13.03.2023 Labour law

Work-life Balance Directive — the Labour Code amendment waiting for the President’s signature

We know the final version of the Labour Code amendment. On 8 March, senators introduced amendments to the bill, and on 9 March the Sejm approved some of them of mostly editorial and refining nature. Now, the future of the amendments lays with the hands of the President. The act will implement two EU directives — on transparent and predictable working conditions and the Parental Leave Directive.

At the session on 8 March 2023, the Senate, after examination of the Act amending the Labour Code and certain other acts adopted by the Sejm, introduced a total of 45 amendments out of which 18 were approved by the Sejm. Then, the act was sent to the President for his signature.

The proposed legislation addresses a number of important issues for workers and employers, including the rules on parental and carer’s leave, the provision of flexible working time arrangements and the obligation to inform workers about employment conditions. What changes will employees and their employers face soon?

Parental and carer’s leave

The Senate proposed a number of amendments to the Act adopted by the Sejm regarding the parental and carer’s leave. The senators removed, among others, the provisions stating that carer’s leave should be unpaid. The Sejm rejected this Senate amendment. So, what are the rules for granting those leaves?

Unpaid carer’s leave

Carers’ leave will be an unpaid leave of 5 days per calendar year with an aim to provide personal care or support to a relative (son, daughter, mother, father or spouse) or a person in a common household who needs care or support for serious medical reasons.

Parental leave

The father’s right to parental leave will be conditional on the child’s mother remaining in employment (having insurance) on the day of childbirth. A non-transferable part of parental leave of up to 9 weeks will be introduced for each parent individually, as well as a 70% maternity allowance for the entire period of parental leave for both parents.

The employee has the right to parental leave up to the child’s 6th birthday and the total parental leave for both parents will be:

  • up to 41 weeks — for a single birth,
  • up to 43 weeks — for a multiple birth.

In addition, the Sejm adopted the Senate’s amendment concerning the rules for granting leave on the terms of maternity leave (for adoptive parents). According to the amendment, the leave on the terms of maternity leave will granted upon an employee’s application in paper or electronic form filed within 7 days of the day of taking a child to bring him/her up as a foster family or taking a child to bring him/her up and applying to a guardianship court to initiate the proceedings for adoption of the child. The leave will begin at the date stated in the employee’s application but no later than within 21 days of the day of taking a child to bring him/her up.

It is also worth mentioning that termination by the employer of an employment contract with a notice during pregnancy, maternity leave, leave on the terms of maternity leave, paternity leave or parental leave will only be possible in the event of bankruptcy or liquidation of the employer.

Flexible working arrangements and additional work breaks

The proposed amendment will extend the use of flexible work arrangements. This concerns rules on instructing an employee to work remotely, using flexible working schedules and part-time work.

The amendment also introduces two additional breaks for employees working more than 9 hours included in the working time. Additional breaks will be granted if the employee’s daily working time is:

  • longer than 9 hours — the employee will be entitled to an additional break from work lasting at least 15 minutes;
  • is longer than 16 hours — the employee will be entitled to another break from work lasting at least 15 minutes.

It is also worth noting that filing an application for remote work cannot constitute a reason for termination of the employment contract or giving a notice of termination by the employer.

Leave of absence due to force majeure

According to the amendment, employees will be entitled in a calendar year to leave of absence due to force majeure. It is to be granted in urgent family matters caused by illness or accident, if an employee’s immediate presence at work is necessary. The leave of absence due to force majeure will last 2 days or 16 hours while retaining the right to half of remuneration. The leave granted to a part-time worker will be determined in proportion to their working time. 

What is important is that the employer will have to grant leave of absence due to force majeure at the request of the employee, reported at the latest on the day of taking the leave. In addition, each incomplete hour of leave will be rounded up to a full hour.

Change of contract type and training included in working time

The amendment assumes that an employee who has worked with the same employer for at least 6 months will be able to apply once a year to change the type of employment contract for an indefinite period or for more predictable and safe working conditions. In the case of a transfer of the employer’s enterprise, the period of employment with the previous employer will be included in the period of employment. However, this entitlement does not apply to probationary staff. In addition, filing such an application cannot constitute a reason for termination of the employment contract or giving a notice of termination by the employer.

In addition, workers will be entitled to unpaid and time-based training in so far as it is necessary for the performance of a particular type of work in a given position and if the right to training arises from the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement or other collective agreement or work regulations or directly from labour law.

Obligation to inform about vacancies and promotion procedures

Due to the need to implement EU Directives into the Polish legal order, the legislator proposed a provision according to which Article 942 of the Labour Code will gain new wording. Namely, an obligation will be added to inform all employees in the manner adopted by the employer about promotion procedures and vacancies, so that each employee has the opportunity to participate in such procedures and apply for vacancies.

Also, changes to the content of employment contracts (Article 29 of the Labour Code) are proposed and provisions obliging the employer, within 7 days from the date of commencement of work by the employee, provide the employee in written or electronic form with a number of information concerning, among other things, daily and weekly working time and overtime work and compensation for it.

The obligation to inform the employee about the conditions of employment will also apply to a worker posted to work in EU Member States or third countries. The employer will inform, among other things, about the right to training or the length of paid leave. The is also a ban on prohibiting an employee from being in an employment relationship concurrently with another employer, as well as unfavourable treatment of an employee on this account.

When does the new labour law come into force?

The bill was originally to come into force on 1 August 2022 (learn more: Labour Code -key amendments to come into force in August 2022), but the act is still in legislative process.

On 8 March, the Senate tabled amendments to the governmental version of the bill adopted by the Sejm amending the Labour Code and some other acts, and on 9 March the Sejm adopted some of them. Now the bill in its final version will go to the President.

According to the provisions, the Act amending the Labour Code is to enter into force 21 days after its publication in the Journal of Laws.

Labour law – see how we can help:

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