Poland: The occupational promotion of migrant workers

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Published on: 24 March 2009



About
Country:
Poland
Author:
Piotr Sula
Institution:

Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited or approved by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

The number of migrant workers legally employed in Poland remains low. Last year there were 12,000 work permits issued to foreigners. In 2008 the scale of this phenomenon has been greater, due to a bigger demand for qualified construction workers. Apart from the legally employed, it is estimated that several dozens or several hundreds of thousands of migrants, mostly Ukrainian citizens, are employed illegally. It is noteworthy that due to the small scale of employment of foreigners in Poland there hasn’t been any extensive empirical research in this area.

1. The workplace promotion of migrant workers: current evidence

1.1 Please provide all available information on workplace promotion and careers of migrant workers in individual workplaces, and specifically indicate workplace- and/or employee-based data over the period 2003-2007 (or latest available) with respect to:

a) Types of contract (irregular, temporary, permanent) of migrant workers, by gender (workplace distribution and/or individual careers). Please include reference data for all workers to appreciate existing differences;

No data

b) Tenure (years, months) of migrant workers with same employer, by gender (workplace average and/or individual distribution). Please include reference data for all workers to appreciate existing differences;

No data

c) Occupation (ISCO-88) of migrant workers, by gender (workplace distribution and/or individual careers). Please include reference data for all workers to appreciate existing differences;

Table 1: Individual work permits for migrant workers in 2005 (according to sectors of economy).
Year Education Trade Industry Finance and Real Estate Healthcare Construction Hotels and restaurants Total
2005 1,031 2,530 3,145 1,000 305 303 809 10,304
2007 No data No data No data No data No data No data No data 12,200

The above table shows that the majority of work permits were issued to migrant workers interested in the employment in industry or trade. It is worth noticing that the migrants' nationality varied for different sectors of employment. The foreigners employed by hotels and restaurants were mostly Asian. The former Soviet Union nationals were mostly employed in education, industry and healthcare.

A great percentage of immigrants (10%) in 2005 found employment in education. The most wanted were ESL teachers from the UK or the United States, although some schools preferred to employ ESL teachers from Eastern Europe because they had lower salary expectations.

The most work permits (some 50%) have been issued in the Mazowieckie Voivodeship, of which Warsaw is the capital.

In 2008 there have been greater interest in the employment of migrant workers from Ukraine.

d) Level of education/qualification (ISCED) of migrant workers, by gender (workplace distribution and/or individual careers). Please include reference data for all workers to appreciate existing differences;

The available data refer to the Mazowieckie Voivodeship and thus they represent 50% of the work permits issued in Poland in 2007. The data gathered by the Voivodeship Labour Office in Warsaw (Wojewódzki Urząd Pracy w Warszawie, WUP) indicate that 70% of migrant workers have been employed on executive positions, counsellors, experts and qualified employees, which means well educated people. A great percentage of migrant workers were foreign language teachers.

e) Over-qualification of migrant workers (i.e. they possess an educational degree/professional qualification of higher level than that required for the job they hold), by gender (workplace incidence and/or individual transitions). Please include reference data for all workers to appreciate existing differences;

No data

f) Participation to training of migrant workers by type of training (employer-funded, paid by the employees, publicly-funded), by gender (workplace rate and/or individual careers). Please include reference data for all workers to appreciate existing differences;

No data

g) Competence development, skill and qualification advancements of migrant workers, by gender (workplace rate and/or individual careers). Please include reference data for all workers to appreciate existing differences;

No data

h) Career advancements in terms of job positions of migrant workers, by gender (workplace rate and/or individual careers). Please include reference data for all workers to appreciate existing differences;

No data

i) Salary progressions of migrant workers in percentage of the basic wage, by gender (workplace average and/or individual careers). Please include reference data for all workers to appreciate existing differences.

No data.

2. Public policies for the promotion of migrant workers at the workplace

2.1 Please indicate whether there are specific public policies to foster the workplace promotion of migrant workers and specifically:

a) Rules on the recognition of educational credentials, diplomas and skills of migrant workers and whether the existing situation hinders the full utilisation of their qualifications.

By virtue of international agreements Poland recognises educational credentials, degrees and diplomas of the following states: Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Cuba, Libya, Lithuania, Latvia, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Germany, Russia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Syria, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Hungary, Vietnam as well as the degrees and educational credentials and diplomas obtained by citizens of the now inexistent states of: Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the German Democratic Republic.

The recognition of vocational skills occurs following the submission of an application to a respective institution responsible for recognition of vocational skills in specific occupations. In the course of the recognition procedure the proper organ may refer to the Bureau for Academic Recognition and International Exchange (Biuro Uznawalności Wykształcenia i Wymiany Międzynarodowej, BUWiWM) and ask for an opinion on the level of education.

Having received the opinion of the BUWiWM and the full documentation of the case, the proper organ issues a decision about recognition to the interested party or – in an instance where the documentation is incomplete – asks the interested party to complete the documentation. The decision on the recognition of vocational qualifications should be issued within four months from the date of submission of the full case file.

The Applicant pays the fiscal fee of 523 PLN, if they apply for the recognition of qualifications in a regulated occupation (i.e. one whose performance is dependent on the completion of qualification requirements, for instance a lawyer, or construction engineer.)

The knowledge of the language is not one of the decisive criteria in the recognition of vocational skills. In cases if the applicant does not possess enough language skills to perform a job in a given profession, they may be advised to improve their skills with this respect. However applicant may not be tested for their language skills as part of the vocational qualifications recognition procedures.

The proper organ to recognise vocational qualifications may reach a negative decision, which must yet be rightly justified. Moreover, it can be appealed from in a Polish court of law.

b) Specific education and training programmes, including on health and safety issues, targeted to employed migrant workers. If present, please briefly illustrate such programmes by indicating: i) the target groups (all migrant workers or only specific groups, such as low-skilled, women, etc.), ii) the nature and content of such programmes; iii) their impact in terms of skill upgrading.

Migrant workers legally employed in Poland are subject to the Labour Code and the rules of safety and hygiene of labour, which means that before they start to perform their duties resulting from initiating the work relation, they must be trained in the area of safety and hygiene of labour.

In case of some regulated occupations a migrant worker, who applies for the recognition of his/her vocational qualifications, is obliged to participate in adaptive training, which is a form of verification of his/her competencies, but at the same time constitutes an opportunity to acquire the knowledge necessary to perform the jobs, such as teacher or vocational advisor in Poland.

c) Rules, policies and programmes which try to promote equal opportunities of migrant workers at the workplace. If present, please briefly illustrate such programmes by indicating: i) the target firms (all companies, only in certain sectors – like the public sector, or above a size threshold), ii) the nature and content of such programmes; iii) their impact in terms of equality.

According to the Employment Promotion and Labour Market Institutions Act of 20 April 2004 and the ordinance of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy of 30 August 2006, referring to the labour performed by migrant workers unstipulated by obtaining of the work permit, the performance of labour without work permit is admissible in case of the migrant workers, who:

  • are permitted to perform labour without work permits by virtue of international agreements, to which the Republic of Poland is a party;

  • are foreign language teachers who work in kindergartens, schools and educational institutions and are citizens of EU member states, citizens of the European Economic Area that is not part of the EU, citizens of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or the USA, provided that the language they teach is their mother tongue;

  • are citizens of Poland’s neighbour states (bordering states), who perform labour during the period no longer than six months in the course of the subsequent 12 months, provided that they obtain a statement of intention of employment from an employer, registered in the Poviat Labour Office respective to the place of residence or headquarters of the employer (this regulation has been operational since 1 February 2008. Before that, the regulation only referred to the citizens of the neighbouring states who performed, during less than three months in the course of the subsequent six months, labour connected with farming, horticulture, gardening, and animal husbandry.

According to the Employment Promotion and Labour Market Institutions Act, work permits are not required from migrant workers who have Polish Charters. According to the Act of 7 September 2007, a Polish Charter may be issued to a person who declares belonging to the Polish Nation and fulfils all the following conditions:

  • has at least elementary knowledge of the Polish language, which they consider their mother tongue and know and observe Polish customs and traditions;

  • submits written declaration of belonging to the Polish Nation;

  • provides evidence that at least one of their parents or grandparents or two great grandparents were Polish nationals or Polish citizens, or provides a statement from a Polish Diaspora organisation confirming their active engagement in actions for the preservation of the Polish language and culture or the Polish minority lasting three years at the least.

It seems that both the abovementioned legal regulations that offer migrant workers from the former Soviet Union the chance to obtain legal employment, also give Polish employers, especially construction companies, the hope to fill vacancies.

3. Collective bargaining and HRM initiatives

3.1 Please indicate whether multi-employer collective bargaining addressed the workplace promotion of migrant workers: If present, please briefly illustrate the scope and content of such collective agreements by indicating:

a) the prevalent level of bargaining (intersectoral, sectoral, local);b) the target groups (all migrant workers or only specific groups, such as low-skilled, women, etc.);c) the focus of such agreements (employment contracts, working time and leave, education and training, including on health and safety issues, equal opportunity at the workplace);d) if assessment analyses were carried out, their impact on migrant workers’ promotion.

No data.

3.2 Please indicate the role of company-level collective bargaining in fostering the workplace promotion of migrant workers. If such role is significant, please briefly illustrate the scope and content of such collective agreements by indicating:

a) the diffusion of such agreements in terms of sectors, companies and workers covered;b) the target groups (all migrant workers or only specific groups, such as low-skilled, women, etc.);c) the focus of such agreements (employment contracts, working time and leave, education and training, including on health and safety issues, equal opportunity at the workplace);d) if assessment analyses were carried out, their impact on migrant workers’ promotion.

No data.

3.3 Please indicate the role of company HRM initiatives in fostering the workplace promotion of migrant workers. If such role is significant, please briefly illustrate the scope and content of such initiatives by indicating:

a) the diffusion of such initiatives in terms of sectors, companies and workers covered;b) the target groups (all migrant workers or only specific groups, such as low-skilled, women, etc.);c) the focus of such initiatives (employment contracts, working time and leave, education and training, including on health and safety issues, equal opportunity at the workplace);d) if assessment analyses were carried out, their impact on migrant workers’ promotion.

No data.

4. Good practices and examples

4.1 Please provide information on existing analysis or repertories of good practices on workplace promotion of migrant workers by indicating:

a) The content and focus of such good practicesb) How these good practices have been identified and selected;c) Who carried out the analysis and/or built the repertory.

Neither social organisation, nor public institution have made any analyses or repertories of good practices on workplace promotion of migrant workers.

4.1 Please provide information on at least two examples of successful workplace promotion of migrant workers by indicating:

a) Basic data about the workplace (type of organisation, sector, size, location);b) A brief description of the initiatives regarded as successful and how they emerged, which should include: i) the dimensions of workplace promotion involved (employment contracts, working time and leave, tenure, education and training, including on health and safety issues, competence development, career advancements, salary progressions), ii) the target groups (all migrant workers or only specific groups, such as low-skilled, women, etc.), iii) the initiators and the actors involved (the company management, trade unions, employer organisations, etc.);c) On which basis this experience is regarded as successful (i.e. its results and impacts).

As has been mentioned above, migrant workers who undertake legal employment in Poland must undergo all trainings, including the one in the safety and hygiene of labour. As for the training upgrading vocational skills – it has been stated by Magdalena Lesińska PhD of the Warsaw University Migration Research Centre that many foreigners who start working in Poland do not use them, because, as it has been already mentioned, they are already highly skilled professionals. And nothing points to the forthcoming change with this respect.

The liberalisation of legal regulations regarding migrant workers’ labour without the necessity of applying for a visa had to occur, due to the lack of construction workers and seasonal agricultural workers. Therefore it could be said that it was the pressure from employers in the construction and farming sectors that pushed the Minister of Labour and Social Policy in January 2008 to introduce an amendment to the ordinance of 30 August, 2006, on the provision of migrant workers’ labour without the necessity to obtain work permits.

An interesting initiative promoting the employment of migrant workers in Poland has been proposed in the Lubelskie Voivodeship, near the Ukrainian border. In November 2007, the Institute of Labour Market ‘Nowy Staw’ Foundation (Instytut Rynku Pracy Fundacja Nowy Staw, IRP) in Lublin opened up a Consulting Centre for Employers and Migrants under the project called ‘The Transborder Centre of Labour market Promotion’, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund. The objectives of the Consultation centre’s operations have been defined as follows:

  • providing assistance to migrant workers operating on the Polish labour market,

  • increasing social awareness in the border region about the advantages of granting foreigners’ access to the Polish labour market,

  • offering professional knowledge and information materials to citizens of Belarus and Ukraine about the legalisation of labour in Poland, the system of education and healthcare,

  • providing assistance to migrants in submitting applications and form in Polish,

  • providing assistance to employers in starting cooperation with the Ukrainian and Belarusian institutions of labour market that deal with migration and employment abroad.

It is difficult to assess at this early stage to indicate tangible effects of the implemented project. There is no doubt, however, that with the growing employers’ interest in employing migrant workers this initiative could be very helpful.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Policy (Ministerstwo Pracy i Polityki Społecznej, MPiPS) is working on the next forms of facilitation of migrant workers’ employment. As a result, the procedure of work permits issuing is to be simplified. In the end the only prerequisite in employing a migrant worker will be the employers’ readiness to pay migrants the same as Polish workers and observing the rules of competitiveness. The envisaged changes in legal regulations result from an urgent need to build necessary infrastructure for the EURO 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, as there is still not enough construction workers to carry out this task. Despite the complicated procedures of issuing work permits to migrant workers at the moment, more and more domestic companies employ workers from China and other Asian countries, like Nepal for instance.

5. Commentary by the NC

5.1 Please provide your own comments on the present state of workplace promotion of migrant workers and on the presence and scope of initiatives to promote such promotion in your country.

The number of migrant workers who start working in Poland is going to increase these days, seeing that there has been a growing interest in employment in Poland since the beginning of this year. More and more entities engage themselves in the workplace promotion of migrant workers and recruitment of workers abroad. The opening of the Polish labour market to migrants has been coupled by the progressing liberalisation of the Polish law with this respect and the climate of social acceptance of this phenomenon. The social opinion polls run by the Public Opinion Research Centre (Centrum Badania Opinii Społecznej, CBOS) show that 86% of respondents believe foreign workers should be allowed to start work in Poland. Half of those polled also reckon that all occupations should be opened to migrant workers.

Piotr Sula, Institute of Public Affairs

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