How much time a week do you work in Poland?

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 /

Full-time vs. part-time work

Employees may work on a full-time or part-time basis, whichever is agreed with the employer. There are no particular restrictions in this respect and the choice of the working time scheme is left to the parties to the employment contract.

However, you should bear in mind that full-time or part-time employment affects mutual rights and obligation of the employee and the employer.

First, it is forbidden to discriminate part-time employees or favour full-time employees with respect to entering into or terminating the employment contract, employment terms, promotion or access to professional training.

Second, employers are required to inform their employees about opportunities of full-time or part-time employment.

Third, part-time employment affects the rules of overtime work and paid vacation leave. Eg. the amount of vacation leave of a part-time employee should be calculated in proportion to that employee’s working time, with fractions being rounded up to a full day of leave. Further, basically a part-time employee working longer than stated in their employment contract will not be considered as working overtime provided that the 8-hour-per-day limit has not been exceeded. In this case the employment contract should indicate the number of hours above the contractual working time, exceeding of which earns the part-time employee the right to overtime premium.


Polish labour law

Have you ever had to do with Polish labour law? Probably not but since there are many US and UK based companies opening their branch offices in Poland there is a chance you may soon have to deal with it, especially if you are an employer representative.

If that’s the case, the first and foremost piece of legislation related to Polish law labour law that you need to look into is the Polish labour code. The Polish labour code will tell you:

  • how to conclude an employment contract and how to terminate it,
  • how to manage wages,
  • what are employee and employer statutory duties,
  • how you can prevent employee competitive activity via non compete agreements,
  • when the employee is liable for damage or loss caused to you,
  • what you need to know about work time, leaves and parents’ rights,
  • whether you can employ a minor,
  • what safe and healthy measures you need to take in your workplace,
  • how to go about union agreements (barganing agreements),
  • when you may be charged with an offense against an employee.

For some more detailed issues you may need to look into specific pieces of legislation. For example, if you require information on mass layoffs, you will have to get familiar with the Collective Dismissals Act.


Transfer of undertakings: procedural aspects

Employers participating in the transfer of undertakings must meet certain procedural requirements to make sure the the transfer complies with the labour legislation and measures for protection of employees.

First, they must notify their trade unions or – where there are no trade unions present – their employees of the transfer and related matters (such as reasons for the transfer and its predicted effects as well as plans concerning employment or work and pay conditions). Notification must be made in writing at least 30 days before the planned date of the transfer. However, failure to provide notification does not render the transfer null and void.

Second, the employer may not terminate the employee solely on the grounds of the transfer. Such termination will be considered unjustified and trigger employee remedies I discussed in some of the blog entries before. However, there may be other reasons to justify termination, e.g. the need to restructure or reduce the employer’s workforce, or an employee’s poor performance. The important thing is that any such reason must be genuine and concrete.

Third, employers partaking in the transfer of undertakings must bear in mind that in connection with the transfer an employee is entitled to make use of a “summary” termination procedure, that is, an employee may terminate the employment contract on 7 days’ notice within 2 months of transfer, without giving reasons. An employment contract so terminated will be understood to have been terminated by the employer with the applicable period of notice. Since the procedure of transfer is aimed at protecting the employee in the first place, there is no equivalent right for the employer and no “summary” termination procedure is available for them. As mentioned above, even regular dismissals solely on the grounds of the transfer are limited.


Transfer of undertakings: the concept of transfer

Polish labour law does not give a definition of the transfer of undertakings. However, it is traditionally understood as any organizational change which leads to transfer of ownership and includes mergers, takeovers or divisions of undertakings. Legal titles for such transfers are various: sale, lease, inheritance or other.

In the recent years, mostly under the influence of the Directive 2001/23/EC of 12 March 2001 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the safeguarding of employees’ rights in the event of transfers of undertakings, businesses or parts of undertakings or businesses, and the related EJC rulings, the understanding of the transfer of undertakings has changed, or rather – broadened to include a number of further sets of circumstances. In short, the transfer of undertakings may be considered to occur:

  • on takeover of tasks, not necessarily assets;
  • on subcontracting certain tasks to a third party contractor (in bilateral relationships);
  • on takeover of services, previously outsourced to one party, by another service provider, especially if such takeover of services was accompanied by takeover of assets related to these services (in tripartite relationships).

Obviously, not all situations described above will automatically trigger the transfer of undertakings. There are certain additional aspects which must be taken into consideration, such as:

  • the kind of day-to-day activity of the parties involved;
  • whether the takeover of tasks/services was accompanied by takeover of assets;
  • whether the tasks/services taken over constitute the major or auxiliary part of the business of the party who launched the takeover.

Because of this it is becoming increasingly difficult to state conclusively whether business transactions are caught by the transfer of undertakings. Needless to say, this leads to a lot of legal uncertainty, both on the part of the employee and the employer. Depending on particular circumstances, the party to whom tasks or services have been subcontracted may not even be aware that the transfer of undertakings has taken place, not mentioning the related employees. From this perspective, even though the broadening concept of the transfer of undertakings was originally and is still meant to protect the employees, it may oftentimes backfire rather than help.