Hiring employees globally gives you access to highly coveted talent around the world, but it can be a tall order for employers to familiarize themselves with the nuances of local regulations. When hiring in Poland, it’s crucial to understand Polish labor laws, especially around benefits, workers’ rights, and proper hiring procedures. Polish compliance work can get even more tricky since employers are also subject to European Union regulations.
So how do you navigate through the web of Polish and EU workplace regulations and keep track of all the changes that affect your business? This guide will provide you with the basics so you can confidently hire from Poland’s talented labor pool.
1. At-will employment doesn’t exist
In Poland, you can only terminate an employee without notice for “just cause,” which requires a high burden of proof. These types of terminations, which are also known as disciplinary terminations, are used in cases of serious misconduct or criminal activity. An employee may be rightfully terminated if they repeatedly fail to perform the duties required of their job. Moreover, if an employee is convicted of a criminal activity that prevents them from performing their job (losing their driver’s license due to a DUI) they can also be subject to termination.
The employment contract may also be terminated by mutual agreement. It can include agreed-to compensation and severance pay, but this must be done in writing.
2. Misclassifying employees is an expensive mistake
Employees work exclusively under the direct supervision of an employer for an indefinite time period and are entitled to benefits. Contractors are self-employed, work independently on a fixed-term contract, and are not entitled to benefits. Mixing these worker categories can result in misclassification penalties. Employers found to have misclassified employees as contractors in Poland face fines of up to PLN 30,000 (€6,627 or $7,083) in each instance, plus backpay, back taxes, and retroactive benefits for up to five years, including interest.
3. Poland has strong anti-discrimination protections
The Polish Constitution guarantees anti-discrimination protections, with equal rights and equal treatment serving as fundamental principles of labor law. It is strictly prohibited to discriminate against individuals based on their sex, age, disability, religion, nationality, race, political views, trade union membership, or any other factors. In cases where anti-discrimination protections are breached, the burden of proof is on the employer. The employee only has to substantiate the event/circumstance. The employee can claim compensation of no less than the Polish monthly minimum wage of PLN 3600 (€795 or $850)—effective July 1, 2023.
4. Hiring illegal workers could cost you a bundle
If you’re considering recruitment or expansion of your company's activities in Poland, it is critical to ensure that all employees have the proper work authorization. Hiring foreign workers without the proper permits and visas is against the law and can result in fines and other penalties. If found liable, the employer faces a fine of up to PLN 30,000 (€6,627, $7,083) plus arrears for an employment contract equal to three months including salary, benefits, and taxes. In addition, the employer may lose access to Polish and EU subsidies and funds. As for the worker, they may be deported and fined. If the worker is deported, the employer may have to cover repatriation costs.
5. Polish workers have the right to unionize
In Poland, the freedom of association in trade unions is ensured for all individuals engaged in paid employment. A trade union can be established by a minimum group of 10 workers who possess the right to form trade unions. They have the authority to determine, at their own discretion, the individuals (categories, groups, professions) who will be eligible for membership in the union.
Employers and unions establish collective labor agreements (collective bargaining agreements), which outline and govern conditions of employment like type of work, working week, working days, working time, rest periods, night-time work and place of work.
6. If you fail to offer benefits, you’ll face fines, penalties, and legal consequences
Polish employees are entitled to a number of mandatory benefits as set out by the constitution and labor code. These include: pension, health insurance, employee capital plan (PPK), social security, occupational health and safety (OHS) training, employment insurance, vacation time, and statutory holidays. Failure to offer these benefits can result in fines and other sanctions. For example, failure to provide OHS training can result in a fine of up to PLN 30,000 (€6,627 or $7,083).
7.Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are legally binding in Poland—with restrictions
In Poland, NDAs are legally used by companies to protect trade secrets and other proprietary information. One caveat is that the NDA must not violate any existing laws or regulations. NDAs must be reasonable and not used to obstruct criminal behavior. These agreements can be a separate document or included as a clause in a Polish employment contract.
8. Workplace health and safety standards are the responsibility of the employer
The right to safe and healthy working conditions is enshrined in the Polish Constitution and defined in the Polish Labour Code. The onus of meeting occupational health and safety requirements is on the employer. Sexual harassment, bullying (mobbing) and discrimination in the workplace is illegal in Poland and can result in legal action. The employer is obligated to investigate any harassment complaints.
9. You must protect your employees’ personal information
In Poland, strict laws protect employee rights concerning personal data. The handling of private data is regulated by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Poland’s Protection of Personal Data Act. All requests for data (in the case of background checks) must comply with the act, the GDPR, and the Polish Labour Code. Employers must maintain records of data collection and usage.
10. Companies operating in Poland must ensure pay transparency
In 2023, the EU adopted new rules on pay transparency. The aim of these regulations is to combat pay discrimination and close the gender pay gap. Employers will be required to share information on the amount of remuneration and take action if their gender pay gap is more than 5%. The directive also contains requirements regarding compensation for victims of wage discrimination, as well as penalties for employers found to be in violation of these regulations. EU member nations have three years to add the directive to national regulations, when it will go into effect.
Frequently asked questions about Polish labour laws
What is the minimum wage in Poland?
As of July 1, 2023, the monthly minimum wage in Poland is PLN 3,600 (€793 or $850). Hourly minimum remuneration is PLN 23.5 (€5.18 or $5.55).
What are the overtime laws in Poland?
In Poland, the Ministry of Family and Social Policy defines overtime as work exceeding eight hours in a single day or exceeding 40 hours in a week. There are limits on daily, weekly, and yearly overtime hours. Pregnant employees and minors are not allowed to work overtime. Workers who are caring for a child (up to the age of four) may work overtime, as long as they agree. The same regulations apply to part-time workers.
Daily limits: Working hours, including overtime, must not exceed 13 hours per day.
Weekly limits: Working hours, including overtime, must not exceed 48 hours. This ensures that employees do not consistently work excessively long hours over a short period of time.
Annual limits: Employees cannot work more than 150 overtime hours in a calendar year.
Under certain circumstances, it is possible to establish a different number of overtime hours in a calendar year. However, it is important to note that despite any variations allowed, the average weekly working time limit cannot exceed 48 hours.
In the case of employees engaged in an equivalent working time system, overtime work includes the following:
- Working more than eight hours in a day, if the employee's scheduled working time for that day is eight hours or less, as per their applicable working time schedule.
- Working beyond the extended time (more than eight hours) of the daily working time specified in the employee's working time schedule.
- Working an average of more than 40 hours per week within a reference period.
Employees must be paid their regular wage for each hour of overtime work, plus:
50% additional remuneration:
- For overtime on regular workdays (including "working" Sundays and holidays). If the overtime is considered night-time work, the additional rate increases to 100%.
- For overtime work on a day off (five-day work week).
- For overtime on non-working days compensating the increase in the daily working time above eight hours (equivalent working time system).
100% additional remuneration:
- For night work hours.
- For hours worked on Sundays and public holidays which are scheduled days off for the employee.
- For hours worked on a day the employee received for working on a Sunday or public holiday.
- When work exceeds the average 40-hour weekly working time standard.
Overtime work may also be compensated with time off or a lump sum payment in special cases.
What are the required benefits in Poland?
All full-time Polish workers are entitled to the following statutory benefits:
- Pension insurance
- Disability insurance
- Unemployment insurance
- Work accident insurance
- Employee capital plan (PPK)
- Public holidays
- Sick leave
- Maternity leave
- Paternity leave
- Parental leave
- Annual leave
- Other employee benefits and entitlements listed in the labor code
Failure to offer these mandatory benefits could result in fines and criminal liability for the employer.
For more information on mandatory benefits in Poland, read our complete guide.
How do I terminate employees in Poland?
Terminating employees might not be at the top of your to-do list, but you should be aware of the necessary steps before assembling your team in Poland.
Since at-will employment isn’t recognized in Poland, the main ways to terminate an employment contract are by mutual agreement, termination without notice, and termination with notice.
Termination of employment by mutual agreement. The employer and employee agree to termination terms in writing. This can include notice, additional compensation, and severance pay. Mutual agreements are not subject to special protections, as in the case of pregnancy or parental leave. For more on mandatory notice periods and termination pay for Polish employees see our guide.
Termination of employment with notice. When terminating an employment contract, one party declares their intention to conclude the employment relationship at the end of the notice period. Both the employee and employer must provide written notice of their intent to terminate the contract. For indefinite period contracts terminated by the employer, the notice of termination letter must state the reason for termination and inform the employee of their right to appeal the decision before a labor court.
Termination of employment without notice (disciplinary termination). This form of termination can take place immediately, but a valid reason in such cases is required. Some examples:
- A serious violation of the employee’s basic duties (for example, poor performance of work).
- The employee committed an unlawful act that prevents them from continuing to work in their current job (there must be a valid court judgment).
- The employee has lost the license(s) required to perform their work through their own negligence.
Termination during the probationary period. Probationary or trial periods are covered by a separate fixed-term type of employment contract. They allow employers to assess a recent hire’s suitability for a new job. Employers can terminate the employee during their probationary period with notice. The length of notice depends on the length of the probation.
Want to know more about Polish termination requirements—including notice periods and wrongful dismissal claims? Refer to our guide.
Hire and onboard Polish employees with Rippling
If you're hiring employees, independent contractors, or remote workers in Poland, you need Rippling.
Rippling makes it easy to onboard and manage employees and contractors around the world.
Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, accounting, or legal advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.