An amendment to article 229 of the Labour Code came into force on 1 April 2015 (the "Amendment"). The article refers to the initial medical examinations for new employees. In Poland, each employee should be examined by a physician specialised in occupational health before he/she starts work for a new employer. The cost of the examination is borne by the employer.
The written referral for a medical examination includes information about the job function and the applicable potential health risk factors (e.g. working with computers, underground work etc.).
Before 1 April 2015, each job change required a new medical examination, even if the job function and its conditions at the new employer remained unchanged. However, under the Amendment there is no longer a need to renew the medical examination if:
- the working conditions of the new role at the new employer are similar to the working conditions of the role with the previous employer; and
- the new employment starts within 30 days of the employee's previous employment terminating.
If the employee is re-recruited by the same employer, the above rules will also apply.
There is, however, an important restriction. The above simplification only relates to medical certificates issued on or after 1 April 2015. If the certificate was issued before 1 April 2015, a new examination will still be required. Therefore, the Amendment is unlikely to have an immediate impact and is likely to start affecting employment practices more significantly at a later date , as and when employees examined after 1 April 2015 decide to change jobs.
The Supreme Court strengthened the judgments on rules governing the termination of open-ended employment contracts. If an employer terminates an open-ended employment contract in Poland, he must do this in written form and provide a valid and real reason for termination. The employee is entitled to challenge the termination and submit a claim for reinstatement or monetary compensation to the Labour Court.
One of the most common reasons for termination is no ongoing need for the particular job function (similar to redundancy). Employers often provide this reason without mentioning further details as to why the role or the individual performing the role is no longer required within the business and what criteria were used in selecting the particular employee from among the other employees and job roles. Such practice is incorrect.
In a judgment issued on 20 January 2015 (I PK 140/14), the Supreme Court confirmed some of its decisions already issued in similar cases from as far back as 2013. The Court underlined that the employer is obliged to provide the terminated employee with the selection criteria used when identifying the person or role to be removed. The Court emphasised that, if the employer provides no such information in the termination notice, the employee would not be able to verify whether the criteria used were fair and objective.
Employers are, of course, entitled to make roles and employees redundant, reorganise the employment structure and choose those roles and employees at risk or no longer needed from among their personnel. Nevertheless, they should make a choice which is based on clear and comprehensive criteria such as: shortest employment record, worst performance and/or qualifications etc. If not, the affected employee may easily challenge the termination and may be awarded compensation in the Labour Court, which is likely to open the employer to unwanted costs and damage to its reputation.