28.03.2023 Remote work

Labour Code amendment signed by the President

On March 23, 2023, the President signed a bill amending the Labour Code and certain other laws. This is the largest labour law amendment in years. Among other things, the act implements the EU work-life balance and parental directive. What will change?

The amendment to the Labour Code provides for major changes in the rights and obligations of employees. It also includes many regulations on remote work. Most of these changes are very advantageous for employees. The law will come into force 21 days after the date of its announcement.

Amendment to the Labour Code – implementation of EU directives

The amendment also implements two EU directives with pro-parent and pro-worker provisions. These are Directives 2019/1152 of the European Parliament and of the Council (EU) of June 20, 2019 on transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union, and Directive 2019/1158 of June 20, 2019 on work-life balance for parents and caregivers and repealing Council Directive 2010/18/EU. The deadline for their implementation was early August 2022.

Extension of parental leave by 9 weeks and maternity benefits

The amendment to the Labour Code introduces a non-transferable parental leave of up to 9 weeks for each parent. It will thus increase from 32 to 41 weeks (from 34 to 44 in the case of multiple births). For parents of children with a certificate of terminal illness or severe disability which has arisen prenatally or during childbirth, parental leave will increase to 65-67 weeks.

If either parent does not use the extra weeks, the leave will be forfeited. Thus, it will not be possible to transfer these days to the mother in case the father does not use them. Importantly – the father’s right to parental leave will be independent of whether the child’s mother was employed (insured) on the day of birth.

Under current regulations, maternity benefit for the first 6 weeks of parental leave is paid at 100% of the benefit base and 60% for the remainder. The new regulations introduce a maternity benefit for both parents in the amount of 70% of the benefit base for the additional 9 weeks of leave.

Additional days off – care leave and leave due to force majeure

Employees will be entitled to unpaid care leave of 5 days per calendar year to provide personal care or support to a family member (children, spouse and parents). It will also be possible to take such leave to assist a person living with the employee who requires care or support for serious medical reasons.

The Labour Code amendment also introduces the possibility of taking time off from work “due to force majeure.” It will be possible to use them for urgent family matters of 2 days or 16 hours per calendar year with the right to half pay.

Changes in non-competition – regulation of work for multiple employers

Under the new regulations, an employer cannot prohibit an employee from working for more than one entity. Thus, an employee will be able to simultaneously remain:

  • in an employment relationship with another employer or
  • in a legal relationship that is the basis for the provision of work other than an employment relationship.

Thus, an employee has the right to work for another entity under:

  • contract of employment
  • cooperative employment contract
  • civil law contract
  • appointment
  • nomination
  • election.

The employer will not have the right to terminate the employment contract or to terminate it without notice on account of being in an employment or similar relationship with another entity.

Exception: the prohibition on working for multiple employers applies only if the employee has entered into a non-competition agreement with the employer. The employee will then not be allowed to work for a different entity or to conduct activities that compete with the current employer.

Changes to probation contracts

Under the new regulations, the length of the probationary contract that the company intends to conclude with the employee after the probationary period, determines the maximum duration of the probationary period. These contracts will be allowed to be concluded for a period not exceeding:

  • 1 month – with a fixed-term employment contract of less than 6 months (possibility of extension by max 1 month)
  • 2 months – for a fixed-term contract of at least 6 months and less than 12 months (possible extension by max 1 month)
  • 3 months – in other cases (e.g., with a contract of indefinite duration).

Obligation to justify termination of a fixed-term contract

Once the amendment comes into force, the employer will be required to justify the termination of fixed-term contracts. If the employee is in a labour union, the termination of such a contract will have to be consulted with the union. The change seems to be very unfavourable for employers, as it will be way more difficult to terminate fixed-term contracts. New regulations provide employees with a greater job stability. If a dismissal is appealed in court, the employee will be able to claim not only compensation, but also reinstatement. Dismissed individuals are to have greater chances for success in court, since they will be able to challenge the reason for termination given by the employer.

Request to change the type of contract to an employment contract – greater stability of employment

Employees who have been employed for at least 6 months will be entitled to request a change in the type of contract to a fixed-term contract or more stable and secure working conditions once a year. Employer should grant the request if possible. If a request is denied, employer is obliged to indicate the reason.

Greater flexibility of working hours

Labour Code amendment allows wider use of flexible work arrangements. Employee will be able to organize working hours according to her/his individual needs. One can choose e.g., remote work, flexible working time, a shortened work week, intermittent or task-based working time. The following individuals will be entitled to flexible working hours:

  • employees caring for or supporting a relative or person living with the employee who requires substantial care or significant support for serious medical reasons
  • parents or guardians of children under the age of 8

In case of a refusal, the employer will have to provide a written justification for not agreeing to flexible work arrangements.

Those raising children under the age of 8 will have to agree for:

  • overtime or night work
  • inclusion in the intermittent working time system
  • business trips.

The employer will not be allowed to decide for employee.

What else does the Labour Code amendment implement?

The amendment also introduces a number of other changes, including:

  • greater protection from dismissal for parents of young children
  • longer work breaks (extended by up to 30 minutes)
  • expanded information about the terms and conditions of employment (e.g., the length of paid leave)

The Labour Code amendment is revolutionary. The labour market has raised many questions about how to implement the changes. Many issues are confusing to the employers. The amendment poses many challenges for employers, so the sooner you start to prepare your organization for the implementation of new regulations, the smoother the process will be.

Labour Code amendment – see how we can help:

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