Employment & labor law /

Special rights of employees raising children

Juggling work and parenting is a challenge for many parents. The changes to the Labor Code introduced in April 2023 regarding remote work and the so-called work-life balance. Along with the changes, many new entitlements for employees bringing up children appeared. These rights are intended to make it easier for employees to combine professional life with caring for children.

Flexible organization of working time

Employees raising children up to the age of 8 are entitled to apply for flexible work arrangements. Flexible work organization is considered to include, among others: shortened working week, reduction of working time, remote work, intermittent working time system etc. An application for flexible working time organization should be submitted by the employee 21 days before its planned commencement, together with the reason why the employee’s use of such a solution is necessary. When considering the application, the employer should take into account the reason given by the employee, the term of using the flexible work organization, the duties of the employee, as well as the needs and capabilities of the workplace. The employer is not obliged to grant the employee’s request, but in the event of refusal, he is obliged to justify his decision. The employer is obliged to inform the employee in writing about the acceptance or refusal of the application within 7 days of receiving the application.

Possibility of remote work

Along with the regulation of remote work, a group of privileged employees was distinguished in the Labor Code, whom the employer cannot refuse to switch to remote work. This group includes, among others: pregnant women, employees raising children up to 4 years of age and employees raising children with disabilities. If such a person submits an application for remote work, the employer cannot refuse it – unless remote work is not possible due to the type of work. However, this applies only to permanent remote work, not occasional remote work (up to 24 days a year) – in this case the employer is not obliged to take into account the employee’s request.

Returning to work after leaves connected to parenthood

The provision on returning to work after a leave related to parenthood, e.g. maternity, paternity, parental leave, etc., has also been amended. According to the new regulations, such an employee must be admitted to work in the current position, and if this is not possible – in a position equivalent to occupied before the start of the leave on terms no less favorable than those which would have been in force had the employee not taken the leave. The previous regulation made it possible to entrust an employee with a position consistent with his qualifications (so not necessarily only equivalent), and in terms of working conditions, it referred only to the amount of remuneration, which could not be changed. Now the employee will have to return to work under the same conditions (e.g. work in a remote position as before the leave).

Special protection against dismissal

Employees during pregnancy and during maternity leave have long been covered by protection against termination of employment contracts. After the so-called changes to work-life balance, this protection has also been extended to employees from the date of submitting an application for maternity leave or a part thereof, leave on the terms of maternity leave or a part thereof, paternity leave or a part thereof, parental leave or a part thereof.

However, this does not mean that in case of submitting such an application a few months earlier, this protection will automatically apply. The Labor Code provides for special deadlines for granting protection to persons who submit such a request much earlier before going on leave:

1) 14 days before the start of using part of the maternity leave and part of the leave under the conditions of maternity leave;

2) 21 days before the start of parental leave or part thereof;

3) 7 days before the commencement of paternity leave or its part.

During this period, the employee is protected both against notice and termination of the contract, as well as against the employer’s preparations for termination of the contract.

Electronic applications

The formalities related to submitting applications for parental leave (e.g. maternity, paternity, parental leave, etc.) have also changed. Currently, these applications can be submitted by an employee not only in paper form, but also in electronic form, e.g. via email or the employer’s internal system. This makes submitting an application not only much faster, but also more convenient for the employee.

There is no doubt that the changes introduced aim to ensure greater flexibility for employees who are parents. The coming years will show whether these changes are felt by employees and whether they use the new rights.

In case of more detailed questions regarding the rights of employees-parents, parental leaves and other changes to the Labor Law of Poland, please contact specialists from the labor law department of our Law Firm at: [email protected]

Author team leader DKP Legal Joanna Kowal
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