When making your first Polish hire, termination policies might be far from your mind. But if you don't know the basics about terminations in Poland, you'll be sailing into a storm when you eventually part ways with a Polish employee.
Employees in Poland have strong protections against hasty or unwarranted dismissals. If you don’t adhere to minimum notice or pay requirements, all while failing to prove a just cause for involuntary termination of employment, you could be subject to wrongful dismissal claims from Polish courts.
Read on to learn everything you need to know before hiring Polish employees—and how hiring through an Employer of Record (EOR) can spare you from bungling any local dismissal requirements.
4 essential things to know before hiring in Poland
- You must establish terms of dismissal in your employment agreement. The offer letter to your Polish employee must include a termination clause that spells out the notice periods for termination of the employment contract. Make sure you’re complying with minimum statutory requirements. Otherwise, the fired employee may be entitled to a longer period of notice or bigger compensation packages under Polish civil law.
- Polish employment laws don’t recognize at-will employment. You can only immediately terminate employees for just cause.
- Terminated employees can choose to pursue wrongful dismissal claims. If an employee believes that their termination was unlawful (without a reason or not handled properly) or unjustified, they can challenge it in court. The challenge must be made within 21 days of the termination, and the burden of proof falls on the employer. If the employee successfully challenges the termination, they can choose between compensation or further employment through reinstatement. Different procedures apply to union members.
- In Poland, the right to severance pay depends on the size of the company. Severance is required for employees of companies with at least 20 workers; the amount of severance is also based on the terminated employee's tenure. Employees at smaller companies have no right to severance.
Termination rules in Poland: What are acceptable grounds for firing an employee?
The main ways to terminate an employment contract in Poland are by mutual agreement, termination without notice, and termination with notice.
- Termination by mutual agreement. The employer and employee agree to the terms of the termination 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 paternity leave.
- Termination with notice. When terminating an employment contract, one party declares their intent to end the employment relationship at the expiry of the notice period. Both the employee and employer must provide written notice of their intent to terminate the contract. For indefinite 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 without notice (disciplinary termination). This form of termination can take place immediately, but it requires a valid reason. Examples include:
- A serious breach of the employee’s basic duties.
- The employee committed an offense that prevents them from continuing to work in their current position. Note that there must be a valid court judgment.
- The employee has lost the license(s) required to perform their job through their own fault.
- Termination during the probationary period. Probationary periods of employment are not mandatory. If the employee is subject to a probationary period, Polish law requires a separate type of employment contract in addition to the regular contract of employment. This means that two contracts are drafted and executed for the employee—one fixed-term contract for the probationary period, which can last for up to three months, and one for an indefinite period or term if the employee stays in the role after the probationary period.
Probationary periods allow employers to evaluate a new hire’s suitability for a new job or a new type of work. Employers can terminate the employee during their probationary period with notice. The length of notice depends on the length of the probation.
Poland’s termination requirements might differ from those in other countries where you hire, and it’s crucial to keep your global hiring compliant with local laws.
What are the mandatory notice periods and termination pay for Polish employees?
Polish labor law establishes notice periods and severance pay. These are based on the length of employment or, in the case of probation or trial period contracts, the length of the probationary period. Workers are entitled to up to three months of notice and up to three months of severance pay. Payment in lieu of written notice is not allowed, except in certain cases.
Length of service
Less than 6 months with a given employer
6 months to less than 3 years
3 years or more
Probationary period - less than two weeks
Probationary period - 2 weeks to 3 months
Probationary period - more than 3 months
The easiest way to comply with Polish termination requirements
Keeping track of termination requirements gets complicated when employing a global workforce. Without any assistance, employers are required to manage conflicting just-cause considerations, probationary and notice periods, severance pay, and other labor code regulations that vary both within and among countries.
An alternative is to hire through an EOR, which can monitor termination requirements for you.
Frequently asked questions about terminating employees in Poland
Do you need a reason to terminate an employee in Poland?
If the termination is not by mutual agreement of the parties, then a reason is required. In the case of termination with notice, clear, and understandable justification is required. For terminations without notice (which are disciplinary in nature), there must also be a valid reason. This could be a failure to carry out the prescribed employee duties, committing a criminal offense that impacts the position, or losing a license required for the profession.
What is considered just cause for terminating an employee in Poland?
In Poland, termination of an employment contract with just cause is when an employee is let go for actions related to serious misconduct. This can include:
- Physical assault
- Sexual harassment
- Severe breaches of company policies
Poor performance or incompetence can be just cause for termination as well. Most workplaces try to correct less severe misconduct with verbal and written warnings and other measures.
Employers should ensure they have strong evidence of any serious breach of conduct before terminating an employee without the minimum required advance written notice.
What qualifies as wrongful dismissal in Poland?
In Poland, wrongful dismissal is when an employee is terminated without proper notice and reason. It can happen when an employer:
- Claims they’re firing an employee for cause but the actual reason is illegitimate or without proper evidence
- Changes working conditions to make them untenable and effectively coaxes an employee into resigning (this is known as constructive dismissal)
- Breaches Polish Labor Code regulations
Employees who believe they’ve been wrongfully dismissed can appeal in a Polish Labor Court. The employer must provide information about the employee’s right to appeal.
What is always required when an employer terminates an employee in Poland?
For termination with notice, the employer must provide:
- The reason for the termination in writing
- Information on the employee’s right to appeal before a labor court
Termination without notice:
- A letter explaining the reason for the termination
- An explanation of the employee’s right to appeal before a labor court
- This must be done within one month of the employer’s learning of the reason for termination
What is the law for dismissing a contractor in Poland?
The termination process for independent contractors in Poland can vary depending on the terms of the contract. Typically, either party may terminate by providing notice and/or severance as specified in the contract. Generally speaking, contractors do not receive many of the same entitlements as an employer.
If an independent contractor is found to be misclassified, they may be entitled to employment standards legislation protections and notice or severance pay.
What are layoffs in Poland?
In Poland, layoffs are known as redundancies. These occur when the employment contract is terminated for reasons that are unrelated to the employee. For example, bankruptcy, economic, organizational, or employment reduction. Individuals may also be made redundant, but the reason must be one of the above and not the employee's performance or conduct.
The act covering redundancies, whether collective or individual, applies only to employers with at least 20 employees. If there are fewer than 20, the employees may be dismissed on general terms. Employers must follow certain procedures and criteria when carrying out redundancies. For example, in the case of large redundancies, the employer should notify the local Labor Office. Consultations are also required with any relevant trade unions.
Collective redundancy covers a period of 30 days and is based on the number of workers the business employs (minimum 20):
- 10 employees where there are fewer than 100 workers
- 10% of employees where there are 100 but fewer than 300 workers
- 30 employees where there are at least 300 workers
An individual redundancy is not considered to be a collective redundancy (not enough employees).
There are a number of restrictions on collective redundancies for certain categories of employees. These include pre-retirement age employees, pregnant employees, those on maternity leave, and more. These restrictions do not apply in the case of bankruptcy or liquidation.
Severance payments for collective and individual redundancies depend on the length of service.
- One month’s salary (minimum remuneration or more) if employed for less than 2 years
- Two months’ salary if employed between two and eight years
- Three months’ salary if employed for more than eight years
The maximum amount of severance can not be more than 15 times the minimum wage applicable.
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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.