Important amendments to the Polish Labour Code concerning discrimination and mobbing (workplace bullying)
A number of amendments to the Polish Labour Code entered into force on 7 September 2019; employers should pay special attention to those concerning discrimination and mobbing (workplace bullying). In particular, the introduced changes bring about an open catalogue of possible grounds for employee discrimination, which also cover instances other than those explicitly listed in the Labour Code. Every case of unequal treatment that is not justified by objective circumstances may be regarded as discrimination. This means it will be easier for an employee to claim that he/she has been discriminated against, as they will be able to point to specific instances laid out in the Labour Code. The burden of proof will be on the employer to show that the existing unequal treatment is admissible and justified. Also, under the newly introduced provisions, employees who have suffered from mobbing (workplace bullying) will be able to formulate an appropriate claim in a labour court whilst remaining in the employer’s employ – to date, this right was only conferred upon employees who had terminated their employment relationship as a result of mobbing (bullying).
In view of the amendments, employers should review and update their internal regulations currently in force, making reference to relevant provisions of the Labour Code on discrimination and mobbing (workplace bullying). Employers should also update their internal procedures as regards the notification and investigation of such cases. Likewise, the texts of the provisions of law concerning equal treatment in employment made available to employees, which is required by the law, should be updated.
Notably, employers will have to pay more attention to the situations in which they differentiate between employees in employment terms and in particular remuneration and award of benefits and how they are justified in order to protect themselves against allegations of discrimination as well as promptly react to notifications of potential instances of mobbing.