Pillar I: The state’s duty to protect human rights

 5. Planned changes in national legislation

Amendment to the Trade Union Act section [page 25]:

 The Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy has drafted a bill amending the Trade Union Act that provides for extending the right of workers to organize onto individuals performing paid work but not mentioned in the provisions of the Act (in particular contractors or self-employed individuals), who have all the characteristics of workers within the meaning of the Constitution. The proposed changes are a consequence of the decision of the Constitutional Tribunal of 2 June 2015, ref. Act K 1/13, which ruled that Article 2(1) of the Trade Union Act, in so far as it restricts the freedom of associating in and joining trade unions by individuals pursuing paid work not referred to in that provision, violates Article 59(1) in conjunction with Article 12 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland. It is planned to adapt the provisions of the current trade union law to new realities after the extension of workers’ right to organize and the need to ensure that all trade unionists, irrespective of the nature of their legal relationship with their employer, are 26 able to freely exercise the right to organize in trade unions. The bill is currently in legislation. The draft law has been reviewed by social partners, e.g., as part of the proceedings of the Social Dialogue Council.

Right of female workers to protection [page 15]:

In view of the right of employed women to special protection under Article 8 of the European Social Charter, as well as the right of mothers to special protection during the period before and after childbirth under Article 10 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and under Article 177 LC, the employment relationship with a female employee during her pregnancy or while on maternity leave is subject to particular protection. During this time, an employer may not terminate an employment contract with or without notice unless there are reasons justifying termination without notice through the fault of the employee and an enterprise trade union representing the employee has consented to the termination of the employment contract.

During pregnancy or maternity leave, it is possible to terminate an employment contract solely in the event of the declaration of bankruptcy or the liquidation of the employer. In such cases, however, the employer is obliged to agree with the enterprise trade union representing the female employee on the date of the termination of their employment contract. If it is not possible to ensure other employment within that period of time, the female employee is entitled to the benefits specified in separate provisions on cash benefits from social security in the event of sickness or maternity.

The special protection of the employment relationship does not apply to female employees on a trial period not exceeding one month or to employees hired under an employment contract for a definite period of time concluded to replace an employee during a justified absence from work. These regulations also apply accordingly in the case of employees taking parental leave.

The Labour Code also contains a number of provisions governing specific rights of employees related to parenting, including the provisions on maternity, parental, paternity, and child-care leave, as well as provisions to facilitate the fulfilment of parental responsibilities in relation to child care and education, including regulations that make it possible to combine leave with part-time work or regulations on working time and the use of exemptions from work or breaks from work.

The particular protection of employment relationships during pregnancy and maternity leave is subject to modifications resulting from the provisions of the Act of 13 March 2003 on special rules regarding the termination of an employment relationship for reasons not related to employees (Journal of Laws of 2016, Item 1474). This law, which applies to employers with at least 20 employees, allows for termination of current employment and working conditions with notice, while still prohibiting termination, both in the case of collective redundancies and individual termination of an employment relationship during pregnancy and maternity leave. These regulations also apply accordingly in the case of employees taking parental leave.

According to the Act on the Implementation of Certain Regulations of the European Union Regarding Equal Treatment, in the case of a violation of the principle of equal treatment, laid down in that law, against an individual, including in connection with pregnancy, maternity leave, leave on terms of maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave, or child-care leave, the person is entitled to compensation.

Pillar II: The corporate responsibility to respect human rights

Implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals [page 29]:

The SDGs also have a clear business justification with real opportunities to take concrete action on both investments (including in important sectors, such as infrastructure, energy, and industrial production) and responsible business conduct, such as appropriate labour standards, respect for workers’ rights, rational use of resources, and clean and environmentally friendly technologies and production processes.

Pillar III: Access to remedies

Tasks of the National Labour Inspectorate in the field of combating discrimination in access to employment and in relation to the provision of services by employment agencies [pages 48,49]:

By verifying compliance with the law in relation to temporary workers, labour inspectors verify that there is no violation of the prohibition on unequal treatment of temporary workers—with respect to working conditions and other conditions of employment—as compared to workers employed by the employer in the same or a similar position.

6. Planned actions to provide access to remedies [page 50]:

There have been instances of labour-law violations identified among entities conducting the activities of a temporary employment agency. This phenomenon is not widespread, but given its social dimension, it is necessary to monitor it continuously and take actions to improve the standards of temporary work and the protection of temporary workers. (…)There are two mechanisms for dealing with complaints about abusive practices in employment agencies. Any person who becomes aware of non-compliance by an employment agency with the provisions of the Act on Promotion of Employment and Labour Market Institutions, including abuse and fraudulent practices on the part of such an entity, may file a complaint to the marshal of the voivodship competent for the seat of the employment agency or the National Labour Inspectorate. In the case of temporary employment agencies, the complaint may also concern non-compliance with the provisions of the Act on the Employment of Temporary Workers and other labour-law provisions. Employees’ organisations (i.e., trade unions) and employers’ organisations are also entitled to lodge such complaints.

Appendix 1

International non-binding mechanisms and international legal framework in force in Poland in relation to business and human rights, the NAP [page 55]:

ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles on Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy of 1977 (last change in 2006): refers to the obligation of enterprises to respect human rights and workers’ rights in many respects, taking into account the existing ILO acquis.