The Polish Labour Code has recently been subject to two changes. New rules were introduced on fixed-term contracts and on parental leave. The maximum duration of an employment contract for a definite period was introduced – at 33 months, and the catalogue of parental leave was simplified.
The government is now working on further changes to the labour law. The most controversial plan is the introduction of a minimum hourly wage for people employed on civil law contracts (service contracts). Currently, a person employed on an employment contract must receive at least the minimum wage – 1850 PLN in 2016. This does not apply to contractors, so they can work for lower rates. Now the government wants to change that. Pressure from the public and from the unions is strong, especially after it emerged that e.g. security guards are paid starvation wages. The plan is still at a very early stage; however, we can be certain that changes will be made, despite the opposition of employers’ organisations. The government is planning a radical revolution and systemic changes to the Labour Code. By the end of 2017 a new draft Labour Code is to be prepared by a specially appointed codification committee. The changes will cover the following issues, among others:
- Presumption of employment – employers will have to demonstrate that they acted properly if a person is employed on the basis of a civil law contract and not an employment contract. The labour inspector will be able to demand the execution of an employment contract, if he considers it appropriate.
- Higher compensation for employees – employers will have to pay higher compensation for unlawful termination of employment. Currently such compensation is capped at the salary for the notice period, e.g. 3 months.
- Unannounced inspections by the labour inspectorate – labour inspectors will be able to carry out a wider range of inspections without notice. Currently the inspector must give notice, and sudden inspections may take place only in exceptional cases (e.g. in the event of imminent danger to life, health or the environment).
- Higher fines for non-compliance – employers will have to pay very high fines for violations of the labour law. The current penalties (max. PLN 30,000) are considered to be quite low.
This is only an outline of the proposed changes. We will be better able to determine their scope and potential impact on business when the government has made concrete proposals.