Grounds for Termination
An employment contract can be terminated only on the grounds listed in the Labour Code. The employment contract is therefore terminated:
- 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 employer is obligated to consult with the company’s trade organisations or with employee representatives prior to a collective dismissal. The consultations lead to concluding a settlement agreement defining the principles of actions in the matters concerning employees under the intended 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. The list is exhaustive. The employer does not have to exercise the option should he decide that the employee’s faulty behavior makes it possible to continue employing such an employee. Additionally, the employer can terminate an employment contract with an employee effective immediately where the employee is not at fault in the case of a prolonged unexcused absence of the employee at work.
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 amount of the severance payment may not, however, exceed the amount of 15 times of a minimum remuneration for work as set forth in the provisions of the Act on minimum wage (approx. 7.300 EUR).
There are also special categories of employees whose dismissal requires the employer to pay a specified amount of severance payment. Such employees are government agency representatives, teachers and persons who perform home-based work, among others. The right to severance payments can also result from normative agreements. However, these regulations cannot be less advantageous for the employee than general sources of labour law. The Labour Code also provides for severance payment to an employee in connection with his/her retirement or disability, and the payment of a death benefit.
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 the event of terminating an employment contract effective immediately, which took place with a violation of current provisions of law, the employee is entitled to a claim for reinstating him/her at work or for damages. Terminating an employment contract by way of a unilateral statement of will due to an ineffective contract is permissible under Polish law. This means a court procedure is required to rule on ineffectiveness of such a statement or reinstating to work.
Works on the Act on Transparency in Public Life, which includes regulations on protection of whistleblowers, are currently in progress.