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The Work-life Balance Directive — Changes to the Labour Code and New Rights for Employees

Changes to the Labour Code and New Rights for Employees

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Directive (EU) 2019/1158 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on work-life balance for parents and carers and repealing Council Directive 2010/18/EU, commonly referred to as the work-life balance directive, is due to be implemented into the Labour Code by the Polish government.

The Work-life balance in Poland — what are the changes and when will they arrive?

Initially, changes to the Labour Code were planned to take effect on August 1, 2022. However, work on the final form of the regulations is still in progress and as such the final effective date of the amended regulations is not yet known. Below are the most important solutions provided by the bill:

5 days of additional unpaid carers’ leave

Carers’ leave of 5 days will be available to employees to provide personal care or support to a family member (daughter, son, mother, father or spouse) or a person living with the employee in the same household who requires care or support for serious medical reasons

Additional time off due to force majeure

In urgent family matters caused by illness or accident, employees will be entitled to additional time off from work on grounds of force majeure at the rate of 2 days or 16 hours per calendar year.

For the period of this leave, employees will retain the right to half of their salary. Importantly, the additional 2 days off will not diminish the pool of vacation leave, as in the case of leave on demand.

In terms of parental rights

  • extending parental leave from 32 weeks to 41 and from 34 weeks to 43 – depending on the number of children born at that time;

  • granting each parent of a child the exclusive right to 9 weeks of parental leave from the above-mentioned amount of leave. This right will not be transferable to the child’s other parent;

  • extending from 4 to 8 years of a child’s age the period during which an instruction on overtime or posting outside the permanent workplace will require employee consent.

The right to flexible work arrangements

The bill also envisages granting employees who are parents of a child up to the age of 8 the right to flexible work arrangements in the form of telework, (soon to be replaced by remote work – a bill in this regard is currently being processed by the Sejm), an intermittent working time system, a shortened work week system, and weekend work system or flexitime.

The application for the use of a flexible form of work should be submitted by the employee no later than 21 days before the planned date of commencement of the use of flexible work arrangements. Any refusal to allow an employee the above arrangement must be clearly justified by the employer.

Other changes to the Labour Code

The bill also includes other changes to the Labour Code provisions not resulting from Directive 2019/1159:

  • the possibility of extending probationary employment contracts by vacation time, as well as by the time of an employee’s other excused absence from work (if such absences occur);
  • re-conclusion of a probationary contract with the same employee only if the employee is to be hired to perform a different type of work;
  • equalization of the rules for termination of fixed-term employment contracts with those for contracts of indefinite duration. This means that employers will be required to indicate the reason for termination of a fixed-term employment contract, whereas at present they are not required to specify any reason for dismissal.

By Angelika Stanko, Associate, Kochanski & Partners