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POLAND: "Start-Up Leave" Proposal

The Ministry of Development is working on a proposal to introduce a new mechanism of unpaid leave for employees seeking to start their own companies. According to initial information, an employee would be able to take up to six months of leave while still being employed by their company. If the “start-up leave”, as the Ministry calls the idea, does not work out the employer will be obliged to take the employee back. The Development Ministry along with Minister Jadwiga Emilewicz who is spearheading the plan, are arguing that Poland’s labour market is ripe for such a solution. Record-low unemployment and a deficit of specialists forces this kind of solution and “allows for the achievement of business dreams which enabled the rise of today’s innovation giants” – argues the Ministry. The proposal is meant to be ready within three months and be sent for consultations with employers and union leaders in the Social Dialogue Council.

Initial reactions from employers’ and business associations are critical of the idea. Employers argue that if introduced, the mechanism will lead to a complete disorganisation of all branches of business. Employers will be forced to freeze a job post as well as train a temporary replacement while an employee takes the start-up leave. Experts note that in some situations, employers would be enabling their employees to create new companies in the same sector and build competing businesses. The main argument which will be used against the government’s proposal in the coming months is that removing the inherent risk from starting a company, will form a warped system that is prone to abuse. Given the initial reactions from business representatives, the Ministry’s proposal is likely to change in the coming months. Still, the core idea of enabling and motivating employees to try out their business ideas is likely to remain.