How to dismiss an employee in Poland?

How to dismiss an employee in Poland?
Joanna Kegler

Joanna Kegler

Senior associate / Attorney-at-law

There is no doubt that dismissing employees constitutes one of the most difficult aspects of managing a company. To effectively part with an employee, a professional approach to the matter is needed. Meanwhile, many employers are not acquainted with the provisions of labour law that regulate the issues of employment contract’s termination or expiration. In this article, we explain what actions should the employer take in order to dismiss an employee in Poland in compliance with the law. 

Please note that in one of our previous articles we explained in detail how to hire an employee in Poland.

How to dismiss an employee – methods of ending the employment relationship

In Polish law, there are three kinds of employment agreements:

  • for a probation period,
  • for a specified period of time,
  • for an indefinite period of time.

When a person is hired under one of these contracts, each of the parties – both the employer and the employee – may come up with an initiative to end the cooperation. How may the employer dismiss the employee?

The Labour Code provides the following ways of ending the employment relationship:

  • by mutual agreement of the parties,
  • by notice of termination,
  • without notice of termination.

In some cases, the contract of employment may expire or be terminated without the initiative of the parties. No action is required then on the part of the employee or employer. These situations may either depend on the will of the parties or be beyond their influence. It corresponds to the following scenarios:

  • the employment contract was signed for a specified period of time, the indicated period expires and none of the parties is going to continue cooperation,
  • sudden, unexpected circumstances occur that result in the expiring of the agreement, e.g. death of an employee or employer, or the employee’s arrest.

Dismissing an employee in Poland by mutual agreement of the parties?

Termination of the employment contract by mutual agreement of the parties constitutes the most amicable way of ending the employment relationship with a worker. It is based on the mutual and consentaneous settlement of the date and terms of employment’s termination by both parties of the agreement. In this case, the parties are not bound by the notice period. In order to terminate an employment relationship in this way, declarations of will of both parties are required.

One should remember that the employer’s proposal to end the employment relationship by mutual agreement of the parties constitutes only an offer and is not unequivocal with the employee’s dismissal. It means that the employer needs to wait for an employee to either accept or reject the proposal. Only the employee’s declaration of accepting the offer results in termination of the employment relationship.

Every employment contract may be terminated by mutual agreement of the parties, regardless of the period for which it was concluded. Dismissal by mutual agreement of the parties may take place at any time.  It means that the employer may come up with an initiative to sign the mutual agreement at any moment of cooperation.

Regulations do not specify obligatory elements of the mutual agreement of the parties with regard to the termination of the employment contract.  However, it should obviously indicate that there was mutual consent of the parties on that matter and it should specify the date of termination. If the parties did not indicate the date of termination in the agreement, it should be regarded that the employment contract is dissolved at the date of its signing. As a rule, the agreement does not need to indicate the reasons why the parties decide to terminate the contract in this manner.

Dismissing an employee in Poland by notice of termination

The notice of termination constitutes a unilateral declaration of intent to end the employment relationship by one of the contract’s parties. It is considered submitted when the other party has received it and has had a chance to get acquainted with its content. The notice of termination enables the employee to prepare for the end of the employment relationship.

The terminated employment contract becomes dissolved after the expiry of the notice period. The length of the notice period depends on the length of the employment relationship or probation period with a given employer.

Notices of termination in Polish labour code

According to Article 36 section, 1 of the Labour Code, the notice period of the employment contract for a specified or indefinite time is:

  • 2 weeks, if the employee was hired for less than 6 months,
  • 1 month, if the employee was hired for at least 6 months,
  • 3 months, if the employee was hired for at least 3 years.

In case of termination of an employment contract for a probation period, the notice period is:

  • 3 workdays, if the probation period does not exceed 2 weeks,
  • 1 week, if the probation period exceeds 2 weeks,
  • 2 weeks, if the probation period is 3 months.

The declaration of intent to terminate the employment contract should be prepared in written form. An employer who terminates an employment contract for an indefinite period of time is obliged to indicate in the notice the true and specific reason for the dismissal of the employee. There is no such obligation when it comes to the employment contract for a specified time or a probation period.

Dismissing an employee in Poland without a notice of termination

In strictly specified situations – caused by an employee or not – the employer may terminate the employment contract with immediate effect.

The employer may dissolve every employment contract with an employee without notice of termination. In such a scenario, the employee is dismissed at the moment of receiving the declaration of dissolving the contract without notice. This means that the cooperation with an employee is terminated with immediate effect.

In the declaration, the reason for terminating the contract without notice should be indicated. The regulations specify what reasons justify dissolving an employment contract in this way.

If the declaration indicates the employee’s fault, the dismissal is often referred to as dismissal on disciplinary grounds or by fault of the employee.

Dismissal due to the employee’s fault

Dissolving the employment contract due to the fault of an employee without the notice of termination may occur in the event of:

  • a gross dereliction of fundamental work duties,
  • committing, during the employment relationship, a crime that disenables further performing of duties on a given position when the crime is obvious or confirmed by a final and binding judgement,
  • the employee’s loss of the authorizations necessary to perform work on the given position.

According to Article 52 section 2 of the Labour Code, the dismissal of an employee without notice cannot take place after 1 month from the moment the employer was informed about the circumstances justifying the contract’s termination.

Dismissal without the employee’s fault

An employment contract may also be terminated without notice in a situation which does not result from the employee’s fault and is defined in Art. 53 of the Labour Code.

The employer has such a right in the following situations:

  • if the employee’s incapability for work resulting from an illness lasts:
    • longer than 3 months – if the employee is hired by a given employer for a period of time which is shorter than 6 months,
    • longer than the combined period of receiving sick pay and allowance (182 days or 270 in case of tuberculosis) as well as receiving rehabilitation benefit for the first three months – if the employee was hired by a given employer for at least 6 months or if his or her incapability was caused by an accident at work or occupational disease,
  • in the event of the excused absence of an employee caused by reasons other than the ones specified above and lasting longer than 1 month.

The employer, however, cannot dismiss an employee without the notice of termination:

  • in case of employee’s absence resulting from childcare – within a period of time in which he or she receives an adequate allowance,
  • in case of isolating an employee due to infectious disease – within a period of time in which he or she receives an adequate allowance or pay.

The termination of the employment contract without notice may not take place after the employee shows up for work due to the cessation of the cause of the absence.

How to dismiss an employee in Poland – summary

The provisions of labour law provide for several ways of termination of the employment relationship and each of them brings different legal and actual effects. Employers who violate statutory regulations risk the employee’s reinstatement, granting him or her compensation and incurring court costs.

Do you want to know how to dismiss an employee in Poland without the risk of violating the labour law regulations? What formalities should be completed during the whole process? We encourage you to contact our experts. Remember that incorrect termination of the employment contract may have negative consequences for the employer, such as the obligation to reinstate the dismissed employee or even the payment of compensation.

Featured expert

Joanna Kegler

Senior associate / Attorney-at-law

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