EMCC European Monitoring Centre on Change

Poland: Young people and temporary employment in Europe

  • Observatory: EMCC
  • Topic:
  • Published on: 08 December 2013



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Poland has one of the highest proportions in Europe of young people employed on fixed-time contracts and therefore the issue of such contracts has been widely discussed in Poland in recent years. The debate has been taking place not only between the social partners, but also among academics, politicians, the media and young people themselves. The issues prevailing in the debate are primarily the uncertainty and lack of job security. Trade unions demand that some regulation be introduced – they especially advocate for introducing the maximum duration of fixed-time contracts. However, so far no new solutions have been developed.

Introduction

Youth unemployment has been a persistent problem in many parts of Europe for many years. Over the past 3-4 years, however, since the onset of the financial crisis and the economic recession which followed, it has become an even greater and more widespread problem and one which, given the on-going depressed state of the European economies, is likely to remain for some time to come. The latest monthly figures (for September 2012) show the unemployment rate of those aged 15-24 averaging 22.8% in the EU – just over 1 percentage point higher than at the time a year earlier. In Spain, the figure was over 54% and in Greece, 57%, in both cases, much higher than a year earlier. In the worst affected countries, therefore, as in most Member States, there is very little sign of any easing of the youth unemployment problem. There are, however, a few exceptions. In Germany, in particular, youth unemployment has declined since the global recession hit in 2009 and now stands at only 8%, well below the level it was before the recession. In Norway too, the rate is only 8%, though this is slightly above the level in 2007 before the crisis. Germany, apart, there are two other countries in the EU with youth unemployment below 10% according to the latest monthly figures - the Netherlands (9.4%) and Austria (9.9%). As in Norway, in both cases, the rate is above the pre-crisis level.

Moreover, young people who do manage to find jobs often have to settle for a temporary one, defined as one with a fixed-term contract of employment. According to the European Labour Force Survey (LFS), in 2011, just under 43% of employees under 25 were in temporary jobs in the EU and well over half in Germany (56%), France (55%), Portugal, (57%), Sweden (57%), Spain (63%), Poland (66%) and Slovenia (75%). (In Norway, the figure was much lower than in most EU countries, at around 24%.) While around 40% of the young people concerned on average were in temporary jobs because they had a fixed-term training contract and another 9% were on probationary contracts, a substantial proportion (37% on average) were in temporary jobs because they were unable to find permanent ones. In the Czech Republic, Cyprus and Portugal, this figure was over 75% and in Spain and Slovakia, well over 80%.

Among young people making the transition from education or initial vocational training into employment, the proportion who take up temporary rather than permanent jobs is much higher than for the age group as a whole. In 2011, 57% of those aged 15-24 in employment who were in education the previous year were in temporary jobs in the EU and 86-87% in Spain, Portugal and Poland. For those moving from unemployment into employment, the proportion who take up temporary jobs is even higher on average in the EU (61%) as well as in Spain (90%).

The fact that a relatively large proportion of young people in employment are in temporary jobs may be a reason why they have been hit disproportionately hard by the crisis. In the economic downturn in 2009, many of the people who lost their jobs first were on fixed-term contracts since not renewing these contracts represented the easiest way for employers to reduce their work forces. In 2009, therefore, there was some decline across Europe in the proportion of young people in work employed in temporary jobs (see the Tables attached to the questionnaire). Since then, there has been some tendency for the proportion to increase again, in part perhaps because employers are reluctant to take on people on permanent - or standard – contracts given the uncertainty about future economic prospects.

Given the above, it is understandable that there is growing public interest, and some concern, over the nature of the jobs that young people are taking up. This concern is mirrored at EU-level where a ‘flexicurity’ approach to labour market policy has increasingly been advocated, which, in practice, means that while flexibility is an important objective, it needs to be accompanied by protection of workers’ interests if it is not to lead to a growth of precarious employment in low quality jobs. Accordingly, there is a need to obtain a better understanding of the terms and conditions applying to temporary jobs, the extent to which they are a stepping stone to permanent jobs and a working career in line with a person’s qualifications and capabilities, the access to social protection which comes with them and the measures in place to encourage employers to convert them into more stable jobs. These issues form the focus of the present study.

Definition of temporary jobs

The interest in the study is in all young people employed in temporary jobs of whatever kind, in the sense of all jobs that they are not subject to a standard contract of employment which is normally one of indeterminate length, or at least one for which no specific length is specified. Such temporary jobs can be for a period of training (i.e. traineeships or apprenticeships) or probation, intended to enable employers to check the suitability or aptitude of people for the jobs concerned. They might also be to replace someone on maternity leave or on a training programme or they might relate to a specific project of fixed duration.

All such jobs and others which are of fixed duration should be covered, whether they are part-time or full-time and irrespective of whether they are specifically for young people (such as perhaps in the case of traineeships or apprenticeships) or for people of all ages which young people happen to be doing. In some cases, it should be noted, it is relevant to include, in addition, to temporary employees, the ‘bogus’ self-employed – i.e. those people who have self-employment status but who are contracted to work for a single employer and who are effectively similar to employees who have a fixed-term contract of employment. (The cases in question relate to instances where employers use self-employment contracts as a means of employing young people without bearing the costs, and obligations, of a standard contract of employment.)

Outline of study

The study is divided in three sections. The first is concerned with the main types of job in which young people who are employed under temporary contracts work and the reasons why employers choose to use temporary contracts of employment instead of standard ones when they take on young people, as well as with the link, if any, with labour market conditions (i.e. with the extent to which the crisis has led to an increase in temporary employment). The starting point is the data summarised above, derived from the LFS, which indicate the relative number of young people employed on temporary contracts in the different European countries and the way that this has changed over the recent past (these data, as noted, are set out in the tables attached to the questionnaire). Correspondents are asked to check these data against any national data on temporary employment and to indicate where these show a different picture from the LFS data, perhaps because a different definition is adopted of temporary jobs.

Any description or commentary on national statistics should, however, remain brief, since the main task of the first section, is to review and summarise relevant sources of information on the different kinds of temporary contract under which young people are employed in each of the countries, the circumstances and areas (the types of job and the sectors of activity) in which they tend to be used and the main reasons why employers adopt them.

The second section is concerned with the access to social benefits which temporary jobs provide, distinguishing between the various kinds of benefit, and with the extent to which entitlement to benefit differs for young people employed in temporary jobs from that for those employed under standard contracts of employment. It should be emphasised that the concern is not only with the formal regulations which apply, which in many if not most countries do not make a formal distinction between temporary jobs and others, but also with de facto entitlement which stems from the nature of temporary employment. In particular, young people in temporary jobs may have difficulty in complying with the need to have a continuous period in employment, or a continuous record of paying social contributions, in order to be eligible for unemployment benefit.

The third section is concerned with the measures in place to regulate the use of temporary contracts of employment (such as specifying the number of times they can be renewed), with the attitudes of government and the social partners towards their use and with the incentives which exist to encourage the wider use of standard contracts of employment and the conversion of temporary jobs into permanent ones. A particular point of interest is the extent to which regulations and attitudes as regards temporary jobs have changed over the crisis period as the number of jobs available for young people to take up has diminished and as expanding these has become a policy priority.

A final point to note is that while it is customary to define youth employment (and unemployment) in terms of those aged 15-24, it is also the case that many of those aged 25-29 are also employed in temporary jobs, as indicated in the attached tables. Correspondents are therefore asked to extend the coverage of the study to this age group where relevant. It is recognised that in some countries the statistics available may not relate precisely to the age groups specified here, in which case correspondents should report on the age groups nearest to these.

Questionnaire

1. Importance of temporary employment for young people

1.1. Do the figures shown in the attached tables (on the number of temporary employed as a % of total employees based on Eurostat LFS data) give a reliable indication of the scale of temporary employment among the young in your country and the way that it has changed over recent years? Are there young people employed in temporary jobs who do not show up in the Eurostat figures? Are there national statistics which show a different picture from the Eurostat data? If so, please indicate what they show and give the source of the data.

The Eurostat LFS data is a reliable source of information about the employment of young people on temporary contracts in Poland over the last few years. The studies carried out in Poland show that the highest percentage of people on fixed-term contracts can be found among young people (up to 29 years of age).

Because of the fact that civil-law contracts have become increasingly popular in Poland (such contracts are not subject to Labour Code regulations and they are treated as ‘non-standard’ forms of employment), the scale of this phenomenon should also be thoroughly studied. Inspections carried out by the Państwowa Inspekcja Pracy (National Labour Inspectorate) give some insight into the scale of employment based on civil-law contracts, yet this knowledge is still very limited and insufficient (see section 1.2 below).

1.2. Is there any evidence that other forms of employment are used as a substitute for temporary contracts, such as bogus self-employment where young people are contracted to provide services to a single work provider in a continuous manner so acting de facto as employees? If so, please give the source of the evidence and indicate the scale of the phenomenon in terms of the number of people concerned.

Labour sociologists and trade unions claim that some employers abuse civil-law contracts and bogus self-employment and apply them even where, according to the law, an employment contract should be concluded. However, there is no statistical data about the actual scale of this phenomenon. Trade unions estimate that about 4-5 million people in Poland may be working on the basis of civil-law contracts.

Civil-law contracts (contract to perform a specific task,contract of mandate and contract of management) are regulated by the Civil Code and not by the Labour Code. A contract to perform a specific task should be concluded in a situation where the principal expects the agent to deliver a specific result. Whereas a contract of mandate should be used when the performance, the action itself, is important and not so much the end result. A contract of management usually refers to civil law contracts for the performance of services (e.g. managing a firm ) by a manager. Civil-law contracts differ from employment contract in the fact that the work is not performed under the supervision of the employer, in a place and during the time set by the employer. According to the law, an illegal instance of using a civil-law contract is a situation where the work is in fact performed under the supervision of the employer and in the place and during the time set by him.

In order to combat the practice of abusing the civil-law contracts, the powers of the National Labour Inspectorate (Państwowa Inspekcja Pracy) have been extended. Unfortunately, public statistics does not collect data on the frequency of conclusion of civil-law contracts and forced self-employment. Some information about this phenomenon can be gained from the inspections of the National Labour Inspectorate [NLI] conducted in the years 2010 and 2011 (the data for 2012 is not available yet), which indicate that the number of civil-law contracts has been growing systematically at the expense of employment contracts. Unfortunately, the data quoted in NLI reports refer to all age groups and it is not possible to present the data pertaining specifically to the situation of young people.

According to NLI, in 2008, 15.5% of working people worked on the basis of civil-law contracts, in 2009 it was 18.6%, whereas in 2010 as much as 21% of the whole working population. At that time, the number of entities where civil-law contracts were concluded, including contracts to perform a specific task concluded in a situation where an employment contract should have been concluded, increased by 13%. NLI also points out that employers use forced self-employment (NLI does not say, however, how big the scale of this phenomenon is), which may resemble the process of labour outsourcing.

There is a number of reasons why civil-law contracts are becoming so popular in Poland. By using civil-law contracts and forced self-employment, employers try to make savings through cutting employment costs, including costs of occupational medicine, work safety, training, social insurance contributions (in case of a contract to perform a specific task, the principal is not obliged to pay the health and social insurance contribution; whereas a contract of mandate is subject to health insurance and, if it is the only source of income for the agent, it is also subject to social insurance).

Such contracts are also convenient because they are easy to terminate. Civil-law contracts do not give any entitlement to workers’ benefits or to protection to which people on employment contracts are entitled. They are not covered, for instance, by the provisions concerning holiday leave, working time limits, minimum remuneration. Civil-law contracts are advantageous for employers because of the low labour costs.

1.3. Please list (and give summary details, i.e. purpose and duration of the contract) the most common contract types or contractual arrangements under which young people are employed on a temporary basis (such as for traineeships, apprenticeships, probationary periods, replacement of workers on leave or projects of a fixed duration). What is the relative importance of each type of contract or arrangement in terms of the number of young people employed under them?

The available statistical data does not contain a division into specific types of fixed-time contracts – all data is presented collectively. The data leads to a conclusion that the most frequent ones are contracts concluded for the period from a few months to up to one year. The Eurostat data for 2011 shows that employers with workers at the age of 15-24 most often sign contracts for the period from 7 to 12 months (30% of fixed-time contracts); almost 21% of contracts are for the period between 1-3 months (a significant part of those contracts are probationary period contracts); more than 17% - for the period of 4-6 months; over 16% for the period of 13-24 months.

1.4. Please indicate the main reasons for the emergence and development of the different types of temporary contract which you have listed in response to question 1.3. To what extent are they linked to particular conditions in the labour market or employment protection legislation/regulation in your country? What is the main attraction of such contracts to employers? What effect has the crisis had on the use of such contracts?

From the point of view of employment security, Polish labour law differentiates between fixed-type contracts and indefinite time contracts. A fixed-time contract may be terminated with a two-week notice if it has been concluded for a period longer than 6 months and the parties provided for its earlier termination in such a manner. It is only in case of indefinite time contracts that the employer must justify the termination of contract. The notice period for termination of indefinite-time contracts depends of the length of employment and amounts to: 2 weeks with the length of service shorter than 6 months; 1 month if a worker has worked at least 6 months; 3 months if a worker has worked at least 3 years.

Qualitative studies (see M. Bednarski, 2012) carried out among employers show that there is a number of reasons for the growing popularity of fixed-time contracts.

Fixed-time contracts are often treated by employers as an extension of the probationary period – they allow them to get to know a worker better, to see what his or her qualifications are and to check whether they are fit for the job. According to employers, the probationary period provided for by the law – maximum 3 months – is too short to make a correct assessment of a worker. During this period, the employers also want to check whether an employee is reliable or whether he or she does not abuse alcohol.

First of all, however, these contracts are advantageous for employers for economic reasons, because they make it possible to be flexible in adjusting the size of the workforce to the current needs of the company – to increase employment during the periods of prosperity and to reduce it when the business is slow. In this way, employers try to protect themselves from unpredictable swings in the economic situation. In this context, it may be stated that there is a link between the increase in the popularity of fixed-time contracts and the economic crisis.

Some employers say that fixed-time contracts serve as a tool to discipline employees, who, fearing the loss of their job, are more disciplined/obedient.

Employment strategies differ depending on the size of a company. Flexible, unstable employment is offered particularly by small companies, which are very vulnerable to economic situation changes. Whereas some of the big companies point to advantages of continuous employment – it is a way to avoid uncontrolled labour turnover, recruitment costs and training new employees. Big companies prefer indefinite time contracts primarily with “good”, highly qualified employees and fixed-time contracts with employees who have lower and more common qualifications. Fixed-time contracts are also typical for the secondary sector. There are fewer fixed-time contracts in companies with active trade unions.

1.5. To what extent are temporary contracts a ‘stepping stone’ to ‘permanent’ jobs (or those with standard contracts of employment of undefined duration)? Are apprentices and trainees typically taken on by the companies or other organisations concerned on standard permanent contracts once they complete their training? Has the situation changed over the crisis period? Please summarise any relevant studies which have been carried out in your country or other evidence at the national level which exists and give the reference to them.

Unfortunately, there is no data concerning the extent to which fixed-time contracts are converted into indefinite time contracts. The inspections of the National Labour Inspectorate mentioned above indicate that the trend is rather negative as far as permanent employment is concerned.

Qualitative studies (M. Bednarski, 2012) indicate that sometimes, a fixed-time contract becomes a contract for indefinite duration – it happens when the fixed-time contract is treated as an extended probationary period (see Section 1.4). Such a strategy is used particularly by employers from the public sector (state-owned companies or public offices) – after a three-month probationary period, the worker is employed, for instance, for a year, and then, if his or her work is positively assessed, they sign an employment contract for indefinite time.

The EU-SILC data shows that in the years 2006-2008, less than 30% of respondents employed on the basis of fixed-time contracts managed to get permanent employment after a year (the majority still had fixed-time contracts, became unemployed or economically inactive), but if we consider a period longer than one year, it turns out that with time the percentage of people who are transferred to indefinite time contracts grows (after 3 years almost 50% of people at the age of 18-29 had permanent employment). Men have better chances to find a permanent job than women (52.5% against 43.9%) and so have people with tertiary education (A. Kiersztyn, 2012).

The data of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy (‘Efektywność podstawowych form aktywizacji zawodowej realizowanych w ramach programów na rzecz promocji zatrudnienia, łagodzenia skutków bezrobocia oraz aktywizacji zawodowej w 2011’, ‘Effectiveness of the main forms of economic activation applied as part of programmes for employment promotion, mitigating the consequences of unemployment and economic activation in 2011’) shows that in 2011, 52.6% of people (the data is not broken into age categories) who were on traineeship offered by Labour Offices found employment (unfortunately, we do not know what kind of contracts were involved). In 2010 48.4% of trainees found employment. In 2011, 170,000 people participated in such a traineeship programme, whereas in 2010 there were almost 280,000 participants. We can therefore note a significant fall in the number of traineeship programmes participants, which is a result of reduction of public funding available for economic activation of the unemployed. Some members of the public are of the opinion that companies abuse the traineeship programmes, by accepting new trainees all the time but refusing to retain them after the programme is over (unfortunately, the scale of this phenomenon has not been studied). There is no information available about traineeship programmes organised by non-public entities.

2. Access to social benefits

2.1. Does entitlement of young people to (contributory) unemployment insurance benefits and (non-contributory) unemployment assistance (i.e. benefits, usually means-tested, which provide a minimum level of income) differ if they are employed on temporary contracts as opposed to permanent ones? If so, please indicate briefly the differences in eligibility conditions and any differences between types of temporary contract (including those working as self-employed for a single employer). Have there been any changes over the period of the crisis?As far as access of the unemployed to benefits is concerned there is no difference between people employed on the basis of a fixed-time contract and those on indefinite-time contracts (that applies to all age groups). A person who within 18 months before the registration date has been able to document at least 365 days of employment is entitled to the unemployment benefit. People who have worked on short-term contracts may find it difficult to meet this requirement. The situation has not changed during the period of crisis. Civil law contracts do not give any or give very limited unemployment benefits. A person employed on contract to perform a specific task is not entitled to the unemployment benefit. Whereas a person employed on the basis of a contract of mandate have to fulfil the following conditions to be granted unemployment benefits: she/he was employed for a total of at least 365 days in the period of 18 months before the day of registration and has received during this period income which is at least equivalent to the minimum wage, from which premiums for social security and the Labour Fund were paid.2.2. Does entitlement of young people to sickness benefits and maternity benefits differ if they are employed on temporary contracts as opposed to permanent ones? If so, please indicate briefly the differences in eligibility conditions and any differences between types of temporary contract (including those working as self-employed for a single employer). Have there been any changes over the period of the crisis?

There are no differences in access to sickness benefits and maternity benefits between people employed on fixed-term contracts and indefinite-time contracts. People who are self-employed may, at their own request, be covered by optional sickness insurance. A self-employed woman may apply for maternity benefit provided that she is covered by insurance. The sickness insurance, which guarantees maternity benefits and sickness benefits, is voluntary for people employed on the basis of civil law contracts (the employees can buy sickness insurance on their own).

2.3. Are there any differences in the entitlement of young people to old-age pensions between those employed in temporary jobs as opposed to permanent ones? If so, please indicate what these are. Have conditions of eligibility to pensions changed over the period of the crisis (including through pension reforms introduced as part of a long-term strategy to improve the financial sustainability of the system)?

Under the 1999 pension system reform, a 3-pillar system was introduced (the first two pillars are mandatory, the third is optional). The first mandatory pillar consists of two parts:

- the minimum guaranteed pension for people who have reached the retirement age and have met the requirement of the minimum contribution period (20 years for women and 25 years for men);

- an indexed, “pay-as-you-go system” account at the Zak³ad Ubezpieczeñ Spo³ecznych (Social Insurance Institution), based on the contributions of the insured worker (the amount of future pension will be determined on the basis of the accumulated contributions).

The second pillar is based on the contributions paid to Open Pension Funds.

Generally, the amount of future pension will depend on the amount of contributions accumulated during the period of economic activity of the worker. There are no differences in the system of transferring the contributions between workers employed on fixed-term contracts and those on indefinite time contracts. The pension insurance is mandatory only for people employed on contract of mandate; people employed on contract to perform a specific task are not covered by the pension insurance. However, the system is advantageous primarily for those workers who have a permanent job and is disadvantageous for people who have had breaks in employment – this is a risk carried, for instance, by fixed-time contracts (they do not provide employment security so there is a risk of losing the continuity of retirement contributions payment). Access to the minimum guaranteed pension may also be limited – especially for people with long and numerous breaks in employment (job seeking in Poland takes, on average, 10 months).

2.4. Are there any differences in entitlement of young people to health care between those employed in temporary jobs as opposed to permanent ones? If so, please indicate what these are. Have conditions of eligibility to health care changed over the period of the crisis?

There are no differences between workers employed on fixed-term contracts and those on indefinite time contracts. A person employed on contract to perform a specific task is not entitled to the health care, while a person employed on contract of mandate is in the same situation as people employed on contract of employment.

3. Regulation of temporary contracts and policies to support transitions into permanent contracts

3.1. Please describe briefly the regulations applying to the main types of temporary contract in your country. Do restrictions exist on the maximum duration of the different types of temporary contract for young workers or the number of times they can be renewed? Do these regulations differ by age (i.e. between young people and older workers) and/or by type of temporary contract (as mentioned in question 1.3), by occupation, or by sector of activity? Do special regulations exist for those completing apprenticeships or traineeships? Have the regulations changed over the period of the crisis – i.e. has there been a tendency for them to have been tightened or relaxed?

In the Polish Labour Code, the term ‘temporary contract’ applies to: contract for a fixed time, contract for the period needed to perform a certain task, and to a contract for probationary period or for substitution. All the regulations described below apply to all workers, including young people.

Any employment contract may be preceded by a contract for probationary period, which, however, may not be longer than 3 months. The Labour Code does not determine the maximum length of any other type of fixed-time contract. This, however, does not mean that employers can act with complete freedom in this regard. The Supreme Court has adjudicated twice on this issue. In the decision of 7 September 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that concluding a long-term fixed-time contract (10 years) with an employee constitutes a case of circumventing the provision of the labour law and violation of the principles of conduct in community. The ruling of the Supreme Court of 14 February 2012 confirms this position – the Court decided that concluding a ten-year fixed-time contract should be treated as employment for indefinite time. In recent years, trade unions have been undertaking action to introduce the maximum duration of a fixed-time contract (more on that in Section 3.3).

Fixed-time contracts are terminated with the lapse of time for which they have been concluded. A contract concluded for a period up to 6 months is not subject to termination; when concluding a contract for a period longer than six months, parties may provide for a possibility of earlier termination with a two-week notice. When terminating a fixed-time contract, the employer is not obliged to justify the termination.

A variation of a fixed-time contract is a contract to substitute an absent employee (e.g. one who is on a long-term sick leave, on maternity leave, on child care leave, on unpaid leave). Such a contract expires on return to work of the substituted employee.

A contract for the period needed to perform a specific task is concluded for the purpose of having a certain task completed by the worker. Such contracts are usually concluded for casual work, seasonal work and in order to complete certain tasks (for instance, design work). Such a contract resembles, to a great extent, civil-law contracts, with the difference being that the work is performed under the supervision of the employer.

In order to better protect the workers, a principle has been introduced into the Labour Code in 2004 stating that if the same parties concluded a fixed-time contract twice for the periods immediately following each other, then the subsequent – third – contract must be concluded for indefinite time. This provision was introduced in order to protect workers from abuse of fixed-time contracts by employers (this provision was waived for the duration of the so called “anti-crisis statute”, that is, from 22 August 2009 to 31 December 2011). However, the employer has a possibility to circumvent the necessity to conclude the third contract as a contract for indefinite time and conclude a fixed-time contract again, provided that the time between expiration of the second contract and conclusion of the third one is minimum 30 days. Trade unions point out that some employers abuse the fixed-time contracts by concluding multi-year contracts with a two-week notice period.

3.2. Do incentives exists in your country to encourage employers to opt for standard rather than temporary contracts of employment, to convert temporary contracts into permanent ones or to make it easier for employees to move from temporary to permanent contracts? If so, please briefly describe the form that these incentives take. Do they apply equally to young people as well as to older workers? Are any incentives in place to encourage employers to take on young people who have completed an apprenticeship or traineeship on permanent contracts? Have there been any changes to incentives over the period of the crisis? Are any such changes being proposed or being actively discussed at present in your country?

There are no instruments that would encourage employers to employ people for indefinite period of time or to convert fixed-time contracts into permanent ones.

3.3. Is the employment of young people on temporary contracts an important issue of concern for the social partners? Are there strong differences in attitudes and policies between employers and trade unions towards the use of temporary contracts? Have any initiatives been taken by the social partners, either jointly or separately, to encourage the use of permanent rather than temporary contracts? Have any specific initiatives been taken in respect of young people completing apprenticeships or traineeships over the types of job they are offered when their temporary position comes to an end?

The issue of employing young people on the basis of fixed-time contracts has become an important topic in Poland – it is a subject of an on-going public discussion, with the participation of academics, trade union representatives, employers as well as politicians, journalists and young people themselves. In 2011, a national newspaper “Gazeta Wyborcza” ran a campaign “The Lost Generation”, during which discussions were held about the economic and social situation of young people who are without a job or who work on temporary contracts and the so called “junk contracts” (civil-law contracts). The term “Lost Generation” refers to the limited life opportunities of young people, including limited prospects for social and economic independence (moving out from their parents’ home, starting their own families, having children). A term precariat has started to be used in the debate.

In addition, in 2012 NSZZ “Solidarność” began a campaign against the so called “junk employment contracts” (apart from civil-law contracts, also temporary contracts) and submitted a draft of a resolution aimed at discouraging employers from using fixed-term contracts and at increasing job security. NSZZ “Solidarność” proposed the introduction of obligatory contributions to the social security and pension systems for all types of employment contract, including civil law contracts.

Trade unions demand that a maximum duration of fixed-time contracts be set – according to trade unions it should be maximum 24 months. Whereas employers propose 36 months. An idea has also appeared that after this period such contracts could be extended only if the employer and the trade unions reach an agreement to that effect (it could be regulated in collective agreements). At the same time, employers emphasise that limiting the duration of fixed-time contracts should be accompanied with making the provisions concerning termination of employment more flexible. This proposal is unacceptable for trade unions. Work on possible changes to the labour law is continuing within the Tripartite Commission.

References

M. Bednarski, 2012, ‘Zatrudnienie na czas określony. Perspektywa pracodawców’ (‘Fixed-time employment. The employers’ perspective’), in: M. Bednarski and K. W. Fieske (eds) ‘Zatrudnienie na czas określony w polskiej gospodarce’ (Fixed-time employment in Polish economy) Warszawa: Instytut Pracy i Spraw Socjalnych (Institute of Labour and Social Studies), pp. 36-66.

A. Kiersztyn, 2012, ‘Analiza ekonomicznych konsekwencji zatrudnienia na czas określony dla jednostek i gospodarstw domowych’ (‘An analysis of the economic consequences of fixed-time employment for individuals and households’) in: M. Bednarski and K. W. Fieske (eds) ‘Zatrudnienie na czas określony w polskiej gospodarce’ (Fixed-time employment in Polish economy). Warszawa: Instytut Pracy i Spraw Socjalnych (Institute of Labour and Social Studies), pp. 93-121.

Temporary employees as a share of total employees aged 15-24, 2004-2011

 

% total employees

% point change

 

2004

2007

2009

2011

2004-2007

2007-2009

2009-2011

2007-2011

EU27

37.6

41.3

40.4

42.5

3.7

-0.9

2.1

1.2

BE

28.6

31.6

33.2

34.3

3.0

1.6

1.1

2.7

BG

15.3

10.3

9.3

8.3

-5.0

-1.0

-1.0

-2.0

CZ

18.0

17.4

18.7

22.3

-0.6

1.3

3.6

4.9

DK

26.9

22.5

22.8

22.1

-4.4

0.3

-0.7

-0.4

DE

55.5

57.4

57.3

56.0

1.9

-0.1

-1.3

-1.4

EE

:

:

:

13.8

 

   

 

IE

11.2

20.5

25.0

34.2

9.3

4.5

9.2

13.7

EL

26.3

27.0

28.4

30.1

0.7

1.4

1.7

3.1

ES

64.8

62.8

55.9

61.4

-2.0

-6.9

5.5

-1.4

FR

46.7

53.5

52.4

55.1

6.8

-1.1

2.7

1.6

IT

34.4

42.3

44.4

49.9

7.9

2.1

5.5

7.6

CY

16.1

23.3

18.4

17.2

7.2

-4.9

-1.2

-6.1

LV

17.3

9.3

9.3

10.7

-8.0

0.0

1.4

1.4

LT

13.8

9.8

5.0

9.1

-4.0

-4.8

4.1

-0.7

LU

24.1

34.1

39.3

34.5

10.0

5.2

-4.8

0.4

HU

15.1

19.1

21.4

22.9

4.0

2.3

1.5

3.8

MT

9.2

11.0

11.3

17.7

1.8

0.3

6.4

6.7

NL

37.9

45.1

46.5

47.7

7.2

1.4

1.2

2.6

AT

32.4

34.9

35.6

37.2

2.5

0.7

1.6

2.3

PL

60.6

65.7

62.0

65.6

5.1

-3.7

3.6

-0.1

PT

47.4

52.6

53.5

57.2

5.2

0.9

3.7

4.6

RO

6.6

4.6

3.7

5.8

-2.0

-0.9

2.1

1.2

SI

63.1

68.3

66.6

74.5

5.2

-1.7

7.9

6.2

SK

9.9

13.7

12.5

18.6

3.8

-1.2

6.1

4.9

FI

49.8

42.4

39.0

43.4

-7.4

-3.4

4.4

1.0

SE

53.1

57.1

53.4

57.3

4.0

-3.7

3.9

0.2

UK

11.0

13.3

11.9

13.5

2.3

-1.4

1.6

0.2

NO

31.2

28.0

25.7

24.3

-3.2

-2.3

-1.4

-3.7

Source: Eurostat, Labour Force Survey

         
Temporary employees as a share of total employees aged 25-29, 2004-2011

 

% total employees

% point change

 

2004

2007

2009

2011

2004-2007

2007-2009

2009-2011

2007-2011

EU27

19.5

21.1

20.2

21.4

1.6

-1.0

1.2

0.2

BE

12.4

13.1

12.5

14.6

0.7

-0.5

2.0

1.5

BG

9.0

5.3

4.4

4.2

-3.8

-0.8

-0.2

-1.0

CZ

9.8

8.1

8.4

10.8

-1.7

0.2

2.5

2.7

DK

16.5

13.9

13.8

16.4

-2.6

-0.1

2.7

2.5

DE

17.2

21.2

21.2

22.0

4.0

0.0

0.8

0.8

EE

3.0

1.8

4.2

4.2

-1.2

2.4

0.0

2.3

IE

3.4

10.1

9.5

12.7

6.7

-0.6

3.2

2.6

EL

18.4

16.1

19.9

19.0

-2.3

3.8

-1.0

2.9

ES

44.0

41.2

37.5

39.8

-2.7

-3.7

2.3

-1.5

FR

18.3

20.8

20.2

22.0

2.5

-0.6

1.8

1.2

IT

17.2

22.7

23.5

26.7

5.5

0.8

3.2

4.0

CY

19.2

17.7

16.2

18.1

-1.5

-1.5

1.9

0.4

LV

11.8

3.2

4.2

5.5

-8.6

1.0

1.4

2.3

LT

5.3

4.2

2.5

3.6

-1.1

-1.7

1.1

-0.6

LU

7.6

12.5

11.2

12.7

4.9

-1.2

1.5

0.3

HU

8.1

8.9

11.3

11.0

0.8

2.5

-0.3

2.2

MT

1.1

5.6

5.0

6.3

4.6

-0.6

1.3

0.6

NL

16.8

22.9

24.2

25.8

6.1

1.2

1.7

2.9

AT

10.0

8.8

9.6

9.8

-1.1

0.8

0.2

1.0

PL

33.8

38.7

35.6

38.9

4.9

-3.1

3.3

0.2

PT

30.3

36.6

38.6

39.2

6.3

2.0

0.6

2.6

RO

3.4

2.1

1.2

2.1

-1.3

-0.9

0.9

0.0

SI

30.7

33.7

34.1

33.9

2.9

0.4

-0.2

0.3

SK

6.8

5.7

4.1

7.7

-1.2

-1.6

3.7

2.1

FI

28.7

24.5

25.5

26.0

-4.2

1.1

0.5

1.5

SE

24.0

27.4

24.0

25.0

3.4

-3.3

1.0

-2.4

UK

6.2

7.1

6.3

5.0

0.9

-0.8

-1.3

-2.1

Source: Eurostat, European Labour Force Survey

       

Marta Trawinska, Institute of Public Affairs

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