This article provides a brief summary of the major developments in employment law that have already taken place, or are scheduled or announced in Poland in 2018.
By: Katarzyna Dobkowska, Marcin Sanetra
Firm: Raczkowski Paruch
Sunday trade ban
A partial ban on Sunday trade was introduced as of 1 March 2018 and will be gradually extended. In 2018, it does not include the first and last Sunday of the month and the Sundays before Christmas and Easter. In 2019, work on the first Sunday of the month will also be banned, and in 2020 work on all Sundays will be forbidden except for seven Sundays a year (two preceding Christmas, one preceding Easter and one per month in January, April, June and August). The ban applies not only to employees, but also to workers employed under civil law contracts (a status under Polish law that gives less protection than is afforded to employees).
Anti-corruption and anti-money laundering regulations
The introduction of new complex legislation on combating corruption is planned for late 2018. These regulations, to be included in an Act on transparency in public life, will impose new requirements on employers (that are medium-sized entrepreneurs) to introduce an anticorruption code, guidelines on the acceptance of gifts, a procedure for accepting reports from whistleblowers and a procedure for internal investigation. Failure to comply with them will be subject to financial penalties of up to PLN 10,000,000. Moreover, a specific status is to be introduced for whistleblowers (i.e. employees who report corruption in the workplace). The public prosecutor will have a right to provide protection from dismissal or from the imposition of worse employment terms to whistleblowers. This protection will be maintained for the entire criminal proceedings and for one year after their completion. The introduction of this legislation has been delayed and at the time of writing, the draft regulation is still in consultation.
An Act on counteracting money laundering and financing terrorism, enacted on 1 March 2018 and published on 12 April 2018, will come into force on 13 July 2018. It obliges entities in the financial sector to introduce client verification procedures, and their management boards to nominate one of their members to be responsible for the implementation of anti-money laundering obligations (subject to personal fines of PLN 1,000,000 for non-compliance).
Preparations for implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation in May 2018 have already been launched. At the time of writing, the draft of the new provisions on data protection is being processed by the Polish Parliament. Other legislation, including the Labour Code, is likely to be amended as a result of the GDPR to include specific data protection provisions.
Trade unions for contractors
The range of individuals allowed to create trade unions or join them (currently only employees) is believed to be likely to expand considerably in 2018. Work on new regulations in this area is underway: on 11 April a draft went to the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament, for a second reading. Their final form is not yet known, but the general direction of the changes is to give the right to create and join trade unions to individuals performing work on a basis other than employment, such as under civil law (mandate or service) contracts. Volunteers, interns and individuals who work without remuneration will also be able to join a trade union.
New types of permits for foreign workers
As of 1 January 2018 a new seasonal work permit (that may be issued for a maximum of nine months in a calendar year) has been introduced for individuals working in agriculture, forestry, hunting, fishing, hospitality and food services. Under the new permit, seasonal workers will not be restricted to a specific position. From 12 February 2018, two new types of temporary residence permits have also been introduced, both for the purposes of working as an intra-corporate transfer, enabling foreign nationals to work as managers, specialists or trainee employees at a host entity in Poland, as well as to move between different host entities in other EU Member States.
Quantitative limits on work permits for foreign nationals
Starting from 1 January 2018, the government may introduce quantitative limits specifying the maximum number of work permits, permits for seasonal work and declarations of intention to employ a foreigner, which may be issued in a given year by Polish offices. Limits concerning the number of particular work permits or declarations of intention to employ a foreigner may be specified separately for a given region, profession or even a given type of agreement under which a foreign national will work. A similar right to impose quantitative limits for temporary residence permits was introduced as of 12 February 2018. However, in practice at the time of writing, no limits for work or residence permits have been established.
Fines for the illegal employment of foreign nationals have increased in some cases up to PLN 30,000 (whereas previously the maximum fine was PLN 10,000). The list of minor offences for which such fines can be imposed was also extended to include, for example, employing a foreigner on the basis of declaration and failing to inform the relevant county’s employment office in writing. Work permit applications and residence permit applications for work purposes now have to be accompanied by a declaration that the employer has no criminal record, to be signed by the employer him or herself (domestic or foreign).
Changes to the procedure for declarations of intent to employ a foreign national
As of 1 January 2018, Offices for Foreigners were granted the ability to refuse registration of employer’s declaration of its intention to employ a foreign national. This is a solution limited to nationals from six countries in Eastern Europe, in particular Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, applicable for up to six months within a rolling period of 12 months. The right to refuse registration can be used, in particular, if the office suspects that an application was filed under false pretences or that the foreign worker intends to use the declaration for purposes other than working for the employer who filed for registration. In addition, this registration procedure is not available for types of work for which the newly introduced seasonal work permit may be obtained.
Increase in minimum wage
As of 1 January 2018, the minimum wage was raised to PLN 2,100 gross.