New rules for hiring temporary workers

As of 1 June 2017, the amended law for temporary workers is in force. On the one hand, the new regulations seek to provide more protection for temporary workers but, on the other hand, they can in practice hamper the functioning of temporary work because of the extension of responsibilities and obligations of employment agencies and user employers. Here are some changes to the law on temporary work.

Maximum temporary work period

One of the most important changes is the elimination of the possibility to direct the same temporary worker to the same user employer, through different employment agencies. The length of maximum periods of temporary work remain unchanged and is in principle not more than 18 months in 36 consecutive months, or in the case of continuous replacement for an absent employee - no more than 36 months. New maximum periods of employment for contracts ongoing on the date the amendment of the law came into effect are calculated from that date, i.e. from 1 June 2017.

Under previous legislation, the maximum working period of the same temporary worker for the same user employer was in practice lengthened by the fact that the temporary worker, after exhausting the maximum working period (i.e. 18 or 36 months), was employed by another employment agency, often from the same capital group and continued to work for the same user employer.

In this situation, the question whether in the new legal state there will be a reverse phenomenon to the current practice arises. Namely, will the same temporary worker perform the same work for formally different user employers from the same capital group?

Civil law contracts

Previously applicable provisions allowed, in principle, unlimited hiring of contractors (or other persons providing services under civil law contracts), subject to certain minimum conditions. In the current legal situation, there are significant restrictions in this respect, particularly as regards the maximum period of temporary work. The employment contract limits also apply to civil law contracts. Additionally, the arrangement between agency and user employer of not-hiring of a temporary worker after the completion of temporary work, is also invalid in respect of contractors and other persons employed under civil law contracts.

Furthermore, user employers have a duty of keeping and maintaining records of persons working under civil law contracts in the context of temporary work, indicating the dates of commencement and termination of such work. On the other hand, the employment agency on the day of termination of temporary work must issue a certificate confirming the period of work for each user employer.

Protection of the work of pregnant women

The amended regulations protect the work of pregnant women. The new law provides for application of the principle of extending the period of employment until the day of childbirth to temporary workers. This concerns temporary workers who have a minimum of two months' assignment to temporary work and refers to contracts that would be terminated after the third month of pregnancy.

Additional obligations of employment agency

Transitional provisions implementing the amendment also impose important obligations on the currently operating employment agencies. They must, among other things, inform the appropriate local province marshal what kind of activity they intend to pursue, i.e. job placement, HR and professional consulting or provision of temporary work services. Failure to submit such statement by 31 August 2017 is punishable by penal liability for false testimony. Subsequently, the marshal has until 31 December 2017 to issue a new certificate of entry in the register of entities operating as employment agencies.

Submission of this statement will entitle the agencies to continue with their business operations, as the certificates already issued to the employment agencies stay valid only until 31 December 2017.

New sanctions

The amendment concerns also penal provisions of the act on the employment of temporary workers, fixing the level of the fine between PLN 1,000 and PLN 30,000. The liability of the employment agencies directing temporary workers to perform prohibited tasks (such as to replace an employee who is involved in a strike, but also for exceeding the maximum working hours) has been extended. The novelty is the introduction of user employer liability for similar violations, also subject to a fine in the range from PLN 1,000 to 30,000.

Persons who run business as employment agencies without entry to the employment agency register may be fined up to PLN 100,000. It is worth remembering about this severe sanction in the context of the obligation to re-register the employment agency.

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We discuss the current labour law, legal judgments and interpretations issued
by the National Labor Inspectorate and the Polish Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.


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