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The Future of Work in Poland

The Future of Work in Poland

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Three of the world’s most influential institutions have established expert teams to gather as much data as possible in order to make sense of the nature of the changes currently affecting the global labor market. Many law firms are already on board and are implementing strategies that will meet these changes head-on.

Global Agenda

In 2019, the Global Commission on the Future of Work produced a report proposing a “human-centered agenda for the future of work that strengthens the social contract by placing people and the work they do at the center of economic and social policy and business practices” with three pillars of action: (1) increasing investment in people’s capabilities; (2) increasing investment in the institutions of work; and (3) increasing investment in decent and sustainable work.

Similarly, the OECD published a Future of Work manifesto listing five central areas that need to be worked on: (1) a fairer world of work through COVID-19; (2) a world reshaped by digitalization; (3) skills and learning; (4) social protection; and (5) ensuring job quality.

Most recently, the World Economic Forum issued its Future of Jobs 2020 report which surveyed a range of industries and countries in an effort to understand changes to the labor market following COVID-19, map the jobs and skills of the future, and track the pace of change. The report, for example, found that most companies understand the value in investing in employees, however, the window of opportunity to reskill/upskill employees has become a lot smaller in the new, post-COVID-19, labor market.

Polish Contractual Chance

Research across the board is indicating that the contractual landscape is changing and will continue to change. As the gig economy expands, the number of temporary contracts increases with atypical and non-standard employment arrangements becoming the norm. According to Eurostat, this is something Poland is already experiencing. In 2020, the largest proportions of temporary employees (ages 15-64) in the EU were found in Spain (23.8%), Poland (18.4%), the Netherlands (18.1%), Portugal (17.8%), and France (15.2%). Marry this with Poland remaining at the top of the class for lowest figures in long-term unemployment within the EU in 2020 (ages 15-74), and the future looks bright: Poland 0.6%, the Czech Republic 0.6%, Denmark 0.9%, the Netherlands 0.9%, Hungary 1.1%.

Polish Population Power

An additional driving force in the Future of Work is the fast pace of technological change and its effect on the workplace. Poland’s chance also lies in the fact that it is one of the largest states in the EU and thus has a great swarm of users: 31 million internet and 26 million social media users, in 2021, according to Statista. Therefore, Poland has a statistically high number of innovators and early adopters in comparison with other EU states. This is also enhanced by the quality and price of technology. Poland has one of the fastest fixed broadband download internet speeds in CEE, whilst mobile data price is one of the cheapest in CEE: compare Poland’s USD 0.7 per gigabyte of data to the Czech Republic’s USD 7.95, according to Statista.

Polish Economic Opportunity

The ball is now in the court of HR professionals, lawyers, and learning and development consultants. The advent of new workplace technologies is changing the nature of work and working hours, and stricter definitions for hybrid / home office work are required. This also includes clarity on remote working costs and the related responsibilities of employers as well as clarity on health and safety policies/procedures. For example, on who would be responsible if COVID-19-positive employees continue to come to work and infect others.

With redundancies rife and lay-offs looming, the need to prepare employees for the post-pandemic workplace is greater than ever. In response to shifting skill needs, when surveyed, 89% of Polish companies were keen to retrain existing employees or they expected existing employees to pick up skills on the job, according to the Future of Jobs 2020 report. This hints at the opportunity for Polish businesses to offer employees the chance to retrain, reskill, and upskill rather than choose the easier option of redundancy.

The conditions are right. According to Eurostat, Poland had the fifth highest GDP growth rate in the EU, in 2020. The IMF forecasts Poland to remain in the EU’s top five, in 2022, and the European Commission predicts Poland’s move into the top four for GDP growth, in 2023. Ironically, the key to whether a post-pandemic Poland continues to flourish could well rest with how Poland’s labor law gets to grips with working remotely.

By Tomasz Kudelski, Partner, and Raf Uzar, Head of Communication and Development, Penteris

This Article was originally published in Issue 8.12 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.

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