Legal and Cultural Characteristics of the Polish Labor Market

A Guidance of How to Deal with Polish Employees

Elaboration, 2011

22 Pages


Table of Contents

Executive Summary


1. Issues of polish labor market: employee rights, flexible working agreements and wages
1.1. Employee rights and collective bargaining as principles of labor regulation
Rights of employees
Working time conditions
Collective Bargaining
Contract forms
Organizations for checking working conditions and job law enforcement
Ergonomic workplace design – an example of implementation of European directives in the polish labor low
1.2. Flexible working arrangements
1.3. Polish specialists as solution for the skilled worker shortage in leading economies of EU-27

2. Cultural differences and working style of the polish employees as a possible hindrance in daily business
2.1. Factors of working place satisfaction are building the key to more productivity of the polish workforce
2.2. Behavioral norms and values of the polish workforce. Understanding and anticipate the working culture
Improvisation & creativity
"Don't procrastinate for tomorrow the things that can be done after-tomorrow"
Communication & Small-Talk
Form of addressing people
Everything or nothing – compromise is never a good option
Change is the normality
Searching for heroes in daily life
Spoken word prior to written one
Strong personal-orientation

3. Everyday life in business - an interview with a polish employee

4. A guideline for foreigners of how to deal successfully with the polish workforce – how to enable people to give their best
4.1. How to deal with and motivate polish employees
4.1. Do’s and Don’ts indaily contact

List of figures



This paper is a short analysis of the most important issues of the polish labor market and the cultural charakteristics of the polish workforce. Often people say, there is no difference between Polish employees and these ones of the neighboor countries. But while looking more closely, they can be identified several differences in the mindset. A deep knowledge of differences are crucial for a fruitfully collaboration and cooperation.

Over the past 20 years Poland developed its economy quickly leaving behind the long history of planned economy and is now one of the fastest growing economies in the EU27. Additionally in the last years there was a significant increase in the quality of life and work, what is expressed through positive economic and structural development and data. As a consequence of this development Poland crystallize to be an interesting market for companies to invest in and for people from whole Europe to work in. Moreover, Poland is a huge labor market of well qualified and educated young people as there is an obvious shortage of skilled workers. Polish engineers are in great demand as innovations across the Europe are needed to stay on the track of flourishing economy and to overcome the evolving macroeconomical problems due to the financial crisis. One of the important characteristics of Poland in this context is its strong and very good education structure. The country ranks worldwide at 26 of 139 countries regarding competitiveness of higher education. (Ministerstwo rozwoju regionalnego, 2011, p.38) In European Union Poland has the 4th place regarding the amount of students – behind Germany, Great Britain and France. (Ministerstwo rozwoju regionalnego, 2011, p.71)

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Figure 1: Education of polish people in working age (15-64) in the years 2006-2009 in % (Ministerstwo rozwoju regionalnego, 2011, p.69)

For this reasons it is important for companies as well as for leader to understand what makes the polish labor force tick and what the main labor policy issues are.

What are the basic work conditions in Poland?

Are there flexible working arrangements?

Which roles play the trade unions?

Which cultural aspects have an impact on working-life in Poland?

Following, there will be presented a short overview of polish labor low and payment policies. The job satisfaction factors will be discussed in chapter two, as well as the differences in mindsets, values and behavior of polish employees. Chapter 3 contains an interview with an employee of a polish company. The interview consolidates and verifies some characteristics of the polish workforce. In the last chapter you will find as a résumé a checklist with do’s and dont’s in dealing with polish employees.

1. Issues of polish labor market: employee rights, flexible working agreements and wages

The first part contains the general labor rights of polish employees, inclusive minimum wages policy, the role of collective bargaining and institiustions for checking on working conditions of employees. Then, as a hot topic will be discussed the role of part-time work in Poland in comparision to the remain EU-27.

1.1. Employee rights and collective bargaining as principles of labor regulation

Rights of employees

Employee rights result directly from the Labour Code. The EU is yet not intervening in the labor markets and regional regulations, but it gives cornerstones of employee rights as minimum standards of labor market. Relevant are the Working Time Directive (93/104/EC), which includes regulations on the hours of work designed to protect the health and safety of workers and the Equal Pay Directive (75/117/EEC), prohibiting all discrimination on grounds of sex with regard to all aspects and conditions of remuneration. (Sandor, 2011, p.1) In the Social Charta of the EU, is for example only defined, that there have to be a minimum wage, which allow the recipient (employee) to lead a worthy life. The rules of setting the minimum wage have been defined by the Act of 10 October 2002 on the minimum remuneration for labour. Every country can then individually set its own minimum wage, as every country has a different purchasing power. The amount of the minimum wage is negotiated on an annual basis by the Polish Constitutional Tribunal (Trybunał Konstytucyjny). In 2011, the minimum gross monthly pay is PLN 1,386 (EUR 345) and amounts for a 40.7% share of an average salary. (Guza, 2010) At the same time an average salary was in the first quarter of 2011 PLN 3,466.33 (EUR 863) (ZUS, 2011).

Working time conditions

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During recent years, no significant changes have taken place regarding working time. It is calculated

based on the regulations of Chapter 6 of the Labour Code. The official working week is 40 hours, 8 hours per day. After 6 hours of working, the employee has a 15min break, which is counted as normal working time. Overtime inclusive the working week should not exceed 48 hours – this refers not to working time of the management. Overtime compensation is given in extra money or compensatory time off. In Poland is the first option, namely extra money for overtime, the normal case (European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions 2009, p.4).

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Figure 2: Compensation of overtime hours, by country (%) (European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, 2009, p.4)

Collective agreement regulations regarding working time usually follow the terms of the Labour Code (European Commission, 2011). Nevertheless, in the ‘hazardous environment’ of the chemicals or coal industry, weekly working time is shortened for health endangered employees. If an employer has signed a collective agreement, then it usually regulates these instances – for example, by reducing the working week to 35 hours (European Investor Relations Observatory On-line, 2009, p.7 f.). An employee has at least 20 days of holidays, when he/she is less than 10 years employed and 26 days when he/she is more than 10 years employed (European Commission, 2011).

Collective Bargaining

The legal regulations provide for concluding collective agreements at two levels:

Company agreements – between an employer and the trade union organizations at company level;

multi-employer agreements – between the sectorial or regional trade union organization and the employer organization representing a group of employers. The registered collective bargaining agreements involved 121,500 employees. The company level remains the predominant level of negotiations. Moreover, the process of decentralization and abandonment of multi-employer or sectorial agreements has been confirmed as a permanent tendency in the industrial relations system. The collective agreements mostly regulate wages, working time and social benefits. Sectoral collective agreements establish minimum standards for company-level negotiations. Apart from the above matters, the agreements refer to issues such as training and trade union rights. Other topics covered by the collective bargaining agreements are marginal.

Collective bargaining coverage in Poland ranges about 40% and is priory on the company level. With the collective bargaining coverage is Poland in the lower midrange of the EU27 countries (see Fig. 3). The trade union density is 15%. Only Spain and France have a lower density of trade unions. So pay is dealt with on a purely individual basis. (Rehfeldt et al., 2011, p.39)

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Figure 3: Wage bargaining coverage in Member States (%) (European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, 2009, p.7)

Excerpt out of 22 pages


Legal and Cultural Characteristics of the Polish Labor Market
A Guidance of How to Deal with Polish Employees
Munich University of Applied Sciences
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legal, cultural, characteristics, polish, labor, market, guidance, deal, employees
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Monika Sadowska (Author), 2011, Legal and Cultural Characteristics of the Polish Labor Market, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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