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Hiring in Poland
The hiring and onboarding process in Poland is similar to the rest of the European Union, with a handful of key exceptions — or nuances. Poland has been an EU member country since 2004, but it is not part of the EU’s Monetary Union. Therefore, its local currency is still the Polish zloty (PLN).
Employment contracts in Poland
Employment contracts must be signed and employment must be registered with the Social Security Bureau (ZUS) within 7 days of commencement of work. In addition to the signed employment contract, a set of specific statements and forms are required for registration with the authorities. Contracts must be written in Polish and, at minimum, include the below elements:
- Relevant parties to the agreement: This names the employer and employee.
- Type of contract: This depends on the contract type.
- Date of execution: This is simply when the contract was signed.
- Employment terms and conditions: This includes the duties to be performed, place of work, working time, remuneration details — including variable compensation and bonuses, whether the position is full-time or part-time, the scope of duties, and the start date.
Contract types in Poland
There are 2 types of employment contracts:
- Fixed-term: Valid for up to 33 months and renewable up to 3 times
- Indefinite or “open-ended”
Employers may include a probationary period within a fixed-term and indefinite employment contract. The probationary period depends on the length of the fixed-term employment.
- 1 month – fixed-term contract for less than 6 months
- 2 months – fixed-term contract for more than 6 months but less than 12 months
- 3 months – in all other cases
Additionally, an employer must inform the employee, in writing and within 7 days of the date of contract execution, about certain employment terms if they are not already in the contract:
- Working hours
- Breaks at work
- Components of the employee’s remuneration
- Frequency of payment
- Annual leave entitlements
- Rules for terminating employment contracts
- Notice period for termination
- An employee’s right to training, if provided by the employer
- Information on the employee’s social security, including the name of the social security institution where employment-related contributions are to be paid
- Information on the employee’s PPK
- Daily and weekly rest entitlements
- Rules of overtime work and its compensation
Working hours in Poland
Normal working hours must not exceed 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week. Anything exceeding the agreed to working hours will be considered overtime. Labor law stipulates that overtime in any given year must not exceed 150 hours. Overtime is compensated based on an allowance schedule, paying 50% or 100% of gross pay on top of regular pay, depending on when the overtime occurred. Or it can be compensated with additional leave time — 1 hour of leave for every hour of overtime worked if additional leave is requested by the employee, or 1.5 hours of leave for every hour of overtime worked if the employer has determined to compensate with additional leave.
Holidays in Poland
Poland has 14 public holidays, including Pentecost Sunday, which is automatically a non-working day since Sundays are always non-working days in Poland. The additional holidays include:
- New Year’s Day
- Easter Sunday
- Easter Monday
- Labor Day/May Day
- Constitution Day
- Whit Sunday
- Corpus Christi
- Assumption Day
- All Saints’ Day
- Independence Day
- Christmas Day
- Second Day of Christmas
Vacation days in Poland
Employees are entitled to 20 or 26 days of paid leave, depending on tenure. Tenure is considered based on all periods of employment and education — not just with a current employer. Employees with less than 10 years of tenure are entitled to 20 days of leave while employees with 10 years or more of tenure are entitled to 26 days.
When leave is unused, it may be carried over to the following calendar year. There is a carryover period of up to 3 years. 4 on-demand days are included in this leave entitlement.
A few recent additional leave entitlements are also offered to employees:
- Unpaid caregiver’s leave of 5 days in a calendar year is provided for employees who must care for or support a direct family member (son, daughter, mother, father, or spouse), or someone who lives in the same household, with a serious medical condition.
- Leave of absence of 2 days or 16 hours in a calendar year is provided as excused absence due to a family emergency or “force majeure.” Employees may retain the right to 50% of the remuneration calculated in the same way as remuneration for regular annual leave of the same period.
Poland sick leave
Employees are also entitled to additional certified paid sick leave for long-term illnesses when ordered by a physician. This leave requires a formal statement from a doctor. In this case, the employer pays up to 33 days of sickness (or up to 14 days of sickness for employees who are 50 or older), and anything additional is paid for by the ZUS.
Parental leave in Poland
In Poland, parental leave is paid for by the ZUS. The length of maternity leave depends on the number of children born at one birth. The maximum length is 37 weeks in the event of giving birth to 5 or more children, while in the event of giving birth to only 1 child, it is 20 weeks. An employee, after having used at least 14 weeks of leave after the birth, is entitled to waive the remaining part of the leave. In this case, the employee’s partner must use the unused part of the maternity leave.
The non-birthing employee has the right to 2 weeks of leave to be taken before the child reaches the age of 12 months. It may be taken all at once or in 2 parts, but each part must be at least 1 week.
Employees have the right to additional parental leave in the amount of 41 weeks, or 43 weeks if 2 or more children are born. Both parents are entitled to the parental leave and they can use it at the same time. The total length of the leave must not exceed the above amounts. Each parent has the exclusive right to 9 weeks of parental leave from the above-mentioned amount of leave. This right cannot be transferred to another parent.
An employee who has been employed for at least 6 months has the right to take an unpaid childcare leave that must not exceed 36 months (including 1 month of the leave, which may only be used by the other parent). The leave is granted before the child reaches the age of 6.
Termination and severance in Poland
Employment contracts may always be terminated, with no penalty, by mutual consent between the employer and employee. Indefinite and fixed-term contracts are more difficult to terminate as they require legal grounds and justification for termination. Employees may challenge these reasons in labor court if they do not agree with them. Notice periods depend on the length of service.
The required notice during the probationary period is as follows:
- 3 working days if the probationary period does not exceed 2 weeks
- 1 week if the probationary period is longer than 2 weeks
- 2 weeks if the probationary period is 3 months
Required notice for fixed-term and indefinite contracts:
- 2 weeks if the employee has been employed for less than 6 months
- 1 month if an employee has been employed for at least 6 months
- 3 months if an employee has been employed for at least 3 years
It is important to note that the employer can only terminate by giving notice. Paying an indemnity in lieu of notice is not permitted.
The employer may shorten the 3-month notice to no less than 1 month only in instances of bankruptcy, liquidation, or other reasons attributable to the employer. In such cases, the employee still retains the right to compensation equal to the remuneration for the remaining part of the full notice period, which is known as garden leave.
Paying taxes in Poland
Employees must be registered with the ZUS within 7 days of the commencement of work. Poland’s social security system includes the following:
- Retirement insurance
- Medical insurance for general sickness
- Parental insurance
- Disability insurance
- Work accident insurance
- Death/funeral insurance
The employer’s social contribution is 21% remuneration. The employee’s social contributions total approximately 13.7% of monthly gross remuneration.
Additionally, there is an annual cap on the value of pension and disability contributions by the employer and employee collectively. In 2023, this total amount was set at PLN 208,050.
The employer must pay a mandatory contribution of 2.45% of the employee’s monthly gross pay to the Labor Fund and an additional 0.1% to the employee’s Guaranteed Benefits Fund. Both are related to unemployment benefits and are separate from the ZUS system.
While supplementary health insurance benefits are not compulsory, they have become more common in recent years. If the employee requests such benefits and the employer chooses to provide them, it can be facilitated in 2 ways:
- Combining the supplementary insurance policy with the provisioning of the mandatory preventative medical examination under a single contract with an Occupational Medical Center of choice.
- The employer may offer the employee an allowance toward a private insurance policy — PLN 300 to PLN 600 per month is recommended, depending on the medical center.
It is important to note that the additional medical insurance is considered income and is, therefore, subject to normal social contribution payments and tax.
Preventative medical examinations
All employees must take a preventative medical examination before commencing work to ensure that they are well enough to perform their job duties. The doctor will issue this certificate. This exam must be facilitated by the employer, meaning the employer pays and orders the exam via a formal “referral” process.
These exams are customized toward a specific trade and are performed by licensed physicians. The most prominent of such medical centers are Medicover, Lux Med, and Enel-Med. However, licensed occupational medicine doctors in standard medical centers around the country may also conduct these exams. If the employer plans to hire more than 10 employees, it is recommended that the employer sign a contract with one of these occupational medical centers since this is often a more cost-effective and efficient approach. While some medical centers will ask for a contract with the employer, generally it is not a requirement.
The expense of a preventative medical examination is between PLN 170-PLN 500 per employee and will depend on the number of requested tests and how many specialists are involved — for example, a company may need an eye specialist for an employee who works with a computer.
Occupational safety and health training
All employees are also required to undergo occupational safety and health training before commencing work to ensure they are educated about general safety laws and guidelines, as well as job-specific safety instructions, such as work health conditions, risks, and other wellness requirements. The overall occupational safety training program has 2 components, which are commonly referred to as “general training” and “toolbox talk”:
- “General training” is usually conducted by a specialized company that is certified in fundamental provisions of workplace health and safety as part of Poland’s wider labor code.
- The “toolbox talk” piece must be performed by an authorized internal representative who has in-depth knowledge about the job and what is needed to do it safely, the overall environment, its health risks, and the tools needed to minimize them.
The estimated expense of a complete occupational safety and training program is between PLN 150-PLN 300 per person, and no contract with the providing company is needed.
It is important to note that all employees must confirm, in writing, that they are familiar with the principles and provisions of health and safety at work.
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