Poland: Changes made to regulations on fixed-term contracts

Improvement are being made to regulations dealing with fixed-term contracts in Poland.

On 20 October 2014, draft legislation to amend the Labour Code was presented by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. The government proposes that the maximum number of consecutive fixed-term employment contracts should be three and that their combined duration should not be longer than 33 months. A fixed-term contract which goes beyond that time will no longer be considered fixed term.

The duration of notice periods will be the same for both fixed and non-fixed term contracts and will depend on the duration of employment with the employer.

The extensive use of contracts of limited duration in employment has long been subject to criticism not only domestically – mostly by trade unions – but also by the European Commission. A recent ruling by the European Court of Justice on 13 March 2014 (Case C-38/13) stated that two-week notice periods currently applicable to employees with fixed-term contracts is discriminatory. The ‘standard’ notice period – for those on non-fixed-term contracts – is three months. 

Social partners are generally happy with the amendments.

Employer groups are unhappy with some of the changes. They are particularly opposed to the proposed notice periods, which they see as too long.

Trade unions say some changes should go further in protecting of employees. They consider consecutive fixed-term contracts lasting 33 months as excessive. Union confederations say fixed-term employment should not normally exceed 18–24 months, while an option to extend it may be left to discretion of collective agreements. They claim that provisions allowing for the extension of a fixed-term contract to more than 33 months in ‘special circumstances’ is a ‘potential invitation’ for abusing the general rules.

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