons.
8. An employee is entitled to leave from work of 2 days or 16 hours due to force majeure for urgent family reasons caused by illness or an accident – if the presence of the employee is necessary due to such an incident. During the period of leave, the employee is entitled to 50% of his/her salary.
9. Parental leave periods have been extended to 41 weeks (for one child) and 43 weeks (for more than one child. Each parent will have an individual, exclusive right to 9 weeks of leave, which will not be transferable to the other parent (and therefore one parent will still be able to use a maximum of 32/34 weeks of parental leave).
10. An employee raising a child up to the age of 8 years, may request flexible organization of work (remote working, an arrangement with interrupted working time, an arrangement with a shortened working week, an arrangement of weekend working time, flexible working hours, individual work schedule). As for these employees, it will not be possible to employ them for overtime, night-time work, an arrangement with interrupted working time or to delegate them outside their regular place of work without their consent.
11. The employer is obliged to cover the costs of training necessary for the performance of a specific type of work, for work in a specified position, or for training undertaken by an employee at the instruction of a superior. Such training should, if possible, take place during working hours; in the case of training outside the employee’s normal working hours, the training time shall be counted as working time.
What steps should be taken by companies?
New regulations come into force on 26 April 2023. The changes to legislation are intended to help reconcile work and family life by, among other things, introducing new rights for employee-parents or extending their existing ones. Employers should prepare for the entry into force of the new rules and adjust their internal procedures and documents to the extent necessary. Here are the major steps which need to be taken:
- reviewing the existing internal HR policies
- preparing information to be provided to the employees
- introducing changes that result from the new rules
- reviewing and updating work regulations
- reviewing all fixed-term employment contracts
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