Grounds for Termination
An employment contract can be terminated only on the grounds listed in the Labour Code: under a settlement agreement between the parties thereto; by a unilateral statement of either party to the employment agreement while preserving the notice period (termination on a notice); by a unilateral statement of either party to the employment agreement without keeping the notice period (termination without notice); upon the end of the term for which the employment agreement was concluded.
Collective dismissals are those, which are made in the event where the employer who employs at least 20 employees needs to terminate multiple employment relations where the employees are not at fault. The collective dismissal must take place within 30 days. The employer is obligated to consult with the company’s trade organisations or with employee representatives prior to a collective dismissal.
Terminating an employment contract with notice should include a reason justifying the notice. Terminating an employment contract without notice will immediately end the employment relationship. The Labour Code lists three reasons for immediate termination due to employee misconduct (this list is exhaustive). The employer does not have to exercise the option should he decide that the employee’s faulty behavior makes it impossible to continue employing such an employee.
Is Severance Pay Required?
In connection with terminating employment relations within a collective dismissal and individual dismissals for reasons which do not concern the employee (if the employer employs at least 20 employees), the employee is entitled to a severance payment; the maximum amount of severance is approx. 8.600 EUR. This limit may however, be exceeded by agreement of the parties. There are also special categories of employees (government agency representatives, teachers and persons who perform home-based work, among others) whose dismissal requires the employer to pay a specified amount of severance payment.
A separation agreement is not a concept recognised either in practice or by the labour laws of Poland.
Remedies for Employee Seeking to Challenge Wrongful Termination
An employee seeking to challenge wrongful termination can file an appeal with a labour court. In such a case, the employee can demand a ruling on the ineffectiveness of the termination of employment, or reinstating him at work on previous terms, or a payment of damages. In the event of terminating an employment contract, effective immediately and in violation of law, the employee is entitled to file a claim for damages or to be reinstated at work. It is permissible under Polish law to terminate an employment contract by way of a unilateral statement of will, due to an ineffective contract; which requires the court to rule on the ineffectiveness of such a statement or whether the employee should be reinstated at work. Only the employee is allowed to appeal against a defective employment notice; his/her failure to appeal will have the effect of terminating the employment contract (even if it is defective).
Work on the Act on Transparency in Public Life, which includes regulations on protection of whistleblowers, is currently in progress.