The government's bill to amend the Labor Code and certain other laws, aimed at implementing into Polish legislation the solutions provided for in EU directives, may significantly affect employees' rights and, correlating with them, employers' obligations. Among other things, the amendment provides for the expansion of rights related to parenthood, including through the extension of parental leaves (in the spirit of work-life balance), as well as revolutionary changes regarding the termination of employment contracts. Aiming to achieve the greatest possible transparency and predictability in employment - it also modifies the mandatory elements of the employment contract and significantly affects (expands) the employer's information obligations towards the employee.
The draft amendment clarifies and expands the catalog of mandatory elements of the employment contract. It assumes that - specifying the parties to the contract - it is mandatory to indicate the address of the employer's registered office, and in the case of an employer who is a natural person without a registered office - the place of residence. In principle, this change should be considered a reflection of established practice in the law - since the precise definition of both parties to the employment relationship is a market standard.
With regard to fixed-term contracts - probationary and fixed-term - the draft further provides for the obligation to indicate explicitly their duration or the date of their termination. This change should also be seen in terms of sanctioning the already existing state of affairs - employment contracts of this type in practice contain provisions precisely indicating their duration.
In the case of a contract of employment for a trial period, in connection with the amendment of the provisions regulating this type of contract, it is also to become mandatory to include provisions on:
-the extension of the contract for the period of vacation, as well as for the period of other excused absence of the employee from work, if such absences occur;
-the period for which the parties intend to conclude a fixed-term employment contract - if this period determines the permissible length of the probationary period (which, under the proposed regulations, is to be a maximum of 1 month if the intention is to subsequently conclude a fixed-term contract for a period of less than 6 months, or 2 months if the intention is to conclude such a contract for a period of less than 12 months);
extension of the contract concluded, in connection with the above-mentioned regulations, for a period of 1 or 2 months in case it is justified by the type of work.
Additional information related to employment
What should be considered revolutionary, however, is the change proposed in the amendment regarding the scope of mandatory additional information related to employment, which the employer is obliged to provide to the employee within 7 days (according to the draft amendment - from the date the employee is admitted to work, while currently - from the date the employment contract is concluded). According to the current legislation, it should include information on:
-the daily and weekly working time norms applicable to the employee;
-The frequency of payment of remuneration for work;
-the amount of vacation leave to which the employee is entitled;
-the applicable length of the notice period of the employment contract; and
-collective bargaining agreements to which the employee is covered.
In addition, if the employer is not required to establish work regulations, the supplementary information must also include information on night time; the place, date and time of payment of wages; and the method adopted by employees to confirm their arrival and attendance at work and justify their absence from work. In practice, the document prepared to implement the obligation to provide the employee with the above-mentioned information is usually one-page. In turn, the ratio legis of covering the above-mentioned elements with such - one-sided - information, is due to the organizational nature of its elements. In view of this nature, it is reasonable for the employer to have the discretion to shape them freely (but within the limits of the law). Employees, in turn, should be (and are) secure in their ability to obtain knowledge of them. However, as far as these elements are not regulated in the employment contract, their consent to modify them is not necessary.
According to the bill, the additional information - in addition to or in place of some of the elements listed above - is to include information about:
-The breaks to which an employee is entitled;
-the daily and weekly rest to which an employee is entitled;
-rules regarding overtime work and compensation for it;
-in the case of shift work - the rules on moving from shift to shift;
-in the case of more than one place of work - rules regarding movement between places of work;
-components of remuneration and benefits in cash or in kind other than those specified in the employment contract;
-the amount of paid leave to which the employee is entitled, in particular vacation leave or, if it is not possible to determine it at the date of providing the employee with this information, the procedures for granting and determining it;
-the applicable procedure for termination of the employment relationship, including the formal requirements, the length of notice periods and the time limit for appeal to the labor court or, if it is not possible to determine the length of notice periods on the date of providing the employee with this information, the method of determining such notice periods;
-the employee's right to training, if the employer provides it, in particular the general principles of the employer's training policy; and
the collective bargaining agreement or other collective agreement to which the employee is covered, and, if a collective agreement is concluded outside the workplace by joint bodies or institutions, the name of such bodies or institutions.
Any changes in the elements covered by the supplementary information should be communicated to employees immediately.
Following the proposed changes, employment-related supplementary information will take the form of an often multi-page and sometimes complicated document. What's more - since the elements it covers may change regularly, each time it is modified, it will create an obligation on the part of the employer to provide employees with an updated version of it. This, in turn, will generate additional and, it seems, unjustified bureaucracy at workplaces.
Moreover, according to the draft amendment law, in the case of employment contracts in force on the date of its entry into force, the employer will be obliged - at the request of the employee - to appropriately supplement (update) the additional information used by him within 3 months of the date of the employee's request.
There is also to be an obligation on employers to inform employees, no later than within 30 days from the date of admission to work, of the name of the social security institution to which social security contributions related to the employment relationship are paid and of the social security-related protection provided by the employer, as well as of any change in the address of the employer's headquarters or residence - in this case, no later than within 7 days.
Information obligations related to the referral of an employee abroad
The proposed legislative changes also concern obligations related to the referral of an employee abroad. The legislator, on the one hand, aims to extend the information obligations introduced in the Labor Code also to cases where an employee goes to work or to perform a business task to a country that is a member of the European Union (and not only to a country outside the European Union), and, on the other hand, to modify and expand the catalog of information provided to the employee.
According to the amendment, if an employee is sent abroad for a period exceeding 4 consecutive weeks, the employer will be obliged to provide him with information in advance about:
-the country or countries in which the work or business task abroad is to be performed;
-the expected duration of this work or business task;
-the currency in which the employee will be paid while performing the work or business task abroad;
-monetary or in-kind benefits related to the performance of the work or business task abroad, where such benefits are provided for in the labor law unless this is provided for in the employment contract;
-the provision or lack of provision for the return of the employee to the country;
-the conditions for the employee's return to the country - where such return is provided for.
In addition, notwithstanding the aforementioned, as well as the elements covered by the employment-related supplementary information, before posting an employee to work in another member state for a period exceeding 4 consecutive weeks, the employer is to be required to inform the employee of:
-labor remuneration payable under the law of the member state in the territory of which the employee is posted;
-the posting allowance or regulations on the reimbursement of expenses for travel, food and accommodation, where such benefits are provided for by labor laws, provisions of regulations, statutes, collective bargaining agreements or other collective agreements, or receivables for expenses related to business travel;
-a link to the official website, maintained by the Member State in whose territory the worker has been posted, containing information on the terms and conditions of employment that must be applied to posted workers.
As a general rule, the employer will be obliged to inform the employee of any change regarding the aforementioned elements immediately, but no later than the effective date of the change.
As in the case of additional information related to employment, in the case of employment contracts in progress on the date of entry into force of the amending law, the employer will be required - at the request of the employee - to provide information covering all of the aforementioned elements within 3 months from the date of the employee's request.