The employment relationship

Country specific laws

What laws and regulations govern the employment relationship?

In principle, the Labour Code governs employment relationships in Poland.

Who do these cover, including categories of worker?

The Labour Code covers employees who are employed:

  • for a trial period;
  • for a definite term; and
  • for an indefinite term.

Misclassification

Are there specific rules regarding employee/contractor classification?

Yes, employment contracts cannot be replaced with civil law contracts which determine working conditions (ie, work  performed under the employer’s supervision at a time and place specified by the employer).

Contracts

Must an employment contract be in writing?

Employment contracts should be executed in writing. Where an employment contract has not been executed in writing, prior to permitting the employee to perform their work duties, the employer must confirm to the employee, in writing:

  • the parties to the contract;
  • the type of contract; and
  • its terms and conditions.

Are any terms implied into employment contracts?

If an employer sends an employee a unilateral letter in which it offers the employee a salary increase, this will be binding. The same rule applies to any internal regulations which are more favourable for an employee than those of their employment contract. If certain benefits are granted informally without written documentation, there will be a risk that such benefits may become part of the employment relationship.

Are mandatory arbitration/dispute resolution agreements enforceable?

An arbitration clause which applies to disputes that fall within the subject matter and scope of the Labour Code may be drawn up only after a dispute has arisen and must be made in writing.

How can employers make changes to existing employment agreements?

If an employer intends to change important terms of an employment contract or introduce a change which is detrimental to the employee, it must obtain the employee’s consent or follow the formal procedure which applies to unilateral changes to an employment contract. The procedure for serving a unilateral notice is similar to that which applies to notices of termination (ie, the employer must observe a notice period, the notice must be in writing and, in the case of a change to an indefinite term employment contract, the employer must have a justifiable reason for doing so).

Foreign workers

Is a distinction drawn between local and foreign workers?

EU and European Economic Area citizens are entitled to work under the same terms as Polish citizens. Individuals from other countries must apply for work permits. There is some preferential treatment for citizens of countries neighbouring Poland (eg, Ukraine).