Minimum Salary Raise

Poland's minimum salary for work in 2012 has been fixed at 1,500 PLN (previously 1,384 PLN). It indicates the lowest permitted amount of remuneration which a worker employed on a full-time basis may receive in every month of work. Besides the base salary, bonuses, allowances etc. are also counted against the mandatory minimum salary, but only in the month in which they are paid. Thus, high bonuses paid every several months will count only towards the minimum in the month of payment. They will not compensate for lower salaries paid in other months.

Employee Available by Telephone Within an Hour's Drive to Work Is on Call

According to the judgment of the Supreme Court of 9 December 2011 (II PK 115/11) an employee obligated to remain available by telephone and to appear at work within an hour from receiving a call is "on call." Being on call must not interfere with the employee's right to rest. This is the case even if the employer does not indicate any specific place for the employee to stay at while on call - it is sufficient that the employer specifies the time within which the employee should reach work when called. In consequence, when obligating an employee to be available by telephone, one should remember not to breach the periods of rest guaranteed to employees by the Labour Code - in principle 11 hours daily and 35 hours weekly.

Construction Worker's Place of Work May Be Defined Broadly

Construction sites operated by the employer in a given area (even all of Poland) may be indicated in the employment agreement as a construction worker's place of work. Each time, the actual work place will be the construction site to which the employee is currently assigned. It will change automatically with assignment to the next construction site. If the employee happens to travel from the current construction site to another site, he is considered "on business trip" outside of his place of work and therefore is entitled to business travel benefits. This view has been presented by the Supreme Court in the resolution of 9 December 2011 (II PZP 3/11).

Tags: Travel

Longer Leaves for Parents

As of 1 January 2012 the amount of leave available to employees in connection with parenthood increased. The supplementary maternity leave which a female employee may use after finishing the regular maternity leave (20-37 weeks based on the plurality of pregnancy) is currently 4 weeks in case of a single birth and 6 weeks in case of the birth of two or more children. The paternity leave available to an employee raising a baby has been extended too - it is 2 weeks now.

New Regulations Against Employing Illegal Immigrants

Sejm (the lower chamber of the Parliament) has adopted a bill on the consequences of employing foreigners who are staying illegally in the Republic of Poland. The act will enter into force once it is accepted by the Senate and signed by the President. It obligates the employers to demand from prospective foreign employees a confirmation of the right to stay in the country and sets forth penalties, also for legal entities, for employing illegal immigrants. At the same time it lays down provisions facilitating the pursuit of claims for unpaid remuneration by immigrants against employers.

Tags: Migration

Pre-Retirement Protection in Case of Fixed-Term Contract

The pre-retirement protection applies in case of a fixed-term contract only if the contract is supposed to expire after the employee reaches the retirement age. If not, there are no obstacles to serve a notice of termination (Supreme Court judgment of 27 July 2011, II PK 20/11). If the protection does apply, that is when the contract is supposed to expire after the employee reaches the retirement age, and the employer breaches it by giving the employee a termination notice, he only risks paying monetary compensation. According to the judgment of 9 January 2012 (II PK 82/11), the employee may not demand reinstatement in the job. Despite the protection, there is no duty to reinstate the employee, because the principle is that termination upon notice of a fixed-term employment contract, even in breach of law, only gives the employee a claim for compensation.

Outstanding Vacation Leave May Be Granted Until the End of September

Outstanding vacation leave may be granted until the end of September. Previously it had to be granted until the end of March. Despite some discussions on whether this deadline applies already to 2011 vacation leave or only to vacation leave acquired in 2012, eventually the view has prevailed that vacation leave from 2011 is already covered by the new law. It should be noted that it is the employer's duty to grant leave during the year in which the employee has acquired the right to it, and only in particular cases listed in the Labour Code it is possible to deviate from this rule and defer the leave until the following year.

Tags: Vacation

Employer May Not Demand List of Union Members

Pursuant to the resolution of the Supreme Court of 24 January 2012 (III PZP 7/11) a trade union may refuse to provide the employer with a list of union members, and such refusal does not release the employer from the obligation to consult the union in individual employee matters. In effect, every time the employer intends to give a notice of termination to an employee employed for an indefinite period of time, they should ask the union whether this employee is a member. If they are, the consultation is the second step of the procedure. The Supreme Court justifies its position on the grounds of the protection of employees' personal data, which include information on whether an employee is a union member.

Fixed-Term Contract Under "Anti-Crisis" Law

According to Article 13 of the so-called "anti-crisis law" Act of 1 July 2009, employment on the basis of a fixed-term contract may not exceed 24 months. The act came into force on 22 August 2009, so employment on the basis of contracts concluded on or before that day exceeded the 24 months' limit on 22 August 2011. The act itself does not determine legal consequences of such excess. It is argued that on this date those contracts converted into agreements for indefinite period of time.

No Written Warnings in Personal Files

All documentation related to employment of employees should be kept in their personal file. However, the contents of the file are strictly regulated and only documents recognized by the law can be stored there. The content of personal files is regulated in the Regulation of the Labour and Social Security Minister of 28 May 1996. The Supreme Court emphasized that, in particular, it is not allowed to keep in personal files any informal, written warnings not provided for by the Labour Code (judgment of 23 November 2010, I PK 105/10). The Court stated that preparing and keeping such warnings or informal disciplinary notes may lead to circumvention of the law that enumerates penalties which can be imposed on employees.