Various changes to Polish employment laws

Several important amendments to legislation applicable to employees take effect at the turn of the year.

New provisions defining employee obligations with regard to the employer’s business secrets as well as broader descriptions of acts of unfair competition are already in force. New statutory obligations have been imposed on employees without any time limits. A change has been made to the definition of a business secret. It should be important for employers to verify if any contractual provisions or internal policies at their workplace are fully compliant with the new law.

Starting from December 1, 2018 employee sick leave certificates must be issued by physicians electronically. Providing written certificates, which was the preferred practice in the past, is not going to be available in principle. The electronic form facilitates tracking and controlling employee sick leave absences.

With the beginning of 2019 employers will face changes regarding the rules of maintaining employment documentation. It will be possible to keep personal files of employees either in hard copies (currently the only available option) or electronically, according to specifically prescribed procedures. The employee documentation retention period will be reduced from 50 to 10 years in principle (mandatory for all new employment after January 1, 2019 and under certain conditions to employees employed between January  1, 1999 and December 31, 2018). There will also be some additional obligations, including those of informative nature, imposed on employers with regard to the above. The new regulations are complex and not entirely unambiguous, which is likely to cause uncertainties in their application.

Starting from January 1, 2019 certain amendments to the Act on trade unions will enter into force. In particular, the eligibility criteria for trade union participation will be extended. Currently, only employees may be members of trade unions. From the beginning of the year, membership will also be available for other individuals performing work, e.g. under certain conditions also for contractors under civil law agreements, individual entrepreneurs, interns, volunteers. It means that trade unions may also represent the abovementioned individuals. Also, among other changes, the employers will have additional measures to verify the level of union participation, which influences certain union rights.

If you would like to receive a full legal alert covering the changes above (in English or Polish), please contact Monika Krzyszkowska-DÄ…browska.