Upcoming Changes in Poland’s Labor and Employment Law

The Polish legislature is currently working on a couple of labor and employment laws that will take effect in 2019 and possibly ring in a new era of HR in Poland.  The monitoring of employees, changes in minimum wage and the protection of company business secrets are some of what is set to alter in the next year. Here is a brief description of some of the modifications yet to come and how they will affect HR practices in Poland.

1. Monitoring of Employees

Changes

The new law surrounding the monitoring of employees in the workplace seeks to regulate and outline rules for both email and video surveillance. This amendment is aiming to align Poland with the EU General Data Protection Regulation that went into effect in May 2018.

Employers will be allowed to use CCTV monitoring to either ensure the safety of their workers or to protect the confidentiality of property and control the production of said property. However, the rules stipulate that they cannot use video surveillance to exercise control over the activities carried out by employees during working hours and when off-duty. However, e-mail surveillance may be used for this purpose. Notably, the use of both monitoring services is strictly restricted, to be used by employers only when necessary.

Employer’s Course of Action

In light of the new developments, employers need to:

  • Alter their collective labor agreements and indicate the new objective, manner, and scope of their monitoring
  • Provide written information about the new objective, manner, and scope of their monitoring to all employees
  • Inform employees on the specific devices and rooms under surveillance
  • Ensure that CCTV recordings are stored for no more than 3 months (unless they are being used in proceedings)

2. Protection of Company Business Secrets

Changes

On September 4, 2018, the legislator amended the Act on counteracting unfair competition. They removed the notation that restricted employees from both disclosing and using their former employer’s business secret for a period of three years after their termination of employment.

Employer’s Course of Action

While this change benefits the employee and competitors, it potentially leaves the employer vulnerable. As such, employers are urged to introduce confidentiality clauses to their employment contracts (in the form of an annex) that are valid during employment and after termination. Alternatively, you can implement separate agreements that cover a fixed period of time after employee termination that doesn’t have to cater to additional remuneration.

Therefore, before the law takes effect in 2019, employers need to take necessary action to secure their company secrets.

3. Storage of Employee Records

Changes

As of January 1, 2019, employers will be allowed to store employee’s personal files in both paper and electronic form.  More so, employees will be able to appeal for copies of their records.

Aside from the leeway to store employee records, the retention period is also set to change. New required retention periods are as follows:

  • Employees hired from 2019 onwards: 10 years retention period
  • Employees hired between 1999-2018: Reduction from 50 years to 10 years retention period
  • Employees hired before 1999: Current 50 years retention period

If a worker’s employment is terminated, the employer is required by law to make the employee aware about:

i.     The retention period of their records

ii.    The possibility of receiving said records one month after the end of the storage period

iii.   The destruction of documents not collected within the discussed time limit

The manner of storage is also changing in the years to come. The proposed changes include:

i.    Shift from dividing personal files from three parts to four

ii.   Clarifying the scope of employee documentation that does not fall under personal files but is subject to the same retention period

iii.  Provision of an in-depth description of technical conditions that need to be met in order for personal files to be stored in electronic form

Employer’s Course of Action

  • Employee files that are to be stored in electronic form need to be labeled and scanned with qualified electronic signatures and appropriate maintenance conditions.
  • HR departments need to prepare for the new requirements and the fact that employees will now have the right to ask for their employee records
  • If an employer wishes to shorten the storage period of personnel files of employees hired between 1999 and 2018, they need to submit an informational report to the Social Security Institution stating as such and citing their reasons for wanting to do so.
  • Personnel files of employees employed before 1999 will have to be stored in the current storage system and within the existing retention period.
  • Employers need to prepare a template of information regarding the manner and scope employee record storage and retention.

4. New Minimum Wage Law

Changes

As from January 1, 2019:

  • Minimum monthly remuneration for work will be PLN 2,250 gross,
  • Minimum hourly rate for contractors will be PLN 1,470 gross.

Employer’s Course of Action

Ensure that contracts that are not compliant with the changes are amended and paid in accordance with the statutory rates.

 5. Payment of Remuneration

Changes

As of January 2019, payments for remuneration work will be deposited into bank accounts. Cash payments will only be admissible at the employee’s request in written or electronic form.

Employer’s Course of Action

After January 22, 2019, employees receiving cash payments need to be informed about their obligation to either provide a bank account number or submit a written application to request continued cash payments.

With all these new amendments to labor and employment laws in the horizon, 2019 will be an era of big change in Poland, for employees and employers alike, especially HR departments. Given the scope of changes set to take full effect on January 1, 2019, employers need to do their due diligence and ensure they are in compliance with the statutory requirements.

 

 

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