Poland – PwD


Pillar I: The State Duty to Protect Human Rights

3. Regulations on European Funds [page 18]

Article 7 of Regulation No 1303/2013 of the European Parliament and of the European Council of 17 December 2013 laying down common provisions on five EU funds obligates all Member States to take appropriate steps to prevent any form of discrimination, including based on disability. In view of the above, in 2015, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development developed the Guidelines for the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and non-discrimination, including accessibility for people with disabilities… The above-mentioned Guidelines aim to ensure the compatibility of operational programmes (OPs) with the principle of equal opportunities and non-discrimination, including accessibility, for people with disabilities… as well as to ensure a coherent approach in this respect under the European Social Fund (ESF), the European Regional Development.

…“The Member States and the Commission shall take appropriate steps to prevent any discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation during the preparation and implementation of programmes. In particular, accessibility for persons with disabilities shall be taken into account throughout the preparation and implementation of programmes.”

The Guidelines are addressed to all institutions that participate in the implementation of operational programmes cofinanced by the ESF, the ERDF and the CF, in particular managing authorities (MAs), intermediate bodies (IPs) and implementing authorities (IAs). MAs ensure that the competent decision-making body or which is a party to a project co-financing agreement under an OP will commit the beneficiary in a decision or project cofinancing agreement to apply the current Guiding Principles. The provisions adopted in these Guiding Principles are also an expression of the inclusion of the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by Poland in 2012, within the framework of structural funds. According to the Guiding Principles, the managing authorities of operating programmes develop criteria for the evaluation of applications for co-financing allocation in such a way that co-financing (also projects implemented by enterprises) is offered to projects that have a positive or neutral impact on the principle of equal opportunities and non-discrimination, including accessibility for people with disabilities…The creation of administrative capacity to implement equal opportunities and nondiscrimination policies, including accessibility for people with disabilities… in relation to the European Structural and Investment Funds (EFSI) was regulated in the Action Plan for Equality and Nondiscrimination 2014-2020 (22 April 2015). 8 This document is primarily an action plan for the measures that should be taken by the institutions involved in the implementation of EU funds to ensure accessibility for people with disabilities. The above-mentioned documents provide a strategic and operational framework for the disbursement of structural funds corresponding to EU policies on equal opportunity. They also represent the government’s efforts to implement and promote the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In practice, the intention is to give disabled clients of European funds an opportunity to participate in the EU budget, i.e., the opportunity to use the funds, choose a career without barriers, and thus enjoy full inclusion in society. Hence, the introduction of a number of tools intended to ensure such accessibility, e.g., universal design, rational improvements, digital accessibility, or architectural availability.

Pillar II: The Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights

7. Social entrepreneurship as an instrument for creating high-quality jobs for individuals at risk of poverty and social exclusion [page 33]

When considering a responsible approach to doing business and respect for human rights, also by entrepreneurs, it is impossible not to mention the specific form of economic activity known as social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurship plays a very important role in the process of social and occupational reintegration of people from different groups who, for various reasons, find themselves in particularly difficult living and working conditions, e.g.,… people with disabilities. These people can return to professional life and full participation in the life of their local community in particular through work and the ability to co-decide about the future of the enterprise they are involved with, but also through other types of activities that are firmly rooted in the local community.

8. Equal opportunities for people with disabilities [page 35]

As regards equal opportunities for disabled people, entrepreneurs should take into account the following issues: – architectural accessibility: conducting accessibility audits, application of solutions that meet the needs of people with various disabilities, including systems supporting hearing, e.g., in conference rooms, main reception areas, facilities for the blind and visually impaired, ensuring the availability of sanitary facilities; – developing products, services, goods, and space based on the universal design concept or designing for everyone, including the disabled, seniors, pregnant women, people with baby strollers; – digital accessibility: accessible websites that should meet the WCAG 2.0 accessibility standard; accessibility of all digital content should be ensured, i.e., online publication of editable documents (e.g., open PDF, Word), avoiding scans of paper documents; – human resources policy: accessible working environment, employing disabled people (also other disadvantaged groups in the labour market); – application of rational improvements, i.e., changes and adjustments, in accordance with the needs of disabled employees and customers; – accessibility in information and promotion activities: social clauses in orders for the performance of tasks and services, communications (e.g., PR) expressed in a language that is easy to understand, respect for diversity, organisation of accessible events; – treatment of accessibility as the operating standard and the philosophy of the subject rather than a one-off operation. These issues are addressed both to the public administration and the business sector, and their implementation will enable the creation of modern-looking entities that are open to serving clients with diverse needs and effectively meet their expectations.


2. Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy

Accessibility Plus Programme

… Plans are also in place to renew competitions for entrepreneurs related to the popularisation of products meeting the needs of the elderly and persons with disabilities. – page 8

Directive 2019/882 of 17 April 2019 on the accessibility requirements for products and services

…. The Directive is also intended to implement the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The transposition of the Directive will add a market dimension to the Accessibility Plus Programme, as well as the Act on ensuring accessibility for persons with special needs.

3. Ministry of Economic Development and Technology

Development of new technical and construction conditions for buildings

The scope of the regulation will include, among others, the introduction of provisions aimed at facilitating access to buildings and related facilities by persons with various types of disabilities, which will certainly exert an additional positive impact on other social groups such as older persons, carers with young children or persons with temporary motor dysfunctions. – page 14

4. Ministry of Family and Social Policy

The first Polish Strategy for Persons with Disabilities 2021–2030

In 2020, a draft Strategy for Persons with Disabilities was developed in the Ministry of Family and Social Policy. On 25 February 2021, Resolution No 27 of the Council of Ministers of 16 February 2021 on the adoption of the document ‘Strategy for Persons with Disabilities 2021–2030’ was published in the Official Journal of the Republic of Poland ‘Monitor Polski’ under item 218. The key objective of the Strategy for Persons with Disabilities is the inclusion of persons with various types of disabilities in social and professional life, thus guaranteeing them the rights enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The document provides for a comprehensive, horizontal, cross-sectoral approach of public policy to support persons with disabilities, taking into account their needs in the sphere of independent life and social inclusion.

The document identifies eight priority areas of the Strategy.

Within the first of the priority areas, namely ‘Independent life’, the actions planned seek to fulfil an overarching objective to guarantee the right to independent living to persons with disabilities under Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Within this area, actions are foreseen for the deinstitutionalisation process, in line with the Common European Guidelines on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care, referring to ‘the process of developing a range of services in the community, including prevention, in order to eliminate the need for institutional care’. The third stage of the process will be to ‘ensure universal availability of basic services in areas such as education and training, employment, housing, health care and transport to all children and adults in need of support’. Another important factor in this respect will be facilitation of access of persons with disabilities to information on support offer available to those persons so that comprehensive, reliable and up-to-date information on this subject is provided by employees of entities dealing with social services. Within the framework of the measure, the development of deinstitutionalised services is envisaged, preventing institutionalisation and supporting the transition from institutions to support in local communities, both prior to adopting systemic measures and as complementary (e.g. services financed under the ESF) to systemic solutions.

Another priority area is ‘Accessibility’. Accessibility is one of the basic conditions for participation of persons with disabilities in social and professional life. For this group of people, it determines the possibility of performing social roles and leading an independent life. It also entails ensuring to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, buildings, transportation, information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services. Therefore, this priority area of the Strategy provides for actions aimed at improving accessibility of public space for persons with disabilities and improving their situation in terms of mobility (pursuant to the provisions of Articles 9 and 20 of the Convention).

The basic condition for effective social and professional activation in the case of persons with disabilities is also access to the educational system, hence ‘Education’ priority is another key area. Measures in this area will serve implementation of provisions of Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which indicates the obligation to realise the right of persons with disabilities to education without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity, while ensuring an inclusive educational system.

It provides for, among others, the following measures:

·      development of inclusive education, including development of legislative and organisational solutions aimed at ensuring accessibility and enhancing the quality of inclusive education,

·      preparation for entering the labour market inter alia through supporting the process of transition between the educational stages and transition from the educational system to the labour market,

·      development of professional counselling for young people,

·      development and ensuring to pupils and students with disabilities forms of communication adequate to their needs, including popularisation in education of the possibility of using augmentative and alternative communication methods (AAC),

·      digitalisation of schools,
development of lifelong learning.

Another priority area of the Strategy is ‘Work’. Within this area, there are measures envisaged to foster greater professional activity of persons with disabilities and enhance possibilities of their employment in an open, inclusive and accessible work environment, pursuant to Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Measures within this area focus on:

·      modification and supplementation of the employment support system and professional activation of persons with disabilities, including through development and implementation of the National Programme for Employment of Persons with Disabilities and implementation of supported employment,

·      professional activation of persons with disabilities implemented, inter alia, through employment in social and solidarity economy entities (especially in social enterprises),

·      creation of work environment friendly for employees with disabilities, inter alia through working out a model of support for persons with disabilities in the work environment,

·      creation of environment conducive to effective professional activation of persons with disabilities through, for instance, ensuring specialised advisory in the scope of available instruments of professional activation of persons with disabilities and in the scope of obligations of employers following from their employment for institutions of the labour market,

·      imitation of barriers in undertaking professional activity.

On the basis of so indicated outcomes for the Work priority area the key indicator was established as follows: Employment rate of working-age persons with disabilities, which in the base year 2018 reached the value of 26.2% and the target value is to be increased to 40% by 2030.

Another priority area of the Strategy is ‘Living conditions and social protection’. The main objective of the measures grouped under this priority, as stated in Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, is to ensure adequate living conditions for persons with disabilities and their families, including the satisfaction of basic subsistence and material needs and necessary social protection. Measures under the ‘Living Conditions and Social Protection’ priority include combating poverty of persons with disabilities and their families, as well as meeting their housing needs.

Within the ‘Health’ priority area, measures have been planned in order to fulfil Poland’s obligations following from the Convention (Article 25), in particular to provide persons with disabilities with health care, access to health services and programmes taking into account their specific requirements and needs with respect to health prevention, prevention of secondary complications and deterioration of health condition, medical rehabilitation and optimisation of the quality of functioning. The planned measures concern, among others, improvement of accessibility of preventive medical treatment, improvement of accessibility of health services, improvement of access to rehabilitation services and the highest quality medical devices, development of a model of comprehensive rehabilitation, reform in the field of mental health and improvement of medical personnel’s competencies in the field of health care of persons with disabilities.

The Strategy for Persons with Disabilities 2021–2030 also provides for measures in the ‘Awareness- raising’ priority, which closely correspond to Article 8 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, requiring a state party to the Convention to take immediate, effective and appropriate measures to raise awareness throughout society, including at the family level. These concern, inter alia, the mainstreaming of persons with disabilities in the media, changing the perceptions of persons with various disabilities, raising awareness of inclusive education for persons with disabilities, the introduction and dissemination of service standards for persons with various disabilities.

The last of the eight priority areas of the Strategy is ‘Coordination’. Implementation of the new state policy for supporting persons with disabilities requires appropriate institutional reform to remedy the diagnosed systemic problems. The planned measures include, among others, reform of the disability degree certification system, development and implementation of an act on equal opportunities for persons with disabilities in the Polish legal system, coordination of systemic support for persons with disabilities, including in emergency situations, implementation of a complex system of data collection in the area of disability, greater inclusion of the disability issue in various areas of social policy, increasing protection of persons with disabilities against unequal treatment, extension of international cooperation.

Implementation of measures designed as part of priorities of the Strategy for Persons with Disabilities 2021–2030 will allow the establishment of a framework of comprehensive national policy for persons with disabilities, in line with the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It will also translate into a planned increase in the activity rate and employment rate of persons with disabilities. – page 17/18/19/20

12. Public Procurement Office

The new Public Procurement Law (Journal of Laws of 2021, items 1129 and 1598)

• Article 94, according to which the contracting body may stipulate in the contract notice that only economic operators having the status of a sheltered workshops, social cooperatives and other economic operators whose main purpose or main purpose of the activities of their organisational units that will perform the contract is the social and professional integration of socially marginalised persons, in particular persons with disabilities, the unemployed, jobseekers, who do not remain in employment or do not perform gainful employment, to-be self-reliant persons, persons deprived of liberty or released from prisons, persons with mental disorders,  provided that the percentage of employment of persons belonging to one or more of the aforesaid categories is not less than 30% of the persons employed by the economic operator or in its unit that will perform the contract. – page 33

• Article 96, which provides for the possibility for the contracting body to specify in the contract notice or procurement documents contract performance requirements, which may include, among others, aspects related to employment of the unemployed, jobseekers, who do not remain in employment or do not perform other gainful employment, to-be self-reliant persons, adolescents, persons with disabilities or persons from other groups indicated in the provisions on social employment. – page 34

13. National Labour Inspectorate

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

Inspections of employment agencies always include audits of the implementation of the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of sex, age, disability, race, religion, ethnic origin, nationality, sexual orientation, political beliefs, and religious denomination or trade union affiliation of individuals for whom the agency sought employment or other paid work.

As part of inspections concerning the legality of employment, labour inspectors examine issues related to respecting the principle of equal treatment and non-discrimination in access to employment. These activities are aimed at disclosing offences with regard to a refusal to employ a candidate for a vacant position or place of vocational training on the basis of their sex, age, disability, race, religion, nationality, political beliefs, ethnic origin, religious denomination, or sexual orientation. – page 39