As we have already mentioned many times on our blog, the beginning of 2023 is marked by a real revolution in labour law due to, inter alia, the introduction of the possibility of remote working to the Labour Code and the obligation of Poland, as a Member State of the European Union, to implement the so-called work-life balance directive, to which we devoted one of our last blog entries. This time, we analyse what changes for employees-parents and the employers employing them are introduced by the amendment, which will already come into force on 26 April 2023.
Extended parental leave period
As a result of the implementation of the directive’s provisions, the duration of parental leave has been significantly extended, which will be:
- 41 or
- 43 weeks,
compared to the current length of 32 or 34 weeks.
Under the new rules, the minimum length of parental leave will be 9 weeks and the employee will not be entitled to transfer this part of the leave to the other parent.
This means that each parent of a child will be required to take at least 9 weeks of parental leave.
Emergency situation in the employee’s family
The amendment to the Labour Code introduces completely new entitlements for the employee. One of them is a leave of absence of:
- 2 days or
- 16 hours,
due to force majeure in urgent family matters caused by:
- illness or
if the employee’s immediate presence is required.
The use of the above entitlement is decided by the employee in the application he or she submits to the employer to use the leave.
In each calendar year in which the application is made, the employee must specify how the family leave is to be used. The employer is then obliged to grant the leave to the employee, who must submit the application no later than the day the leave is taken.
Additional care leave
Thanks to the implementation of the work-life balance directive, employees have also been granted an additional type of leave, namely care leave of 5 days per calendar year.
The legislator has specified that it is granted in order to:
- provide personal care or
to a person who is a member of the family or living in the same household and who requires care or support for serious medical reasons.
The leave may therefore be taken if, for example, the partner or cohabiting partner of an employee falls ill and it becomes necessary to provide care to such a person.
The legislator has stipulated, however, that the following are regarded as family members in the case of care leave:
- a son,
The employee shall submit an application for care leave no less than 1 day before the leave is to commence, and the application itself may be submitted electronically or on paper.
The content of the application must indicate:
- the name of the person requiring care;
- the reason for the need for personal care or support by the worker;
- and, in the case of a family member, the degree of relationship to the worker or, in the case of a non-family member, the address of residence of the person.
Extended protection for pregnant and post-pregnant employees
The content of Article 177 of the Labour Code, which so far provided that, inter alia, during pregnancy and maternity leave, an employer may not terminate or dissolve the employment relationship with an employee unless there are reasons justifying termination of the contract without termination through the employee’s fault and the company trade union organisation representing the employee has agreed to the termination.
As of 26 April, the employer will be obliged to comply with the new prohibition in Article 177 of the Labour Code, i.e. the prohibition to make preparations to terminate or dissolve without notice the employment relationship with the employee.
The above wording therefore includes the prohibition of any action that the employer may take to terminate the employment relationship, such as:
- adopting negotiations on the date of termination of the employment contract,
- proposing the conclusion of an agreement terminating the employment contract.
The parent worker and overtime work
The work-life balance directive has enforced another change in Polish labour law, which is the prohibition of overtime work if the employee is raising a child up to the age of 8. This prohibition does not apply if the employee agrees to work in this way, however, the employer cannot force the employee to do so.
It is worth noting at this point that an employee raising a child up to the age of 8 cannot be posted outside his or her permanent place of work, and is also entitled to apply for flexible working arrangements to be applied to him or her, which are considered to be:
- remote working;
- the intermittent working time system;
- the shortened working week system;
- the weekend working time system;
- flexible working time;
- the individual working time schedule;
- reduction in working hours.
In addition, an employee who is a father, if he decides to take paternity leave of 2 weeks, will have to take it more quickly. Under the current regulations, he could exercise this entitlement until the child was 24 months old – the amendment provides that paternity leave will be able to be taken until the child is 12 months old.
It is difficult not to resist the impression that the passing year brings many changes for the subjects of the employment relationship, with which they need to be properly acquainted in order not to be exposed to potential consequences of breaching the amended provisions. The number and scope of the changes can sometimes overwhelm employers and employees in the face of the day-to-day responsibilities of running a business, but it is also worth taking care of the legal aspects of its operation.
Mateusz Turowski, Trainee attorney-at-law (PL)