I.         Change in the labour law

Abolishing the obligation of the pre-employment health examination

II.        Planned amendments to the labour law

   1.         New rules regarding fixed-term contracts

   2.         Controls carried out by the PIP (the National Labour Inspectorate) without notice

III.      The most important case law

   1.         The determination of the remuneration in employment contracts

   2.         Mandate contracts with employees

   3.         Forwarding of business emails by employees to their personal email addresses

   4.         Unilateral amendment to the bonus regulations

I.         Change in the labour law

Abolishing the obligation of the pre-employment health examination

As of 1 April 2015, the provisions of the Act on Facilitations in Conducting Business Activity come into force that provide for the possibility of concluding contracts with an employee on the basis of a valid medical certificate that had been issued the employee's previous employer.

Such a possibility arises, if

  • the working conditions in the new position match those of the position for which the medical certificate was issued at the previous employer,

and, if

  • the employee is set to take up a new position within 30 days after the cessation of their previous employment.

Therefore, a new employer will not be obliged to refer a newly-hired employee for a pre-employment health examination in those cases in which the new hire can provide a valid medical certificate obtained at the previous employer, indicating no infringement on their ability to perform work in the work environment corresponding to that of the new position.

II.        Planned amendments to the labour law

   1.         New rules regarding fixed-term contracts

For a long time, discussions have been held with regard to a new regulation with regard to the conclusion and termination of fixed-term contracts. The changes being planned will concern in particular:

  • the duration of the fixed-term, whose maximum would be set at 33 months,
  • the same parties could enter into no more than three fixed-term contracts, with the fourth contract being considered as a contract for an indefinite period of time.

Current regulations do not limit the duration of the fixed-term contracts, but the third contract is considered as a contract for an indefinite period of time.

Furthermore, the new regulation will govern the termination of fixed-term contracts. The duration of the period of notice will be dependent on the employee's length of work for the employer, such as is currently the case of contracts for an indefinite period of time.

   2.         Inspections carried out by the PIP without a notice

One proposed amendment concerns removing an obligation on the part of the National Labour Inspectorate (PIP) to give a notice to employers about planned inspections.

Currently, regulations oblige the PIP to notify the employer about the inspection, with the PIP initiating the inspection not earlier than seven days and not later than 30 days from the date on which the notification about the planned proceedings was delivered.

Under current law, the PIP is exempt from providing employers with information about the planned inspection when it is necessary to prevent the commission of an offence, in case of an immediate danger for the employee’s life and health, or with regard to the legality of employment.

III.      The most important case law

   1.         The determination of remuneration in employment contracts

Poland's Supreme Court confirmed that the contract of employment must specify the amount of remuneration, taking into consideration contributions and tax. Determining the amount of remuneration as net amounts in the contract of employment is incorrect. The Supreme Court emphasized that the concept of remuneration in the amount of the gross or net does not exist in the country's labour law. Remuneration for work means the whole payment for work due to the employee under a contract of employment and also includes the part which the employer deducts as social security contributions and withholds as income tax. The employer is legally obliged to transfer only part of an employee's remuneration to the authority, ie. social security agency and tax office. The Supreme Court confirmed that an employer's potential overpayment of tax reduces the remuneration paid to the employee. Therefore, a tax refund should be made to the employee in such an event.

Legal source:

- Supreme Court verdict of 9 July 2014 (I PK 250/13)

   2.         Mandate contract with its employee

The Supreme Court held that an employer may conclude a mandate contract with its employee, but only with respect to those obligations that are not covered by the employee's employment contract. Otherwise, the mandate contract covering the same obligations covered by the contract of employment is contrary to labour and social security law and aims to circumvent those regulations. Thus, such mandate contract is void and in its place will come provisions of the labour law that could, for example, result in the employer facing an obligation to pay compensation for overtime. However, employers face no risk in concluding mandate contracts with employees if these contracts cover tasks other than those specified in the employment contract and which are not carried out under conditions typical for the contract of employment (subordination, instruction, etc.).

Legal source:

- Supreme Court verdict of 18 December 2014 (III UK 69/14)

   3.         Forwarding of business emails by an employee to personal email address

In this judgment, the Supreme Court held that the customer database of the economic operator is commercial information with a tangible economic benefit and as such constitutes a business secret.

Accordingly, the forwarding emails containing such a customer database by an employee from their official business email address to their personal email address without any justification associated with the performance of their work constitutes a serious violation of the employee's basic duties and justifies termination of the contract of employment without the need for the employer to issue a termination notice. Such an action on the part of an employee threatens the interests of the employer due to the risk of a third-party using the company's business secrets.

Legal source:

- Supreme Court verdict of 11 September 2014 (II PK 49/14)

   4.         Unilateral amendment to the bonus regulations

According to the existing case law, a bonus constitutes a component of an employee's remuneration. Therefore, it is not a subject to unilateral change by the employer, even if the bonus policy allows such a change.

In this case, the employer's existing bonus rules allowed the employer to reduce the bonus in a situation in which the employee achieved high sales results not as the result of their effort, but rather as the result of objective conditions. The Supreme Court declared such a provision of the bonus policy null and void. A unilateral amendment to the bonus conditions is not permitted, even if the employer wrongly defined the bonus rules for its employees in a non-market conform manner.

Legal source:

- Supreme Court verdict of 25 April 2014 (II PK 192/13)