Navigating the New Polish Labor Law Changes: What Employers and Employees Need to Know

Poland has recently introduced a series of changes to its labor law, affecting various aspects of the work environment. These changes cover areas such as working hours, breaks, parental leaves, flexible work arrangements, and remote work. It is crucial for both employers and employees to understand these new regulations to ensure compliance and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Remote Work:

First of all, the term “remote work” has replaced the previous term “telework” and now covers both regular and occasional work performed off-site using means of direct communication at a distance. Employees can request remote work up to 24 days in a calendar year, and employers can also instruct employees to work remotely in certain situations, such as a state of emergency, an epidemic, or a force majeure event.

Employers’ Responsibilities for Remote Work:

Employers have new obligations and responsibilities regarding remote work. They have to provide the necessary materials and tools for remote work, cover the costs related to remote work, provide training and technical assistance, and ensure the protection of personal data and information. They also have to issue a formal order for remote work that specifies the rules and conditions of remote work, such as reimbursement of expenses, allowance for the use of private facilities, control methods, and health and safety checks.

Performance Control and Privacy in Remote Work:

Employers can control the performance of remote work by setting goals and tasks, verifying their completion and quality, and conducting health and safety checks. However, they have to respect the employee’s privacy and dignity and avoid excessive interference with the employee’s personal life.

Working Hours and Breaks:

The new labor law introduces additional breaks during the workday, depending on the duration of daily working hours. For employees working at least six hours per day, they are now entitled to a minimum 15-minute break. If the working hours exceed nine hours, employees have the right to an additional 15-minute break. Those working more than 16 hours are entitled to yet another 15-minute break. These breaks are now included in the working time.

Leave for Urgent Family Matters:

Employees are now entitled to a new type of leave, which allows for two days or 16 hours per calendar year to deal with urgent family matters due to illness or accidents requiring their immediate presence. Employers are obligated to grant this leave upon the employee’s request.

Family Care Leave:

A new unpaid family care leave of up to five working days per calendar year has been introduced. This leave can be used to provide personal care or support to a family member or a person living in the same household who requires significant care or support for serious medical reasons.

Parental Leave Changes:

New regulations concerning parental leave have been implemented. Now, parents of a child are entitled to a combined parental leave of up to 41 weeks for a single-child birth or 43 weeks for multiple births. Each parent has the exclusive right to nine weeks of this leave, which cannot be transferred to the other parent. The remaining leave can be divided between the parents.

Returning to Work After Parental Leave:

Upon completion of parental leave, employers must reinstate the employee to their previous position or an equivalent position under conditions not less favorable than those that would have applied if the employee had not taken leave.

Reduced Working Hours and Educational Leave:

Employees eligible for educational leave may now request a reduction in working hours to not less than half of their full-time working hours for the period they could have used for educational leave. This reduced working hours arrangement does not affect their educational leave entitlement.

Rights for Parents of Children up to 8 Years Old:

Parents of children up to 8 years old now have additional protections. They cannot be required to work overtime, night shifts, under an interrupted working hours system, or be delegated outside their regular workplace without their consent.

Flexible Work Arrangements:

Employees raising a child up to 8 years old can now request flexible work arrangements, such as remote work, an interrupted working hours system, reduced working hours, or individual work schedules. Employers are obliged to consider these requests, taking into account both the employee’s needs and the employer’s operational requirements.

Upcoming Employment Law Changes in 2023:

Besides the aforementioned changes, there are other adjustments to the employment law that will come into force in 2023. Some of them are:

  • The minimum wage will increase in 2023, from PLN 3,490 in January to PLN 3,600 in July. The minimum hourly rate will also increase accordingly.
  • The business travel allowances for domestic trips will increase, such as the per diem, the lump sum for accommodation and local transport, and the cap on reimbursement of documented costs of accommodation.
  • The compensation for the use of a private car for business purposes will increase significantly, depending on the engine capacity of the car.
  • The annual limitation of the contribution calculation basis for pension and disability insurance for employees will increase to PLN 208,050. Above this amount, pension and disability contributions are not paid.

Poland’s labor law changes have significant implications for both employers and employees. Understanding these changes is essential to ensure compliance with the law and to create a more flexible and family-friendly work environment. Employees should be aware of their rights under these new regulations, while employers must adapt their policies accordingly to maintain a positive and supportive work culture.

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