On 1 January 2012 Poland will introduce new legislation principally aimed at cutting red tape and easing restrictions on doing business in Poland. One of the proposed changes will, however, affect the rules governing the carry-over of unused holiday from one year to the next.  

As things currently stand the Polish Labour Code provides that employees must use any outstanding holiday from one leave year by 31 March of the following year. This frequently causes disruption to businesses, as staff seek to take their unused holiday in the run-up to 31 March each year. This deadline is also frequently inconvenient for employees who are forced to take leave at a time not of their choice. A more flexible solution was therefore sought.  

In an attempt to address these concerns the new legislation will extend the deadline for taking unused holiday by six months, from 31 March to 30 September of the following year.  

So how should employers treat outstanding holiday for 2011? Unfortunately there are no transitional provisions in the legislation. The State Labour Inspectorate has issued its initial guidance on this point stating that it is only in 2013 that the new carry-over provisions will kick in, but many lawyers are of the opinion that the new legislation means that employees who have outstanding holiday from 2011 will no longer be required to take it by 31 March 2012, but will instead have until 30 September 2012.  

Employers should ensure they are aware of these provisions and any documentation is changed to reflect them. The provisions governing annual leave entitlement and the procedure for requesting leave will remain unchanged.