Employment Termination in Poland
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Updated: 29 January 2024
Termination of Employment / Poland – Key Facts
|Modes of employment termination
|Modification of notice periods
|Reasons for termination
|Right to challenge the termination
|Remedies against termination
|State authorities approval required
|Trade unions approval required
|Collective dismissal procedure
How to terminate employment in Poland?
Employment relationship in Poland may be ended:
- by mutual agreement of the parties,
- by termination with notice period (i.e. regular termination),
- by termination without notice period (i.e. disciplinary termination),
- upon expiration of the duration period.
Employee Termination Procedure in Poland
The employer prior to terminating employee contract in Poland shall:
- decide on mode of termination (mutual or by notice)
- verify existence of legal grounds justifying termination
- complete pre-termination obligations (consultations with unions)
- place and sign termination documents
- off-board the employee (ZUS de-registration)
Termination by mutual agreement
The parties to the employment relationship are free to decide on the terms and conditions of termination of employment contract irrespective of its type. Mutual termination agreement shall be concluded in writing (with wet signatures). The agreement made in oral form will not be considered null and void but may be problematic to prove in case of court dispute.
Mutual termination of employment in Poland is permissible also during periods of special protection against termination. The protection rules work only against unilateral termination with notice. In consequence, there are no restrictions as to concluding mutual termination agreement e.g. during holiday, pregnancy, maternity, in pre-retirement age (pre retirement age employees) etc.
When concluding mutual termination of employment contract parties usually decide on:
- whether the employment relationship will expire immediately upon execution or after certain period of time (future date)
- whether the employee will be obliged to work or will be released from work during last days / weeks of work
- using outstanding holiday leave or payment of equivalent for unpaid leave
- payment of bonuses and other benefits
- other payments incl. compensations and employee severance pay
- obligation of confidentiality and non-compete.
In practice mutual termination agreement is often offered by the employers as an alternative for termination with or without notice. Employers tend to offer additional benefits to convince the employee to select an amicable form of ending of an employment in order to eliminate risk of potential dispute.
Termination with the notice period (regular termination)
Employment contracts may be terminated by each party (employer and employee) in regular mode, i.e. with the notice period. What is specific for Polish law, is that every employment contract incl. a fixed term contract (definite period contract) may be terminated subject to the statutory notice periods. Therefore, even if an employee has a 12 months fixed term contract it can be terminated with implied, statutory notice periods.
Characteristic feature of regular termination is that the contract expires with lapse of the statutory period of notice.
Employment agreement termination letter shall conform with certain criteria which are listed below:
Consultation of termination with trade unions
In case employees protected by a trade union organization and termination occurs for reasons other than the employer’s bankruptcy or liquidation, an employer must inform the union of its intention to terminate a contract concluded for an indefinite period.
Employment agreement termination notice periods in Poland are defined by the Labor Code, and shall not be charged by contractual stipulations of the parties (save the exceptions provided below). Notice period applicable to particular employee depends on his/her seniority (total employment period at certain employer) and amounts to:
|2 weeks notice period
|1 month notice period
|3 months notice period
Probation employment contracts (trial period contract) may be terminated with shorter notice periods:
- 3 working days – when the trial period is no longer than 2 weeks,
- 1 week – when the trial period is longer than 2 weeks
- 2 weeks – when the trial period is of 3 months
How to count termination notice periods?
Notice period given in months – start to run on 1st day of the month following the day of termination and shall end on the last day of the calendar month, after the laps of the notice period
Example: If the termination letter is delivered on Wednesday July 13th 2022, 3-months termination period will start to run on August 1st 2022 and end on October 31st 2022
Notice period given in weeks – shall end on Saturday after the laps of the termination period.
Example: If the termination letter is handled on Wednesday July 13th 2022, 2-weeks termination period will end on Saturday July 30th
Work / holiday during notice period
During the termination notice period employer may order the employee:
- to use the outstanding holiday leave in order to avoid paying of a cash equivalent,
- release the employee from the obligation of work.
The above may be instructed by the employer at its own discretion, no consent of the employee is required.
Extension and shortening of the notice periods in employment contracts
As a rule, length of a notice period may not be shortened below the statutory minimum. The period of notice may only be extended contractual by the parties for the benefit of the employee.
Job search leave
In the case of employment termination by the employer, the employee is entitled to a paid leave for the purpose of looking for a job. The scope of job-seeker leave depends on the length of the notice period and amounts to:
- 2 working days of leave – in case of 2 weeks or 1 month notice period
- 3 working day of leave – in case of 3 months notice period
Redundancy pay / severance payment
Severance (redundancy pay) in Poland may be due to the employee if:
- the employee is dismissed under the group redundancy procedure (collective dismissals), or
- dismissal is individual but made exclusively for reasons other than the employee’s conduct and performance, provided the employer employs at least 20 employees.
|Severance of 1-month salary
|Severance of 2-months salary
|Severance of 3-months salary
Maximum severance payment
Severance amount in Poland is limited with a 15 x statutory minimum salary (minimum remuneration).
Collective dismissal (collective redundancy procedure)
Collective dismissal procedure applies when termination level within the period of 30 days exceeds:
- 10 employees, if the employer employs less than 100 employees,
- 10 percent of employees, when the employer employs 100 – 300 employees,
- 30 employees, if the employer employs at least 300.
Collective dismissal procedure involves inter alia:
- obligation to pay severance to employees,
- consult intention of termination with company trade unions or employee representatives, and
- report of intention to terminate contracts to the Local Labour Office.
Disciplinary termination may only take place if there is a valid reason, i.e. when the employee:
- seriously violates the basic duties,
- commits an offense during employment, which makes further employment impossible in his / her post, if the offense is obvious or has been established by a final and valid court judgment,
- loses his/ her license required to perform his/her duties connected with a post.
Under Polish employment law (Labour Code), there is no legal definition of “valid” or “justifiable” reason. In case of dispute the reason will be evaluated by the labour court. Nonetheless the reasons must be specific, understandable for the employee and real (not of a general nature).
Characteristic feature of this type of termination is that the labor contract expires immediately, i.e. without any period of notice.
Disciplinary termination letter
Disciplinary termination letter shall conform with certain criteria which are listed below:
Disciplinary termination / severance pay and holiday equivalent
Disciplinary termination does not trigger an obligation to pay severance to the employee. On the other hand, due to the fact that disciplinary termination has immediate effect with regards to contract expiration, it usually triggers an obligation to pay equivalent for unused holiday (i.e. if the at the day of termination the employee has accrued unused holiday, s/he will not be able to used it in nature prior to contract expiry, in consequence – an equivalent shall be paid). As a result, in case of disciplinary termination, the holiday leave is not forfeited but it converts into monetary claim (equivalent for unused holiday).
Immediate termination due to absence or incapacity to work
The labor contract may be terminated by the employer with immediate effect due to employee’s incapacity or absence from work if:
- the illness lasts longer than 3 months (if the employee has seniority less than 6 months); or
- the illness lasts longer than the joint period of receiving sick pay from the employer, statutory sickness benefit and rehabilitation benefit for the first 3 months:
- if the employee has seniority of at least 6 months; and/or
- if he/she becomes unfit to work through an accident at work or occupational disease.
- absence is justified by other reasons than those provided above and it lasts longer than 1 month.
Immediate termination by the employee (without notice)
Under Polish law the employee is also allowed to terminate the employment agreement in disciplinary mode, i.e. with immediate effect, if an employer has substantially neglected its obligations (e.g. neglected his duty to pay remuneration). In such a case, an employee is entitled to compensation equal to the remuneration for the period of notice and in case of a fixed term contract – for the period till the end of the contract, but no longer than the length of the notice period.
Employee’s declaration on termination of the contract shall be made in writing and shall indicate the reason of termination. Termination may not take place after 1 month from the date on which an employee learned the reasons justifying termination of the contract.
An employee may also terminate the employment contract without notice, if the medical certificate is issued and it confirms the harmful effect of the work on the health of the employee, and the employer fails to transfer an employee to another position (appropriate for the employee’s health and professional qualifications) within the period specified in the certificate.
In case an employer finds termination of the contract unjustified, he may seek compensation. The compensation shall be adjudicated by the labor court and due in the amount equal to the remuneration of an employee for the period of notice, and if a labor contract has been made for fixed term, for the period till which the contract has been concluded, but no longer than the length of the notice period.
Employee’s right to challenge termination of a labor contract
Legal grounds for challenging termination
Each termination may be challenged in the court of law if it was:
- unlawful (e.g. made without providing any reason or made without providing mandatory, written instruction on the right to appeal against the termination, etc.), or
- unjustified (e.g. made with unjustified reason or made for other reasons than stated in the termination letter, etc.)
In case of the dispute before the labor court, the burden of proof that the termination was lawful and justified is entirely on the defendant – employer.
Deadline to appeal against termination of employment relationship
An appeal against termination shall be submitted to the labour court within 21 days from the date of placing the termination letter.
Remedies against termination of employee’s employment contract
Polish labour law provides two types of remedies (claims) against termination that may be pursued by the employee before the court of law:
- compensation, or
- reinstatement to work.
The choice of the remedy is entirely to an employee, nonetheless the decision as to whether the employee will be reinstated or awarded compensation is at the discretion of the labour court.
|Reinstatement to work
(order to return to work)
Trade unions involvement
If an employee employed under a contract for an indefinite period is a trade union member (or is a person whose rights the trade union has agreed to protect) and is dismissed for reasons other than an employer’s bankruptcy or liquidation or is to be dismissed without the notice period, an employer must inform the company trade union in writing about the intention of terminating the employment agreement with this employee and the grounds of the termination.
If a company trade union decides that dismissal shall be considered as unjustified, it may present an employer with substantiated objections, in writing, within 5 days of receiving the information above (3 days in the case of termination of employment contract without notice).
An employer shall make a decision, having considered the opinion of the company trade union or in the absence of such an opinion received in due time. However, an employer does not need the consent of the trade union and is entitled to launch the termination against the trade union’s opinion.
Special protection against termination of employment contract
Under Polish labour code all employees are protected against termination during leaves and employee’s justified absence. In addition to that, certain categories of employees are protected against termination if they meet certain criteria (e.g. pregnancy, pre-retirement age etc.). Regular termination placed against an employee who is protected will be null and void. However, it shall be clarified that protection rules do not work against disciplinary termination for severe breach of key duties.
Following categories of employees are protected against termination:
- employee in pre-retirement protection period, i.e. 4 years prior to reaching retirement age
- female employee during pregnancy or maternity leave (this principle shall not apply to an employee during her trial period not longer than 1 month) nor to the male employee during his paternity leave,
- member of the company’s trade union organizations and trade union officer or an other persons designated by the trade union as being protected against termination; trade union officers and other persons appointed by the trade unions as protected against termination are protected during the term specified in the resolution of the management of the respective trade union organization and after the expiry of this term, for a maximum period of one year.
Any employees cannot be terminated during any leave, including holiday leave, as well as during any justified absence from work.
FAQ – termination of employment contract in Poland
What is the notice period in Poland?
Notice periods in Poland are regulated in the Labour Code and shall not be shortened by the employments contracts. Notice periods amount to: 2 weeks – for employees of less than 6 months seniority; 1 month – for employees of more than 6 months seniority; and 3 months – for employees of seniority greater than 3 years
What are the three types of termination of employment?
Employment contract may be dissolved in Poland by mutual agreement, or unilateral termination. Unilateral termination may be regular or disciplinary.
How do I resign from employment in Poland?
There is no resignation option in labour law in Poland, the employment contract must be terminated in one of the modes (mutual agreement, disciplinary or regular termination with notice period)
How does notice period work in Poland?
Notice period most usually start to run at the end of the month and not form the day when the termination was placed (unless it was placed in the last day of the month). 2 weeks notice period runs little bit differently – it shall end on Saturday after the laps of the termination period.
What is a collective redundancy?
Collective redundancy requires application of special procedure and payment of severance pay.
Is severance pay taxable in Poland?
The severance pay is subject to income tax in Poland, but is exempt from social security contributions (ZUS).
Can you terminate an employee in Poland for poor performance?
Yes – you can terminate employment for underperformance – that shall be considered as valid reason for regular termination (with notice period)
Can I terminate the employee in Poland during holiday?
No, employees are protected against termination during justified absence and holiday. However this rules does not relate to disciplinary termination.
What with unused holiday after termination of employment contract?
Holiday leave many and shall be used during notice period. If it is not used in full the employee shall be entitled for equivalent for unused holiday.
Is remuneration or holiday equivalent forfeitured in case of disciplinary termination?
No, disciplinary termination does not forfeiture right to remuneration and holiday equivalent.
How do I dismiss managing director in Poland?
Dismissal of managing director in Poland depends on how the person is engaged. If under employment contract – labour law termination rules shall apply. If under civil law contract – individual agreement shall apply. If under corporate resolution – corporate regulations shall apply.
How to terminate employment contract in Poland?
1. Evaluate reasons and evidences
2. Choose one of four alternative modes of termination
3. Draft termination letter / mutual termination agreement
4. Meet with the employee and hand over termination documents
5. Deregister employee from social security agency