Work-Life Balance Directive – How to Implement It?

Work-Life Balance Directive – How to Implement It?
Jakub Chajdas

Jakub Chajdas

Partner / Attorney-at-law

The Work-Life Balance Directive aims to create a friendly work environment. Its goal is to improve the balance between employees’ professional and private life. In this article, we will take a closer look at the directive. We will discuss the key changes it introduces and provide employers with tips on how to implement it.

What is the Work-Life Balance Directive?

The Work-Life Balance Directive was introduced in the Act of 9 March 2023, amending the Labor Code and certain other acts. The Polish Labor Code was amended to implement Directive (EU) 2019/1152 of 20 June 2019. It concerns transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union.

Work-Life Balance Directive

What changes does the Work-Life Balance Directive introduce?

The main changes introduced into Polish law with the Work-Life Balance Directive are:

Extension of parental leave

The changes introduced by the work-life balance Directive include:

Increasing the total amount of parental leave for both parentsUp to 41 weeks or 43 weeks if twins are born.
Use of parental leave9 weeks of parental leave is granted to the mother and another 9 weeks to the child’s father. These parts of leave are not transferable to the other parent and are lost if not used. 
The amount of maternity allowanceA maternity allowance is 70% of salary. It is payable throughout the whole parental leave period.
Duration of paternity leaveThe 2-week paternity leave has been maintained. However, the period for taking it has been shortened. You must use it before a child turns 12 months old. This change aims to ensure equal parental leave rights for fathers. It means that the father can take over childcare at a later stage by using parental leave.
The father’s right to take parental leave and the mother’s social insuranceThe work-life balance directive separates the father’s right to parental leave from the fact that the child’s mother was covered by social insurance (ZUS) on the day of birth. Even if the mother was unemployed on the day of birth, the working father does not lose his right to parental leave.
Changes related to the implementation of the work-life balance directive

Child and Family Care Rules from the Work-Life Balance Directive

The Work-Life Balance Directive introduces a range of solutions to help employees care for children and other close relatives. The main solutions for child and family care are:

Leave due to force majeureUp to 2 days (16 hours) per year for urgent family matters (illness, accident). During this time, the employee is entitled to half of salary.
Carer’s leave5 days per calendar year to care for close relatives with serious medical reasons. Unpaid.
Flexible work arrangementsFor parents of children up to 8 years old, the Work-Life Balance Directive provides: – part-time work, – flexible working hours, – a shortened workweek, – weekend work, – individualized work schedules. The employer must consider the request. Yet, he can reject it if it conflicts with the organization of work or the nature of the job.
Remote workAvailable for caregiving employees. The employer must consider the request unless remote work is impossible.
Parental consent for non-standard hoursUnder the Work-Life Balance Directive, the consent of a parent of a child up to 8 years old is required for: – overtime work, – night shifts, – intermittent working hours, – assignments outside the usual place of work.
Solutions for childcare and family care

The obligation to inform about employment conditions and changes introduced by the Work-Life Balance Directive

Employers must inform employees about:

  • employment conditions, including salary, working hours, leaves, etc.,
  • any changes in employment conditions with at least a 2-week notice period.

Non-discrimination clause in the Work-Life Balance Directive

The Work-Life Balance Directive prohibits gender-based indirect discrimination in employment conditions. This aims to positively influence the comfort of employees. It also promotes equal access to job positions.

Employees cannot be discriminated against due to the exercise of their rights and entitlements. Protection also covers those who support employees using these entitlements.

Protection for employees using Work-Life Balance Directive entitlements

The Work-Life Balance Directive introduces 2 forms of protection for employees using family-related entitlements:

  • protection against dismissal,
  • protection after return from leave.
AspectProtection against dismissalProtection upon return from leave
ConditionsEmployees cannot be dismissed for using entitlements related to family and private life. This includes parental, caregiver, maternity, and paternity leaves.An employee has the right to return to the previous position after the leave related to child care.
DurationFrom the date of submitting the leave application to its end.From the moment of return from leave provided by the work-life balance directive.
Employer’s actionThe employer cannot prepare to terminate employment contract, with or without notice, during this period. Dismissal during this period is only possible in strictly defined cases. They include, e.g. the employer’s bankruptcy or liquidation. In the case of disciplinary dismissal, there must be the consent of the company’s trade union.If this is not possible, the employer must provide an equivalent position. The conditions cannot be less favourable than before the leave.  
Forms of protection for employees using entitlements related to family and private life
Work-Life Balance Directive

Main objectives of the Work-Life Balance Directive

The introduction of the work-life balance directive aimed to:

  • Ensure employees achieve a balance between private life and work.
  • Protect against the phenomenon of professional burnout.
  • Improve the quality of life, positively influencing job satisfaction and work efficiency.
  • Equal rights of men and women.
  • Equal rights of parents with children and childless families.
  • Encourage fathers to be more involved in child care.
  • Facilitate mothers’ return to the labour market.
  • Promote a partnership family model.

How to implement the Work-Life Balance Directive in your company?

An employer who wants to comply with the work-life balance directive should adopt solutions that match the company’s specifics and employees’ needs. You can implement the directive for example through:

SolutionProposed example
Promoting flexible work formsIntroduce remote work, hybrid work, flexible working hours, and individual work schedules
Supporting parents in childcareOffer benefits for parents raising children, e.g. travel vouchers and parental leave subsidies. Cover part of the childcare costs. Provide childcare facilities on the company premises.
Caring for employees’ healthIntroduce health promotion programs, gym membership subsidies, and bonuses for a healthy lifestyle. Subsidies for preventive examinations. Create relaxation rooms in the company. Provide access to psychological help.
Implementing a modern communication styleRespect the boundaries between private and professional life. For example by avoiding contact with employees outside working hours. Encourage taking vacations and days off, promote transparent and effective communication within a company.  
Building an organizational culture that favours balancePromote respect for employees’ private time and gender equality. Organize training and workshops for employees on creating a friendly work environment. Create an atmosphere of openness and trust within the company, and appreciate employees.
Solutions related to the introduction of the work-life balance directive
Work-Life Balance Directive

What are the benefits of implementing the Work-Life Balance Directive?

The work-life balance directive brings the following benefits:

For employeesFor employers
Increased job and life satisfaction.Increased employee loyalty and engagement.
Reduced stress and burnoutReduction of sickness absence
Ability to balance work and family duties.Improved company image as an attractive employer.
Greater engagement and productivity at work.Easier talent recruitment and retention
Benefits of the work-life balance directive

Work-Life Balance Directive – Summary

Implementing the work-life balance directive requires the commitment of both the employer and employees. It is important for both parties to be open to communication and cooperation. This helps to develop solutions beneficial to all. As a result, employees will be able to better handle stress and enjoy private life. This can result in greater productivity and work engagement.

Interested in the work-life balance directive? If you would like to learn more, please contact our experts.

FAQ – Questions and Answers about the Work-Life Balance Directive

What is the work-life balance directive?

The work-life balance directive is a set of rules and procedures aimed at promoting a balance between employees’ professional and private lives. It aims to ensure employees balance between their professional duties and personal life.

What are the benefits of implementing the work-life balance directive?

The work-life balance directive can bring many benefits for both employees and employers. The main benefits include:
Reduced stress and improved well-being. Employees who have time to rest and recover are less prone to stress and burnout.
Improved productivity and efficiency. Rested and satisfied employees are more motivated and engaged in their work. This leads to better results.
Reduced absences. Employees who have time to care for children or relatives are less likely to fall ill and take leave.
Increased employee loyalty. Employees who feel appreciated and respected by the employer are more likely to stay with the company longer.
Improved company image. Companies that care about their employees’ well-being are more attractive to potential candidates.

What are the employer’s obligations in implementing the work-life balance directive?

The employer must:
Provide employees with flexible work forms. The employer should enable employees to use telework, flexible working hours, or leave on demand.
Promote healthy habits among employees. The employer can organize training on a healthy lifestyle and stress management.
Provide access to childcare. The employer can subsidize nurseries or kindergartens. He can also create childcare facilities on the company premises.
Maintain a good work atmosphere. The employer should create a friendly and cooperative work environment.

What can employees do to improve their work-life balance?

Employees can:
Set boundaries: It is important to separate professional life from private life. Employees should not check work emails or answer calls outside working hours.
Delegate tasks: Employees should not be afraid to ask for help and delegate tasks to others.
Take vacations: Employees should regularly use their entitled leave to rest and recover.
Care for their health. It is important to eat healthily, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.
Find time for hobbies and interests. Outside work, it is important to find time for hobbies and interests that bring joy.

Where can I find more information about the work-life balance directive?

You can find more information about the work-life balance directive on the websites of:
Ministry of Family, Labor, and Social Policy,
National Labor Inspectorate,
Trade unions.

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