On February 13, 2018, the Act on Amendments of Certain Acts in Connection with Shortening the Period of Storage of Employee Files and their Electronisation was published. The date of its entry into force is January 1, 2019.

The Act amends the Labor Code, the Act on the Social Insurance System and the Act on Pensions and Disability Benefits from the Social Insurance Fund. New solutions shorten the period of storage of employee and payroll documentation and enable employers to keep and store employee documentation in electronic form.

Who are the new rules for?

Changing the form of keeping and storing employee documentation will be possible for all personal files. However, the retention period of the documentation will depend on the date of employment relationship establishment. The principles resulting from the Act are presented in the table below.

Date of employment relationship establishment

Period of retention of records

Form of keeping documents

Before January 1, 1999

50 years – it is not possible to shorten the period of documentation storage

Possible to change employee documentation form from paper to electronic form.

From January 1, 1999 to December 31, 2018

50 years – this period may be shortened to 10 years, providing that the employer submits an information report to Social Security Office

From January 1, 2019

10 years

Shorter period of storage of documentation

One of the most important changes is shortening the period of storage of employee documentation to 10 years instead of the current 50 years. This period will count from the end of the calendar year in which the employment relationship expired or has been terminated. The above deadline will be extended if the stored documentation will constitute or could constitute evidence in proceedings.

Due to shortening the period of storage of the documentation, the employer will be required to provide the employee, in paper or electronic form, with information about: the period of storage of the employee documentation, the employee’s right to collect the documentation by the end of the calendar month following the expiry of the storage period and the destruction of the documentation if it is not collected. The information should be provided to the employee together with the work certificate.

An information report will enable to shorten the period of storage of the documentation for the employees, whose employment relationship with the employer was established between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2018. The storage period will be shortened to 10 years, counted from the end of the calendar year in which the report was submitted. The report will be summarise the information regarding the employee including: information regarding paid income, the necessary to define basis for pension or disability benefit, information on the work in the special conditions and information on the date, the way and legal basis of terminating the employment relationship as well as the information on whose initiative it was to terminate the employment.

The employer will be able to submit to the Social Security Office at any time a declaration of the intention to submit information reports. Submitting a declaration will result in the necessity to submit information reports for all the employees. Only then the documentation storage period can be shortened.

In order to enable an employer to store an employee’s documentation for a shorter period of time, the data necessary to determine the right to social security benefits and its amount will have to be collected by the Social Security Office in personal individual accounts. This data will be provided by the employer (i) in current individual reports and together with deregistration of the employee from social security or (ii) in a special information report. In consequence, the catalog of data provided by the employer to the Social Insurance Office in the notification of de-registration of the employee and in the individual monthly report on due contributions and paid benefits (ZUS RCA) will be extended. For example, the first of these documents will include the date, the method of termination of the last employment relationship, the legal basis for the termination or expiry of the last employment relationship and information on whose initiative the employment relationship has been terminated.

Electronic files only with qualified signature

Pursuant to the Act, an employer will also be able to change the form in which an employee’s documentation is kept and stored, from paper to electronic form and vice versa.

Changing the form of an employee’s documentation from paper to electronic will be done by making a digital copy, in particular a scan, and signing it with a qualified electronic signature or a qualified electronic seal of the employer or a qualified electronic signature of the person authorized by the employer.

The employer will have to inform current and former employees about the change of the documentation storage form, notifying them at the same time about the possibility of collecting the previous form of the employee documentation within 30 days. In the event of the death of an employee or former employee, the right to collect the previous form of employee documentation will be vested in the family members mentioned in the Act.

Regardless of the changes described above, the Act additionally reverses the current rule of payment of remuneration directly into the employee's hands. Now, payment to the bank account indicated by the employee will be the basic form of payment of remuneration. The bank account number will be processed by the employer as the employee’s personal data regardless of the employee's consent. Within 21 days of entry into force of the Act, the employer will have to inform his employees who received their remuneration directly in cash about the obligation to indicate a bank account number or to submit a request for further payment of the remuneration in cash.

The Act does not specify many practical issues connected to the storage of the documentation and change of form of the documentation. Therefore, we are waiting for the project of the regulation that will specify the particular duties of the employer and will clarify a number of practical questions arising from the amendment.