Act on Reducing Results of the Economic Crisis for Employees and Entrepreneurs
By Krzysztof Nowicki
The risk of extension of the global financial crisis led in Poland inter alia to introduction of the Act on Reducing Results of the Economic Crisis for Employees and Entrepreneurs. The new law, which came into force on August 22, 2009 provides more elastic working regulations, which eventually should lead to protection of Polish labor market against massive layoffs. The anti-crisis regulations generally concern entrepreneurs facing financial problems, however, there are also changes which provide facilitation for every entrepreneur operating in Poland. Below, we focus on the changes concerning all entrepreneurs.
Until the end of 2011, each employer will be allowed to extend the work time settlement period up to 12 months and in this 12 month settlement period the employer will be entitled to manage employees’ work time in a more elastic manner, depending on a market situation and the current work demand. Thanks to that, the employer may in some periods increase the daily work time (but with its reduction in other periods). Introduction of the elongated work time system shall require preparation of a time schedule. The employees’ work time schedule does not, however, need to cover the whole 12 months; it is sufficient to elaborate a schedule covering at least 2 months. Additionally, apart from changes concerning the work time system, the Act offers a possibility to arrange individual work hours at which the employee shall begin/finish his/her work each day. In such cases, the employer is not obliged to pay any additional remuneration for overtime, if the performance work ends and later on starts on the same day.
The Act provides, however, for certain restrictions concerning the above, i.e. the new work time cannot deprive the employees of their right to an 11-hour daily break and a 35-hour weekly break. Moreover, during the elongated work time system the employees’ monthly remuneration cannot be lower than the minimal statutory remuneration. Furthermore, introduction of the elongated time system and individual work time requires negotiations with trade unions operating within the employer’s enterprise and introduction of changes to the collective labor agreements, if any, or if there are no trade unions active within the employer’s enterprise, consultations with the representatives elected by the employees.
The other solution refers to the employment agreement for a fixed term. Previously, the law did not specify any maximum duration period of such contract. Now it can be established for a period not exceeding 24 months (including subsequent agreements if the interval between the termination of one employment contract and entering into the subsequent one was not longer than 3 months). Also, a rule stating that once the third subsequent fixed term employment contract is signed, it is deemed to have become an indefinite term employment contract, is no longer valid. The employers may enter into several subsequent fixed term employment contracts and it will not automatically lead to the establishment of an employment relationship for an indefinite period. This regulation shall be valid till the end of 2011.