9.05.2023 Labour law

Amendment to the Labour Code – the most important changes from 26 April

The amendment to the Labour Code of 9 March 2023, which introduced two EU directives into the Polish legal system, entered into force on 26 April 2023. Below we present a summary of the most important changes to labour law.

New rules on parental and carer’s leave

The Labour Code has implemented the Work-life Balance Directive by introducing solution which aim to improve the employees’ balance between private and professional life, including:

  • 9 weeks of parental leave to be taken by each parent individually, the right to this part of the leave is not transferable to the other parent;
  • maternity allowance for the entire period of parental leave for both parents in the amount of 70% of the basis assessment, subject to the exceptions specified in the act;
  • independence of the right to parental leave from the child’s mother remaining in employment (insurance) on the day of childbirth, which means that the child’s father now has the right to parental leave even if the child’s mother was not employed/insured (had sickness insurance) on the day of childbirth;
  • extension of parental leave –  in the case of a single birth, both employees are jointly entitled to a total of 41 weeks (previously 32 weeks),  in the case of multiple birth they are entitled to 43 weeks of leave (previously 34 weeks);
  • a change to parental leave to which a parent of a child in possession of a certificate of severe or irreversible impairment or an incurable life-threatening illness arose during the prenatal period of the child’s development or during childbirth –  the length of leave is, depending on the number of children born, from 65 weeks to 67 weeks;
  • shortening to 12 months the period during which the parent-father of the child can exercise  the right to paternity leave;
  • unpaid carer’s leave of 5 days per calendar year for an employee to provide care or support to a person who is a family member (son, daughter, mother, father or spouse) or living in the same household who requires care or support for serious medical reasons.

Read our practical guide – Guide – changes to labour law in 2023

Dismissal due to force majeure and additional breaks at work

Another pro-employee solution is a leave of absence from work due to force majeure amounting to 2 days or 16 hours in a calendar year, while retaining the right to 50% of the salary calculated in the same way as holiday pay. Leave of absence on grounds of force majeure is granted in the case of urgent family matters,  such as illness or accident, if an immediate presence of the employee is necessary.

In addition, employees will be entitled to two additional breaks included in working time:

  • a second break of at least 15 minutes, if the employee’s daily working time is longer than 9 hours,
  • a third break of at least 15 minutes if the worker’s daily working time is longer than 16 hours.

Right to request a change in working conditions

The new regulations allow an employee who has worked for a given employer for at least 6 months to apply once a year for a change in the type of contract into an employment contract for an indefinite period or for more predictable and safe working conditions.

The employer must respond to such a request within 1 month, and if the decision is negative, the employer is obliged to justify it in writing.

Probationary contracts under new rules

After the amendment, the length of the probationary period contract depends on what contract the employer intends to conclude with the employee after the probationary period.

Currently, employment contract for a probationary period may be concluded for a period not exceeding:

  • 1 month, with an intention to conclude a fixed-term employment contract of less than 6 months;
  • 2 months, with an intention to conclude a fixed-term employment contract of at least 6 months and less than 12 months.
  • 3 months in other cases, e.g. with an intention to conclude a contract for an indefinite period.

In addition, in a probationary contract, the employer and the employee may  agree to extend the duration of the contract by the duration of the employee’s leave and/or other justified absence from work, and  the renewal of the probationary employment contract with the same employee is only possible if a different type of work is performed than before.

Fixed-term contract – obligation to justify termination notice

Under the new regulations, from 26 April 2023, an employer terminating a fixed-term contract is obliged to provide a reason justifying termination of the contract. So far, such provision applied only to contracts of for indefinite period.

Thanks to this new solution, employees will gain opportunity to against termination of a fixed-term employment contract with a request for reinstatement to work. The additional obligation to notify the trade union organisation in writing of the planned termination of a fixed-term employment contract will also contribute to better protection of employees.

Employers obliged to provide employees with more information about terms and conditions of employment

As part of the amendment to the Labour Code, the  employer is  obliged to provide employees with much more information than before. Among other things, the obligation to inform all employees in the manner adopted by a given employer about:

  • opportunities for full-time or part-time employment,
  • promotion procedures,
  • vacancies.

In addition, the employer within 7 days of the employee’s admission to work should provide the  employee in writing or electronically with information on:

  • daily and weekly working time
  • overtime work and compensation for overtime.

The provisions on extended information obligation apply only to new recruits, but workers already in employment may  request such additional information.

Learn more: From April 26, changes in leaves and much more. The second amendment to the Labour Code in the Journal of Laws

Implementation of new solutions in the organization – how can we help?

New regulations that came into force on 26 April 2023 bring a number of new obligations for companies to fulfil. Actions that need to  be taken include: updating  systems of recording working time, developing new approach to the recruitment process (determine in advance how long the employer will want to employ an employee), assigning human resources to handle new requests and to carry out new HR duties.

Check the service: Labour law – comprehensive service for companies
Learn more: Guide – changes to labour law in 2023

Magdalena Wilkoszewska Director of The Labour Law Department, Attorney-At-Law
TGC Corporate Lawyers
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