Working time and working hours in Poland

Working time in Poland

Time of work in Poland in employment relationship is defined as  time when the employee remains to the disposal of an employer in the workplace, or in another designated place.

Standard working hours

Normal working hours in Poland cannot exceed eight hours per day and on average, forty hours in five day working week (an average), in the adopted settlement (calculation) period not exceeding 4 months.

Weekly, working norm, together with overtime, shall not exceed 48 hours (on average) within the adopted settlement period.

Daily maximum hours 8 h
Weekly maximum average 40 h

For the purpose of working time calculation Polish Labor Code introduces definitions of:

  • Day – means consecutive 24 hours, starting from the time at which an employee starts work, according to the working time schedule applicable to this particular employee,
  • Week – means consecutive 7 calendar days, starting from the first day of the calculation period.

As a result – in Polish labor law sense – day is not equal to astronomical 24 hours, and week is not equal to a calendar week.

Rest time

There are two basic rest periods within working time:

Daily rest time eight hours
Weekly rest timed thirty-five hours (with no interruptions) including minimum eleven hours, that shall include Sunday

Daily rest time 

Each day an employee employed under employment contract has a right to minimum 11 hours of interrupted rest.

Above rules is not applicable to managing employees, who in turn are entitled to an equivalent period of rest.

Weekly rest time

Each week an employee employed under employment contract has a right to minimum  35 hours of interrupted rest, including at least 11 hours daily rest with no interruptions.

Weekly rest shall contain Sunday. In the event of instructed work on Sunday, rest may be transferred to any other day.

Weekly rest period of managing employees may be less than 35 hours but never less 24 hours.

Breaks at work

Mandatory break (work above 6 hours) 15 minutes included in work time
Voluntary lunch break maximum 1 h – not included in work time

Other breaks included in work time:

  • nursing break – a female employee who is nursing a child, is entitled to two 30 minutes breaks (or two 45 minutes break if she is nursing more than one child); breaks for nursing a child may be granted at one time, if so is requested by an employee;
  • break from work for a juvenile employee (i.e. person of at least 15 years of age but less than 18 years of age) – where the daily working time of a juvenile employee is longer than 4,5 hours, an employer shall introduce a break from work of 30 consecutive minutes.

Systems and schedules of working time

The working time system defines norms and framework of working time. It indicates how many hours a day and a week a given employee can work in a specific settlement period.

According to Labour Code of Poland the working time system shall be established by each employer in:

  • Collective labour agreement (collective bargaining agreement),
  • Work regulations,
  • Employers ordinance.

Exceptionally, selected working time systems may be agreed in the employment contract. Below, we present the most common working time systems available under Polish Labor Law.

Standard working time system

In the standard / default working time system – working time shall not exceed (8) eight hours a day, and on average 40 hours in an average five – day working week, in the adopted settlement period. This is the most common working time system used in Poland. No special conditions are required to introduce this working time system.

Equivalent working time system

The equivalent working time system gives the opportunity to the Employer to extend daily working time up to 12 hours within a calculation period not exceeding 1 month (3 months in particularly justified situations, 4 months in the case of work which depends on a season or weather conditions). In this system, the extension of daily working time is balanced by shortening duration of work in some other days, or by granting days off. Average weekly working hours shall not exceed 40 hours. Introduction of the equivalent working time system shall be justified by type of work or organization thereof. In this working time system, work has to be performed in accordance with the working time schedule, that shall be prepared in advance and cover the whole calculation period.

Task oriented work time

Task oriented working system may be introduced in cases justified by:

  • type of work
  • work organization
  • place of work performance

Usually the following circumstances may justify introduction of a task oriented work system: flexibility in working time, flexibility in where the work is performed (workplace), limited supervision abilities of the employer, professional character of the work and independence in the performing duties.

Task oriented time is often applied for graphic designers, software experts, lawyers, architects, managers, commercial advisors, and couriers.

In a task oriented time system the employer establishes tasks and time required to perform them in cooperation with the employee and taking into consideration standard working time norms (8 eight hours a day, and on average 40 hours in an average five – day working week).

Task oriented time system – does not require the employer to keep a work time record.

Flexible working time system

Flexible working time system is not as flexible as its name would suggest. Within this system the employer may determine different hours of work start on certain days, as well as establish a time range of work start and finish. Flexibility, even if discretionary decided by the employees, may not infringe the statutory rest periods (i.e mainly 35 h of weekly rest, and 11 h of daily rest).

In practice, most usually the employer decides that work starts between, e.g. 7:00 am and 9:00 am and finishes between 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm. Within the given range of hours the employee (or the employer) may choose when to start work.

The flexible working time system may be introduced:

  • individually with single employee – at an employee’s written request
  • in absence of trade unions – with ad hoc employees representatives
  • in case of trade unions – in a collective bargaining agreement or in a special agreement with trade unions

Shortened week working time system

An employer may introduce the shortened week working time system upon employee’s written motion. Under that system, the employee may be allowed to perform work less than five days a week, with a simultaneous extension of the daily schedule of working time to no more than 12 hours, within a calculation period not exceeding one month.

Average weekly working hours shall not exceed 40 hours.

This working time system shall be introduced in the labour contract.

Weekend work system

On a written request of an employee, an employee may be covered by the working time system where work shall be performed only on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. The daily schedule of working time may be extended up to 12 hours, within a calculation period not exceeding one month.

Weekend working time system shall be introduced in the labour contract.

Overtime work

Definition of overtime work in Poland includes work performed in excess of:

  • standard working hours, and
  • extended daily working hours (based on the working time regime where such extension is permitted)

Overtime work shall be allowed only in the event of:

  • need to carry out rescue operations for the protection of human life or health, or
  • for the protection of property or the environment or for a need to repair a breakdown, or
  • special needs of an employer

Maximum overtime work limits

Daily overtime limit Daily working time together with overtime, shall not exceed 13 hours (due to required 11 hours period of rest)
Weekly overtime limit Weekly working time together with overtime, shall not exceed, on average, 48 hours within adopted calculation period
Yearly overtime limit
  • The number of overtime hours due to special needs of employer shall not exceed 150 hours in a calendar year, for any particular employee
  • Collective labour agreement or work regulation may set out a different number of overtime hours allowed (maximum 416 hours)

Overtime pay / overtime compensation

An employee shall be entitled to his regular remuneration for every hour of overtime work. On the top of that he shall be also entitled to additional allowance (compensation) for every hour of overtime work in the amount equal to:

  • 50 % of the remuneration for overtime work:
    • on any working day, incl. weekends and public holidays, if according to the working time schedule these are normal working days.
  • 100 % of the remuneration for overtime work:
    • at night,
    • on Sundays and holidays that are not employee’s normal working days according to the applicable working schedule,
    • on a day off granted in exchange for performing work on Sunday or a holiday, in accordance with the applicable working schedule.

The allowance / compensation equal to 100 % of the remuneration shall be also payable for each hour of work in excess of average weekly working time standard in the adopted calculation period, unless the standard was exceeded as a result of overtime work for which an employee is entitled to the allowance referred to above.

Overtime time off / time off in lieu

Instead of payment of the allowance, the other admissible way of compensating for overtime work is granting to an employee an equivalent time off / time off in lieu. However the range of the time off in lieu depends on

  • If the employee requested the time off in lieu the time off shall correspond to the amount of overtime worked.
  • If the employer decided to grant a time off in lieu: number of hours off shall correspond to 150% of the number of hours worked overtime

Employees not allowed to work overtime or when allowance is not due

Managing employees (i.e. employees who manage the employing establishment on behalf of the employer and heads of separate organizational subunits of the organization) No right to allowance for overtime.

However, employees who are heads of organizational subunits have the right to allowance for overtime work performed on Sundays and public holidays if they have not been given another rest-day in return.

Female employees during pregnancy Not allowed to work overtime or at night regardless of their consent
Juvenile employees (i. e. persons over 15 and under 18 years of age) Not allowed to work overtime or at night regardless of their consent
Employee employed on posts where maximum admissible concentrations and intensities of the harmful factors to health have been exceeded Not allowed to work overtime due to special needs of employer

Working on Sunday and on public holidays

Work on Saturdays

Theoretically Sundays are normal work days in Poland. However it is important to remember that it is customary in Poland that Satrudays are days off work resulting from the five-day working week. Most usually the employers define working days as Monday – Friday (although it is possible to also include Saturday e.g. by defining working days from Tuesday – Saturday). An employee who performed work on a day off resulting from average five-day working week rule, shall be entitled in exchange to another day off granted by the end of the calculation period at the time agreed upon with the employee.

Work on Sunday and on public holidays

Sundays – as a rule – are days off work in Poland.

Public holidays are also considered as days off work. Bank holidays are listed in the special piece of legislation, i.e. non-working days act of 18 January 1951:

  • 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • 6 January – Epiphany
  • Easter Sunday
  • Easter Monday
  • 1 May – Labor Day
  • 3 May – Constitution Day
  • Pentecost Sunday (7th Sunday after Easter)
  • Corpus Christi (9th Thursday after Easter)
  • 15 August – Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • 1 November – All Saints’ Day
  • 11 November – Independence Day
  • 25 December – first day of Christmas
  • 26 December – second day of Christmas

Unless stated otherwise in internal regulations of the employer, work on Sundays and on public holidays is considered to be work performed between 6 a.m. on the same day and 6 a.m. on the following day.

Sunday work in shops (trading units)

As of 1.03.2018 work in shops (trading units) on Sunday and bank holidays is not allowed. As an exception each year there are seven “Trading Sundays” – during which work is permissible:

  • the next two Sundays preceding the first day of Christmas,
  • the Sunday immediately preceding the first day of Easter,
  • the last Sunday in January, April, June and August.

Conditions of work on days off

Work on Sundays and public holidays is permitted only under certain conditions provided in Polish Labor Code, i.e.:

  • in situations requiring a rescue operation in order to protect human life or health or property or environment or to remove a breakdown,
  • in a continuous motion,
  • in a shift work,
  • in necessary repairs,
  • in transport and communications,
  • in fire and rescue services,
  • guarding property or protecting individuals,
  • in agriculture and breeding,
  • in performing works necessary due to their social use and daily needs of the population (e.g. healthcare establishments, establishments providing services to the population),
  • with respect to employees working under a working time system, where work is performed only on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays,
  • transboundary telecommunication services.

Compensation and allowance for work on Sunday and public holidays

An employee who works on Sundays and on public holidays, shall be compensated with another day off:

  • in exchange for work on Sunday – within six calendar days preceding or following that Sunday,
  • in exchange for work on holiday – within the calculation period.

If it is impossible to use a day off in exchange for working Sunday within six day preceding or following Sunday an employee shall be entitled to a day off by the end of a calculation period. If such a day cannot be granted within that period, an employee shall be entitled to an allowance in the amount 100 % of the remuneration for each hour worked on Sunday.

An employee working on Sunday shall be entitled to at least on free Sunday every four weeks. This entitlement, however, does not apply to employees working under a working time system where work is performed only on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

Expert team leader DKP Legal Alicja Myśluk-Landowska
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