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EURES Съветници

Poland

Source: EURES The European Job Mobility Portal. For up-to-date information visit the Living and Working Conditions section about Poland on the EURES Portal.

How to find a job

Nationals of EU or EFTA Member States may work in Poland without having to obtain a work permit, on the same terms as Polish nationals. 

In Poland, it is possible to search for a job independently by submitting CVs together with cover letters to selected employers or via:

  • the EURES network, established by the European Commission, which is made up of public employment services and other qualified organisations and which aims to promote the mobility of workers in EU or EFTA Member States. Every national of these countries may benefit from the services of the networks for EU job placement and information about living and working conditions in these countries. Job offers in Poland are published on the European Job Mobility Portal which contains job offers from all PES from EU and EFTA Member States and other EURES members and partners, which is why job offers from Polish district employment services and Voluntary Labour Corps can be found there;
  • district employment serviceswhich publish job offers in the Central Job Offer Database. In order to benefit from all job offers, which are at the disposal of the district employment services, one needs to register with these services as an unemployed person or job-seeker. The registration will also allow for access to those job offers in which the data of the Polish employer have been communicated to the employment services, whose task is to select suitable candidates for work and refer them to the employer;
  • Voluntary Labour Corpswhich are engaged in job placement mainly for the youth, and job offers can be found in the 'Job Placement' Database of Voluntary Labour Corps and in the Central Job Offer Database;
  • employment agencies, engaged in job placement, which are involved in recruitment of personnel for employers. The basis for legal activity of an employment agency in the territory of Poland is obtaining an appropriate certificate, confirming entry in the Register of Employment Agencies maintained by the Province Marshals competent for the registered office of the agency. It is prohibited to collect fees from persons for whom the agency seeks employment or other paid job, or whom it assists in selection of the appropriate occupation and place of employment, other than the fee for referral to work abroad for foreign employers for: travel there and back of the referred person, issue of visa, medical examinations and translation of documents. These fees may be charged for the actual costs incurred in connection with the referral to work abroad, provided that these fees are specified in the contract concluded with the person referred to work abroad. The list of certified agencies is available on the website of the Register of Employment Agencies. Job offers of employment agencies can be found on these agencies’ websites;
  • entities authorised to engage in job placement without an entry in the Register of Employment Agencies,i.e. foreign entrepreneurs from EU and EFTA Member States, having the powers issued in the country of origin and providing job placement services in the territory of Poland (excluding temporary work) pursuant to the notification filed with the Province Marshal;
  • websitesoperated by entities which carry out job placement services only in the form of collecting in the form of electronic documents and providing information on job offers via communication and information systems. Such entities are exempted from an entry in the Register of Employment Agencies. 

Polish employers and entities involved in job placement in Poland publish their job offers in the press, on the Internet or at their registered offices and via other forms of communication, such as social media. 

The majority of daily newspapers, both nationwide and local, contain special columns with job postings. 

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How to apply for a job

Employers posting job vacancy notices typically ask candidates to submit: a CV (curriculum vitae) which should contain the following information: personal data (name, surname, address, contact telephone, email), information about professional experience (all types of jobs that have allowed for acquisition of experience useful at the new workplace), education, professional qualifications and additional skills.

The CV should be concise, as far as possible – it should take up one, maximally two A4 pages of white paper. The following consent to the processing of personal data, confirmed with a handwritten signature, should be included underneath the CV: 

'I agree to the processing of personal data contained in this document in order to complete the recruitment process in accordance with the Act of 10 May 2018 on personal data protection (Journal of Laws of 2018, item 1000) and in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (GDPR)'.

The second required document is a cover letter which substantiates the selection of a given job offer. It is slightly more personal than a CV. It typically takes up one A4 page and is hand-signed.

Templates of CVs and cover letters are available, for example, on the Public Employment Services Platform, in the 'For unemployed persons and job-seekers' tab, and on the Europass website.

The CV and the cover letter can be delivered personally, by mail or by electronic means. The employer indicates the form of contact with candidates for the job in the job vacancy notice. Jobs can also be applied for via dedicated IT tools of the given employer or entity engaged in job placement in Poland.

The employer makes preliminary selection of candidates on the basis of the submitted documents, then conducts interviews with the chosen individuals.

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Finding accommodation

Looking for accommodation

Flats for rental or purchase can be found independently, by reading advertisements in newspapers (e.g. the Wednesday edition of 'Gazeta Wyborcza' daily – 'Wyborcza Dom' supplement, the Monday edition of 'Rzeczpospolita' daily – 'Nieruchomości mieszkaniowe' supplement), and on websites, by posting own notices in newspapers and on websites and with the assistance of a real estate agent. Using services of a real estate agent increases the cost of seeking accommodation by the amount of commission paid to that agent. In the case of rental, it typically amounts to an equivalent of the cost of monthly rent, while in the case of purchase – approx. 2-3% of the price of the flat.

People who are looking for a flat independently can go to the sales office of the selected developer, verify the investment in legal terms – browse through the land and mortgage register and look at the National Court Register to check whether the company has the building permit and is not in bankruptcy, etc.

Services of a real estate agent (e.g. a real estate agency) may be used to purchase a flat; alternatively, a contract can be concluded with a developer or a housing cooperative. Most developers require that the first payment be made within three to 7 days from the date of signing the contract.

Any activities carried out by a real estate agent should be preceded by conclusion of an agency contract. The agency contract should stipulate which specific professional activities will be performed by the agent and what remuneration they are entitled to in connection with these activities. The contract should also indicate the agent responsible for its execution and the statement of third party liability insurance for damage caused in connection with agency activities. An agency contract is a  'diligent performance' contract, not a 'result' contract. The agent therefore undertakes, for example, not to find but to look for a flat.

In order to check the availability of social rental housing, contact social construction associations or municipal companies engaged in housing-related issues in the municipality. More information about the offer and the possibility of renting a flat from council housing can be obtained from the municipality office in the area of residence.

Flat purchase or rental

Purchase of any type of real estate in Poland requires a contract concluded before a notary in the form of a notarial deed.

A flat rental contract can be concluded for a definite or indefinite term. The provisions of the Act on the protection of the rights of tenants, council housing and amending the Civil Code contain a list of reasons for termination of the flat rental contract. The owner may terminate the flat rental contract in the event that: the tenant is in arrears with payment of the rent for at least three full payment periods, has rented or subleased the flat (or a part of it) or made it available for use without the required written consent of the owner, or grossly violates keeping the house in order. Such termination should be made in writing and state the reason for the termination. The owner may terminate the flat rental no later than one month in advance, at the end of the calendar month. 

The tenant may terminate an contract for an indefinite term at any time and for any reason (or without stating a cause), while observing the notice period.

Before signing the contract, the owner may require the tenant to pay a deposit. A deposit is a guarantee of possible claims for wear and tear of the premises beyond the wear and tear resulting from its use and a collateral of all financial liabilities for the rental of the premises (the deposit cannot exceed the amount equivalent to twelve times the monthly rent). The deposit shall be returned within one month of the date of vacating the premises or acquisition of the ownership right by the tenant, after deduction of the landlord’s receivables, if any, due to the rental of the premises. 

Flat prices and rental costs

Flat prices in Poland differ depending on the location and type of the real estate market. A flat can be purchased in the primary market, typically without a fit-out. There is also a sizeable secondary market in which flats are available in different conditions and locations. 

In Warsaw, the average price per square metre of an apartment in the primary market in the first quarter of 2019 was PLN 8,762 (EUR 2,015). It is 10% more than in the previous year. However, prices in the Tri-City are increasing at the fastest pace. They increased by 15% over the year. At present, 1 m2 of flat in this agglomeration costs approx. PLN 8,126 (EUR 1,868). Tri-City is the second most expensive real estate market in Poland after Warsaw. In Poznań, the prices of flats went up by 11% – PLN 7,141 (EUR 1,642) per 1 m2, while in Kraków – by 8%, to PLN 7,370 (EUR 1,695) per 1 m2. Łódź has not escaped the increases in flat prices, either. The price per square metre increased by as much as 8%. Currently, 1 m2 of flat in Łódź in the primary market costs PLN 5,631 (EUR 1,295).

Flat prices in the secondary market are somewhat different. In the first quarter of 2019, the highest prices were recorded, once again, in Warsaw – PLN 8,392 (EUR 1,930) per m2 – an increase by 4%. The prices of flats in the Tri-City also remain at a high level – approx. PLN 7,080 (EUR 1,628) per m2. The prices in the Tri-City agglomeration increased by 13% over the year. The highest increase in flat prices in the secondary market was seen in Łódź –— 15% per year. In the first quarter of 2019, it amounted to PLN 4,616 (EUR 1,061) per m2. In Kraków, the price per m2 in the secondary market was PLN 6,626 (EUR 1,523), while in Poznań – PLN 5,913 (EUR 1,359).

The amount of rent depends on the city, the condition of the flat and its floor area. Renting a flat is the most expensive in Warsaw and other large cities.

The average rate offered for flat rental in Warsaw as a whole was PLN 4,263 (EUR 980) per month in May 2019. For the smallest floor areas (up to 38 m2), the monthly rate was approx. PLN 2,069 (EUR 475) per month. Among other cities, the most expensive one was Gdańsk, which recorded the highest price increases in the real estate market in recent years. The average for advertisements from the entire city amounted to PLN 2,592 (EUR 596) per month. Rental in Kraków was valued at more than PLN 2,312 (PLN 531) per month, while in Wrocław – PLN 2,291 (EUR 526) per month. Łódź and Bydgoszcz remain the cheapest cities. In both of them, the average offered price was approximately PLN 1,800 (EUR 414) per month. Offers lower than PLN 1,000 (EUR 230) per month should not be expected in any of the analysed cities. 

Large variations in rental prices in the same category of flats are the result of their location relative to city centres. These rates do not include charges for utilities (e.g. gas, electricity, heating and water), which are not normally included in the cost of rent.

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Recognition of diplomas and qualifications

The importance of transparency and mutual recognition of diplomas as a crucial complement to the free movement of workers

The possibility of obtaining recognition of one’s qualifications and competences can play a vital role in the decision to take up work in another EU country. It is therefore necessary to develop a European system that will guarantee the mutual acceptance of professional competences in different Member States. Only such a system will ensure that a lack of recognition of professional qualifications will become an obstacle to workers’ mobility within the EU.

Main principles for the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU

As a basic principle, any EU citizen should be able to freely practice their profession in any Member State. Unfortunately the practical implementation of this principle is often hindered by national requirements for access to certain professions in the host country.

For the purpose of overcoming these differences, the EU has set up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications. Within the terms of this system, a distinction is made between regulated professions (professions for which certain qualifications are legally required) and professions that are not legally regulated in the host Member State.

Steps towards a transparency of qualifications in Europe

The European Union has taken important steps towards the objective of achieving transparency of qualifications in Europe:

  • An increased co-operation in vocational education and training, with the intention to combine all instruments for transparency of certificates and diplomas, in one single, user-friendly tool. This includes, for example, the European CV or Europass Trainings.
  • The development of concrete actions in the field of recognition and quality in vocational education and training.

Going beyond the differences in education and training systems throughout the EU

Education and training systems in the EU Member States still show substantial differences. The last enlargements of the EU, with different educational traditions, have further increased this diversity. This calls for a need to set up common rules to guarantee recognition of competences.

In order to overcome this diversity of national qualification standards, educational methods and training structures, the European Commission has put forward a series of instruments, aimed at ensuring better transparency and recognition of qualifications both for academic and professional purposes.

  1. The European Qualifications Framework

The European Qualifications Framework is a key priority for the European Commission in the process of recognition of professional competences. The main objective of the framework is to create links between the different national qualification systems and guarantee a smooth transfer and recognition of diplomas.

  1. The National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARICs)

A network of National Academic Recognition Information Centres was established in 1984 at the initiative of the European Commission. The NARICs provide advice on the academic recognition of periods of study abroad. Located in all EU Member States as well as in the countries of the European Economic Area, NARICs play a vital role the process of recognition of qualifications in the EU.

  1. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

The European Credit Transfer System aims at facilitating the recognition of periods of study abroad. Introduced in 1989, it functions by describing an education programme and attaching credits to its components. It is a key complement to the highly acclaimed student mobility programme Erasmus.

  1. Europass

Europass is an instrument for ensuring the transparency of professional skills. It is composed of five standardised documents

  • a CV (Curriculum Vitae),
  • a language passport,
  • certificate supplements,
  • diploma supplements, and
  • a Europass-Mobility document.

The Europass system makes skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in the different parts of Europe. In every country of the European Union and the European Economic Area, national Europass centres have been established as the primary contact points for people seeking for information about the Europass system.

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Kinds of employment

The basic form of employment in Poland is the contract of employment. Choosing the contract of employment as the basis for establishing an employment relationship is up to the parties (the employer and employee). The grounds for establishing an employment relationship other than an employment contract may be applied in cases where the provisions of law provide for such a possibility. 

Non-standard forms of 'employment' may include:

  • civil law contracts, an example of which is the freelance contract and specific task contract. In accordance with the principle of contractual freedom applicable in Polish law, the parties are free to choose the basis for the provision of work (contract of employment or civil law contract). However, freelance contracts and specific task contracts are governed by the regulations of the Civil Code and the provisions of the Labour Code do not apply to them as a general rule; 
  • temporary work, where the employee is employed on the basis of an employment contract by a temporary employment agency solely for the purpose of performing temporary work for and under the direction of another entrepreneur, the 'user employer' (performance of temporary work may include work of a seasonal, periodic or ad hoc nature, or whose timely execution by employees hired by the user employer would not be possible, or work performed in substitution of an absent employee of the user employer). It may be performed on the basis of a civil law contract;
  • teleworking, i.e. work which may be performed regularly outside the workplace, using electronic means of communication. Work may take the form of teleworking from the beginning of the employee’s employment or can only be introduced during their employment. Both of these options are characterised by voluntary nature of teleworking. The provisions concerning teleworking include guarantees for the teleworking employee related to equal treatment in employment and a prohibition of discrimination because of taking up work in the form of teleworking or refusal to take up such work. It is carried out on the basis of an employment contract.

There is no seasonal work defined in Polish legislation. However, there are national regulations that mention the nature of seasonal work in a given employment relationship. The concept of seasonal work also appears in the provisions on work permits for third-country nationals.

However, there is case-law of national courts stating that seasonal work means work performed for part of the year, related to a specific season, with the right time of year, and in particular weather conditions.

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Employment contracts

A contract of employment specifies the contracting parties, the type of contract, the date of its conclusion and the conditions of work and remuneration, in particular: the type of work, the place of work, the remuneration for work corresponding to the type of work, with indication of the remuneration components, the working hours and the start date of work. 

A contract of employment may be concluded with a person who is at least 18 years of age. Contracts of employment may also be concluded with adolescents aged between 15 and 18. However, it is forbidden, as a general rule, to employ people under the age of 15.

A contract of employment may be concluded for a probationary period, for an indefinite term or for a fixed term. 

A contract of employment for a probationary period, not exceeding 3 months, is concluded for the purpose of verifying the employee’s qualifications and employability for the purpose of performing a particular type of work. The conclusion of an employment contract for a probationary period again with the same employee is permissible when the employee is to perform another type of work or (if the employee is to perform the same type of work) when a period of 3 years has elapsed from the date of termination or expiry of the previous contract of employment.

The period of employment on the basis of a fixed-term employment contract, and the total period of employment under fixed-term employment contracts concluded between the same parties to the employment relationship may not exceed 33 months and the total number of such contracts may not exceed three. If the period of employment on the basis of a fixed-term contract or contracts of employment is longer than 33 months or if the number of fixed-term contracts is greater than three, then from the day following the lapse of that period or from the date of conclusion of the fourth fixed-term contract of employment, respectively, the employee is deemed to be employed under an indefinite-term employment contract.

The above limits do not apply to fixed-term contracts of employment concluded for the purpose of substitution for an employee during their justified absence at work, for the purpose of performing work of ad hoc or seasonal nature, for the purpose of performing work during a term of office, and where the employer indicates objective reasons on its part – if their conclusion in a given case serves to satisfy a real periodic demand and is necessary in this regard in the light of all the circumstances of the conclusion of the contract. This also applies to the situation where a fixed-term employment contract (which would have been terminated after the end of the third month of pregnancy) has been extended until the date of childbirth.

The provisions provide for a possibility of both full-time and part-time employment. The part-time employment of a worker must not result in the establishment of their working and remuneration conditions in a manner which is less favourable compared to full-time employment in respect of the same or similar type of work.

As part of the employment relationship, employees may also be hired on the basis of appointment, selection, designation and a cooperative employment contract

The employment contract is concluded in writing.If the employment contract is not concluded in writing, the employer will be obliged to confirm to the employee in writing the arrangement as to the contracting parties, the type of the contract and its terms, before admitting them to work.

An amendment to the terms and conditions of an employment contract must be in writing and may be made: 

  • by common agreement of the parties – the employer and the employee agree to amend the terms and conditions of the contract and determine the date from which the amendment will apply, 
  • by the employer by way of termination notice amending the working and/or remuneration terms.

Termination notice amending the working and/or remuneration terms is deemed to have been served if the employer has proposed new terms to the employee in writing. In the event of receiving a termination notice amending the terms, the employee may: 

  • submit a statement of acceptance of the proposed terms; upon expiry of the notice period, new terms will apply to them,  
  • submit a statement of refusal to accept the proposed terms before the expiry of a half of the notice period; upon expiry of the notice period, the employment contract will be terminated,
  • submit no statement, which will be tantamount to acceptance of the new terms; upon expiry of the notice period, new terms will apply to them.

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Working time

In Poland, the amount of working hours cannot exceed 8 per day and an average of 40 hours in an average five-day working week in the agreed settlement period, which does not exceed, as a rule, 4 months. Where justified by objective or technical reasons or reasons pertaining to organisation of work, the settlement period may be extended to a maximum of 12 months, in accordance with the general principles governing the protection of safety and health of employees. Extension of the settlement period is determined in a collective bargaining agreement or in an agreement with the company trade union organisations; if it is not possible to agree on the contents of the agreement with all the company trade union organisations, the employer agrees on the contents of the agreement with representative trade union organisations, each of which has at least 5% of the employer’s employees as members, or in an agreement concluded with the employees’ representatives, selected in the manner adopted by the given employer. The weekly working time including overtime cannot exceed an average of 48 hours in the adopted settlement period.

It is possible to apply flexible working hours, i.e. starting work at different times or determining a time interval in which the employee decides when to start work. In certain working hours systems, the number of daily working hours may be extended. 

Every employee is entitled to uninterrupted daily rest of at least 11 hours and weekly rest of at least 35 hours and, in certain cases, of not less than 24 hours. 

If the number of the employee’s daily working hours is at least 6, the employee is entitled to a break in work of at least 15 minutes, included in the working hours. The employer may introduce a single break in work, not included in the working hours, of up to 60 minutes, intended for consuming a meal or settlement of personal matters.

Work on Sundays and holidays is permissible in cases indicated in the Labour Code
in a comprehensive manner, e.g. in the case of shift work, in transport and communication, when performing work necessary due to its social utility and daily needs of the population. 

Restrictions are applicable as regards trade and activities related to trade on Sundays and public holidays in commercial establishments. In 2019, there is one commercial Sunday in a month.There are also two additional commercial Sundays before Christmas and one before Easter.In certain cases laid down in the provisions, trade and performing work in trade are permitted on all Sundays, e.g. at petrol stations, in pharmacies, in florist’s shops.

The employer is obligated to provide an employee performing work on Sundays and public holidays with a different day free from work. Such an employee should benefit from a Sunday free from work at least once every 4 weeks. Night time covers 8 hours between 9.00 p.m. and 7.00 a.m. An employee performing night work is entitled to additional remuneration for each hour of night work. 

Overtime work is work performed beyond an employee’s standard working hours, and work performed beyond the extended daily working hours, if necessary to conduct a rescue operation in order to protect human life or health, to protect property or the environment or to remove a failure or in the case of special needs of the employer. The number of overtime hours worked in connection with the employer’s special needs must not exceed 150 hours per calendar year for an individual employee. Overtime work is compensated for with a supplement to remuneration or time off work.

In the case of civil law contracts, the provisions of the Labour Code on working hours do not apply. This issue is not governed by the provisions of the Civil Code, either – this matter is up to the contracting parties. However, the number of hours of execution of the order or provision of services on the basis of the contract should be confirmed, to which the minimum hourly rate applies for each hour of performance of the order or provision of services. 

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Leave (annual leave, parental leave, etc.)

Right to leave

The employee is entitled to an annual, uninterrupted, paid holiday leave. The employee may not waive their right to leave. The documented employment periods of nationals of EU or EFTA Member States abroad with foreign employers are included in periods of work in Poland as regards employee rights.

The following types of leave are stipulated: holiday leave, maternity leave, leave on terms of maternity leave, paternity leave, childcare leave, training leave, parental leave, unpaid leave.

Holiday leave

The employee acquires the right to the first holiday leave (amounting to 1/12 of the period of leave to which they are entitled after one year of service) after one month of work. They acquire the right to more leave in each subsequent calendar year. The length of holiday leave is 20 days – if the employee has been employed for less than 10 years, 26 days – if the employee has been employed for at least 10 years.  The employment period on which the length of holiday leave depends also includes the period of education in upper secondary school. As part of holiday leave, the employer is obliged to grant leave (of not more than 4 days per calendar year) on demand, on the dates specified by the employee. The length of leave for a part-time employee is determined in proportion to the working hours of that employee. 

The employer grants leave to the employee in the calendar year in which the employee acquired the right to it. Overdue leave should be used by the end of the third quarter of the following calendar year. If the leave is not used by the date of termination of the employment contract, the employee is entitled to a cash equivalent. At the request of the employee, the leave may be divided into parts, of which at least one part should last not less than 14 consecutive calendar days. For the period of leave, the employee is entitled to the remuneration that they would receive if they were working during that time.

Unpaid leave 

Unpaid leave is granted at the employee’s written request (that leave is not included in the working time on which employee rights depend). Notwithstanding the above, with the employee’s consent expressed in writing, the employer may grant the employee unpaid leave for the purpose of performing work for another employer for a period set out in the agreement between employers concerning this matter (the period of such unpaid leave is included in the working time on which employee rights at the existing employer’s depend).

Maternity leave 

An employee has the right to maternity leave of 20 weeks in the case of having one child during one childbirth, 31 weeks in the case of having two children during one childbirth, 33 weeks in the case of having three children during one childbirth, 35 weeks in the case of having four children during one childbirth and 37 weeks in the case of having five and more children during one childbirth. 

The right to leave on terms of maternity leave applies to employees who have taken in a child for the purpose of raising it and have applied to the guardianship court to initiate adoption proceedings or who have taken in a child for the purpose of raising it as a foster family (with the exception of a professional foster family). The duration of leave is the same as stated above and is dependent on the number of children adopted / taken in for the purpose of raising them at the same time; the employee is entitled to it no longer than until the child reaches the age of 7, and in the case of a child for whom a decision to postpone the compulsory school attendance is made, no longer than until the age of 10.

Maternity allowance is due for maternity leave and leave granted on terms of maternity leave.

Parental leave

Immediately after using maternity leave, the employee is entitled to parental leave of up to 32 weeks – in the case of giving birth to one child and up to 34 weeks, in the case of giving birth to two and more children at a time.

The right to parental leave applies to employees who have taken in a child for the purpose of raising it and have applied to the guardianship court to initiate adoption proceedings or who have taken in a child for the purpose of raising it as a foster family (with the exception of a professional foster family). The duration of leave is the same as stated above and is dependent on the number of children adopted / taken in for the purpose of raising them at the same time. The right to parental leave applies in that case after using the leave on terms of maternity leave or maternity benefit for the period corresponding to the period of leave on terms of maternity leave.

Parental leave is granted at a written request of the employee. This leave is applicable immediately after the use of maternity leave, on a one-off basis or in a maximum of 4 parts. It is also possible to use up to 16 weeks of parental leave during a period which does not fall directly after the use of the previous part of the leave. The use of this option is dependent on the parents’ decision, provided that the number of parts of parental leave granted in this manner reduces the number of parts of applicable childcare leave.

No part of parental leave can be shorter than 8 weeks. The final deadline for the use of the leave is the end of the calendar year in which the child reaches the age of 6 years. 

It is possible to combine parental leave with working (for up to 1/2 of full-time) at the employer who grants the aforementioned leave. In the above case, the length of parental leave is extended proportionately to a maximum of 64 or 68 weeks.

In addition, parents can exchange their parental leave and maternity benefit during leave to which they are entitled for childcare if one of the parents is an employee and the other one is covered by sickness insurance for another reason, such as conducting their own economic activity. 

Maternity allowance applies for the duration of parental leave.

Paternity leave

An employee – a father raising a child – has the right to use paternity leave. The right to such leave applies to the child’s father, no longer, however, than until the child reaches the age of 24 months. An employee – a father who has adopted a child – also has the right to paternity leave which may be used until the end of 24-month period from the date of the court’s adoption decision becoming final and valid, no later than until the child reaches the age of 7, and in the case of a child for whom a decision to postpone the compulsory school attendance is made, no later than until the age of 10. The length of paternity leave is up to 2 weeks and this period can be divided into two parts, each of which can be used at any time. Maternity allowance applies for the duration of paternity leave.

Childcare leave

Childcare leave is applicable for up to 36 months, not longer, however, than until the end of the calendar year in which the child reaches the age of 6. In order to benefit from this leave, the employee must be employed for at least 6 months. The leave may be used by a mother or father who are employees. This leave is granted at a written request of the employee, in no more than 5 parts. During the childcare leave, the employee does not retain the right to remuneration (this leave is, as a rule, unpaid), is not entitled to any allowance, but the person is covered by pension and health insurance paid by the employer.

Training leave 

Training leave is applicable to an employee who is undergoing workplace training at the initiative of the employer or with its consent in accordance with the rules specified in the provisions of the Labour Code. The length of this leave is: 6 days – for an employee taking external examination;  6 days – for an employee taking examination to confirm professional qualifications; 21 days during the final year of studies – for preparation of a thesis and to prepare and take the diploma examination. The employee retains the right to remuneration for the duration of the training leave. 

Public holidays

Public holidays are Sundays and the following holidays: 1 January, 6 January, the first day of Easter, the second day of Easter, 1 May, 3 May, Pentecost, the Feast of Corpus Christi, 15 August, 1 November, 11 November, 25 December and 26 December.

Leave from work

There are a number of circumstances in which leave from work is granted. The most frequent ones include: incapacity for work due to illness, medical examination, the need to care for a child, personal or family events such as wedding or funeral.

If the reason for granting leave from work is, for example, the employee’s wedding, the birth of their child or funeral of the employee’s spouse, child, father, mother, stepfather or stepmother, the employee is entitled to 2 days of leave from work. If the leave from work is due to the employee’s child’s wedding or death and funeral of their sister, brother, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandmother, grandfather, and another person who is a dependant of the employee or under their direct care, the employee is entitled to 1 day of leave from work. During the leave from work due to the above-mentioned reasons, the employee is entitled to the same remuneration as the one they would receive if they were working. 

An employee raising at least 1 child at the age of up to 14 is entitled to 16 hours or 2 days of leave from work during a calendar year while retaining the right to remuneration. 

In turn, an employee who is improving their professional qualifications is entitled (in addition to the above-mentioned training leave) to leave from a whole or a part of the working day for the time necessary to arrive at the compulsory classes and for their duration (the employee retains the right to remuneration for the duration of this leave).

In the case of civil law contracts, the provisions of the Labour Code on working holiday leave, leave from work and public holidays do not apply. These issues are not governed by the provisions of the Civil Code, either. 

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Payment

Minimum wage

The rules and procedures for determining the minimum wage are laid down in the legal provisions. The minimum wage is negotiated annually within the framework of the Social Dialogue Council.

In 2019, the monthly minimum wage was PLN 2,250 gross (approx. EUR 518). Amounts deducted from this amount include, inter alia, social security contributions and advance on personal income tax. This amount applies to a person employed on a full-time basis. In the event of part-time work, this amount shall be reduced proportionately. 

The amount of minimum wage includes all components of remuneration included in personal remuneration, except for: remuneration for overtime, jubilee award, severance grant upon old-age retirement or annuity and a supplement to remuneration for work at night. It does not include profit-sharing, balance sheet surplus and additional annual remuneration in the public sector. If, in a given month, the employee’s remuneration, due to the time limits for payment of certain components of remuneration or distribution of working hours, is lower than the applicable minimum wage, the employee is entitled to a compensatory adjustment which is paid together with remuneration. 

Remuneration

The remuneration systems of individual employers are diverse. The terms and conditions of remuneration for work and awarding other work-related benefits from employers are determined by: 

  • collective bargaining agreements (company or supra-company – concluded by employers in which trade union organisations operate), 
  • rules of remuneration(for employers with at least 50 employees not covered by a collective bargaining agreement, or employing at least 20 and fewer than 50 employees if the company trade union organisation so requests) or 
  • employment contracts.

Remuneration for work should be determined so as to correspond to the nature of the work performed and the qualifications required for its performance, employment contracts to take into account the quantity and quality of the work performed. Remuneration is payable for the work performed. While not performing work, the employee retains the right to remuneration only if the provisions of the labour law so stipulate. In order to protect remuneration for work, the Polish Labour Code contains a provision under which an employee may not waive the right to remuneration or transfer this right to another person.

The employer is obliged to establish and keep, separately for each employee, a personal card (list) for remuneration paid for work and other work-related benefits. The employer, at the request of the employee, is obliged to make the documents on the basis of which their remuneration has been calculated available for inspection.

Remuneration is paid in cash. Partial payment of remuneration in a form other than cash is permissible only if stipulated in statutory provisions of labour law or collective bargaining agreement. Remuneration for work must be paid at least once a month, within a fixed time limit agreed on in advance, no later than during the first 10 days of the following calendar month. Remuneration may be paid otherwise than personally to the employee, e.g. to the bank account – if the employee previously agrees to it in writing or it is stipulated in a collective bargaining agreement. As from 1 January 2019, the principle of payment of remuneration will be changed. Payment of remuneration to the employee’s payment account will be the rule. However, if the employee wishes to receive payment personally in cash, they will have to submit an application for such payment to the employer in writing or by electronic means. 

An employee who receives revenue from an employment relationship is subject to compulsory social insurance. The employer is obliged to calculate contributions from the remuneration received by the employee and to pay them to the Social Insurance Institution. The pension contribution – 19.52% – is paid in equal parts by the employee and the employer, the annuity contribution – 8% – is paid by the employee in the amount of 1.5% and by the employer in the amount of 6.5%. The sickness contribution – 2.45% – is paid in full by the employee, while the accident contribution (from 0.67% to 3.33%) is paid by the employer. Contributions to the Labour Fund (2.45%), the Guaranteed Employee Benefit Fund (0.10%) and the Solidarity Fund for Disabled Persons (0.15%) are paid by the employer. 

The annual basis for pension and annuity insurance contributions may not exceed thirty times the forecast average monthly salary. Working persons are also covered by compulsory health insurance. The contribution is payable at a rate of 9% of the basis of that contribution and the taxpayer has the right to deduct the amount paid from tax in the amount not exceeding 7.75% of the basis of the contribution.

Matters relating to the principles of payment of remuneration in the case of civil law contracts are regulated mainly by the provisions of the Civil Code – depending on the nature of the contract. A person performing work on the basis of certain contracts of mandate or service contracts, to which mandate regulations apply – is entitled to receive remuneration of at least the minimum hourly rate for each hour of work. The minimum hourly rate for certain civil law contracts in 2019 is PLN 14.70 for each hour of carrying out the mandate or provision of services.  The minimum hourly rate is indexed annually and increases to the same extent as the minimum wage for employees. Persons who decide independently on the place and time of performance of the mandate or the provision of the service are not entitled to a minimum hourly rate; at the same time, they are entitled to a commission. In addition, specific contracts for care services, e.g. concluded for the purpose of running a family assistance home, contracts on childcare in custody or care of a group of persons during trips, lasting more than one day, are exempted from the obligation to apply the minimum hourly rate.

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Termination of employment

Forms of termination of employment

Termination of employment relationship takes place as a result of its termination or expiration.

A contract of employment may be terminated by mutual agreement of the parties: by a declaration of one of the parties with a notice period; by declaration one of the parties without a notice period; upon expiry of the duration for which it was concluded. Termination of employment contracts with and without notice should be made in writing.

Termination of an employment contract by common agreement of the parties – according to this procedure, the employer and the employee agree to terminate the contract of employment within the time limit agreed by the parties.

Termination of an employment contract upon notice – the contract of employment is terminated by a written declaration of the employee or employer with a notice period. Termination upon notice can be applied in the case of an employment contract for an indefinite term, an employment contract for a probationary period and a fixed-term contract. The notice period in the case of a employment contract for an indefinite term and fixed-term employment contract is dependent on the employment period at the given employer’s. That period amounts to, respectively: 2 weeks – if the employee has been employed for less than 6 months, 1 month if the employee has been employed for at least 6 months and 3 months – if the employee has been employed for at least 3 years.

The notice period of an employment contract concluded for a probationary period depends on the duration of the probationary period and amounts to, respectively: 3 working days – if the probationary period does not exceed 2 weeks, 1 week – if the probationary period is longer than 2 weeks or 2 weeks – if the probationary period is 3 months.

In connection with termination of the contract of employment, the employer may release the employee from the obligation to perform work until the expiry of the notice period. During this period of release from obligation, the employee retains the right to remuneration. 

If an employment contract for an indefinite term is terminated by the employer, it is obliged to notify in writing the company trade union organisation, representing the employee, of the intention to terminate the contract of employment and to give the reason justifying the termination of the contract. 

Termination of the contract of employment without notice – the contract of employment is terminated by a written declaration of the employee or employer without observing the notice period. The employer may terminate the contract of employment in this manner for reasons attributable to the employee in the case of:

  • serious violation of the employee’s basic duties by the employee;
  • the employee committing a criminal offence during the term of the contract of employment, which prevents them from continued employment on the occupied position, if the criminal offence is obvious or has been determined by a valid judgement; 
  • loss of rights required to perform work on the occupied position for reasons attributable to the employee. 

In addition, the employer may terminate the contract of employment with the employee without notice for reasons not attributable to the employee in the event of:

  • the employee’s incapacity for work due to long-term illness, lasting for the period defined in the provisions of the Labour Code;
  • the employee’s justified absence at work for reasons other than illness, lasting more than 1 month.

The employer’s declaration of termination of the contract of employment without notice should indicate the reason justifying termination of the contract and instructions on the employee’s right of appeal to the labour court.

The employee may terminate the contract of employment without notice:

  • if harmful effect on their health due to the work performed is determined by a medical certificate and the employer does not transfer them, within the time limit specified in the medical certificate, to a different job appropriate for their health condition and professional qualifications;
  • where the employer commits a serious breach of basic obligations towards the employee.

Expiration of the employment relationship takes place automatically, by virtue of law, in cases specified in the Labour Code and in special provisions (e.g. death of the employee, death of the employer).

In Poland, special provisions are also in force concerning the termination of employment relationships for reasons not related to employees. They regulate the way in which collective redundancies and individual redundancies are carried out and involve employers with at least 20 employees. 

The issues of termination of legal relations arising as a result of conclusion of certain civil law contracts by the parties (e.g. contracts of mandate or specific task contracts) are governed by – depending on the type of contract between the parties – the relevant provisions of the Civil Code.

Return to work or re-employment

An employee may apply for return to work on previous terms where:

  • the employer terminated the contract of employment concluded with them for an indefinite term upon notice without a justification or contrary to the provisions on termination of employment contracts,
  • the employer terminates the contract of employment with them without notice in breach of the provisions of the law on termination of contracts according to this procedure.

Return to work is decided on by the labour court, which considers the employee’s claim after that employee files the relevant statement of claim. The employee is entitled to choose the labour court which will be convenient to them due to their place of residence or place of performance of work or the registered office of the employer. 

The right to re-employment of an employee with whom the employment relationship has been terminated occurs when:

  • the contract of employment has been terminated with the employee without notice due to incapacity for work resulting from prolonged illness or accident at work or occupational disease, 
  • the contract of employment has been terminated with the employee without notice due to justified absence exceeding 1 month for reasons other than long-term illness, accident at work or occupational disease, 
  • the contract of employment has been terminated with the employee as part of collective redundancies (an employer dismissing employees through collective redundancies is obliged to employ them first if it deals with the problems and starts hiring again),
  • the employment relationship expired due to a three-month provisional detention.

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Healthcare services

Persons entitled to health services

In Poland, medical services are rendered by public and non-public providers.

The following persons are entitled to healthcare benefits financed using public funds: 

   1.Persons covered by the Polish universal (compulsory or voluntary) health insurance in the National Health Fund (NFZ), hereinafter referred to as the 'insured persons'.

Insured persons may be both Polish nationals and nationals of EU or EFTA Member States residing in the territory of an EU or EFTA Member State. Family members of the aforementioned persons residing in the territory of Poland, or EU or EFTA Member State other than Poland are also insured persons if they are not subject to compulsory insurance in Poland nor eligible for healthcare benefits under Community provisions on social security coordination. 

Every national of an EU or EFTA Member State subject to health insurance in Poland should obtain the personal identification number (PESEL), which all Polish nationals have.

PESEL (Personal Identification Number) is the 11-digit symbol identifying a particular natural person. The number comprises the following elements: date of birth, sequential number, gender identification number and control digit. PESEL is assigned ex officio following the registration of residency or at a reasoned request submitted to the competent municipality or town office if having PESEL is required by the law.

The health insurance obligation covers inter alia: employees, persons performing work on the basis of an agency agreement or a contract of mandate or other service contract, persons carrying out economic activities, except those who have suspended economic activities, persons receiving pension or annuity, pupils, students and PhD students, unemployed persons, persons receiving certain social assistance benefits or certain family benefits. Voluntary insurance is possible for a person who resides in Poland by entering into a voluntary health insurance agreement with the provincial branch of the NFZ, competent for the place of residence of that person in Poland. 

Insured persons are obliged to enrol family members in the health insurance (own child, adopted child – until the age of 18, and if they continue education – until the age of 26; spouse; direct relatives in the ascending line remaining in a common household with the insured person), unless they have their own health insurance title. Grandchildren may be enrolled in health insurance by grandparents only if none of the parents is subject to the health insurance obligation or is not a person entitled to receive healthcare benefits on the basis of provisions on coordination for performing work or work on their own account or voluntary insurance.

   2.Nationals of EU or EFTA Member States who are not covered by Polish universal health insurance and are subject to health insurance of another EU or EFTA Member State during temporary stay in Poland.

Such persons, during temporary stay in Poland, for example for the purpose of studying or while looking for work in Poland – if they receive unemployment benefits obtained in another EU or EFTA Member State – may benefit from free healthcare benefits upon presentation of the European Health Insurance Card. However, this right covers only the use of benefits that can be considered necessary for medical reasons, taking into account the nature of these benefits and the anticipated duration of stay in Poland. 

Health premium

Insured persons pay a health insurance premium of 9% of the base (e.g. revenue, reduced by social insurance, pension or annuity contributions or at least 75% of the average monthly remuneration in the enterprise sector, published by the President of the Central Statistical Office – in the case of persons conducting non-agricultural economic activities). Health insurance premiums are paid by employers, Social Insurance Institutions and other pension establishments, social assistance centres, schools and universities, etc. (premium payers).

Use of healthcare benefits

A person entitled in Poland to healthcare benefits financed from public funds (beneficiary) can use these benefits only in establishments providing healthcare services which have a signed agreement with NFZ. A vast majority of healthcare entities in Poland have such agreements. If healthcare benefits are provided in an emergency situation by an entity which does not have an agreement with NFZ, the beneficiary has the right to these benefits to the extent necessary.

Beneficiaries select the primary care practitioner, nurse and a midwife by submitting a written declaration. Normally, the first visit to a selected healthcare facility involves registration and the selection of the primary care practitioner. 

Registration requires clearance of rights of the patient to healthcare benefits, which is carried out by the healthcare facility in the electronic eWUŚ system (Electronic Verification of the Rights of Beneficiaries), which allows for immediate confirmation of the patient’s right to the healthcare benefit financed using public funds. Clearance of rights to healthcare benefits financed using public funds is carried out on the basis of PESEL and a document confirming the person’s identity. It may be, for example, an ID card, a passport, a driving licence, and in the case of children subject to compulsory education, up to the age of 18, the current student ID.

In the absence of a possibility to verify the patient’s rights in the electronic system, a document confirming coverage with health insurance should be presented, such as ZUS RMUA form. If the patient does not have such a document, they may submit a written declaration of their right to healthcare benefits. 

Scope of healthcare benefits and emergency telephone numbers

Healthcare benefits may be provided by both public and private entities which have agreements with NFZ within the appropriate scope. The healthcare benefits financed using public funds include: 

  • healthcare benefitsaimed at preserving, saving, restoring and improving health and other medical activities arising from the treatment process or legal provisions laid down by the minister of health,
  • healthcare benefits in kind– medicines, medical devices related to the treatment process – upon partial payment, lump-sum payment or full payment,
  • benefits accompanying treatment– stay and meals, ambulance services in a 24/7 or all-day healthcare facility.

The primary care practitioner conducts the basic treatment and, if necessary, issues a referral to physicians of other specialties. The insured person may, without a referral from the primary care practitioner, use the healthcare benefits provided by the following specialists: gynaecologist and obstetrician, dentist (only few dental services and benefits are paid for by NFZ as part of dental treatment), venereologist, oncologist, psychiatrist. In emergency situations, healthcare benefits are provided without the required referral. A referral is also necessary if hospital services need to be used (it is not necessary in the event of an accident, injury, poisoning or other sudden health hazard). Procedures, tests and medication are provided free of charge during the hospital stay.

The nationwide 24/7 telephone number to emergency call centres is 112.

Information on healthcare facilities with agreements with NFZ can be obtained from NFZ provincial branches. Information telephone numbers in individual NFZ branches can be found on the NFZ website. 

Payments for healthcare benefits and medicines

In the case of healthcare benefits under the universal health insurance, benefits are provided free of charge unless the provisions stipulate the beneficiary’s participation in costs.

Payments apply to those benefits which have been explicitly indicated in the national legal provisions as not being due under health insurance. These include, for example, benefits provided in health resort establishments for insured persons who do not have a referral for such treatment; costs of travel and stay with respect to health resort treatment – the beneficiary is charged with the costs of travelling to the health resort and of the health resort treatment and partially with the costs of food and accommodation in the sanatorium, preventive vaccinations other than those mentioned in the provisions on infectious diseases and infections. The supply of medical devices such as prosthetics, glasses, wheelchairs, etc. is subject to a quantitative limit and partial payment.

Free medicines are provided to an insured person admitted to a hospital or healthcare institution for persons in need of 24/7 or all-day healthcare benefits, and in the performance of medical, care, diagnostic and rehabilitation treatment, by the entities entitled to provide benefits under health insurance, and when such entities are providing emergency assistance. 

Purchase of medicines upon reduced payment requires a prescription issued by a practitioner or feldsher, nurse or midwife, if they have the right to practice the profession. 

Medicines are issued in pharmacies, typically on the basis of a prescription issued by an authorised person: 

  • free of charge; or
  • upon lump-sum payment; or
  • upon payment of 30% or 50% of the funding limit; or
  • upon full payment – in the case of medicines not included on the list of reimbursed drugs or in the case of prescription of the given drug in an indication not subject to reimbursement.

In the Polish education system, a distinction is made between compulsory education and the obligation to learn. On the basis of an order of a health insurance practitioner, a patient is entitled to free sanitary transport, including by air, to the nearest hospital providing appropriate benefits and back, and in cases where immediate treatment is necessary or arising from the need for continuity of treatment, and in the event of a dysfunction of the musculoskeletal system which prevents the use of public transport, for the purpose of medical treatment – to the nearest healthcare institution providing benefits within the appropriate scope and back. In other cases, on the basis of an order of a health insurance practitioner, the transport is provided upon payment or partial payment.

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Income and taxes

Average income

The average gross monthly remuneration in the national economy in the first quarter of 2019 amounted to PLN 4,951 gross (approx. EUR 1,138). The average gross monthly remuneration in the enterprise sector in the first quarter of 2019 amounted to PLN 5,015 gross (approx. EUR 1,153).

For example, the average gross income in the Mazowieckie Province (including the city of Warsaw) in various sectors in April 2019 was: the enterprise sector – PLN 6,186 (approx. EUR 1,422), industry – PLN 5,951 (approx. EUR 1,368 EUR), industrial processing – PLN 5,712 (approx. EUR 1,313), construction – PLN 6,425 (approx. EUR 1,478), commerce – PLN 6,461 (approx. EUR 1,486), transport – PLN 4,966 (approx. EUR 1,142), accommodation and catering – PLN 4,278 (approx. EUR 983), information and communication – PLN 9,558 (approx. EUR 2,198), real estate market services – PLN 6,987 (approx. EUR 1,607), administration and supporting activity – PLN 8749 (approx. EUR 2,012). 

Types of taxes

In Poland, there are fifteen types of taxes, which are divided into direct taxes (paid by the taxpayer, who is obliged to pay the tax to the tax authority) and indirect taxes (paid upon acquisition of goods).

Direct taxes are:

   1.personal income tax (PIT),

   2.corporate income tax (CIT),

   3.inheritance and donation tax,

   4.tax on civil law transactions,

   5.agricultural tax,

   6.forestry tax,

   7.property tax,

   8.automobile tax,

   9.tonnage tax (addressed to companies operating offshore commercial vessels in international sailing),

  10.tax on extraction of certain minerals,

  11.tax on certain financial institutions,

  12.tax on revenue taxed on terms arising from the act on activation of the shipbuilding industry and complementary industries (tax on the value of produce marketed).

Indirect taxes are:

   1.goods and services tax (VAT – 23%, 8%, 5% and 0%),

   2.excise duty,

   3.gambling tax.

From the point of view of employment and conducting business activity in Poland, the most important taxes are, respectively, personal income tax and corporate income tax

Personal income tax

The most important tax from the point of view of a natural person employed in Poland is the personal income tax.

Income obtained by natural persons is subject to taxation with personal income tax. If the taxpayer receives income from more than one source in a given year, the taxable amount is the sum of income from all sources of revenue generated in Poland and abroad. In the event of non-residents obtaining income in Poland or Polish residents abroad, the provisions of double taxation agreements to which Poland is a party apply. Poland has signed such agreements, among others, with Austria, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. The full list of countries together with the agreements is available on the website of the Ministry of Finance.

Any person domiciled in Poland must pay a tax on income earned in Poland. A person domiciled in Poland is a person who has a 'centre of personal or economic interests' here (e.g. resides, works in Poland) or stays in Poland for more than 183 days per year. Such a person is a tax resident and is subject to taxation in Poland on all income earned in a given year, both in Poland and abroad. If a given person is not domiciled in Poland, the tax in Poland will only be paid on income earned in the territory of Poland. Taxation takes into account the principles arising from double taxation agreements concluded by Poland.

Taxation applies to income (revenue minus tax-deductible costs). 

Tax-deductible costs are determined according to the type of revenue obtained, e.g. for those receiving revenue in 2019: 

  • from an employment relationship, the basic costs are PLN 1,335 (approx. EUR 307) annually and PLN 111.25 (approx. EUR 26) monthly; 
  • the costs of freelance contracts are determined at 20% of the revenue obtained; 
  • the costs of copyrights are set at 50% of the revenue obtained; however, the total annual costs may not exceed PLN 85,528 (approx. EUR 19,671); 
  • for conducting economic activity, the costs are determined in the amount of costs incurred in order to achieve revenue or to preserve or secure the source of revenue, except for expenditure listed in the act as non-tax-deductible costs. 

The method of calculation of income tax depends on the source of revenue from which this income was obtained. The following ways of calculating tax exist:

   1.progressive tax scale with a diminishing tax reduction – natural persons taxed according to general principles are subject to a two-tier tax scale in 2019 tax rates of 18% and 32%, with a single tax threshold of PLN 85,528 (approx. EUR 19,671) and a tax reduction which amounts to:

  • PLN 1,440 (approx. EUR 331)where the taxpayer’s annual income (the tax basis) does not exceed PLN 8,000 (approx. EUR 1,549);
  • from PLN 1,440 (approx. EUR 331) to PLN 556.02 (approx. EUR 127) where the taxpayer’s annual income (the tax basis) is above PLN 8,000 (approx. EUR 1,840) but does not exceed PLN 13,000 (approx. EUR 2,990);
  • PLN 556.02 (approx. EUR 127)where the taxpayer’s annual income (the tax basis) is above PLN 13,000 (approx. EUR 2,990) but does not exceed PLN 85,528 (approx. EUR 19,671);
  • from PLN 556.02 to PLN 0where the taxpayer’s annual income (the tax basis) is above PLN 85,528 (approx. EUR 19,671) but does not exceed PLN 127,000 (approx. EUR 29,210);
  • PLN 0where the taxpayer’s annual income (the tax basis) exceeds PLN 127,000 (approx. EUR 29,210).

During collection of advances on personal income tax, the tax reduction is only applicable to revenue not exceeding the first tier of the tax scale (PLN 85,528 – approx. EUR 19,671) and amounts to PLN 556.02 (approx. EUR 127) per year.

According to a progressive tax scale, tax applies, inter alia, to income: from employed activity (employment contract, freelance contract and specific task contract), pension, economic activity, rental and lease.

Taxpayers who tax their income according to the progressive tax scale, if they fulfil the conditions laid down in the legal provisions, may, at a request, benefit from the joint taxation of income of the spouses and preferential taxation of the income of single parents.

The right to joint taxation of income applies to spouses who are: married throughout the fiscal year, between whom joint property existed throughout the fiscal year. The spouses calculate the tax as the double tax amount calculated on a half of their total income.

Single parents raising a child or children are entitled to calculate tax as the double tax amount calculated on a half of their income;

   2.19% income tax from non-agricultural economic activities or special sectors of agricultural production – income from non-agricultural economic activities or special sectors of agricultural production (established on the basis of maintained accounts) may be taxed with a 19%tax rate. Income (loss) is accounted for in a separate statement;

   3.lump-sum taxation of non-agricultural economic activities – taxpayers may choose, if they fulfil the conditions laid down by law, one of the lump-sum taxation of income (revenue) obtained from non-agricultural economic activities, i.e.:

  • lump-sum on recorded revenue: calculated at a specified rate on income earned; separate tax returns on this form of taxation is submitted from 15 February until the end of February of the year following the fiscal year; 
  • tax card: the decision on the monthly tax amount is issued by the head of the tax office; in this case, no tax returns are submitted, only the health insurance contributions paid and deducted from the tax are shown by 31 January of the following fiscal year in the annual declaration; 

   4.lump-sum taxation of revenue from rental and lease – taxpayers may choose it if they fulfil the conditions laid down by law. The tax rate is 8.5% of the revenues obtained up to the amount of PLN 100,000 (EUR 23,000). The rate is 12.5% for the surplus above this amount. A separate declaration is submitted from 15 February until the end of February of the year following the fiscal year;

   5.19% income tax on certain income from financial capital – a uniform 19% tax rate applies to certain capital income (e.g. for the disposal of securities or derivative financial instruments upon payment), income (loss) on which is accounted for in a separate declaration;

   6.19% income tax on disposal of real estate upon payment – the obligation to pay 19% income tax on disposal of real estate upon payment arises if the disposal upon payment takes place before the lapse of 5 years from the end of the calendar year in which the real estate was acquired or built, and where it does not take place in the performance of economic activity; the income is accounted for in a separate declaration;

Income from disposal of real estate upon payment is exempted from tax if the taxpayer spends the income obtained for their own housing purposes, as set out in Polish tax regulations, within 3 years of the date of disposal of the real estate;

   7.lump-sum income tax charged by the payer – this tax applies to revenue (income) e.g. from gains obtained in games of chance, interest and discounts on securities, interest on cash (not related to conducted activities) collected on the taxpayer’s bank account, participation in capital funds, dividends. This revenue (income) is not accounted for in the tax returns since the tax on it is collected and paid by the payer.

Corporate income tax

Corporate income tax payers are:

  • legal persons,
  • organisational units without legal personality, with the exception of enterprises in succession and companies without legal personality, with the taxpayers being capital companies in an organisation and limited joint-stock partnerships having their registered office or management board in the territory of Poland,
  • tax capital groups(groups consisting of at least two commercial law companies having legal personality, which are related by capital and fulfil the conditions laid down in legal provisions),
  • companies without legal personality having their registered office or management board in another state, if they are treated as legal persons in accordance with the provisions of tax law of that state and are subject to taxation in that state from the entirety of their income, regardless of where it was obtained.

Taxpayers, if they have their registered office or management board in the territory of Poland, are subject to tax obligation on the entirety of their income, regardless of where it was obtained. Taxpayers, if they do not have their registered office or management board in the territory of Poland, are subject to tax obligation only on the income they obtain in the territory of Poland.

The subject matter of taxation with income tax is income representing the sum of income on capital gains and income from other sources.

Income from revenue sources is, as a general rule, the surplus of total revenue generated from this source of revenue over the cost of obtaining the revenue, achieved in the fiscal year. In the case of tax capital groups, income from revenue sources is the surplus of total income of all companies from a given source of revenue over the sum of their losses incurred from that source of revenue.

If the cost of obtaining revenue exceeds the amount of revenue (in the case of tax capital groups, the sum of losses from a given source of revenue exceeds the amount of income derived from that source), the difference is a loss from the source of revenue. 

The amount of loss may be used by the taxpayer to: 

  • reduce the income in the following five subsequent fiscal years; however, the amount of reduction in any of these years may not exceed 50% of the amount of that loss, or
  • reduce the income from this source on a one-off basis in the following 5 subsequent fiscal years by an amount not exceeding PLN 5,000,000 (EUR 1,150,000). Where the loss incurred is higher, the amount not deducted is settled in the remaining years of the 5-year period; however, the amount of reduction may not exceed 50% of that loss in any of these years.

In the case of tax capital groups, the loss incurred by the group is not covered by the income of individual companies in the event of the expiry of the term of the agreement or after the loss of the status of a tax capital group. The group’s income is not used to cover losses of companies belonging to the group during the period prior to the formation of the group. 

In the case of revenue from profit sharing of legal persons (e.g. dividends) and revenue of foreign entities arising from so-called royalties (e.g. interest), the taxable amount is the revenue.

In the case of capital ties and other special relationships, there is a possibility of taxation of income by means of an estimate.

Polish law provides for a catalogue of targeted exemptions, including for taxpayers such as societies, associations, foundations, implementing statutorily defined, socially useful objectives. For these taxpayers, the exemption applies to income which is intended to be used to implement the socially useful objectives indicated in the national legal provisions. These objectives must be consistent with the statutory objectives of the activity of these entities.

Tax revenue is, in particular, money received, monetary values, foreign exchange differences or the value of goods, rights or other benefits received free of charge or partly against payment. Revenue related to economic activity and special sectors of agricultural production, and revenue from capital gains (excluding revenue from profit sharing of the legal persons constituting the revenue actually obtained from that profit sharing), achieved in the fiscal year, is deemed to also include revenue which is due, even if it has not been actually received, after the value of the returned goods and granted discounts and rebates is excluded.

Tax-deductible cost is deemed to include the costs incurred in order to obtain revenue from the source of revenue or to preserve or secure the source of revenue, except for costs (expenses) not considered to be incurred in order to achieve revenue, enumerated in the legal provisions. Costs directly related to revenue are included in tax-deductible costs in the fiscal year. Costs other than directly related to revenue are deducted on the date on which they were incurred. Where such costs relate to a period exceeding a fiscal year and it is not possible to determine what portion relates to a given fiscal year, in such cases, they constitute tax-deductible costs in proportion to the duration of the period to which they relate.

The costs directly related to revenue are accounted for in the year in which the associated revenue was generated. Other costs are accounted for in the year when they are incurred. 

The tax basis, established as the difference between revenue and the tax-deductible costs, is income after deduction of donations granted to the sector of public tasks, as defined in legal provisions.

The deduction within the aggregate limit of 10% of income also covers donations to entities conducting such activities in an EU Member State or a Member State of the European Economic Area other than Poland.

The deduction also applies to donations for charity and care activity on the basis of so-called ecclesiastical laws – in this case, up to 100% of income.

Additional value of expenditure incurred on R&D activities, i.e. the portion of costs of R&D activities, which are also included in tax-deductible costs, can also be deducted from the tax basis.

The tax is 19% of the tax basis. From 1 January 2019, a corporate income tax rate of 9% has been applicable. It is aimed at small taxpayers and taxpayers commencing their activity, in respect of income other than income from capital gains, if the taxpayer’s revenue (regardless of the source) in the tax year does not exceed EUR 1.2 million (expressed in Polish zlotys).

Moreover, since 2019, in respect of revenue from eligible intellectual property rights, such as patents, rights from registration of industrial designs and copyright in a computer program, income may be taxed with the corporate income tax rate of 5% under the so-called IP BOX.

Taxpayers and payers do not submit tax returns during the fiscal year, but they are obliged to pay monthly advances. Small taxpayers and payers commencing economic activity have the possibility to make advance payments of income tax on a quarterly basis.

During the fiscal year, taxpayers may also account for advances for tax using a simplified system. 

Taxpayers are required to submit a statement of the amount of income (losses) achieved in the fiscal year by the end of the third month of the following year and pay the tax due or the difference between the tax due on income shown in the statement and the sum of the advances due for the period from the beginning of the year.

Tax reliefs

For taxpayers subject to personal income tax, the following reliefs apply: 

  • reliefs deducted from income,
  • reliefs deducted from tax.

The following are subject to deduction from income:

    1.social insurance contributions paid by the taxpayer;

   2.expenditure for rehabilitation purposes – the relief is granted to disabled persons or taxpayers whose dependants are disabled persons. For the purposes of the relief, the person is deemed to be a dependant if their annual income does not exceed twelve times the amount of the social allowance applicable in December of the fiscal year. Maintenance allowance for children and nursing allowance are not included in this income.

    3.donations for the following purposes: 

  • listed in the act on public benefit activity, e.g. protection and promotion of health, culture, art, science, education,
  • religious worship,
  • blood donation by honorable blood donors,
  • vocational training carried out by public schools.

The total deduction may not exceed 6% of income;

   4.donationstons church legal persons carrying out charitable and care activities – the deduction is regulated by the laws governing the relationship between the state and individual churches and religious associations. The deduction may amount to 100% of the taxpayer’s income;

   5.expenditure on Internet usage – the deduction may not exceed PLN 760 (approx. EUR 174). The deduction may be granted only for a period of two consecutive fiscal years;

   6.expenditure relating to the taxpayer’s pension savings – the deduction applies to payments to the individual pension security account (IKZE) made by the taxpayer in the tax year, up to the amount specified in the provisions on individual pension security accounts. Payments made to IKZE in a calendar year may not exceed the amount corresponding to the equivalent of 1.2 times the forecast average annual monthly remuneration in the national economy for a given year, as specified in the Budget Act or the Act on provisional budget Commission or in their drafts, if the relevant acts have not been adopted. In 2019, the maximum amount of deduction is PLN 5,718 (approx. EUR 1,315);

   7.expenditure of a taxpayer who is the owner or co-owner of a residential building in connection with execution of a thermal modernisation project in that building. The amount of deduction may not exceed PLN 53,000 (EUR 12,190) in respect of all thermal modernisation activities carried out by the taxpayer;

   8.eligible costs under the R&D relief – the relief is addressed to entrepreneurs who are expanding their offer by adding new products/services or modify existing versions without having to create completely new technologies. 

The following are subject to deduction from tax:

   1.compulsory health insurance contributions paid by the taxpayer (the deduction may not exceed 7.75% of the base of the contribution);

   2.child relief – this relief may be used by a taxpayer raising a child and an adult child who is still learning (up to the age of 25). The relief is granted to parents, legal guardians (if the child lives with the guardian) and foster parents. 

The amount of the deduction for:

  • the first and second child is PLN 92.67 (approx. EUR 22) each monthly [PLN 1,102.04 (approx. EUR 254) each annually],
  • the third child is PLN 166.67 (approx. EUR 39) monthly [PLN 2,000.04 (approx. EUR 460) annually], 
  • the fourth and any subsequent child is PLN 225 (approx. EUR 52) each monthly [PLN 2,700 (approx. EUR 621) each annually]. 

Taxpayers who run out of tax to deduct the full amount of the relief they are entitled to have the right to receive the amount of the unused relief. However, it should be borne in mind that the amount of unused relief to which a taxpayer is entitled is limited since it cannot exceed the total amount of social and health insurance contributions paid by the taxpayer, which are deductible.

Tax exemptions

The purpose of tax exemptions is, inter alia:

   1.implementation of pro-family policy, which is manifested by exempting from taxation, for example, of:

  • family benefits received on the basis of the provisions on family benefits, family and care allowances, allowances for caregivers received on the basis of the provisions on the establishment and payment of benefits for caregivers, cash benefits received in the event of ineffectiveness of enforcement of maintenance allowance, childbirth allowances received on the basis of separate provisions and childcare benefits received on the basis of provisions on State aid in raising children,
  • maternity benefits received on the basis of the provisions on social insurance of farmers,
  • one-off benefits received on the basis of the provisions on support for pregnant women and families 'For life',
  • one-off childbirth allowances paid from trade union funds,
  • maintenance allowance for children (up to 25 years of age and children regardless of age who receive care allowance/supplement or social pension) and up to PLN 700 (approx. EUR 161) per month for other persons;

   2.support for people in a difficult situation due to unforeseeable circumstances, which is manifested by exemption from taxation, for example, of:

  • social assistance benefits,
  • one-off benefit received from the State budget or budgets of regional and local authorities in connection with the contingency;

   3.support for recipients of pensions, which is manifested by exemption from taxation of:

  • benefits received by recipients of pensions from work establishments in connection with the business relationship, employment relationship or cooperative employment relationship previously linking them to the work establishment, and from trade unions – up to the amount not exceeding PLN 3,000 (approx. EUR 690) in a fiscal year;
  • increases paid as family allowances, through the payer, for foreign pensions and annuities,
  • benefits in the form of coverage of all or part of the television and radio subscription fees;

   4.assistance in preparation for work (combating unemployment) and the ability to play an active part in social life, which is manifested by exemption from taxation of certain benefits granted to unemployed persons on the basis of national legal provisions;

   5.State support relating to investments in education and learning of children, youth, which is manifested in exemption from taxation of:

  • scholarships, subsidies received on the basis of the Act – Higher Education and Science Law, 
  • financial assistance to students and persons participating in other forms of education, coming from the State budget, the budgets of regional and local authorities and own funds of schools, awarded on the basis of provisions on the education system and other scholarships approved by the minister competent for education and upbringing,
  • scholarships of the Polish Academy of Sciences and scientific and research institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences,
  • prizes and awards received by students for participation in competitions, tournaments and contests organised on the basis of provisions on the educational system,
  • assistance for students in connection with student work placement and student loan redemptions,
  • lump sums for subsistence costs and accommodation costs paid from the State budget in connection with the referral to educational work in schools and academic centres abroad,
  • prizes for outstanding achievements in the field of science, culture and art, and for human rights activities in the part in which the recipient of the prize allocates it for public utility activities;

   6.support relating to aid for investing entrepreneurs:

  • mechanism for granting tax reliefs, which is based on the functioning of Special Economic Zones. These zones are demarcated areas within the territory of Poland,
  • the possibility of granting aid to all entrepreneurs wishing to undertake new investments within the framework of the support decision granted. Lack of territorial limitations, which allows any entrepreneur from any place of Poland to apply for assistance. 

For 2019, taxpayers engaging in R&D activities in the course of their economic activity may benefit from a preferential tax rate of 5% on the eligible income obtained from eligible intellectual property rights.

For 2019, taxpayers engaging in R&D activities in the course of their economic activity may benefit from a preferential tax rate of 5% on the eligible income obtained from eligible intellectual property rights.

Tax returns for a given year are submitted on the appropriate form by 30 April of the year following the fiscal year, and if the last day of the deadline falls on a Saturday or a public holiday, the last day of the time limit shall be deemed to be the following day after the day or days free from work. Tax returns are submitted to the tax office which was competent for the place of residence of the taxpayer on the last day of the fiscal year. Tax returns may be submitted in traditional (paper) form or by electronic means. Since 15 February 2019, the Twój e-PIT service has been active – it consists in PIT-37 and PIT-38 tax returns being prepared by the tax office. If the taxpayer did not use the Twój e-PIT service or failed to settle in any other way, the tax returns prepared for them are automatically considered to be submitted.

The Ministry of Finance draws up separate information brochures for the tax returns applicable in a given year, which are also available on the website of the Ministry of Finance.

Text last edited on: 03/2020

Education system

Compulsory education and the obligation to learn

In the Polish education system, a distinction is made between compulsory education and the obligation to learn

Learning is compulsory until the age of 18, while the compulsory education covers attendance to an 8-year primary school (compulsory education is applicable until completion of the primary school, no longer, however, than until the age of 18). After completion of the primary school, the obligation to learn is fulfilled by attending a public or non-public secondary school or through vocational training organised at the employer’s. 

Pupils who have a decision on the need for special education may be educated in individual types of schools until the end of the school year in the calendar year in which they reach:

   1. 20 years of age – in the case of primary school, 

   2. 24 years of age – in the case of secondary school.

For children and youth with a high degree of intellectual disability, who have a decision on the need for revalidation and educational activities, a revalidation and educational activities are organised from the beginning of the school year in the calendar year in which they reach 3 years of age until the end of the school year in the calendar year in which they reach 25 years of age.

The education system comprises the following public education facilities, public education facilities with integration departments, public education facilities with special departments, public education facilities with integration and special departments, integration or special education facilities: 

1. kindergartens (children aged 3–6 and, in the case of children with disabilities, who have a decision on the need for special education, whose compulsory education has been postponed – up to 9 years of age); 

2. primary schools (pupils aged 7–15); the condition for admission to a primary school is the age;

3. secondary schools (pupils aged 15–18/19):

  • four-year general secondary school, five-year technical school, three-year 1st degree industry school and two-year 2nd degree industry school,
  • post-secondary school with education period of up to 2.5 years,
  • three-year special schooloffering vocational training for pupils with intellectual disability of moderate or high degree and for pupils with multiple disabilities, whose completion enables them to obtain a certificate confirming vocational training.

People who are not Polish nationals benefit from education and care in public kindergartens or other public forms of pre-primary school education, and those subject to compulsory education benefit from education and care in public primary schools, public art schools and public facilities, including art facilities, on terms applicable to Polish nationals.

Children aged 3–5, whose parents want them to benefit from pre-school education, are provided with a place for pre-primary school education in a kindergarten, kindergarten department in a primary school or other form of pre-primary school education (kindergarten point or pre-primary school education complex). It is the responsibility of the municipality to ensure a place where pre-primary school education is carried out. Children arriving from abroad are admitted to public kindergartens on the same terms as Polish nationals.

In particularly justified cases, pre-primary school education may cover a child who has reached the age of 2.5 years.

Children aged 6 are required to undergo annual pre-school preparations in a kindergarten, kindergarten department at a primary school or other form of pre-primary school education, including at integration or special kindergartens and kindergarten departments. At the request of the parents, a 6-year-old child may commence education in a primary school if they underwent pre-primary school education in the school year preceding the school year in which they are supposed to commence school education or if they have an opinion from a psychological and educational clinic on the possibility to commence school education in a primary school. The principal of the public primary school in whose district the child lives may, at the request of the parents, postpone the child’s fulfilment of compulsory education by one year. Postponement of compulsory education applies to a 7-year-old child. Children having a certificate on the need for special education issued on grounds of disability (deaf, with impaired hearing, blind, visually impaired, with motor disability, including with aphasia, with minor, moderate or severe intellectual disability, with autism, including Asperger syndrome, with multiple disabilities), may benefit from the possibility of postponing compulsory education until 9 years of age.

Parents of children aged 6 (and older) who undergo annual pre-school preparations are exempted from the fees for pre-school education in public kindergartens, pre-school branches in public primary schools and other public forms of pre-school education – they are only charged for food. 

Parents of children aged 3–5 must pay for their children using pre-school education for time periods exceeding the time set by the municipality for free schooling, education and care (not less than 5 hours a day) and for food. The fee for each hour beyond the unpaid time cannot exceed PLN 1 (EUR 0.23).

The school year in all schools and establishments begins on 1 September each year and ends on 31 August of the following year. Didactic and educational classes normally begin on 1 September (or the first working day of September) and end on the first Friday following 20 June. 

The condition for admission of a pupil from an EU or EFTA Member State to a primary or secondary school is a certificate or other document confirming attendance to school abroad and the number of years of education. A pupil is admitted to a public primary school in the place of residence ex officio (i.e. the school cannot refuse to admit a pupil). A pupil is admitted to a public secondary school if the school has free places.

A primary and secondary school pupil who does not speak Polish is entitled to a minimum of 2 hours of additional unpaid Polish language classes per week. Preparatory departments may be created at schools for pupils not familiar with the Polish language. Education in the department takes place until the end of the school year in which the pupil was admitted to the department and may be shortened or extended by no more than one school year.

Primary and secondary schools apply a six-degree grade scale from 1 to 6, where 1 is the lowest grade and 6 – the highest. 

Primary school pupils have the right to free access to textbooks, educational materials or practice materials intended for compulsory educational activities in general education. Textbooks and materials are provided by the school, which receives a subsidy from the state budget for this purpose. 

Pupils who have a certificate on the need for special education, attending secondary schools, may apply for a subsidy for the purchase of textbooks and educational material as part of the Government aid scheme for pupils, 'Wyprawka szkolna' [School set].

Pupils graduate from primary school if, as a result of final classification, they have received positive final classification grades from all compulsory educational classes and have taken the eighth grade test. The eighth grade test, constituting a part of external examination system, is carried out in writing within the scope of the Polish language, math and a modern foreign language, and starting from the school year of 2021/2022, also within the scope of one subject selected from the following: biology, chemistry, physics, geography, history. The eighth grade test checks to what extent the pupil or student meets the requirements set out in the training curriculum of general education for primary school. The minimum result that the pupil should obtain from this test is not defined. However, the results obtained in the eighth grade test are included on the certificate of detailed results of this examination and are taken into account during recruitment to secondary schools.

Secondary school final examinations (Matura exam) are carried out, as part of an external examination system, for graduates having secondary education or secondary vocational education and allows them to obtain a certificate of secondary education. In addition to graduates of Polish schools, Matura exam can also be taken by persons holding a certificate or other document issued abroad, which confirms their secondary education. The basis for Matura exam are the requirements set out in the training curriculum of general education for the general and technical secondary school. Matura exam is carried out once a year, between May and September, on primary, additional and resit dates, in accordance with the communication published annually on the website of the Central Examination Commission.

Graduates take this examination from the following compulsory subjects:

  • Polish language (oral and written);
  • modern foreign language (oral and written);
  • mathematics (written);
  • national minority language – (oral and written) for graduates of schools or departments in which the language of a given national minority is taught.

The written part of Matura exam in compulsory subjects is carried out at the basic level, while no level is specified for the oral part.

Graduates take a compulsory written Matura exam in one additional object. Written Matura exam in additional subjects (biology, chemistry, philosophy, physics, geography, history, music history, art history, information technology, Latin language and ancient Greek and Roman culture, language of ethnic minority, language of national minority, modern foreign language, Polish language, regional language, mathematics, civic studies) is carried out at the extended level and covers the requirements defined in the training curriculum for general education, for the basic and extended scope. The level is not determined for the oral part of examinations in additional subjects (language of ethnic minority, language of national minority, modern foreign language, regional language). However, written Matura exam in a modern foreign language as an additional subject is carried out at extended level and covers the requirements defined in the training curriculum of general education for the basic and extended scope or at the bilingual level, and includes requirements defined in the training curriculum for bilingual departments. Graduates may take written Matura exam in no more than five consecutive additional subjects. The minimum result that a graduate should obtain from this examination – from additional subjects – is not defined.

In connection with introduction of a new educational system, the Matura exam on new terms will be carried out for:

   1.graduates of 4-year general secondary school – starting from the school year of 2022/2023;

   2.graduates of 5-year-technical secondary school – starting from the school year of 2023/2024;

   3.graduates of 2nd degree industry school who have completed their education in a 1st degree industry school as graduates of an eight-year primary school – starting from the school year of 2023/2024.

The Matura exam on the existing terms will be carried out:

   1.up to and including the school year of 2026/2027 – for graduates of 3-year general secondary school;

   2.up to and including the school year of 2027/2028 – for graduates of 4-year-technical secondary school;

   3.up to and including the school year of 2028/2029 – for graduates of 2nd degree industry school who have completed their education in a 1st degree industry school as graduates of middle school.

The certificate of secondary education according to the existing rules (prior to introduction of the educational system reform) is obtained by a graduate who has taken the Matura exam in the mandatory subjects and obtained from each of these examinations, carried out both in the oral and written part, at least 30% of available points and has taken examination in one of the aforementioned additional subjects. 

The certificate of secondary education according to the new rules will be obtained by a graduate who has taken the Matura exam in the mandatory subjects and one selected additional subject and obtained from each of these examinations at least 30% of available points.

The results of the Matura exam, both in mandatory and additional subjects, constitute the basic criterion for recruitment to different fields of studies.

A pupil or graduate who is not a Polish national, who finds it difficult to understand the text read due limited knowledge of the Polish language, may take, on the basis of a positive opinion of the teachers’ board:

   1.the eighth grade test, except for the eighth grade test in modern foreign language – in conditions and form adapted to their educational needs and psychological and physical abilities resulting from that limitation;

   2.the Matura exam, except for the Matura exam in modern foreign language, language of national minority, ethnic minority or regional language – in conditions and form adapted to their educational needs and psychological and physical abilities resulting from that limitation. 

Graduates of general secondary schools may continue education in post-secondary schools with education period of up to 2.5 years. The condition for admission to post-secondary schools is having secondary or secondary industry education. It is recognised by law (i.e. without the need to submit opinions of Polish authorities or institutions) that secondary education is confirmed by certificates or other documents issued in the educational system of EU or EFTA Member States, which grant the right to take up tertiary education in that state. Other certificates or education documents obtained in an EU or EFTA Member State may only be recognised by the educational authority by way of administrative procedure.

Pupils and graduates of 1st and 2nd degree industry schools, technical schools and post-secondary schools who have completed a qualification vocational course, adults who have completed practical vocational education for adults or vocational training for adults, if the vocational training programme took into account the requirements set out in the training curriculum for vocational training, persons fulfilling the conditions for admission to an external examination certifying qualifications in the profession, who pass the examination certifying qualifications in the profession within the scope of a given qualification specified in the profession, receive a certificate of qualifications in the profession, and after passing examinations in all qualifications specified in a given profession and having the appropriate educational status, also a certificate of professional qualifications, allowing them to work in the profession concerned.

Graduates of 1st degree industry schools may continue education:

   1.in a 2nd degree industry school, providing education in the profession in which a common qualification was determined with the profession taught in the 1st degree industry school. The condition for admitting a person coming from abroad to a 2nd degree industry school is having documents issued abroad which are recognised as documents that confirm in Poland vocational or industry education. Graduates of 2nd degree industry schools, after passing Matura exam and obtaining a certificate of secondary education, will be able to continue education by studying (education in 2nd degree industry schools will begin in September 2020);

   2.in a general secondary education for adults from the second grade, in order to obtain secondary education and pass the Matura exam, which will enable them to continue education at a university;

   3.in qualification vocational courses organised by public and non-public vocational training schools and public and non-public vocational training centres and continuing education establishments, and by labour market institutions and entities conducting educational activity.

In connection with the changes implemented in vocational training, from 1 September 2019, pupils of 1st degree industry schools, four-year technical schools, five-year technical schools and students of post-secondary schools will commence education in accordance with the teaching curriculum which takes into account the requirements defined by the vocational training curriculum for industry education. All persons commencing education from 1 September 2019 (apart from pupils of 1st degree industry schools who are adolescent employees undergoing education in a craft) will already be required to take the new professional examination, which will ultimately replace the aforementioned examination certifying qualifications in the profession. Taking the professional examination will be the condition for promotion or completion of the school.

Persons who will be able to take the professional examination will be persons participating in qualification vocational courses and adults who will pursue practical vocational education for adults or vocational training for adults in accordance with a teaching curriculum which takes into account the requirements defined by the training curriculum of education in a given profession of industry education.

Persons who pass professional examination within the scope of a single qualification specified in the profession of industry education will receive a professional qualification certificate and, after passing examinations in all professional qualifications specified in a given profession and having the appropriate level of education, also a professional diploma.

Tertiary education 

The tertiary education system consists of:

   1.undergraduate studies – a form of education to which candidates with a certificate of secondary education are admitted, ending with obtaining the bachelor’s, engineer’s or equivalent degree;

   2.graduate studies – a form of education to which candidates with a university degree are admitted, ending with obtaining the master’s, master of engineering or equivalent degree;

   3.long-cycle graduate studies – a form of education to which candidates with a certificate of secondary education are admitted, ending with obtaining the master’s, master of engineering or equivalent degree;

   4.doctoral schools – education of PhD students carried out by a university, a science institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences, a research institute or an international institute operating in the territory of Poland, set up on the basis of separate provisions, for which candidates with a professional master’s, master of engineering or equivalent degree or persons who demonstrate the highest quality of scientific excellence are admitted, ending with obtaining a (science or art) degree;

   5.postgraduate studies – a form of education for which candidates with full qualifications at least at level 6 of the Polish Qualifications Framework, obtained in the tertiary education and science system are admitted, carried out at a university, science institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences, research institute or Medical Centre for Postgraduate Education, ending with obtaining partial qualifications at level 6, 7 or 8 of the Polish Qualifications Framework;

   6.specialist training – a form of training allowing one to acquire full qualifications at level 5 of the Polish Qualifications Framework, ending with the receipt of a certificate of a qualified specialist or a certificate of qualified technology specialist.

Admission to a university may be applied for by persons who have obtained a certificate of secondary education or a certificate of secondary education and a certificate of the Matura exam results in individual subjects. The conditions and procedure for admissions to studies are defined autonomously by universities. The university determines which results of the Matura exam constitute the basis for admission to undergraduate or long-cycle graduate studies. The university may carry out additional entry examinations only if it is necessary to verify the artistic skills, physical fitness or special predispositions for studies, which are not checked in the course of the Matura exam.

It is recognised by law (i.e. without the need to submit to the university opinions of Polish authorities or institutions) that secondary education together with the right to apply for admission to studies in Polish universities is confirmed by certificates or other documents issued in the educational system of an EU or EFTA Member State which grant the right to take up tertiary education in that state. The principle of recognition of foreign entitlement to tertiary education within analogous scope is applicable. Therefore, a foreign certificate granting the right to apply for admission only to certain fields and types of studies in a given EU or EFTA Member State grants the right in Poland to apply for admission to studies with the same or similar study programmes. The rights to take up tertiary education obtained in a given country and their scope should be documented prior to arrival in Poland. Studies at a university are carried out as full-time or extramural studies. 

The academic year is divided into two semesters and begins on 1 October. In the academic year 2018/19, 392 universities operated in Poland, 130 of which are public universities and 262 are non-public universities (including 15 operated by religious organisations). 

Graduates of undergraduate studies are awarded the bachelor’s or engineer’s degree or the following professional degrees equivalent to the bachelor’s and engineer’s degree:

   1.architect engineer – after obtaining the educational results specified for studies in the field of architecture;

   2.fire safety engineer – fire fighters of the State Fire Service after obtaining the educational results specified for studies in the field of fire safety engineering, with major in fire safety engineering at the Central School of Fire Service, carried out for fire fighters of the State Fire Service;

   3.bachelor’s degree in nursing – after obtaining the educational results specified for studies in the field of nursing;

   4.bachelor’s degree in obstetrics – after obtaining the educational results specified for studies in the field of obstetrics.

Graduates of graduate studies are awarded the master’s or master of engineering degree or the following professional degrees equivalent to the master’s and master of engineering degree:

   1.master of engineering in architecture – after obtaining the educational results specified for studies in the field of architecture;

   2.master of engineering in fire safety – after obtaining the educational results specified for studies in the field of fire safety engineering, conducted for fire safety engineers at the Central School of Fire Service;

   3.master’s degree in nursing – after obtaining the educational results specified for studies in the field of nursing;

   4.master’s degree in obstetrics – after obtaining the educational results specified for studies in the field of obstetrics;

Graduates of long-cycle graduate studies are awarded the master’s or master of engineering degree or the following professional degrees equivalent to the master’s and master of engineering degree:

   1. medical doctor – after obtaining the educational results specified for studies in the field of medicine;

   2. dentist – after obtaining the educational results specified for studies in the field of dental medicine;

   3. veterinarian – after obtaining the educational results specified for studies in the field of veterinary medicine;

   4. master’s degree in pharmacy – after obtaining the educational results specified for studies in the field of pharmacy;

   5. master of engineering in architecture – after obtaining the educational results specified for studies in the field of architecture;

Taking up tertiary education in Poland by nationals of EU or EFTA Member States

Nationals of EU and EFTA Member States and their family members residing in the territory of Poland are not charged any tuition fee by a public university for full-time studies in Polish.

The condition for the aforementioned nationals to undertake studies is undergoing the recruitment procedure determined by the university. If they are admitted to the studies, they have – just like all foreign nationals taking up education in the academic year 2019/2020 – the right to apply for selected financial assistance benefits (excluding maintenance grant and student loan), i.e.: rector’s scholarship, scholarship for disabled persons, allowance, scholarship financed by regional and local authorities, scholarship for achievements in science or sport, financed by a natural person or a legal person other than a state or self-government legal person and the minister’s scholarship. The aforementioned nationals who take up education in doctoral schools operated by universities and science institutes receive doctoral scholarship. Foreign nationals who are young scientists may also receive the minister’s scholarship for outstanding young scientists.

Tuition fees at public universities in Poland

A public university may charge tuition fees for educational services related to:

  • education as part of extramural studies; 
  • retaking specific classes in full-time studies due to the unsatisfactory academic results; 
  • studies carried out in a foreign language; 
  • classes not covered by the studies programme; 
  • education of foreign nationals as part of full-time studies in Polish.

Continuing and vocational education

Adults may be educated in a primary school for adults, general secondary school for adults and general competency courses, and in the case of vocational education – as part of continuing education out-of-school forms (at vocational qualification courses, vocational skill courses and other courses that allow for obtaining and supplementing knowledge, skills and professional qualifications) and in selected post-secondary schools. 

A vocational qualification course is a course carried out according to the teaching curriculum that takes into account the training curriculum for vocational education within the scope of one qualification. The entity carrying out the vocational qualification course is obliged to take into account, in the teaching curriculum of the course, all the components relevant to the qualification concerned, indicated in the training curriculum for vocational training. Completion of this course allows for taking the examination confirming vocational qualifications, and will ultimately allow for taking the vocational examination, in respect of the qualification concerned, carried out by the district examination committee. A person who completes a vocational qualification course and passes the examination confirming vocational qualifications, and ultimately the vocational examination in respect of the qualification concerned, receives a certificate confirming the qualifications in the profession and ultimately a certificate of vocational qualification.

The certificate confirming vocational qualifications in a specific profession and, ultimately, the vocational certificate may be awarded to a person who has the level of education required for the profession in question (relevant vocational or secondary education) and passes the examinations in respect of all qualifications specified in the profession in question, i.e. has a certificate confirming the qualifications specified in the profession concerned and ultimately certificates of vocational qualifications.

The qualifications in the profession which may be developed during the vocational qualification courses are indicated in the classification of vocational training professions and ultimately in the classification of industry education professions, as defined by regulations of the Minister of National Education.

Vocational qualification courses may be carried out by:

  • public schools carrying out vocational education within the scope of professions in which they provide training and in the areas of education to which those professions are assigned;
  • non-public schools with public school licences, carrying out vocational education within the scope of professions in which they provide training and in the areas of education to which those professions are assigned;
  • public and non-public continuing education establishments, practical training establishments, supplementary training and upskilling centres;
  • labour market institutions conducting educational and training activity;
  • entities conducting educational activity on the basis of provisions on freedom of economic activity.

Qualification system in Poland

There is an Integrated Qualification System in place in Poland. It is intended to promote lifelong learning, verify competences and facilitate employment by enhancing the transparency of qualifications and the possibility of comparing them in Poland and abroad. 

The Integrated Qualification System also comprises tools such as:

  • Polish Qualifications Framework – a description of the eight qualification levels determined in Poland, corresponding to the respective levels of the European Qualifications Framework;
  • Integrated Qualification Register – a public register kept in an ICT system, recording qualifications included in the Integrated Qualification System;
  • uniform standards for the description of qualifications and quality assurance of non-formal education qualifications.

The Integrated Qualification System refers to qualifications understood as a defined set of learning outcomes (consistent with the agreed standards) whose achievement was formally confirmed by an authorised institution. The Integrated Qualification System in Poland covers three types of qualifications:

  • qualifications in education and tertiary education;
  • 'regulated' qualifications which are awarded on the basis of other legal provisions (apart from formal education);
  • 'market' qualifications are granted without a legal basis established in commonly applicable legal provisions. 

Since 2017, documents (certificates, diplomas) confirming a given level of qualifications have displayed a graphic symbol of the Polish Qualifications Framework (for full or partial qualifications).

Polish language learning

Polish language courses are organised by universities and private language schools. These may be holiday courses, semester courses, annual courses, Polish language workshops or postgraduate studies in teaching Polish culture and Polish language as a foreign language. These courses are payableThe Ministry of Science and Higher Education finances preparatory courses for studying in Polish for recipient of the scholarship of the National Academic Exchange Agency (NAWA) in selected academic centres. These courses are free of charge for NAWA scholarship recipients.

Text last edited on: 03/2020

Cultural and social life

Cultural life

The basic organisational form of cultural activities in Poland are publicly funded cultural institutions – from museums and artistic institutions (such as theatres or philharmonic orchestras), to the numerous local small libraries and culture centres. The number of cultural institutions in Poland is currently close to 7,000. Apart from cultural institutions, cultural activities are carried out by numerous non-governmental organisations, as well as churches and religious associations and private companies. Information on cultural life and entertainment in Poland is available in daily newspapers (the largest newspapers include cultural information for the following week in Friday editions), on television, radio (including thematic channels) and on the Internet. 

Museums remain the most important institutions protecting cultural heritage and disseminating knowledge about it. Many monuments and sites important for Polish history, such as the Royal Castle in Warsaw – Museum, the Residence of Kings of the First Republic of Poland, the Royal Castle in Wawel – National Collections of Art, Museum of the Palace of King John III in Wilanów or the Royal Łazienki Museum in Warsaw are currently the locations of important museums, known not only in Poland.

Exhibitions are the most spectacular form of museums’ activities. Museums present exhibitions organised using their own collections, prepared on the basis of collections of other museums or ready-made ones, borrowed from other establishments.

Museums accumulate interesting collections of both old and contemporary art. Some of them have world-famous works of art in their collections – paintings such as 'Lady with an Ermine' by Leonardo da Vinci and 'Landscape with the Good Samaritan' by Rembrandt – in the National Museum in Kraków or the 'The Last Judgment' by Hans Memling – in the National Museum in Gdańsk. 

Museums are typically open from Tuesday to Sunday until approximately 4 p.m., some of them until 6 p.m. In every museum, access to permanent exhibitions is free of charge on one day of the week. The entry fees are low; national museums also apply numerous discounts, such as family tickets and exemptions from the entry fee. Access to national martyrdom museums is also free of charge. 

The largest cultural institution is the Great Theatre – Polish National Opera, one of the largest in the world, with the repertoire including opera classics and contemporary works, collaborating with soloists of international renown. Other opera theatres are located in the 10 largest cities of the country. 

In addition, the Polish Royal Opera has been operating since 2017. It carries out, inter alia, roadshow activity, popularising opera art in smaller cultural centres.

Drama theatres operate in all major cities (with a summer break in July and August). However, in the summer, theatres operate in resorts (e.g. Sopot and Zakopane) along with selected private theatres (e.g. Kamienica Theatre and 6. Piętro Theatre, located in Warsaw). The best-known Polish stages include the National Theatre in Warsaw, the Helena Modrzejewska National Stary Theatre in Krakow, Arnold Szyfman Polish Theatre in Warsaw, Wybrzeże Theatre in Gdańsk, TR Warsaw. The best-known musical theatres in Poland include the 'Capitol' Musical Theatre in Wrocław, the Musical Theatre in Gdynia and the 'Roma' Musical Theatre in Warsaw. It is worth adding that puppet theatres also operate in large cities, staging performances for children, youth and adults. The numerous Polish theatre festivals which are worth mentioning include the Gdańsk Shakespeare Festival, the 'Divine Comedy' International Theatre Festival in Kraków, the 'Singer’s Warsaw' International Jewish Culture Festival and the International Festival of Puppetry Art in Bielsko-Biała and the Stage Songs Review in Wrocław.

Philharmonic orchestras operate in the largest cities of individual regions of the country. The Warsaw Philharmonic, the National Symphonic Orchestra of the Polish Radio in Katowice and the National Forum of Music in Wrocław enjoy particular renown. The well-known classical music festivals with the longest tradition include: Music Festival in Łańcut, Moniuszko Festival in Kudowa Zdrój, Chopin Festival in Duszniki Zdrój and the 'Warsaw Autumn' International Festival of Contemporary Music in Warsaw and the 'Wratislavia Cantans' Festival in Wrocław. In addition to the events focused on classical music, there are also jazz music festivals, such as 'Jazz in the Old Town' in Warsaw or 'Jazz on the Odra' in Wrocław. Music lovers can also enjoy classical music in natural scenery, among others: in Warsaw in the Royal Łazienki (from May to September) and in Żelazowa Wola – the place of birth of the famous composer Frederic Chopin. Poland is an organiser of important international music competitions: International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition (Warsaw), International Historical Instrument Chopin Competition (Warsaw), International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition (Poznań), International Stanisław Moniuszko Vocal Competition (Warsaw), 'Chopin and his Europe' International Music Festival (Warsaw) and International Karol Szymanowski Music Competition (Katowice).

The prices of tickets to theatres, operas and philharmonic orchestras are diversified and depend on a number of factors (including the location of the institution, its profile and size). Almost all of them apply discounts for children, youth and students (upon presentation of the International Student Identity Card – ISIC) and seniors. For more expensive events, it is possible to purchase cheaper entry passes (without a guaranteed right to a numbered seat).

In large cities, there are both self-government and national cultural institutions, whose mission is to present and promote contemporary art. These include Zachęta – National Gallery of Art, Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Art Museum in Łódź, MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków, Wrocław Contemporary Museum, Centre of Contemporary Art 'Signs of Time' in Toruń, Arsenal Gallery in Białystok. A specialised institution operating in a smaller establishment is the Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsk. 

Poland has an extensive network of cinemas, from multiplex cinemas to small studio ones. The repertoire includes both popular global blockbusters and the best Polish films, ambitious European, American and Asian cinema. In addition, documentaries and short films are also played. Foreign feature films presented in Polish cinemas are usually not dubbed, while animated films for children are.

It is worth emphasising that Poland is an attractive country for tourists. The UNESCO World Heritage List includes the following locations: the historical centres of Kraków and Warsaw, the Centennial Hall in Wrocław, the historical salt mine in Wieliczka, the old town in Zamość, the Białowieża Forest, the medieval city of Toruń, the Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska – architectural and landscape complex and a pilgrimage destination or wooden churches in Southern Lesser Poland.

Social life

The official language in Poland is Polish. Foreign languages most frequently used by Poles include English and, to a lesser extent, German, French and Russian. 

Polish holidays which are at the same time public holidays include: 1 January – New Year; 6 January – Epiphany; March or April (Sunday and Monday) 1st and 2nd days of Easter; 1 May – Public Holiday; 3 May – National Holiday of 3 May; May or June (first Thursday in the 9th week after Easter) – the Feast of Corpus Christi; Pentecost (Green week) – movable feast (June); 15 August – Armed Forces Day/Assumption Day; 1 November – All Saints’ Day; 11 November – National Independence Day; 25–26 December – Christmas.

Text last edited on: 03/2020

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