Maternity leave – for how long?

On August 27, 2012, in Parental rights, Working Time and Leave, by Kalina Jaroslawska

European labour law legislations provide for different schemes of maternity leave for young mothers. Some are longer, some are shorter, there are also discrepancies as far as social benefits during that are concerned.

In Poland the duration of maternity leave depends on the number of children born at one time and equals:

  • 20 weeks when one child is born,
  • 31 weeks when twins are born,
  • 33 weeks when triplets are born,
  • 35 weeks when quadruplets are born,
  • 37 weeks when five or more children are born at one time.

At least 2 weeks of maternity leave may be used before birth.

On top of that, after the basic leave entitlement has been used up, a young mother is entitled to additional maternity leave of 4 weeks (in case of birth of one child) or 6 weeks (in case of birth of more than one child). These additional entitlements will be increased to 6 and 8 weeks respectively, beginning January 2014.

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Something unexpected happened? Request a day off

On August 13, 2012, in Working Time and Leave, by Kalina Jaroslawska

Polish Labor Code grants the employee a very useful right to request up to 4 days off in each calendar year, should there be a need for dealing with personal or family issues.

Essentially, it’s up to the employee to decide on the exact date of the leave. These 4 days are not included in the official schedule of leave or in any other holiday plans previously consulted with the employer and can be used separately or at once.

However, days of leave at the request of the employee reduce the employee’s length of annual leave by a corresponding number of days. Moreover, the legal character of leave at the request of the employee is basically the same as the “normal” employee leave, so the general provisions apply – such as the rule that one day of leave corresponds to 8 hours of work.

In the vast majority of cases, the employer is obliged to grant leave to the employee. However, this obligation is not unconditional. The Polish Supreme Court ruled that the employer can refuse to grant leave if the refusal is justified by special circumstances which require the employee to be present at work.

Employee’s request for a day off can be also treated as abuse of the right to leave in question, if used in a manner that would be contrary to its socio-economic purpose or the principles of community coexistence, for example, as a way of exerting pressure on an employer by a group of employees to achieve particular benefits.

As a consequence of the employee’s duty to respect the interest of the employer’s organization – which is one of the main and most important duties of an employee provided for in the Polish Labor Code – the employee should request a day off before the working day starts.

The request doesn’t need to be made in writing, any effective method (e.g. phone call) is sufficient.

Please note that the employee is entitled to maximum 4 days of leave in a calendar year, regardless of the number of employers with whom the employee has an employment relationship in a given year.

Contributed by: Mateusz Kamm

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The date of the employee’s vacation leave is usually determined much earlier, so that the employee knows when they can expect time off and the employer knows when they need to arrange for a replacement.

The starting day has come, the employee is absent from work, but I need him or her to help in an important business.

Can I as an employer require the employee to break their leave and return to work? Can I order them to do so?

Polish Labour Code protects the employee’s right to vacation leave.

Once the leave has been started, it may be recalled only in exceptional circumstances, which could not be foreseen on the starting day of the vacation leave. Importantly, these exceptional circumstances must be supported by the employer’s particular needs which could not be accommodated without the employee’s presence.

For example, the employer may not require the employee to return to work only for the purpose of terminating the employment contract. During vacation leave the employee is protected from termination.

Legally, the employer’s request in an employment law order, which the employee should obey under pain of applicable sanctions, including immediate termination of the employment contract – provided that the employer had the right to require the employee to return to work.

When the employee breaks their vacation leave at the employer’s request, the employer should reimburse the employee for the related costs, e.g. costs of earlier return. However, it is for the employee to demonstrate the amount of such costs in order to be able to claim them from the employer.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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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.

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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.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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