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Poland – Civil law contractors can join trade unions

Written by
Raczkowski largest boutique firm focusing on HR law.
As of 1 January 2019, workers in Poland employed using more flexible, task-based ‘civil law contracts’ will be entitled to join or form trade unions and to benefit from protection previously reserved for trade union members.

As of 1 January 2019, workers hired under Polish civil law contracts, a more flexible, task-based form of contract not regulated by the Labour contract (for example workers who are hired on the basis of mandate contracts and contracts for services) can join trade unions in a similar way to employees. The new law (described here) awards them numerous union rights (similar to employees). The rules on reporting the number of union members have been also changed and employers now have the right to verify the number of members reported by the union. In view of these changes in the regulation relating to trade unions, entrepreneurs are recommended to take into consideration, in particular, the following points relating to cooperation with unions.

  • Civil contractors who are union representatives have the right to paid time off for their union activity. However, using time off for union work does not affect deadlines specified in their contracts.
  • They can be protected against termination of their contracts. If a contract is terminated in breach of this protection, an entrepreneur is obliged to pay the contractor six months’ pay as compensation. However the contractor cannot make a claim for reinstatement to work.
  • There are some changes regarding the criteria for representation in unions in the process of employment-related collective bargaining. In addition to the general criteria for representativeness (having 8% or 15% of all workers hired by a given entrepreneur, including civil contractors), it is necessary for at least 5% of employees (that is, workers in an employment relationship, not under a civil contract) to be employed by a given entrepreneur.
  • The list of information that can be requested by unions from an employer has now been specified by law.
  • Unions are now obliged to report their number of members to the employer twice a year (previously the requirement was to report quarterly). The number of their members means the total number of employees (workers in an employment relationship regardless of how long they have been union members) and civil contractors (assuming that they have been union members for at least six months).
  • The employer has the right to challenge the number of members reported by the union. When this happens, it must be verified by a court.