Poland: Are You Up To Date On Important Polish Labour Law Matters?

As an employer it is vital that you are informed on new labour law related issues that could negatively affect your organisation. In this legal insights we explore a number of these important legal points.

Jurisprudence

  • An employer's right to compensation from an employee
  • Incorrect instruction regarding an employee's right to appeal to court against a termination notice
  • Employment after parental leave
  • Longer notice period and compensation amounts
  • Refusal to carry out an official order
  • Manager of a separate organisational unit and compensation for overtime work

1. An employer's right to compensation from an employee

According to art. 61¹ of the Labour Code, in the case of an unjustified resignation of an employee without notice, the employer is entitled to a flat compensation rate corresponding to the employee's remuneration for the period of notice.

In the verdict of 13 January 2016 the Supreme Court confirmed that the compensation does not depend on the occurrence of material damage and its amount. The employee cannot demand lowering of the compensation based on the argument that the employer did not suffer any material damage or that the damage was lower. At the same time the Supreme Court did not exclude the possibility of claiming higher compensation by the employer if the unjustified resignation incurred substantial material losses on the part of the employer.

In the case analysed by the Supreme Court an employee terminated the employment contract without a notice period due to a serious breach of the fundamental employer's duties towards the employee, i.e. not paying part of the remuneration, refusal to grant vacation and lack of promotion. The employer demanded compensation due to unjustified resignation without notice. The courts of all instances recognised that the resignation without notice was unjustified because the employer did not commit a breach of its duties and ruled that the employer be compensated. The employee questioned the amount of compensation as the employer did not suffer any material damage.

Legal source:
- Supreme Court verdict of 13 January 2016 (II PK 302/14)

2. Incorrect instruction regarding an employee's right to appeal to court against a termination notice

According to art. 30 § 5 of the Labour Code, a termination declaration with or without a notice period given by an employer is required to include instructions on the employee's right to appeal against it to the labour court. The instruction must include the deadline and the name of the court to which the employee may appeal.

In the case analysed by the court an employee demanded compensation due to mistakes in the instruction on the employee's right to appeal to the court.

The Supreme Court ruled that an employer's mistake in the instruction on the right to appeal to court does not result in the right for compensation. It is irrelevant if the mistake concerns a wrong deadline, improperly determined court or if the termination declaration does not include the instruction to appeal to the court at all. Such a mistake does not render the termination declaration defective and thus it is not a basis to claim compensation by the employee. The only result of a wrong instruction, or a lack of one, is the employee's right to reinstate the deadline to file an appeal against the termination of the employment contract.

Legal source:
- Supreme Court verdict of 3 February 2016 (II PK 333/14)

3. Employment after parental leave

According to art. 1864 of the Labour Code, after the return of an employee after parental leave, the employer is obliged to employ the person in the previous position held and if not possible – to an equivalent position or another position corresponding with their qualifications. The regulation determines that the employer is obliged to offer the employee an equivalent position when employment in the previous position is impossible. In other words the employer is entitled to transfer the employee to a position different from the one specified in the employment contract and the employee is obliged to work in the new position.

In the case at hand, an employee, who worked as Client Consultant-Store Manager before parental leave, was offered work in the position of Market Research Manager after returning from leave. The employee did not accept the equivalent position and did not return to work. Based on the above the employer terminated the employment contract without notice due to a serious breach of the employee's duties. The employee demanded compensation for unlawful termination of employment contract.

The Supreme Court ruled that if an employee does not take up work in an equivalent position or a position corresponding with their qualifications, the employer is entitled to terminate the employment contract without notice. Refusal to work is a serious breach of the fundamental employee's duties because work itself has a fundamental character. Employees, who decide on their own that a proposed position does not correspond with their qualifications and do not take up work after returning from parental leave, must be prepared that their behaviour will be classified as a serious breach of the employee's duties, which justifies termination of the employment agreement with immediate effect.

Legal source:
- Supreme Court verdict of 27 October 2015 (III PK 13/15)

4. Longer notice period and compensation amounts

The statutory period of notice for employment contracts for definite or indefinite period of time is from two weeks to three months, depending on the length of service. The parties of the contract often contractually prolong the period of notice.

In case of unlawful termination of employment contract by the employer the employee is entitled, according to art. 47¹ of the Labour Code, to compensation for unlawful termination of employment contract corresponding to two weeks' up to three months' remuneration, but not smaller than the notice period.

In the analysed matter, the employee had a prolonged contractual notice period of six months. Due to a termination of the employment contract the employee appealed to the labour court and demanded compensation amounting to six months' remuneration because the period of notice defined in his employment contract was six months. Although the court ruled that the employer violated the law terminating the employment agreement, it decided on compensation amounting to three months' remuneration.

The Supreme Court ruled that even if the employment contract provides for a longer period of notice than the statutory one, the compensation for unlawful termination of an employment agreement amounts to the statutory period of notice, i.e. a maximum of three months. An exception would be a situation in which the parties stipulated clearly in the employment agreement that the compensation will correspond to remuneration for the prolonged period of notice. In case of lack of such a provision, the employee, in spite of a longer notice period, is entitled to the statutory amount of compensation.

Legal source:
- Supreme Court verdict of 5 November 2015 (III PK 26/15)

5. Refusal to carry out an official order

According to art. 100 § 1 of the Labour Code the employee is obliged to follow the supervisors' orders concerning their work, unless they are against the law or the employment contract.

In the current case an employee, in spite of repeated instructions from his supervisor, did not appear to a meeting concerning his duties. The employee explained that he cannot show up because he was on business trip. When the employer checked it, it turned out that the employee did not receive an instruction to go on a business trip. As a result, the employer terminated the employment contract with the employee without a notice period.

The employee appealed to the labour court claiming that his behaviour did not result in material damage of the employer's property and did not pose a threat to incur such damage.

The Supreme Court ruled that the termination of the employment contract without a notice period was justified because a repeated failure to follow the supervisor's order violated the required work discipline and threatened the employer's interests. In the estimation of the Supreme Court, the employer's interests were threatened. The threatening of interests does not need to be material; it also contains immaterial elements, including the work discipline understood as the duty to follow the employer's orders. Following the employer's orders by the employee belongs to the core of the employment relationship and failure to comply with this duty always violates a major interest of the employer.

Legal source:
- Supreme Court verdict of 20 January 2016 (II PK 311/14)

6. Manager of a separate organisational unit and compensation for overtime work

As a rule, people employed in managerial positions are not entitled to compensation for overtime work. Individuals falling into these managerial positions are employees managing the workplace alone, their substitutes, chief accountants, board members and managers of separate organisational units.

The Labour Code does not define the concept of a manager of a separate organisational unit. It often leads to situations when employers describe positions as managerial in spite of the fact that they do not meet the required criteria.

In the case at hand an employee was employed in the position of the dispatch department manager in a print shop. The manager was responsible for a team of 20 employees, for which he organised the work and assigned duties. He was responsible for production organisation and the whole process of newspaper publishing. Moreover, he worked together with the other employees and reported the need to enlarge the team. Due to the fact that he frequently worked longer hours than the statutory working time he demanded compensation for overtime work.

According to the facts of the case the Supreme Court ruled that the position of the manager in the print shop did not meet the required criteria and thus the employee was entitled to compensation for overtime work. The court ruled that the manager did not have the required independence in taking actions as he could not decide to hire more employees. He did not have management authority but just organisational powers. Moreover, the manager worked alongside the team members and this excluded the possibility of recognising an employee as a manager of a separate organisational unit.

Legal source:
- Supreme Court verdict of 11 February 2016 (II PK 337/14)

Please find here the German and Polish version of the text.

Further reading: Poland: Act on Windfarms and Amendments to the Act on Renewable Energy Sources

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions