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POLAND: Labour Code Reform

On March 14, the Labour Law Codification Committee passed a resolution on accepting two drafts: The Labour Code and the Joint Labour Law Code. The proposals have been submitted to the Ministry of Family, Labour, and Social Policy. Minister Elżbieta Rafalska will decide on the future fate of the drafts.

According to certain sources, works on the new Labour Code will have a reasonable pace. The Ministry will need to prepare drafts of two Acts which will take some time. Still, there are some tensions between employers’ organisations and trade unions which the Ministry will need to address. The next steps in the legislative process will include interdepartmental consultations, works in the Council of Ministers and works in the Parliament. There is a chance, however, that this process may take as long as a year.

The draft of the new Code introduces solutions aiming at minimizing the occurrence of employment based on the so-called fee-for-task contracts in favour of introducing flexible employment contracts. These solutions, however, are not perfect. On one hand, there are newly proposed employment forms (casual, seasonal, non-fulltime work) and significantly extended contracts for a probationary period. On the other hand, the functioning time and scope of fixed-term contracts has been limited, without further enforcing protection measures based on employment time. This can be very risky when considering the worsening conditions on the labour market.

The flexibility of work time has been increased, especially regarding workers who conduct ‘hard-to-plan’ tasks. New rules on calculating the working day are also meant to be subject to union control, but they have been connected too weakly with regulations on salaries. According to the Committee’s members, there is a chance to adjust these regulations to the conditions of the particular employment place, in further steps of the process. The draft also proposes the deformalizing of regulations regarding telework and introduces solutions allowing for the occasional long-distance work, in the event of short-term ‘away from office’ work.