On 22.11.2018, in light of the novelisation of the Labour Code, some fixed length work contracts were transformed into open ended work contracts. This change concerned staff employed at the same employer for 33 months. What where the changes and what are the effects of the new ordinance?
First we must take a slightly broader look i.e. at the so called 33/3 limit introduced in the novelisation of the Labour Code in 2015. This novelisation stipulated that from 22.02.2016 onward it is not possible for an employee and employer to enter into fixed term work contracts with combined length exceeding 33 months. Furthermore the number of such contracts – regardless of their combined length – is capped at three. Should the parties wish to continue their relationship, then the employee and employer are obliged to enter into an open ended work contract.
As it is easy to calculate, the time from 22.02.2016 to 22.11.2018 is exactly 33 months, hence this novelisation has its actual implementation at the latter date.

Are there any exceptions?

The novelisation of the Labour Code enables the prolongation of fixed length work contracts above the limit in cases when:

  • a person is employed as a substitute during Excused Absence of another employee
  • the job is seasonal or is for an one-off task
  • there is a time limit – a fixed term – for the occupation of that position
  • the employer presents Objective Reasons in support of its position

In the context of exceptions to the 33/3 limit the key consideration is that the contract is to meet an actual temporary need, and for the prolongation of the fixed length contract to be indispensable when all circumstances of employment are considered.

Evaluation of adopted changes

Many experts consider the novelisation of the Labour Code to be an opportunity for the stabilisation of the life situation of staff who, over the past 33 months, had been employed on fixed length contracts. Considering the characteristics of the labour market in Poland the relevant changes should not be particularly troublesome to employers.
Are the changes in fact substantial? Not necessarily. One should keep in mind that today employers, even without any top-down pressure, quite readily employ staff on open ended work contacts. For an employer this type of employment contract is a tool in the building of a strong bond between staff and the company.