Work on Sundays and national holidays in Poland

On June 4, 2012, in Working Time and Leave, by Kalina Jaroslawska

In a series of entries about working time we have already covered:

One important issue left is work on Sundays and national holidays.

Sundays are obvious. But what are national holidays?

National holidays in Poland are determined in a statute. There are 13 days counted as national holidays in a year, which is actually much more than in many European countries.  Just as many Polish employees work overtime, they also love time off during holidays.

Sundays and national holidays are days off work and basically work during those days is prohibited. However, there is an extensive list of exceptions, such as shopping malls (but they should closed on national holidays), search and rescue actions, restaurants, hotels, transportation, hospitals.

An employee who works under a particular working time schedule, referred to as the weekend working time schedule, may also work on Sundays and national holidays. Such an employee may work as long as 12 hours a day (i.e. 4 hours longer than the standard working time scheme).

Work on Sundays and national holidays is rewarded primarily by a day off in lieu. When this is not possible, an employee is entitled to an additional pay premium in the same amount as for overtime work.

An employee working on Sundays on a regular basis should have a Sunday off once in every 4 weeks.

There are a number of businesses where night work is necessary: hospitals, transport, factories, shift work.

Do night workers have any special rights to reward them for the shortcomings of night work?

Theoretically, yes, if they fall into the legal category of a night worker.

The Labour Code defines the night worker (or, to be exact, an employee working at night) as one who works at least 3 hours during night time or 1/4 of whose working time is covered by night time.

Night time is also defined in the Labour Code. Night time is a time span between 9 PM and 7 AM the following day. Within that time-span, the employer should set out in their internal regulations the particular starting and ending hours of night time , no longer than 8 hours, e.g. from 9 PM to 5 AM.

Employees working at night are entitled to an additional pay premium for each hour of night work in the amount of 20 percent of the hourly rate calculated from statutory minimum wages (in 2012: 1500 PLN). Not very encouraging financially, don’t you think? The employer’s internal regulations may provide for a higher night work premium, and they often do. Financial incentive is a important motivation factor here.

As night work is considered burdensome (no doubt about that!), there are certain groups of employees who are prevented from working at night. These are pregnant women and minors. Employees taking care of children up to 4 years of age have the option to agree or refuse to work at night.


Compensation for overtime work

On May 21, 2012, in Working Time and Leave, by Kalina Jaroslawska

Polish labor legislation provides for two options of compensating overtime work.

First, overtime work may be compensated by way of a statutory pay premium, which adds to the employee’s regular wages. The premium is 100% of the employee’s wages (based on the individual hourly or monthly rate) for overtime work performed at night and on Sundays and holidays which are not working days for the particular employee. For overtime work performed at other times the premium is 50% of the employee’s wages.

Second, overtime work may be compensated by providing time off in exchange. Here there are two further options. When the employee requests time off in lieu, the employer may provide it (but does not have to) in the same amount of hours as have been worked overtime. In the absence of the employee’s request, the employer may grant the employee time off of their own accord, but in this case the amount of time off in lieu must be 50% greater than the number of hours worked overtime. Employees provided time off in exchange for overtime work are not entitled to statutory pay premium.

In relation to employees holding particular positions there may apply different principles of compensating overtime work. For example, managers and heads of departments are expected to perform work also outside regular working hours without the right to compensation for overtime work (with a small exception related to work on Sundays and holidays, which was not rewarded by a day off). In relation to employees who work outside the office on a regular basis wages and the statutory pay premium for overtime work may be replaced by a lump-sum payment, which needs to be calculated in such a way as to reflect the number of overtime hours worked.

Calculating compensation for overtime hours is not an easy task, especially because you need to take into consideration work performed in excess of 8 hours a day as well as in excess of weekly working time, which is cleared in periods of several months. You must be careful not to calculate compensation for the same overtime work twice, which may happen if daily overtime work translates into exceeding weekly working hours over in a clearing period.

Just like every labour legislation has got its working time regulations, it also needs to provide for situations when the employee exceeds his or her working hours. This is referred to as overtime work.

Formally, overtime work is permitted only when:

  • it is required by particular needs of the employer;
  • it is necessary to set up a search and rescue team in order to save life or health, or to protect property or repair a breakdown.

Polish Labour Code sets a cap on the amount of overtime work an employee may perform. There is a weekly cap and a yearly cap.

The weekly cap is 8 hours of overtime work. Altogether the amount of hours to be worked during a week (including regular and overtime hours) may not exceed 48.

The yearly cap is 150 hours of overtime work required by particular needs of the employer. However, this limit may be – and often is – extended in an individual employment contact, the collective labour agreement or the employer’s internal regulations.

The Labour Code provides for several options of compensation for overtime work, depending on the employee’s position and the time when extra work was performed. I will write more about this in the next post.




How much time a week do you work in Poland?

On March 30, 2012, in Working Time and Leave, by Kalina Jaroslawska

I guess every labour law legislation has a chapter dedicated to working time. So does Polish Labour Code.

Five-day work week

The standard working time scheme is based on five working days in a week. Every week has seven days so two of them are free. First, it’s Sunday because it counts as a holiday/day off work by statute (with some exceptions, of course). Second, in planning the working time, the employer must provide for an additional day off work. It can be any day from Monday to Saturday – usually it’s Saturday, though.

Standard working time

The standard working time in a five-day work week is maximum 8 hours a day and, on average, 40 hours a week, within a clearing period not exceeding 4 months, as adopted by a particular employer. This means that the number of working hours may be more or less than 40 in a particular week, but altogether during the clearing period the average weekly working time may not exceed 40 hours.

The number of hours worked in a week, including overtime, may not exceed, on average,  48 hours during a clearing period adopted by a particular employer.

Apart from the standard working time scheme, the Labour Code allows for several additional schemes the aim of which is to make working time schedules more flexible. For example, the employee may apply to the employer for an individual working time schedule or a shortened work week. In a shortened work week system the employee works less then 5 days a week, but longer than 8 hours (though no longer than 12 hours) a day, within a clearing period not exceeding 1 month.

Rest breaks

Employees are entitled to daily and weekly rest breaks.

Daily rest breaks last no less than 11 hours.

Weekly rest breaks last for a continuous time of 35 hours, including at least 11 hours of continuous rest in every 24 hours. As a rule, weekly rest breaks should cover Sunday.

Employees whose daily working time amounts to at least 6 hours are entitled to a rest break of 15 minutes, which counts as working time.

Employers have the option to introduce an additional break of up to one hour per day, not counting as working time, for employees to have meals or deal with personal matters during work. Such breaks may be provided only via a collective labour agreement, internal working by-laws or the employment contract.

What kind of working time scheme are most common in your country? Drop me a work in the comments!

Image: renjith krishnan /