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Living and working conditions

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 the job

EU and EFTA Member State citizens may take up employment in Poland under the same conditions as Polish citizens without the need to obtain  a work permit.

In Poland, it is possible to seek work independently either by submitting CVs and letters of motivation to chosen employers or through:

  • the EURES network which has been founded by the European Commission and brings together public employment services and other authorised organization, and which is aimed at supporting employee mobility within EU or EFTA Member States. Every citizen of these states may use services provided by the network, including EU job placement and provision of information on working and living conditions in the respective states. Polish job adverts are published in the European Job Mobility Portal which contains job adverts from all public employment services in EU and EFTA Member States as well as other EURES members and partners, including ones placed by Polish District Employment Offices and Voluntary Labour Corps;
  • District Employment Offices (powiatowy urząd pracy), which place job adverts in the Central Job Offers Database (Centralna Baza Ofert Pracy). To have access to all job adverts held by a District Employment Office, it is necessary to register with the Office as an unemployed person or a job seeker. Upon registering, it will also be possible to access those job adverts for which the data of the Polish employer has been made known to the Office which is to select appropriate candidates to work and refer them to the employer;
  • Voluntary Labour Corps (Ochotnicze Hufce Pracy), which provides recruitment services mainly to the youth, and its job adverts may be found in the Job Placement (Pośrednictwo pracy) Database and the Central Job Offers Database;
  • employment agencies, which provide job placement services and which recruit personnel on behalf of employers. In order to operate legally in Poland, employment agencies must obtain a certificate which confirms that they have been entered into the Register of Employment Agencies by the Marshal of the Province of the agency's registered office. Employment agencies are not allowed to charge the persons for whom they are seeking employment or any other paid work or whom it is assisting in selecting a proper job and place of work with any fees other than the fee related to delegating to work abroad for foreign employers (travel costs of the delegated person, costs of visa, costs of medical examination and translation of documents). The fees may be charged for the costs actually incurred in relation to such delegation, provided that they are specified in the agreement concluded with the individual who is delegated to work abroad. A list of certified agencies is available on the Register of Employment Agencies website. In addition, employment agencies publish job adverts on their websites;
  • operators authorised to provide job placement services without the obligation to register as an employment agency, i.e. foreign entrepreneurs from EU and EFTA Member States that hold certificates issued in the state of origin and provide job placement services in Poland (excluding temporary work) based on the notification submitted to the Province Marshall (Marszałek Województwa);
  • Internet portals  run by entities which provide job placement services only by storing and making available information about job adverts online in the form of electronic documents. These entities are not required to register as an employment agency.

Polish employers and employment agencies publish  job adverts in the press, the Internet or in their premises, as well as by other means of communication e.g. social media.

Most daily newspapers, both nationwide and local, have special columns with job adverts.

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How to apply for a job

By placing a job advert, employers normally request candidates to submit their CV (Curriculum Vitae)  which should contain the following information: personal data (name and surname, address, contact telephone number and e-mail address), information about professional career (all types of work which has allowed the candidate to gain experience which may be useful for the new position), education, as well as the acquired professional qualifications and additional skills.

The CV should be as concise as possible.It should not exceed one or two A4-size pages of white paper. The CV should be followed by a signed consent for processing personal data with the following wording:

“I hereby express my consent to have my personal data included herein processed for the purposes of the recruitment process in accordance with the Act of 10 May 2018 on the protection of personal data (Journal of Laws of 2018, item 1000) and in accordance with Regulation (EU) of the European Parliament and of the Council No 2016/679 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 other required document, a letter of motivation, justifies why a particular job has been applied for. It is more personal than the Curriculum Vitae. As a rule, it is handwritten and does not exceed one A4-size page.

Templates of CVs and letters of motivation are available e.g. on the Public Employment Services Vortal in the folder "For the unemployed and job seekers", or on the Europass website.

CVs and letters of motivation may be delivered in person, by post, or electronically. The form of contact with applicants is specified by employers in their job adverts. In addition, employers and operators providing job placement services in Poland have their own dedicated IT tools that can be used to apply for a job.

Employers make a preliminary selection of the candidates based on the documents they have submitted, and conduct interviews with the short-listed candidates.

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Finding accommodation

Access to housing

EU or EFTA Member State citizens may either rent or acquire the ownership right to flats under the principles which apply to Polish citizens – the Polish provisions do not discriminate against these citizens in terms of their access to housing or instruments which that support renting or purchase.

The programme "Mieszkanie Plus" (literally "Flat Plus") has been in place since 2016 to provide for renting a flat with an option to acquire it later on (some "Mieszkanie+" flats are built as part of social rental housing undertakings for which separate rules for the allocation of flats have been planned, i.e. for flats built under market economy conditions and financed by PFR Nieruchomości S.A.). Flats are built in cooperation between PFR Nieruchomości S.A. (PFRN)[1] and local self-government authorities, private undertakings and state-owned companies. The programme may be joined by any commune which has land available for housing purposes.

Financing is provided for the housing projects by investment funds managed by PFRN, with no state budget funds involved. All persons who demonstrate that they are able of paying the rent will be entitled to apply for a flat. If the number of persons interested exceeds the number of available flats, respective self-government authorities will establish relevant priority criteria with preferences for inter alia families who do not own/co-own a flat or have cooperative ownership title to their flats, persons who pay their income tax in the commune concerned, persons who bring up children, or elderly or disabled persons.

Residents of a given commune who meet certain requirements (including the income criterion) may apply for renting a communal flat. These flats have low rental fees but they normally offer a lower standard. With the State's objective to make communes have as large housing resources at their disposal as possible, a social and communal housing support programme is being implemented at present under which communes may apply for non-reimbursable financing from the State budget to build flats that will be added to their communal housing resources. These flats are built specifically for low-income persons most in need. For detailed information on the rent application procedure and eligibility criteria please contact the registered seat of a relevant commune.

Flats with rental fees below the market level are also constructed by social housing associations which operate in approx. 200 cities. The social rental housing segment meets the housing needs of average earners. Applicants for renting such flats must meet specific income criteria (depending on the location of the flat and the size of their household) and must not have any other flat. They must also pay in a contribution which is equivalent to 30% of the value of the flat. The contribution is refunded upon the lapse of the rental period. In order to create such dwellings, social housing associations, communal companies and housing cooperatives may apply for preferential reimbursable financing subsidised from the state budget.

As of 1 July 2020, around 10,200 flats have been delivered for use through the market segment and "Mieszkanie+" social package, with further ca. 14,800 dwellings under construction.

Beginning on 1 January 2019, tenants of new flats and revitalised flats (built as part of cooperation between investors and communes) will be able to apply for rental allowances. The allowances will be granted to persons who meet certain requirements relating to inter alia income, property or use of the flat. The amount of the allowance will depend on the number of people in the household and will be region specific (i.e. it will depend on the cost of building a flat in a specific location). Selection of tenants will be the responsibility of the commune. The criteria established by the commune (e.g. income, number of children, disability, economic migration) will be used to compile a list of tenants with whom the investor will conclude rental contracts, provided that the tenants can demonstrate rental credibility (i.e. ability to pay the rent regularly). The rental allowance will be granted on the condition that the monthly income in a single-person household does not exceed 100% of the average salary in the national economy (ca. PLN 4,918 - EUR 1,131.14 in 2020). The threshold will be increased by 40 percentage points (ca. PLN 1,967 - EUR 452.41) per each additional person in the household. The allowance granted will be applied in a fixed amount for a period of 15 years following the tenant's application to the relevant communal office. By the end of June 2020, communes concluded agreements regarding 33 construction projects covered by the rental allowance framework, under which a total of 1,056 flats will receive allowances..

Housing programmes offered by the Polish government are addressed to persons of various incomes.  However, they are not addressed directly to citizens – i.e. the government provides financial support to investors, but does not run any selection of flat tenants itself.

To check availability of social rental housing, potential applicants should contact relevant social housing associations or communal companies in charge of housing matters. Information on rent-to-own flats offered as part of the PFRN initiative can be found on the company's website or the dedicated website of the "Mieszkanie+" programme. For more information on renting a flat from communal housing resources, contact the communal office where you live.

Looking for a flat

Adverts of flats to rent or purchase can be found in newspapers (e.g. in the Monday and Friday issue of "Rzeczpospolita" – in the supplement "Nieruchomości mieszkaniowe") and in the Internet. Accommodation can also be found by placing own adverts in newspapers and Internet portals or through a real estate agent. If the latter option is used, expenses related to looking for a flat will be increased by the commission paid to the real estate agent. When renting a flat, the commission is normally equivalent to the monthly rent, and when buying a flat - it is ca. 2-3% of the purchase price.

If you are looking for a flat on your own, you can contact the sales office of a developer of your choice and check the project in legal terms, i.e. view the land and mortgage register and the National Court Register to check whether the developer has a building permit and is not bankrupt etc.

When buying a flat, you can use the services of a real estate agent (e.g. a real estate agency) or sign a contract with a developer or a housing cooperative. Most developers request the first payment to be made within 3-7 days from the date of the contract.

Before your real estate agent undertakes any activities, you should first sign an agency contract. The agency contract should specify what specific activities the real estate agent should perform and what remuneration he or she is entitled to. The contract should also specify the real estate agent who is responsible for its performance and should include a declaration regarding an active civil liability insurance for any damage which may be caused in relation to performing the agent’s activities. The agency contract is the so called duty-of-care contract rather than a result-based contract. Therefore, under such a contract, the agent undertakes e.g. to look for a flat, not to actually find it.

Purchasing or renting a flat

In Poland, the purchase of any kind of real estate  should be confirmed by an agreement concluded before a notary in the form of a notarial deed.

A rental agreement may be concluded for a definite or indefinite period of time. The Act on the protection of the rights of tenants, communal housing resources and on amending the Civil Code includes a catalogue of causes for terminating a rental agreement. The landlord may cancel a rental agreement if the tenant is in default of payment of the rent for at least three complete payment periods, if the tenant has rented, sub-rented or transferred the flat (or its part) for use free of charge without the required written approval from the landlord, or if the tenant has seriously violated the house regulations. The termination notice should be made in writing and specify the cause for termination. The landlord may terminate a rental agreement upon serving a 1-month notice, with the effect at the end of the calendar month.

The tenant may terminate a rental agreement signed for an indefinite period of time at any moment and for any reason (or without stating any reasons) by serving a termination notice to the landlord.

Before signing the agreement, the landlord may request the tenant to pay a security deposit. The deposit serves as security of any potential claims related to the use of the flat beyond normal wear and tear as well as any amounts due under the rental agreement contract (the deposit must not exceed the equivalent of twelve monthly rents). The deposit is refunded within one month from the date the flat is vacated or the tenant acquires its ownership, upon deducting any receivables due to the landlord under the rental agreement.

Prices for flats and costs of rental

In Poland, prices for flats differ depending on the location and type of the housing market. Flats that can be bought on the primary market are normally available in a standard that requires finishing. There is also a large secondary market with flats in various standards and locations.

In Q1 2020, flat prices grew both on the primary and secondary market. In Warsaw, the average transaction price for 1 m2 of a flat on the primary market was PLN 9,819 (EUR 2,258), an increase by 11.9% compared to the previous year. In Gdańsk, 1 m2 cost an average of PLN 8,741 (EUR 2,010), and in Gdynia – PLN 8,251 (EUR 1,898). Transaction prices higher than PLN 8,000 (EUR 1,800) were reported in Kraków – PLN 8,356 (EUR 1,922) and Wrocław – PLN 8,354 (EUR 1,921). In smaller provice capitals (Zielona Góra, Kielce), 1 m2 of a flat on the primary market was in the region of PLN 5,000-5,500 (EUR 1,200-1,300).

In Q1 2020, the highest secondary market price was reported in Warsaw and amounted to PLN 9,705 (EUR 2,232) for 1m2, representing an increase by 7.9%. Flat prices on the secondary market were high also in Gdańsk – 8,347 PLN (1,920 EUR) for m2, 13.6% more than in the previous year, and Gdynia – PLN 7,700 (EUR 1,771). Transaction prices higher than PLN 7,000 (EUR 1,600) were reported also in Kraków – PLN 7,766 (EUR 1,786) and Wrocław – PLN 7,315 (EUR 1,682). A flat could be bought on the secondary market for less PLN 5,000 (EUR 1,200) for 1 m2 in Kielce and Zielona Góra.

Rental fees differ from city to city, and depend also on the standard and surface of the flat. The highest rents are in Warsaw and other large cities.

The average monthly rent for a 38-60 m² flat in Warsaw was PLN 2,713 (EUR 624) as of May 2020. Gdańsk was Poland's second most expensive city in this respect, with the average monthly rent reaching PLN 2,193 (EUR 504) and marking one of the highest price increases on the housing market in recent years. In Kraków, the average monthly rent exceeded PLN 2,024 (EUR 466), and in Wrocław it was PLN 2,041 (EUR 469). The lowest monthly rents were reported in Bydgoszcz – PLN 1,586 (EUR 365), and Łódź – PLN 1,708 (EUR 393).

The rent rates were lower than the year before, which was largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rents for the same category of flats differ significantly depending on the distance from the city centres. The rates quoted above do not include costs of utilities (e.g. gas, electricity, heating or water), which are normally not included in the rent.

[1] PFRN is a subsidiary company of Polski Fundusz Rozwoju (Polish Development Fund) which also offers flat rentals as part of the "Fundusz mieszkań na wynajem" (Flat Rental Fund) initiative in Gdańsk, Katowice, Kraków, Piaseczno, Poznań, Warsaw and Wrocław.

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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

An employment contract is the primary form of employment in Poland. The choice of an employment contract as the basis of employment belongs to the respective parties (employer and employee). Unless otherwise required under applicable regulations, an employment relationship may be established under a contract other than an employment contract.

Non-standard forms of "employment" include:

  • civil law contracts, e.g. a contract of mandate (umowa zlecenie) and a specific-task contract (umowa o dzieło). In accordance with the principle of freedom of contract which is observed in Polish law, the parties may freely choose the basis on which the work is to be performed (either an employment contract or a civil law contract). It should be noted that contracts of mandate and specific-task contracts are regulated under the Civil Code, and the provisions of the Labour Code do not apply to them as a rule;
  • temporary work where an individual is employed by a temporary work agency under an employment contract only to perform work on a temporary basis for and under the supervision of another entrepreneur, i.e. the hiring employer (temporary work contracts apply to seasonal, periodical and ad hoc work, or work which cannot be completed on time by the hiring employer's personnel, or work performed as a replacement for an absent employee of the hiring employer). It may be performed under a civil law contract;
  • teleworking, i.e. work which may be performed regularly outside of the place of work with the use of the means of electronic communication. Work may be performed in the form of teleworking from the very beginning of employment or it may be introduced during the period of employment. Both options of taking up teleworking are voluntary. The provisions on teleworking provide guarantees for teleworkers with regard to equal treatment and the prohibition of discrimination due to taking up teleworking or refusal to take up teleworking. Teleworking is performed under 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

The employment contract (umowa o pracę) specifies the parties to the contract, type of the contract, date of signature, terms and conditions applicable work and remuneration, in particular: type of work, place of work, remuneration for a given type of work with specification of the remuneration components, working time and the date for commencing the work.

The employment contract may be concluded with a person aged 18 or older. Employment contracts may also be concluded with young workers aged 15-18. However, it is prohibited as a rule to employ persons younger than 15.

The employment contract may be concluded for a probation period, indefinite period or fixed period of time.

The employment contract for a probation period (umowa o pracę na okres próbny), not exceeding 3 months, is concluded in order to check the qualification of the worker and the possibility of his/her employment in order to perform a specific type of work. The contract for a probation period may be renewed with the same worker, if the worker is to perform a different type of work or (if the worker is to perform the same type of work) upon the lapse of 3 years from the date the previous employment contract was terminated or expired.

The employment period under an employment contract for a fixed period of time (umowa o pracę na czas określony), and the total employment period under employment contracts for a fixed period of time signed between the same parties to the employment relationship, must not exceed 33 months, and the total number of such contracts must not exceed three. If the employment period under an employment contract/contracts exceeds 33 months or if the number of contracts for a fixed period of time exceeds three, it is deemed - from the next day after the lapse of that period or from the date of the fourth employment contract for a fixed period of time - that the worker is employed under an employment contract for an indefinite period of time (umowa o pracę na czas nieokreślony).

The aforementioned restrictions do not apply to employment contracts for a fixed period of time signed to replace another worker during his/her justified absence from work, to perform an ad-hoc or seasonal work, to perform work during a term of office, and when the employer specifies objective reasons on its side for signing this type of a contract, provided that such contracts are signed to satisfy the actual temporary demand for workforce and are necessary in the light of any and all circumstance  under which the employment contract is signed. This also applies to the situation in which an employment contract for a fixed period of time has been extended until the date of childbirth (which otherwise would be terminated upon the lapse of the third month of pregnancy).

The provisions provide for a possibility to employ workers on a full-time or part-time basis. Part-time employment must not lead to establishing work and remuneration conditions that would be less favourable than those offered for the same or similar type of work performed on a full-time basis.

Within the framework of an employment relationship, a worker may also be employed on the basis of an appointment (powołanie), election (wybór), nomination (mianowanie) or a cooperative employment contract (spółdzielcza umowa o pracę).

An employment contract is concluded in writing, failing which the employer must give the employee a written confirmation of the agreed terms and conditions regarding the type and provisions of the contract before the employee is admitted to work.

Amendments to an employment contract must be in writing and may be effected either:

  • by mutual agreement of the parties – in which case the employer and the worker express their consent for amending the conditions of the contract and specify a day from which the amendments will enter into force, or
  • by the employer through a notice amending the work and/or remuneration conditions,

The amending notice is deemed to be effective if the employer has proposed the worker new conditions in writing. The notice should include an instruction regarding the right of the worker to accept or reject the new conditions. If no such instruction is given, the worker has time until the end of the notice period to submit his/her declaration on refusing to accept the proposed conditions .

If the worker receives a notice amending his/her work and/or remuneration conditions, he/she may:

  • make a declaration that he/she accepts the proposed conditions; the new conditions will then enter into force upon the lapse of the notice period,
  • submit a declaration that he/she refuses to accept the proposed conditions before the lapse of a half of the notice period; then the employment contract is terminated upon the lapse of the notice period,
  • submit no declaration, which is equivalent to his/her acceptance of the new conditions; the new conditions will then enter into force upon the lapse of the notice period.

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Working time

In Poland, the working time must not exceed 8 hours a day and an average of 40 hours in an average five day working week. The working time is calculated for a reference settlement period of up to 4 months. If justified by objective or technical reasons concerning organisation of work, the settlement period may be extended up to 12 months, but this must comply with general rules regarding protection of employee health and safety. The settlement period may be extended under a collective agreement or in consultation with respective trade unions. If it is impossible to agree the content of such an agreement with all trade union organisations, the employer shall agree it either with representative trade unions, each of which shall include at least 5% of workers employed by that employer, or in an agreement with worker representatives appointed in accordance with the procedure in force at that employer. The weekly working time including overtime must not exceed an average of 48 hours in the assumed settlement period.

It is also possible to use flexible working time which entails different starting hours or time slots during which workers may start work. The daily working time may be extended in certain work time systems.

All workers are entitled to uninterrupted daily rest of at least 11 hours and continuous weekly rest of at least 35 hours, or at least 24 hours in certain cases.

If the daily working time is 6 hours or longer, a worker has the right to take a 15-minute break from work; such a break is included in the worker's working time. An employer may introduce one break of maximum 60 minutes for meals or personal matters that is not included in the working time.

Work on Sundays and public holidays is allowed in situations listed exhaustively in the Labour Code, e.g. in the case of shift work, in transport and during work which is necessary due to its social utility and daily needs of the population.

Trade and trade-related activities at commercial establishments on Sundays and public holidays are subject to certain restrictions.   In 2020 and following years, there will be 7 trading Sundays per year - the last Sunday in January, April, June and August, two successive Sundays before Christmas and the Sunday before Easter. In certain situations specified by law, trading and conducting trade-related activities is allowed every Sunday. This applies to e.g. petrol stations, pharmacies, florists.

An employer is obliged to give another free day to its workers who work on Sundays and public holidays. Such workers should have a free Sunday at least once every 4 weeks. Night work lasts 8 hours between 9:00 pm and 7:00 am. A worker who performs night work has the right to additional remuneration for each hour of night work.

Overtime work entails performing work beyond the standard working time as well as performing work during an extended daily working time if it is necessary to carry out a rescue operation to protect human life or health, protect property or natural environment, resolve a failure or meet specific needs of the employer. The amount of overtime work performed in relation to specific needs of the employer must not exceed 150 hours during the calendar year. Overtime work is compensated by salary supplements or paid time off work.

The provisions of the Labour Code on working time do not apply to civil-law contracts. Furthermore, since this issue is not regulated by the provisions of the Civil Code either, it must be agreed by the parties to the employment contract. However, it is required to confirm the number of hours spent on performing an order or providing a service under a contract which provides for the minimum hourly rate for such activities.

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Leave (annual leave, parental leave etc)

Right to a leave

Workers have the right to continuous paid annual leave. Workers must not waive their right to a leave. Documented employment periods with foreign employers completed by EU or EFTA Member State citizens are included in the employment period for employee benefits in Poland.

There are the following types of leaves: annual leave (urlop wypoczynkowy), maternity leave (urlop macierzyński), leave under the maternity leave conditions (urlop na warunkach urlopu macierzyńskiego), paternity leave (urlop ojcowski), childcare leave (urlop wychowawczy), training leave (urlop szkoleniowy), parental leave (urlop rodzicielski), and unpaid leave (urlop bezpłatny).

Annual leave

Workers acquire the right to their first annual leave (equivalent to 1/12 of the annual leave available after completing one year of work) upon completing one month of work. The right to a further annual leave is acquired with each following calendar year of work. The amount of an annual leave is equal to 20 days – for workers who have been employed for less than 10 years, and 26 days – for workers who have been employed for at least 10 years. The employment period which is the basis for calculating the amount of the annual leave includes the period of secondary education. As part of the annual leave, employers may grant a leave on request (not more than 4 days in a calendar year) on days specified by the worker. The amount of the annual leave for workers who are employed on a part-time basis is calculated proportionately to the working time of the worker.

An employer grants a leave to a worker in the calendar year in which he/she has acquired the respective right. Overdue annual leaves should be used by the end of the third quarter of the following calendar year. If an annual leave is not used by the termination of the employment contract, an employee has the right to receive a monetary equivalent. When requested by the worker, the annual leave may be divided into parts of which at least one part should last at least 14 consecutive calendar days. For the time of his/her annual leave, a worker has the right to receive the remuneration he/she would have received if he/she had worked.

Unpaid leave

An unpaid leave is granted at the worker's written request (the leave is not included the employment period which is the basis for employee benefits). Notwithstanding the foregoing, the employer may - at the worker's written consent - grant the worker an unpaid leave for the purpose of performing work for another employer during a period specified in the respective agreement between the employers (the period of such leave is included in the employment period which is the basis for employee benefits at the current employer).

Maternity leave

Female workers have the right to a maternity leave of 20 weeks in the case of giving birth to one child, 31 weeks in the case of giving birth to two children in one delivery, 33 weeks in the case of giving birth to three children in one delivery, 35 weeks in the case of giving birth to four children in one delivery, and 37 weeks in the case of giving birth to five or more children in one delivery.

Workers who have taken a child for upbringing and filed a motion with the guardianship court for instituting the adoption procedure or have taken a child for upbringing as a foster family (excluding professional foster families) have the right to a leave under the conditions of the maternity leave. The amount of the leave is the same as said above, but it is dependent on the number of the children adopted / taken for upbringing simultaneously and it may be used until the child has reached the age of 7 years or 10 year in the case of a child for whom the school attendance obligation has been postponed.

A maternity benefit is paid for the period of a maternity leave or a leave under the conditions of the maternity leave.

Parental leave

Immediately upon using his/her maternity leave, a worker has the right to a parental leave of up to 32 weeks in the case of the birth of one child in one delivery, and up to 34 weeks in the case of the birth of two or more children in one delivery.

Eligible to take a parental leave are also workers who have taken a child for upbringing and filed a motion with the guardianship court for instituting the adoption procedure or have taken a child for upbringing as a foster family (excluding professional foster families). The amount of the leave is the same as said above, but it varies due to the number of the children adopted / taken for upbringing simultaneously. The right to a parental leave is then available upon using the leave under the maternity leave conditions or upon using the maternity benefit for the period which corresponds to the leave under the maternity leave conditions.

A parental leave is granted at a written request of the worker. A parental leave may be used immediately upon using a maternity leave, at one time or in 4 parts at most. It is also possible to use up to 16 weeks of a paternity leave during a period which does not immediately follow the previous part of the leave used. This option can be used at the parents' discretion, but the number of parts of a parental leave granted in this mode decreases the number of parts of the due childcare leave.

No part of a parental leave may be shorter than 8 weeks. The leave may be used by the end of the calendar year in which the child has reached the age of 6 years.

It is possible to combine a parental leave with work (on a half-time basis) for the employer that grants that leave. If this is the case, the amount of the parental leave is appropriately extended – to a maximum of 64 or 68 weeks.

In addition, parents may exchange between themselves their parental leaves and maternity benefits during the leave if one of the parents is a worker and the other is covered by sickness insurance under a different scheme, e.g. is self-employed.

A maternity benefit is paid for the period of a parental leave.

Paternity leave

Working fathers have the right to be granted a paternity leave. This type of leave may be granted to fathers, but only until the child has reached the age of 24 months. It may also be granted to a working father who has adopted a child. In this case, he may use it until the lapse of 24 months from the date the court decision about the adoption came into force, but not later than by the time the child reaches the age of 7 years, or 10 years in the case of a child for whom the decision on the postponement of the school attendance obligation has been issued. The amount of a parental leave is equal to 2 weeks, and it may be divided into two parts, each of which may be used at any time. A maternity benefit is paid for the period of a paternity leave.

Childcare leave

The amount of a childcare leave is up to 36 months, however not longer than until the end of the calendar year in which the child has reached the age of 6 years. In order to use the leave, a worker must have an employment history of at least 6 months. A childcare leave may be granted to working mothers or fathers. A childcare leave is granted at a written request of the worker and may be divided into maximum 5 parts. While on a childcare leave, workers do not retain their right to receive remuneration (the leave is not paid as a rule) and are not entitled to any benefits, but are covered by retirement and health insurance which is paid by the employer.

Training leave

A training leave may be granted to a worker who is improving his/her qualifications on the initiative of the employer or at the employer's consent in accordance with the provisions of the Labour Code. The amount of the leave is as follows: 6 days – for workers who are taking extramural exams; 6 daysfor workers who are taking the matriculation exam; 6 days - for workers who are taking an exam to confirm professional qualifications; 21 days in the last year of studies – to write a diploma dissertation and prepare for and take the diploma exam.  A worker retains his/her right to remuneration throughout the period of his/her training leave.

Holidays

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

Days off work

There is a number of life events when workers may be granted time off work. The most frequent occasions include incapacity for work due to sickness, medical examinations, necessity to care for a child, as well as personal or family events such as marriages and funerals.

If time off work is granted to a worker due to e.g. the worker’s wedding, the birth of his/her child or the funeral of his/her spouse, child, father, mother, step-father or step-mother, then the worker has the right to 2 days of time off work. If time off work is due to the wedding of his/her child or the death and funeral of his/her sister, brother, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandmother, grandfather or a person dependent of the worker or under his/her direct care, then the worker has the right to 1 day of time off work. During time off work due to the aforementioned causes, the worker has the right to the same remuneration he/she would have received if he/she had worked.

A worker who brings up at least 1 child aged 14 years or younger has the right to take paid time off work equal to 16 hours or 2 days in one calendar year.

A worker who is improving his/her professional qualifications has the right (in addition to the aforementioned training leave) to take time off work for the whole or part of a working day which is required to arrive on time for the obligatory classes and to participate in the classes (the worker retain the right his/her remuneration for such time off work).

Civil law contracts are not subject to the provisions of the Labour Code on leaves and time off work or the provisions on public holidays. These matters are not regulated under the provisions of the Civil Code either

Text last edited on: 04/2021

Payment

Minimum remuneration for work

The rules and procedures for establishing the amount of the minimum remuneration for work (wage) and the minimum hourly rate for specific civil-law contracts are laid down in legislation. The amounts of the aforementioned wage guarantees are negotiated under the Social Dialogue Council on an annual basis.

In 2020, the minimum gross monthly wage for workers (i.e. persons employed under employment relationship) is PLN 2,600 gross (ca. EUR 598), and in 2021, it will be PLN 2,800 gross (ca. EUR 644). This amount is subject to deductions for inter alia social security contributions and advance personal income tax payments. The amount applies to a person who is employed on a full-time basis and is reduced accordingly for part-time workers.

The amount of the minimum remuneration for work includes all components of remuneration which are treated as payroll costs, excluding remuneration for overtime work, jubilee awards, severance payments paid at retirement, additional remuneration for night work and length-of-service allowance. It does not include payments from profit or balance-sheet surplus or the additional annual remuneration in the public sector. Should the remuneration of a worker be lower than the valid minimum remuneration for work in a given month due to the payment dates of certain remuneration components or the work time schedule, the worker has the right to receive a compensation which is paid together with his/her remuneration.

Remunerations

Remuneration systems vary from employer to employer. The terms and conditions for remunerating and granting other work-related benefits are established under:

  • collective agreements (at the company or supra-company level – concluded by employers in whose establishments trade unions operate),
  • remuneration rules (in the case of employers which employ at least 50 workers were no collective agreements have been concluded, or which employ between 20 and 50 workers if the relevant trade union organisation requests establishing such rules), or
  • employment contracts.

The remuneration for work should be devised in a way which corresponds to the type of the work performed and to the required qualifications, and should take into account the volume and quality of the work performed. The remuneration is due for completed work. For the period during which work is not performed, the worker retains the right to remuneration only when provided for under the provisions of the labour law. To protect the remuneration for work, the Polish Labour Code contains a provision which states that a worker may not waive his/her right to remuneration or transfer it onto another person.

Employers are obliged to issue and keep a personal records (a list) for each worker separately which should specify the amount of remuneration for work paid out and other work-related benefits. If requested by the worker, the employer is obliged to make available the documents on the basis of which the remuneration has been calculated.

The remuneration is paid out in cash. It is possible to pay remuneration in a form other than cash, but only if such form is permitted under the provisions of the labour law or the collective agreement. The remuneration for work must be paid out at least once a month and on a fixed date which should be set up in advance, however not later than within the first 10 days of the next calendar month. As a rule, the remuneration is normally transferred into the worker's bank account. Should the worker wish to receive remuneration in cash directly to his/her hands, he/she will have to apply to the employer for such form of payment in writing or electronically.

Workers who receive incomes from employment are subject to obligatory social insurance. Employers are obliged to calculate contributions on the remuneration of the worker and to pay them to the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS). The retirement pension contribution of 19.52% is paid by the worker and by the employer in equal parts, the disability pension contribution of 8% is paid by the worker (1.5%) and by the employer (6.5%). The sickness insurance contribution of 2.45% is paid by the employee, while the accident insurance contribution is paid by the employer (from 0.67% to 3.33%). Contributions to the Labour Fund (Fundusz Pracy) (2.45%), the Guaranteed Employee Benefits Fund (Fundusz Gwarantowanych Świadczeń Pracowniczych) (0.10%) and Solidarity Support Fund for Disabled People (Solidarnościowy Fundusz Wsparcia Osób Niepełnosprawnych)(0.15%) are paid by the employer.

The annual basis for assessment of retirement pension and disability pension contributions must not exceed the equivalent of thirty times the forecast average monthly remuneration. Working persons are also covered by obligatory health insurance. Health insurance contributions are paid in the amount of
9% of the assessment basis, and the tax payer has the right to deduct from his/her tax the amount of the contribution paid up to 7.75% of the assessment basis.

Matters related to payments of remunerations under civil law contracts are regulated primarily by the provisions of the Civil Code and depend on the type of the contract. As regards ensuring the minimum remuneration, the provisions of the Act on the minimum remuneration for work apply. A person who works under a contract of mandate (umowa zlecenie) or a service contract (umowa o świadczenie usług) subject to the provisions regarding mandates is entitled to a remuneration of at least the minimum hourly rate for each hour of work. In 2020, the minimum hourly rate for specific civil law contracts is PLN 17 (EUR 3.91) for each hour of work or provision of services, and it will be PLN 18.30 gross (ca. EUR 4.21) in 2021. The minimum hourly rate is indexed annually and grows at the same rate as the amount of the minimum remuneration for work paid to workers. The minimum hourly rate is not available to persons who independently decide on the time and place for performing an order or providing a service; they are entitled only to the commission remuneration. In addition, the minimum hourly rate does not apply to specific contracts for care services e.g. those concluded in order to run a family care home, agreements for caring for a child in foster care or caring for a group of people during trips that last longer than one day.

Average income

In the second quarter of 2020, the average monthly gross remuneration was PLN 5,024.48
(ca. EUR 1,156).  In July 2020, the average monthly gross remuneration in the enterprise sector was PLN 5,381.65 (ca. EUR 1,238). 

For example, in July 2020, the average gross remuneration in Mazowieckie Province (including the City of Warsaw) in respective sectors amounted to: the enterprise sector – PLN 6,271 (ca. EUR 1,442), industry – PLN 6,081 (ca. EUR 1,399), industrial processing – PLN 5,838 (ca. EUR 1,343), construction – PLN 6,712 (ca. EUR 1,544), trade and repairs of motor vehicles – PLN 6,367 (ca. EUR 1,464), transport and warehouse management – PLN 5,042 (ca. EUR 1,160), hospitality and catering – PLN 4,189 (ca. EUR 963), ICT – PLN 9,669 (ca. EUR 2,224), real estate services – PLN 7,424 (ca. EUR 1,708), administration and supporting services – PLN 4,591 (ca. EUR 1,056).

Text last edited on: 04/2021

End of employment

Forms of terminating employment

An employment relationship ends either through its termination or expiry.

An employment contract may be terminated by a mutual agreement of the parties; a declaration of one of the parties with an appropriate period of notice; by a declaration of one of the parties without an appropriate period of notice; upon the lapse of the term for which the contract has been concluded. A statement by a party to an employment contract regarding its termination without a period of notice should be made in writing. Termination of an employment contract by a mutual agreement of the parties - the employer and the worker express their consent for terminating the employment contract on such date as they may agree.

An employment contract may be terminated by serving a notice - then it is terminated through a written declaration of the worker or of the employer upon the agreed termination notice. It is possible to terminate the following types of employment contracts by serving a notice: an employment contract for an indefinite period of time, an employment contract for a probation period, and an employment contract for a fixed period of time. The period of termination notice for employment contracts for indefinite and fixed periods of time depends on the length of employment at a given employer and presents as follows: 2 weeks - for workers who have been employed for less than 6 months, 1 month - for workers who have been employed for at least 6 months, and 3 months - for workers who have been employed for at least 3 years.

The period of termination notice for employment contracts for a probation period depends on the length of the probation period and presents as follows: 3 working days - if the probation period is not longer than 2 weeks, 1 week - if the probation period is longer than 2 weeks, and 2 weeks - if the probation period is 3 months.

When terminating an employment contract, the employer may release the worker from the obligation to perform work until the end of the period of notice, during which time the worker retains his/her right to remuneration.

If an employment contract for an indefinite period of time is terminated by the employer, the employer must submit a written notification to the establishment's trade union which represents the worker regarding the intent to terminate the employment contract, specifying the reason for the termination. An employment contract may be terminated without serving a notice - then it is terminated through a written declaration of the worker or of the employer without any termination notice. An employer may terminate an employment contract by fault of the worker if the worker has:

  • seriously violated his/her core employee responsibilities,
  • committed a crime during the period of his/her employment contract, which makes it impossible to continue to employ him/her further in the current job, provided that the crime is obvious or has been confirmed by a final and valid court judgement;
  • lost by his/her authorisations to perform work in the current job due to his/her culpable actions.

An employer may also terminate an employment contract without serving a notice by no fault of the worker if the worker:

  • is not capable to work due a sickness which continues for a period specified in the Labour Code;
  • is absent from work for longer than 1 month due to justified reasons other than sickness.

The employer's declaration regarding termination of an employment contract without serving a termination notice should specify the reason for the termination and should contain an instruction about the worker’s right to appeal to the labour court.

A worker may terminate his/her employment contract without serving a notice if:

  • it is confirmed by a medical certificate that the work has a harmful impact on the worker's health, and the employer fails to transfer the worker to a different job which would be appropriate for the worker’s health and professional qualifications;
  • the employer has seriously violated its basic responsibilities towards the worker.

An employment relationship expires automatically by operation of law in situations referred to in the Labour Code and in other specific provisions (e.g. death of the worker or the employer).

In Poland, there are specific provisions concerning the termination of employment relationships for reasons which are not attributable to workers. They regulate the manner in which collective and individual redundancies should be carried out and refer to employers who employ at least 20 workers.

Matters relating to termination of legal relationships arising under certain civil law contracts (e.g. contracts of mandate or specific-task contracts) are regulated - depending on the type of a contract between the parties - by applicable provisions of the Civil Code.

Reinstatement and re-employment

A worker may apply for reinstatement to work under previous conditions if:

  • the employer has terminated his/her employment contract for an indefinite period of time by serving a notice of termination without stating the reasons or in violation of the provisions on terminating employment contracts,
  • the employer has terminated his/her employment contract without serving a notice of termination in violation of the provisions on terminating employment contracts in this mode.

Reinstatement to work is adjudicated by a labour court which examines the worker's claim following a prior submission of a relevant statement of claim by that worker. A worker has the right to choose the labour court which will be convenient for him/her depending on his/her place of residence/work or the registered office of the employer. 

A worker who has taken up work as a result of reinstatement is eligible to receive remuneration for the time he/she remained unemployed, but not for longer than two months; where his/her period of notice was 3 months – for not longer than 1 month. In the event of termination of an employment contract with a worker who is in a pre-retirement protection period or with a female worker in pregnancy or on a maternity leave, the worker is eligible to remuneration for the entire time during which he/she remained unemployed. This applies also in the event of termination of an employment contract with a father bringing up a child or another closest relative on a maternity leave, or where the termination is subject to restrictions under specific regulations.

A worker whose employment contract has been terminated may be re-employed in the following situations:

  • his/her employment contract has been terminated without serving a notice of termination due to his/her incapacity for work resulting from a long-term sickness or accident at work or occupational disease,
  • his/her employment contract has been terminated without serving a notice of termination due to his/her justified absence longer than 1 month resulting from a cause other than a long-term sickness, accident at work or occupational disease,
  • his/her employment contract has been terminated as part of collective redundancies (an employer that lays off workers as part of collective redundancies must employ the workers laid off first after it has resolved its problems and opened a new recruitment process),
  • his/her employment relationship has expired due to a provisional detention for 3 months, where the related criminal procedure has been discontinued (except for a discontinuation due to the lapse of the period of limitation or due to an amnesty, and except for a conditional discontinuation) or where an acquitting judgement has been passed, and the worker concerned has expressed his/her intention to come back to work within 7 days from the date on which the said judgement becomes final.

Text last edited on: 04/2021

The health system

Eligibility to health care services

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

The following persons are entitled to use publicly-funded health care services:

1.       Persons covered by the Polish universal (compulsory or voluntary) health insurance provided by the National Health Fund (Narodowy Fundusz Zdrowia, NFZ), hereinafter referred to as "insured persons".

Both Polish citizens and EU/EFTA Member State citizens who reside in an EU or EFTA Member State can be insured. Family members of the aforementioned persons who reside in Poland or an EU or EFTA Member State other than Poland are also insured unless they are subject to obligatory insurance in Poland or entitled to health care services under the Community provisions on the coordination of the social security systems.

Every EU or EFTA Member State citizen who is subject to health insurance in Poland must obtain his/her PESEL number as all Polish citizens.

The PESEL (Universal Electronic System for Registration of the Population) number is an 11-digit symbol which identifies a natural person. The number consists of the following components: the date of birth, an ordinal number, a number denoting sex and a check digit. If applicable provisions of law require a person to have the PESEL number, it is assigned ex officio upon registration of residence or at a justified request submitted to the competent communal or city office( respectively urząd gminy or urząd miasta).

Obligatory health insurance applies to inter alia employees, persons who perform work under an agency contract, a commission contract or any other service provision contract, persons who conduct business activities, excluding those who have suspended their business activities, persons who receive pensions, pupils, students and PhD students, unemployed persons, persons receiving certain types of social benefits or certain family benefits. A person who resides in Poland can take out voluntary insurance by signing a voluntary health insurance agreement with the Provincial NFZ branch of his/her place of residence in Poland.

Insured persons are obliged to register their family members for health insurance (i.e. their natural children; adopted children of up to 18 years of age or up to 26 years of age if the children continue their education; their spouse; their ascendants who live in the same household with the insured person), unless they have their own health insurance. Grandparents may register their grandchildren for health insurance only if neither of the parents is subject to the health insurance obligation or eligible for health care services under the provisions on the coordination of employment or self-employment or voluntary insurance.

2.       EU or EFTA Member State citizens who are not covered by the universal health insurance in Poland and are covered by the health insurance of another EU or EFTA Member State during their temporary stay in Poland.

During their temporary stay in Poland, e.g. for the purpose of studying or looking for a job in Poland (provided that in the latter case they receive unemployment benefits in another EU or EFTA Member State), these persons are eligible for free health care services upon presenting the European Health Insurance Card. However, this applies only to services which may be deemed essential for medical reasons taking into account the nature of these services and the expected length of stay in Poland.

Health insurance contributions

Insured persons pay health insurance contributions in the amount of 9%  of the levy basis (e.g. the income reduced by social insurance and pension contributions, or at least 75% of the average monthly salary in the enterprise sector, as published by the President of the Statistics Poland – for persons carrying out a non-agricultural economic activities). Health insurance contributions are paid by employers, Social Insurance Institution (Zakład Ubezpieczeń Społecznych) and other pension insurance companies, social assistance centres, schools and higher education establishments etc. (contributors).

Using health care services

Persons eligible for publicly-funded health care services in Poland (beneficiaries) may use such services only  in health care institutions which have signed a contract with the National Health Fund. Such contracts are held by a vast majority of health care establishments in Poland. If emergency health care services are provided by an establishment which does not have a contract with the National Health Fund, the beneficiary has the right to these services to the extent necessary.

A beneficiary chooses his/her primary health care (podstawowa opieka zdrowotna, POZ) doctor, nurse and midwife by submitting a written declaration. The first appointment at the selected health care facility usually involves registration and selection of a primary health care doctor.

In order to complete the registration, it is necessary to verify the patient’s eligibility for health care services. This is done by the health care facility in the electronic eWUŚ system (Electronic Verification of the Beneficiaries’ Rights), which enables to immediately confirm whether the patient is eligible for publicly-funded health care services. Eligibility for publicly-funded health care services is verified on the basis of the patient's PESEL number and a document confirming his/her identity e.g. an ID card, passport, driving licence or a valid school ID for children of up to 18 years of age who are subject to compulsory school attendance.

If it is not possible to verify the patient’s eligibility in the electronic system, the patient must present a document confirming the he/she is covered by health insurance, e.g. the ZUS RMUA form. If the patient does not have such a document, he/she may submit a written declaration  on his/her eligibility for health care services.

Scope of health care services and emergency telephone numbers

Health care services can be provided by both public and non-public entities which have relevant contracts with the National Health Fund. Publicly-funded health care services include:

-        health services  meant to maintain, save, restore and improve health as well as other medical actions arising from the treatment process or legal regulations, as defined by the Minister of Health;

-        health services in kind – medications and medical devices related to the process of treatment – provided for a partial payment, paid for on a flat-rate basis or paid in full,

-        treatment-related services – accommodation and meals, medical transport services at 24-hour or day health care establishments.

POZ doctors manage basic treatment and, if necessary, refer their patients to other specialists. An insured patient without a referral  from his/her primary health care doctor can use health care services of the following specialists: gynaecologists and obstetricians, dentists (very few dental services are paid for by the NHF), venereologists, oncologists, and psychiatrists. In emergency situations, health services are provided without the required referral. A referral is also necessary  if hospital services are required (it is not necessary in the event of an accident, injury, poisoning or other life-threatening situations). During hospitalisation, procedures, tests and medicines are provided free of charge.

The 24h emergency call centre number, available across Poland, is 112.

Most tasks involving provision of health service information have been taken over by the recently launched Telephone Patient Information (Telefoniczna Informacja Pacjenta). Available country wide at the same telephone number, it also offers consultations with the Office of the Patients' Rights Ombudsman.

Information on health care establishments which have contracts with the National Health Fund can be obtained from provincial branch offices of the NFZ. Telephone numbers of individual NFZ branch offices are available on the NFZ website.

Payments for health care services and medications

Health care services covered by the universal health insurance are provided free of charge unless applicable regulations provide for a partial payment by the beneficiary.

The services which are explicitly indicated in the national legislation as not provided under health insurance are paid for. They include e.g. services which are provided in spa-treatment establishments to insured persons without a referral to this kind of treatment; travel and accommodation costs of spa treatment – the beneficiary must pay full costs of travel to and from the spa treatment establishment and partial costs of food and accommodation in the sanatorium; preventive vaccinations other than listed in the regulations on infectious diseases and infections. The provision of medical devices such as prostheses, spectacles, wheelchairs etc. is limited in terms of quantity.

Free-of-charge medications are provided to an insured person who has been admitted to a hospital or another health care facility for patients who need a 24-hour or day medical care, and during health, nursing, diagnostic and rehabilitation procedures which are conducted by entities authorised to provide services covered by health insurance, as well as in the case of emergency assistance provided by those entities.

To purchase medications at a reduced price, it is necessary to present a prescription issued by a doctor or medical assistant (felczer), nurse or midwife, provided that they are licensed to practice the profession.

Medications are dispensed at pharmacies, usually on the basis of prescriptions issued by authorised persons:

-        free of charge, or

-        upon making a flat-rate payment, or

-        upon paying 30% or 50% of the financing limit, or

-        upon paying the full price - for medications which are not included in the register of reimbursed medications or for medications which are prescribed in an indication which is not subject to reimbursement.

If ordered by a health insurance doctor, patients are eligible for free medical transport, including by air, to and from the nearest hospital which provides relevant services if it is necessary to start immediate treatment or to preserve the continuity of treatment, as well as in the case of reduced mobility which makes it impossible to use public transport to travel for treatment (to and from the nearest health care facility which provides relevant services). In other situations, transport is provided for a full or partial payment and based on an order from a health insurance doctor.

Computerisation of the health care system

The health care system in Poland is undergoing dynamic computerisation, giving patients access to new modern e-health services. Beginning in December 2018, Polish doctors issue sick leave certificates in an electronic form only, and beginning on 8 January 2020, prescriptions must be issued electronically (unless required otherwise). The next stage of computerisation of the health care sector will involve, beginning on 8 January 2021, the obligation to issue electronic referrals to certain health care services.

Full use of e-health advantages is possible upon activation of the Online Patient Account, a free-of-charge web application provided by the Ministry of Health which enables patients to easily, quickly and safely view their medical treatment information, including e-prescriptions and dosage instructions issued, e-referrals and electronic sick leave certificates. With the application, patients can also receive e-prescriptions in text messages (SMS) or by e-mail.

Text last edited on: 04/2021

Incomes and Taxation

Types of taxes

In Poland, there are fifteen types of taxes which are divided into direct taxes (paid by a tax payer to the tax authority) and indirect taxes (paid when purchasing goods).

Direct taxes include:

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)    forest tax,

7)    property tax,

8)    tax on means of transport,

9)    tonnage tax (levied on shipowners operating offshore commercial vessels in international shipping);

10) tax on the extraction of certain minerals,

11) tax on certain financial institutions,

12) tax on incomes subject to taxation in accordance with the principles set out in the Act on activation of the shipbuilding industry and complementary industries (tax on the value of production output sold).

Indirect taxes include:

1)    value added tax (VAT – 23%, 8%, 5% and 0%),

2)    excise duty,

3)    gambling tax.

In the context of employment and conduct of economic activities in Poland, the most important taxes are the Personal Income Tax and the Corporate Income Tax.

Personal income tax

The most important tax for natural persons employed in Poland is the Personal Income Tax.

Incomes earned by natural persons are subject to the Personal Income Tax. If a tax payer earns incomes from more than one source in a given year, the sum of the incomes from all sources in Poland and abroad is subject to taxation. Incomes received by non-residents in Poland or by Polish residents abroad are subject to the provisions of the relevant agreements concluded by Poland on the avoidance of double taxation. Poland has signed such agreements with inter alia Austria, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. A full list of countries and agreements with them is available on the Ministry of Finance and Funds website.

Every person who resides in Poland must pay the tax on incomes received. A person who resides in Poland means any person whose "centre of personal or economic interests" is located in Poland (e.g. he/she lives or works in Poland) or who stays in Poland for longer than 183 days a year. Such a person is a tax resident and is subject to taxation in Poland on the total amount of the incomes earned in a given year, both in Poland and abroad. A person who does not have a place of residence in Poland will pay his/her taxes in Poland only on his/her incomes received in Poland. Incomes are taxed in accordance with the principles set out in the agreements on the avoidance of double taxation concluded by Poland.

Incomes are taxable (revenues minus tax deductible expenses).

Tax deductible expenses are determined depending on the type of the revenues earned, e.g. for persons who earned revenues in 2020:

-           from employment – the basic expenses amount to PLN 3,000 (ca. EUR 690) a year and PLN 250 (ca. EUR 57.5) a month;

-           from contracts of mandate (umowa zlecenia) - the tax deductible expenses are 20% of the revenues earned;

-           from copyrights – the tax deductible expenses are 50% of the revenues earned, but the total annual expenses must not exceed PLN 85,528 (ca. EUR 19,671);

-           from economic activity – the tax deductible expenses cover any costs which have been incurred in order to earn revenues or to maintain or secure the source of revenues, excluding the expenses listed in the Act as non-tax deductible.

The method for calculating the income tax depends on the source of revenues from which the income is earned. There are the following methods:

1)          progressive tax scale with a degressive amount decreasing the tax due – natural persons whose incomes are taxed under general principles use a two-rate tax scale, with the tax rates of 17% and 32% in 2020, one tax threshold of PLN 85,528 (ca. EUR 19,671) and the amount decreasing the tax due which amounts to:

-       PLN 1,360 (EUR 312) – for the tax assessment basis below PLN 8,000 (EUR 1,840),

-       PLN 1,360 (EUR 312) minus the amount calculated as follows:


PLN 834.88 (EUR 192) × (tax assessment basis – PLN 8,000 (EUR 1,840) ÷ PLN 5,000 (EUR 1,150) - for the tax assessment between PLN 8,000 (EUR 1,840) and PLN 13,000 (EUR 2,990),

-       PLN 525.12 (EUR 120.77) – for the tax assessment basis between PLN 13,000 (EUR 2,990) and PLN 85,528 (ca. EUR 19,671),

-       PLN 525.12 (EUR 120.77) minus the amount calculated as follows: PLN 525.12 (EUR 120.77) × (tax assessment basis – 85,528 (ca. EUR 19,671) ÷ PLN 41,472 (EUR 9,538) - for the tax assessment basis between PLN 85,528 (ca. EUR 19,671) and PLN 127,000 (ca. EUR 29,210).  

-       PLN 0 where the tax payer's annual income (tax assessment basis) is equal to or higher than PLN 127,000 (ca. EUR 29,210).  

For levying advance personal income tax payments, the amount reducing the tax due applies only to incomes which do not exceed the first threshold of the tax scale (PLN 85,528 – ca. EUR 19,671) and amounts to PLN 556.02 (ca. EUR 127) a year.

The progressive tax scale applies to inter alia incomes earned from hired labour (employment relationship, contracts of mandate and specific-task contracts), pensions, economic activity, lease and rental.

Tax payers who have their incomes taxed according to the progressive tax scale, upon meeting the requirements specified by law, may benefit from the joint taxation of incomes earned spouses and from preferential taxation of incomes earned by single parents.

The joint taxation of incomes may is available to spouses who have been married throughout the whole tax year and have been bound by the matrimonial property throughout the whole tax year. Spouses calculate their tax due as the double amount of the tax calculated for a half on their joint incomes.

On the other hand, single parents have the right to calculate the tax in the double amount of the tax calculated on a half of their incomes.

2)      19% income tax on non-agricultural economic activity or special sections of agricultural production – incomes from non-agricultural economic activity or special sections of agricultural production (based on the accounting books) may be taxed with the tax rate of 19%. The profit (loss) is settled under a separate tax return;

3)      flat-rate methods of taxation for non-agricultural economic activity – tax payers may also, upon meeting the requirements specified by law, choose one of the flat-rate methods of taxation of their incomes (revenues) from non-agricultural economic activity, i.e.

-       flat-rate tax on registered income: assessed with a specific tax rate on revenues earned; a separate tax return in this method of taxation should be submitted between 15 February and the end February of the year following the tax year;

-       tax card: the monthly amount is established by the head of the competent tax office; no tax returns are submitted in this case, but it is necessary to report the health insurance contributions paid and deducted in the annual tax return to be submitted by 31 January of the following tax year;

4)     flat-rate method of taxation of revenues from lease and rental contracts - may be chosen by tax payers subject to meeting specific requirements specified by law. The tax rate is 8.5% on the revenues earned up to PLN 100,000 (EUR 23,000). The tax rate of 12.5% is charged on the surplus. A separate tax return is to be submitted between 15 February and the end of February of the following tax year;

5)     19% income tax on certain capital gains – the uniform tax rate of 19% applies to certain capital gains (e.g. from the sale of securities or derivative financial instruments for a remuneration), the profit (loss) from which is settled under a separate tax return;

6)     19% income tax on the sale of properties for a remuneration – the obligation to pay income tax of 19% on the income from the sale of properties for a remuneration comes into existence if the property is sold before the end of the period of 5 years starting from the end of the calendar year in which the property has been purchased or built, and if it is not part of economic activity; the income is settled under a separate tax return.

Income from the sale of properties for a remuneration is exempt from taxation if the respective revenues are used by the tax payer for his/her own housing purposes listed in the Polish tax regulations within 3 years from the end of the fiscal year in which the property was sold.

7)     flat-rate income tax collected by the withholding agent – the tax applies to revenues (incomes) from e.g. winnings from lotteries, interests and discounts on securities, interests on cash (not related to the economic activity conducted) deposited in the bank account of the tax payer, participation in capital funds, dividends. These revenues (incomes) are not settled in a tax return, as the respective tax is collected and paid by the withholding agent.     

Corporate income tax

Corporate income tax is paid by:

-        legal persons,

-        organisational units without legal personality, excluding inherited companies and companies without legal personality; the taxpayers are capital companies in organisation and limited joint-stock partnerships with their registered office or central management in Poland,

-        tax capital groups (i.e groups which consist of at least two commercial law companies with legal personality which operate under capital associations and meet the conditions specified by law),

-        companies without legal personality with their registered office or central management in another state, if they are treated as legal persons in accordance with the tax provisions of the that state and are subject to taxation on the total of their incomes in that state regardless of the place where the incomes are earned.

Tax payers with their registered office or central management in Poland are subject to taxation on the total of their incomes, regardless of the place where the incomes are earned. Tax payers which do not have their registered office or central management in Poland are subject to taxation only on their incomes earned in Poland.

Income tax is charged on incomes representing the sum of incomes from capital gains and incomes from other sources.

In principle, a surplus of total revenues earned from that source over the tax deductible expenses achieved in a given tax year is deemed as income from a source of revenues. In the case of tax capital groups, a surplus of the total incomes of all companies from a given source of revenues over their total losses incurred on that sources of revenues is the income from that source of revenues.

If the tax deductible expenses exceed the sum of revenues (in the case of tax capital groups - if the sum of losses from a given source of revenues exceeds the sum of incomes from that source), the difference represents a loss from a source of revenues.

A taxpayer may use the loss to:

  • reduce the profit in the next consecutive five tax years, but the reduction any of the years must not exceed 50% of the amount of the loss, or
  • make a one-time reduction of the incomes from that source in the next consecutive five years by an amount of up to PLN 5,000,000 (EUR 1,150,000 ). If the loss incurred is higher, the amount that has not been deducted is subject to settlement in the remaining years of the 5-year period, but the reduction any of the years must not exceed 50% of the amount of the loss.

In the case of tax capital groups, losses incurred by a group are not covered from revenues of the respective group companies if the group agreement has expired or after the group has lost its status as a tax capital group. The group's revenues are not used for covering losses incurred by groups companies before the establishment of the group.

As regards revenues from the share in profits of legal persons (e.g. dividends) and revenues of foreign entities from the so-called license fees (e.g. interests), the tax is charged on revenues.

In the case of capital relations and other specific associations, it is possible to tax incomes by estimation.

Polish tax law provides for a catalogue of specific tax exemptions, including for such taxpayers as unions, associations, foundations which pursue socially beneficial objectives listed in applicable regulations. For these taxpayers, the exemption applies to incomes which are used for performing the socially beneficial objectives specified in the national law. These objectives must correspond to the statutory objectives of these entities.

Taxable revenues include, in particular, money received, pecuniary values, foreign exchange differences, and the value of the items, rights or other services which have been received without a remuneration or for a partial remuneration. Regarded as revenues related to economic activity and special sections of agricultural production and revenues from capital gains (excluding revenues from participation in profits of legal persons regarded as revenues in fact earned from such participation) earned in a given tax year are also revenues due, even if not actually received yet, excluding the value of the returned items and discounts and allowances granted.

Tax deductible costs are costs which are incurred to generate revenues or to maintain or secure a source of revenues, excluding the costs (expenses) which are not deemed to be incurred to generate revenues, as listed in applicable provisions of law.

Costs directly related to revenues are credited towards the tax deductible costs in the tax year in which the related revenues were achieved.

Costs other than costs directly related to the respective revenues are deducted on the date they are incurred. Should the costs refer to a period which exceeds the tax year and it is not possible to determine which part refers to the particular tax year, they are treated as tax deductible costs proportionately to the length of the period they refer to.

The tax base, established as the difference between taxable revenues and tax deductible costs, is a profit reduced by donations granted to public tasks specified in applicable provisions of law.

Donations for entities which carry out such activities in an EU Member State or an EEA Member State other than Poland may also be deducted under the joint limit of 10% of the income.

Donations for charity and care activities under the so-called Church Acts – up to 100% of the income – are also deductible.

The value of the expenses incurred for research and development activities, i.e. the part of the costs for research and development which have also been treated as tax deductible costs, may also be deducted from the tax base.

The tax is equal to 19% of the tax base. Beginning on 1 January 2019, there is a 9% corporate income tax rate addressed to small taxpayers and start-ups; it applies to incomes other than from capital gains, provided that the taxpayer's revenues (regardless of the source) do not exceed EUR 1.2 million (expressed in PLN) in a given tax year.

In addition, beginning in 2019, incomes from qualified intellectual property rights, e.g. patents, rights from registration of industrial designs and copyrights to computer software, may be taxed with a 5% corporate tax as part of the so-called IP BOX.

In addition, owners (co-owners) of fixed assets which are buildings located in Poland commissioned in whole or in part under rent, lease or other similar agreements pay the income tax on revenues from buildings amounting to 0.035% of the tax base for each month. The tax base is the sum of revenues from individual buildings minus PLN 10 million (EUR 2.3 million).

Tax payers and withholding agents do not submit tax returns during the tax year, but are obliged to pay monthly advance payments. Small taxpayers and start-up taxpayers have the right to pay income tax advance payments on a quarterly basis.

During the tax year, taxpayers can also settle their advance payments under the simplified scheme.

Taxpayers are obliged to submit their tax returns by the end of the third calendar month of the next year and, also by this date, pay the tax due or the difference between the income tax due as shown in the return and the sum of the advance payments due from the beginning of the year.

Text last edited on: 04/2021

The educational system

Compulsory school attendance and compulsory education

The Polish education system differentiates between the compulsory school attendance and compulsory education.

While education is compulsory until the age of 18, the compulsory school attendance covers the 8-grade primary school (i.e. until finishing the primary school, but not longer than until the age of 18). After finishing primary school (szkoła podstawowa), the duty of compulsory education is met by way of attending either a public or non-public secondary school (szkoła ponadpodstawowa) or by way of vocational training conducted by an employer.

Pupils with a certificate on special educational needs may be educated at respective types of schools until the end of the school year in the calendar year in which they have reached the age of:

1)      20 – for primary schools,

2)      24 – for secondary schools.

Children and youth with severe intellectual disability who have been issued a certificate on the need for revalidation and education classes can attend such classes starting at the beginning of the school year in the calendar year in which they have reached the age of 3 and continue education until the end of the school year in the calendar year in which the have reached the age of 25.

The education system is comprised of public educational units, public educational units with integration classes, public educational units with special classes, public educational units with integration and special classes, integration educational units and special educational units in the following categories:

  1. pre-school establishments: kindergartens (przedszkole), pre-school classes in primary schools, other forms of pre-school education (children aged 3-6, or until the age of 9 for children with disabilities who have been issued a certificate on special educational needs and whose compulsory school attendance obligation has been postponed);
  2. primary schools (szkoła podstawowa) (pupils aged 7-15), the admission is based on the age criterion;
  3. secondary schools (szkoła ponadpodstawowa) (pupils aged 15-18/19):

- four-year general secondary school (liceum ogólnokształcące), five-year technical secondary school (technikum), three-year trade school of 1st degree (szkoła branżowa I stopnia) and two-year trade school of 2nd degree (szkoła branżowa II stopnia),

- post-secondary non-tertiary school (szkoła policealna) with a maximum learning period of 2.5 years,

- three-year special school providing preparation for work (szkoła specjalna przysposabiająca do pracy) for pupils  with moderate or severe intellectual disabilities and for pupils with multiple disabilities, completion of which gives a certificate confirming preparation for work.

Persons who are not Polish citizens are provided with education and care in public kindergartens or other forms of public pre-school education, while those subject to compulsory school attendance are provided with education and care at public primary schools, public art schools and public educational establishments, including art establishments, under the same conditions as Polish citizens. Non-Polish citizens who are subject to the compulsory education obligation are provided with education and care at public secondary schools under the same conditions as Polish citizens until they reach 18 years of age or complete their secondary school education.

Children aged 3-5 whose parents want them to attend pre-school education have a guaranteed admission to such education in a kindergarten, a kindergarten class at a primary school or other forms of pre-school (a pre-school establishment or pre-school education centre). Ensuring admission to pre-school education is the responsibility of the commune. Children from abroad are admitted to public kindergartens under the same conditions as Polish citizens.

Where duly justified, pre-school education can be provided also to children aged 2.5.

Children aged 6 must undergo a 12-month pre-school preparation  at a kindergarten, a pre-school class at a primary school or another form or pre-school education, including kindergartens and integration or special pre-school classes. Ensuring a place to meet this obligation is the responsibility of the commune. When requested by the parents, a child aged 6 may start primary school education provided that he/she attended a kindergarten in the school year preceding the school year in which he/she is to start primary school education, or provided that he/she has been issued with a certificate from a psychological and pedagogical guidance centre confirming his/her fitness to attend primary school.  When requested by the parents, the principal of the primary school in the area where a child resides may postpone the compulsory school attendance obligation by one year. Such postponement applies to children aged 7. Children who have been issued a certificate on special educational needs due to disability (deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, with reduced mobility, including aphasia, with mild, moderate or severe intellectual disability, autism, including Asperger Syndrome, with multiple disabilities) may have their compulsory school attendance obligation postponed until the age of 9.

Parents of children aged 6 (and older) who attend the 12-month pre-school preparation are exempted from fees for pre-school education at public kindergartens, pre-school classes at public primary schools and other forms of public pre-school education - they pay only for meals.

Parents of children aged 3-5 years pay for their children's pre-school education in excess of the education and care time limit established by the commune (which is not shorter that 5 hours a day) and for meals. The fee for each hour in excess of the time limit must not be higher than PLN 1 (EUR 0.23). The commune council may establish requirements for a partial or full exemption from that fee.

The school year in all schools and educational establishments starts on 1 September of each year and ends on 31 August of the next year. Teaching and educational activities start on 1 September (or on the first weekday of September) and end on the Friday following 20 June.

Pupils coming from abroad are admitted to schools on the basis of such documents as a certificate, attestation or other document which certifies that the child has graduated from a school or completed a relevant level of education abroad, or other document issued by a school abroad which confirms the school education abroad and specifies the grade or level of education the child has completed abroad, or a document confirming the sum of years of the child's school education. If it is not possibly to establish the sum of years of school education on the basis of a certificate, attestation or other document, the pupil concerned can be admitted on the basis of a written declaration regarding the sum of years of his/her school education submitted by his/her parent or by the pupil himself/herself (if adult). Furthermore, persons coming from an EU or EFTA Member State are provided with education at public schools for adults, public trade schools of 2nd degree, public post-secondary non-tertiary schools, public art schools, public establishments and public colleges for social service workers as well as lifelong learning in the form of vocational qualification courses under the same conditions as Polish citizens. Pupils are admitted to public primary schools in their place of residence ex officio (i.e. the school may not refuse admission). Admission to other public primary schools and to public secondary schools depends on whether the school concerned has vacancies.

Pupils coming from abroad who do not speak Polish or whose command of Polish is insufficient to learn in this language have the right to minimum 2 hours of additional free-of-charge Polish classes a week. Schools may also form preparatory classes for pupils who do not speak Polish. Education in such classes ends at the end of the school year in which the pupil was admitted to the class, and may be curtailed or extended (by a maximum of one school year).

Primary and secondary schools have a six-mark assessment scale of 1 to 6, where 1 is the lowest mark, and 6 the highest.

Primary school pupils have the right to free textbooks, educational materials and training materials meant for compulsory educational classes in general education. Textbooks and related materials are provided by the school, which receives state budget funding for the purpose.

Secondary school pupils who have been issued a certificate on special educational needs may apply for co-financing of the purchase of textbooks and educational materials as part of the government aid programme Wyprawka szkolna (literally "school starter kit").

Pupils finish the primary school if they have received positive marks at the end of the classification period for all compulsory subjects  and have taken the 8-grade exam (egzamin ósmoklasisty). The 8-grade exam, which is an element of the external examination system, consists of written tests in Polish, mathematics and one modern foreign language, and beginning in school year 2021/2022 also in one of the following subjects of choice: biology, chemistry, physics, geography, history. The 8-grade exam checks to what extent the pupil meets the requirements established in the general core curriculum for the primary school. No minimum pass threshold has been established for this exam, but results are shown in the detailed 8-grade exam certificate and are taken into account for admission to the secondary school.

The matriculation exam (egzamin maturalny, or matura) is conducted within the external examination system for graduates of general secondary or secondary trade schools, and opens the way to obtaining a matriculation certificate. Apart from graduates of Polish schools, the matriculation exam may be taken also by holders of a foreign certificate or other document confirming that they have completed secondary education. The matriculation exam is based on the requirements established in the general core curriculum for the general secondary and technical secondary schools. The matriculation exam is conducted once a year between May and September (main, additional and re-sit dates) as announced each year on the website of the Central Examination Commission.

Graduates take the exam in the following compulsory subjects:

  • Polish (oral and written);
  • modern foreign language (oral and written);
  • mathematics (written);
  • national minority language (oral and written) - for graduates of schools and classes where a national minority language is taught.

The written matriculation exam in the compulsory subjects is conducted at the basic level, while no specific obligatory level is established for the oral exam.

Graduates must take a written matriculation exam in at least one additional subject. The written matriculation exam in an additional subject (biology, chemistry, philosophy, physics, geography, history, music history, art history, information technology, Latin and ancient culture, ethnic minority language, national minority language, modern foreign language, Polish, regional language, mathematics, social studies) can be taken at the extended level and its scope corresponds to the requirements established in the general core curriculum for basic and extended levels of education. No specific obligatory level is established for the oral matriculation exam in additional subjects (an ethnic minority language, a national minority language, a modern foreign language, a regional language). The written matriculation exam in a modern foreign language as an additional subject is conducted at the extended level in accordance with the general core curriculum for general and extended levels of education or at the bilingual level in accordance with the general core curriculum for bilingual classes. Graduates may take the matriculation exam in a maximum of five successive additional subjects. No minimum pass threshold is established for additional subjects in this exam.

Due to the introduction of a new school system, the matriculation exam will be conducted under the new rules for:

  1. graduates of 4-year general secondary schools (liceum ogólnokształcące) – beginning in school year 2022/2023;
  2. graduates of 5-year technical secondary schools (technikum) – beginning on school year 2023/2024;
  3. graduates of trade schools of 2nd degree who finished their education in trade schools of 1st degree as graduates of the 8-year primary school – beginning in school year 2023/2024.

The matriculation exam under the current rules will be conducted until:

  1. school year 2026/2027 inclusively – for graduates of 3-year general secondary schools;
  2. school year 2027/2028 inclusively – for graduates of 4-year technical secondary schools;
  3. school year 2028/2029 inclusively – for graduates of trade schools of 2nd degree who finished their education in trade schools of 1st degree as graduates of junior secondary schools (gimnazjum).

The matriculation certificate is issued under the rules in force before the reform of the school system to graduates who have taken the matriculation exam in compulsory subjects and achieved at least 30% of the available points in each of them (both written and oral), and taken the matriculation exam in one of the aforementioned additional subjects.

The matriculation certificate will be issued under the new rules to graduates who have taken the matriculation exam in compulsory subjects and one selected additional subject achieved at least 30% of the available point in each of them.

Results of the matriculation exam, both in compulsory and additional subjects, form the key criterion of enrolment in university-level studies.

A pupil/student or graduate who is not a Polish citizen and whose limited knowledge of the Polish language makes it difficult for him/her to understand written texts may take the following exams under a positive decision of the board of teachers:

1)    8-grade exam, excluding the 8-grade exam in a modern foreign language - under conditions and in the form adjusted to his/her educational needs and psychophysical abilities resulting from that limitation;

2)    matriculation exam, excluding the matriculation exam in a modern foreign language, a national minority language, an ethnic minority language or a regional language - under conditions adjusted to his/her educational needs and psychophysical abilities resulting from that limitation.

Graduates of general secondary schools may continue their education in post-secondary non-tertiary schools (szkoła policealna) with the education programme not exceeding 2.5 years.. The condition for enrolment in a post-secondary non-tertiary school is completion of secondary or secondary trade education. It is agreed by operation of law (i.e. without the requirement to demonstrate the opinion of Polish authorities or institutions) that the completion of secondary education is confirmed by certificates and other documents issued in an EU or EFTA Member State education system that entitle to start tertiary education studies in that Member State. Other education certificates and documents issued in an EU or EFTA Member State may be recognised only by the relevant Educational Superintendent (Kurator Oświaty) in the course of an administrative procedure.

Students and graduates of trade schools of 1st and 2nd degree, technical secondary schools and post-secondary non-tertiary schools, persons who have completed a vocational qualification course, adults who have completed practical vocational training for adults or vocational familiarisation training (provided that the vocational familiarisation training curriculum incorporated the requirements established in the core curriculum for vocational training) and persons who meet the requirements for admission to an extramural exam who pass, respectively, the exam confirming their vocational qualification or the vocational exam[1] corresponding to a specific qualification for a given profession are issued, respectively, a certificate confirming their vocational qualification or a vocational qualification certificate7, and upon passing exams for all qualifications for a given professions and completing education at the required level, they are issued also a diploma confirming their vocational qualifications/vocational diploma7 entitling them to take up employment in that profession.

Graduates of trade schools of 1st degree may continue their education at:

1)     trade schools of 2nd degree which train in professions for which a qualification has been identified which is common with the profession taught at their schools of 1st degree. To be to enrolled in a trade school of 2nd degree, a foreign national must submit documents issued abroad which are deemed in Poland as documents confirming their vocational or trade education. Graduates of trade schools of 2nd degree may continue their education at university level studies if they pass their matriculation exams and receive the matriculation certificate (education in trade schools of 2nd degree will start in September 2020);

2)     general secondary schools for adults, starting from the second grade, to complete their secondary education and pass the matriculation exam, which will enable them to continue their education at the tertiary level;

3)     vocational qualification courses organised by public and non-public schools offering vocational education, public and non-public vocational education centres, lifelong education establishments, labour market institutions and other education entities accredited in accordance with Article 118 of the Act on Education Law.

As a result of the recent changes in the vocational education system, beginning on 1 September 2019 students of trade schools of 1st degree, 4-grade technical secondary schools, 5-year technical secondary schools and post-secondary non-tertiary schools started their education in accordance with the curriculum which meets the requirements established in the core curriculum for vocational education at trade schools. Beginning on 1 September 2019, all persons starting their education (except for students of trade schools of 1st degree who are juvenile workers educated in craft) are obliged to take the new vocational exam that will ultimately replace the current exam confirming vocational qualifications. Taking the vocational exam will be a pre-condition for promotion or graduation. For a pupil who is a juvenile worker employed for the purpose of vocational preparation by an employer who is a craftsperson, the condition for completing a 1st degree trade school will involve taking an apprentice exam conducted by an examination commission of a relevant chamber of crafts.

The exam confirming vocational qualifications/vocational exam may be taken by participants of vocational qualification courses and adult participants of practical vocational training for adults or vocational familiarisation training for adults organised in accordance with a curriculum that meets the requirements established in the core curriculum for education in a given profession within the trade education system.

Tertiary education

The system of tertiary education and science included the following forms of education:

  • first-cycle studies (studia pierwszego stopnia) – a form of education available to candidates with a matriculation certificate or other document specified in regulations on tertiary education and science, ending with awarding the professional title of Bachelor (licencjat), Engineer (inżynier) or equivalent;
  • second-cycle studies (studia drugiego stopnia) – a form of education available to candidates with a tertiary education diploma, ending with awarding the professional title of Master (magister), Master Engineer (magister inżynier) or equivalent;
  • long-cycle Master's degree studies (jednolite studia magisterskie) – a form of education available to candidates with a matriculation certificate, ending with awarding the professional title of Master (magister), Master Engineer (magister inżynier) or equivalent;
  • doctoral schools (szkoła doktorska)doctoral education provided by tertiary education schools, scientific institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences, research institutes or international institutes operating in Poland and established under separate regulations, which are available to candidates with a Master, Master Engineer or equivalent degree who demonstrate the highest quality of scientific achievements; ending with awarding a doctoral degree (academic or art degrees);
  • post-graduate studies (studia podyplomowe) – a form of education available to candidates with full qualifications of at least Level 6 of the Polish Qualifications Framework awarded within the tertiary education system at a tertiary education school, a scientific institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences, a research institute or the Medical Post-Graduate Education Centre (Centrum Medyczne Kształcenia Podyplomowego); such studies end with awarding partial qualifications at Levels 6, 7 or 8 of the Polish Qualifications Framework;
  • specialised education – a short form of education provided by vocational colleges that allows candidates to obtain full qualification at Level 5 of the Polish Qualifications Framework and ends with awarding a graduate specialist certificate or a graduate technology specialist.

Tertiary education establishments can be divided into public establishments (formed by a state agency) and non-public establishments (which can be formed by natural persons or legal persons other than local government units, state legal persons or local government legal persons).

The most complete information about Poland's tertiary education is provided by the Integrated System of Information on Science and Higher Education (POL-on), the most comprehensive repository of data on science and tertiary education in Poland. It contains all information which must be publicly available, including, but not limited to, tertiary school registers, information on fields and profiles of education, tertiary school evaluation indicators, aggregated figures regarding students, the register of authorisations to award scientific degrees, and the register of patents and property rights. Admission in tertiary education establishments is conducted through recruitment, confirmation of learning outcomes or transfer from another school in Poland or abroad.

Admission in first-cycle studies or long-cycle Master's degree studies is available to candidates who hold:

  • a matriculation certificate a matriculation certificate and a certificate on the results of the post-2005 matriculation exam in individual subjects, as referred to in regulations on the system of education;
  • a matriculation certificate and a diploma confirming vocational qualifications in a profession taught at the level of a technician, as referred to in regulations on the system of education;
  • a matriculation certificate and a vocational diploma in a profession taught at the level of technician, as referred to in regulations on the system of education;
  • a matriculation certificate and a certificate on the results of the post-2005 matriculation exam in individual subjects, and a diploma confirming vocational qualifications in a profession taught at the level of a technician, as referred to in regulations on the system of education;
  • a matriculation certificate and a certificate on the results of the post-2005 matriculation exam in individual subjects, and a vocational diploma in a profession taught at the level of a technician, as referred to in regulations on the system of education;
  • a certificate and other document or diploma referred to in the Act on the system of education (Article 93(1) of the Act);
  • a certificate or a diploma recognised in the Republic of Poland as a document gives the right to apply for admission in tertiary studies in accordance with an applicable bilateral agreement on mutual recognition of education;
  • a certificate or other document recognised as equivalent to the Polish matriculation certificate under regulations in force since 31 March 2015.

The documents for admission in first-cycle studies or long-cycle Master's degree studies listed in points 3-5 will be required from 1 January 2022 onwards.

Requirements and procedures for admission in studies are established autonomously by tertiary education schools.

The basis for admission in tertiary first-cycle studies or long-cycle Masters' degree studies are the results of either:

1) the pre-2005 matriculation exam; or

2) the post-2005 matriculation exam;

and from 1 January 2022 onwards also:

- the results of either the pre-2005 matriculation exam or post-2005 matriculation exam and the exam or exams confirming vocational qualifications;

- the results of either the pre-2005 matriculation exam or post-2005 matriculation exam and vocational exam or exams.

A tertiary education school may conduct additional entrance exams only if it is necessary to check candidates' artistic talents, physical fitness or suitability to take up specific studies which have not been checked as part of the matriculation exam.

To be admitted in second-cycle studies a candidate must hold a tertiary education diploma and meet the recruitment requirements established by the school concerned.

Certificates and other documents issued in systems of education of EU or EFTA Member States which give the right to start tertiary studies in those Member States can be submitted directly to Polish schools and do not require any review by other institutions. As a rule, Polish schools recognise foreign tertiary education entitlements to the extent applicable in respective countries. Therefore, a foreign certificate that gives the right to apply for admission only in some fields and types of tertiary education studies in a given EU or EFTA Member State gives the right to apply for admission in similar tertiary education programmes in Poland. Tertiary education entitlements obtained abroad should be documented before coming to Poland.

A school can confirm learning outcomes achieved in a learning process outside the system of studies by persons who apply for admission in a specific field, level and profile of studies if it has a positive assessment of the quality of education at those studies or scientific category A+, A or B+ in the discipline or leading discipline to which the field concerned is assigned.

Learning outcomes are confirmed to the extent corresponding to learning outcomes specified in the relevant study programme. Learning outcomes are not confirmed for the study programmes referred to in Article 68(1)(1)–(10) of the Act on the Law on tertiary education and science in which education standards are taken into consideration.

Learning outcomes can be confirmed for a person who holds:

  • documents required for admission in first-cycle studies or long-cycle Master's degree studies, and at least 5 years of professional experience – in the case of applying for admission in first-cycle studies or long-cycle Master's degree studies;
  • a full qualification at Level 5 of the Polish Qualifications Framework or a qualification awarded in a foreign system of tertiary education and corresponding to Level 5 of the European Qualifications Framework referred to in Annex II to the Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 on the establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning – in the case of applying for admission in first-cycle studies or long-cycle Master's degree studies;
  • a full qualification at Level 6 of the Polish Qualifications Framework and at least 3 years of professional experience after completion of first-cycle studies – in the case of applying for admission in second-cycle studies;
  • a full qualification at Level 7 of the Polish Qualifications Framework and at least 2 years of professional experience after completion of second-cycle studies or long-cycle Master's degree studies – in the case of applying for admission in other first-cycle studies, second-cycle studies or long-cycle Master's degree studies.

Confirmation of learning outcomes can lead to acknowledging not more than 50% of credits within the European Credit Transfer System assigned to classes covered by a specific study programme. The order of admission in studies is decided by confirmation of the learning outcomes.  The number of students admitted on the basis of confirmation of the learning outcomes may not be higher than 20% of the total number of students in the field, level and profile of studies concerned.

Tertiary education studies are provided in the form of full-time studies or part-time studies.

The academic year starts on 1 October and ends on 30 September, and is divided into two semesters.

In the academic year 2019/20 (as of 31 December 2019), there were 383 tertiary education schools in Poland, of which 132 were public and 235 non-public and 16 were ecclesiastical schools.

Graduates of first-cycle studies are awarded the professional title of Bachelor, Engineer or equivalent:

1)    Architect Engineer (inżynier architekt) – upon achieving the learning outcomes defined for studies in architecture;

2)    Fire Safety Engineer (inżynier pożarnictwa) – awarded to fore-fighters of the State Fire Service upon achieving the learning outcomes defined for studies in safety engineering at the Main School of Fire Service (Szkoła Główna Służby Pożarniczej);

3)    Bachelor of Nursing (licencjat pielęgniarstwa) – upon achieving the learning outcomes defined for studies in nursing;

4)    Bachelor of Midwifery (licencjat położnictwa) – upon achieving the learning outcomes defined for studies in midwifery.

Graduates of second-cycle studies are awarded the professional title of Master (magister), Master Engineer (magister inżynier) or equivalent:

1)    Master Architect Engineer (magister inżynier architekt)– upon achieving the learning outcomes defined for studies in architecture;

2)    Master Fire Safety Engineer (magister inżynier pożarnictwa) – upon achieving the learning outcomes defined for studies in safety engineering conducted for fire safety engineers at the Main School of Fire Service;

3)    Master of Nursing (magister pielęgniarstwa) – upon achieving the learning outcomes defined for studies in nursing;

4)    Master of Midwifery (magister położnictwa) – upon achieving the learning outcomes defined for studies in midwifery;

Graduates of long-cycle Master's degree studies are awarded the professional title of Master (magister), Master Engineer (magister inżynier) or equivalent:

1)    doctor of medicine (lekarz) – upon achieving the learning outcomes  defined for studies in medicine;

2)    dentist (lekarz dentysta) – upon achieving the learning outcomes defined for studies in dentistry;

3)    veterinarian (lekarz weterynarii) – upon achieving the learning outcomes defined for studies in veterinary;

4)    Master of Pharmacy (magister farmacji) – upon achieving the learning outcomes defined for studies in pharmacy;

5)    Master Architect Engineer (magister inżynier architekt) - upon achieving the learning outcomes defined for studies in architecture;

Citizens of EU or EFTA Member States taking up studies in Poland

EU and EFTA Member State citizens or members of their families residing in Poland are not charged any fees by public tertiary education schools for attending full-time studies in Polish.

To take up studies, the aforementioned citizens must undergo the recruitment procedure established by the school of their choice. If accepted, they have - as all foreign students starting studies in Poland in the academic year 2019/2020 onwards - the right to apply for available financial support (excluding social scholarships and student loans), i.e. a rector’s grant, a grant for persons with disabilities, aid payments, a grant financed by a local government unit, a grant in recognition of learning performance or sport achievements financed by a natural person or a legal person other than state or local government legal person, and the Minister’s grant. The aforementioned citizens who take up education at doctoral schools run by tertiary education schools or scientific institutes will receive a doctoral grant. Foreign citizens who are young scientists can also receive the Minister's grant awarded to outstanding young scientists.

Fees charged by public tertiary education schools in Poland

A public tertiary education school may charge fees for educational services relating to:

-        teaching part-time students;

-        teaching post-graduate students;

-        specialised teaching;

-        teaching in the so-called other forms of teaching offered by tertiary education schools, institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences, research institutes and at training and courses conducted by the Łukasiewicz Research Network;

-        repeating specific classes during full-time studies due to unsatisfactory learning results;

-        providing education in a foreign language;

-        providing extra-curricular classes;

-        teaching foreign students at full-time studies in Polish.

Fees charged by non-public tertiary education schools in Poland

Non-public schools charge fees for teaching both at full-time and part time studies, and for teaching at post-graduate studies.

Lifelong learning and vocational education

Adults may enrol in primary schools for adults, general secondary schools for adults and general competence courses, and in the case of vocational education – in out-of-school forms of lifelong learning (vocational qualification courses, vocational skills courses and other courses designed to acquire and supplement knowledge, vocational skills and qualifications) and in selected post-secondary non-tertiary schools and trade schools of 2nd degree.

A vocational qualification course is conducted in accordance with a programme based on the core curriculum for vocational education within the scope of a single qualification, completion of which gives the trainee the right to take an exam confirming his/her vocational qualification/vocational exam regarding that qualification. Institutions which conduct vocational qualification courses must include in their course programmes all components of a given qualification specified in the core curriculum for vocational trade education. Completing such a course enables the trainee to take an exam confirming his/her vocational qualification/vocational exam (within the scope of a given qualification) conducted by a regional examination board. A person who has completed a vocational qualification course and passed an exam confirming his/her vocational qualification/vocational exam within a given qualification will receive a certificate confirming his/her vocational qualification/certificate of vocational qualification.

A diploma confirming vocational qualifications/vocational diploma will be issued to a person who has completed the level of education required for the profession concerned (i.e. appropriate trade or general secondary education) and has passed exams in all qualifications defined for that profession.

Vocational qualification courses can be conducted in  professions assigned to specific trades if it is allowed to organise such a course in a given profession under regulations on the tasks and objectives of vocational teaching in trade education and classification of professions within trade education.

Vocational qualification courses can be conducted by:

-               public schools which provide vocational education with regard to the professions they teach as well as other professions which are attributed to the trades which include the professions they teach;

-               non-public schools which have the privileges of public schools and provide vocational education with regard to the professions they teach as well as other professions which are attributed to the trades which include the professions they teach;

-               public and non-public lifelong learning establishments and vocational training centres;

-               labour market institutions which conduct educational and training activities;

-               entities which conduct educational activities and are duly accredited in accordance with the provisions of the Education Law.

System of qualifications in Poland

Poland has an Integrated Qualifications System designed to support lifelong learning, recognition of competences and facilitation of employment through increasing the transparency of qualifications and providing opportunities to compare them in Poland and abroad.

The Integrated Qualifications System includes such tools as:

-               the Polish Qualifications Framework – a description of eight levels of qualifications defined in Poland and corresponding to the respective levels in the European Qualifications Framework;

-               the Integrated Qualifications Register - a public repository kept in an IT system to provide a record of qualifications included in the Integrated Qualifications System;

-               uniform standards for describing qualifications and ensuring the quality of qualifications acquired in non-formal education.

The Integrated Qualifications System refers to qualifications understood as a specific set of learning outcomes (compatible with the standards established for the qualification concerned), achievement of which is validated by an authorised certification institution. Poland's Integrated Qualifications System includes the following three types of qualifications:

-               qualifications awarded in learning and tertiary education;

-               "regulated" qualifications awarded under other provisions of law (outside the formal education);

-               "market" qualifications awarded without any legal basis established in generally applicable law.

Beginning in 2017, documents (certificates, diplomas) confirming a given level of qualification bear the logo of the Polish Qualifications Framework (for partial or full qualifications). In the case of certificates of completion of post-graduate studies, the Polish Qualifications Framework logo is placed only when the qualification concerned is included in the Integrated Qualifications System. Where the qualification awarded after completion of post-graduate studies is not included in the Integrated Qualifications System by the school, the certificate of completion of post-graduate studies is issued without the relevant logo.

Learning Polish                              

Polish language courses are organised by universities, technical universities, non-public tertiary education schools  and private language schools. They include summer courses, semester courses, whole-year courses, workshops in Polish or post-graduate studies in Polish culture and Polish as a foreign language. The courses have to be paid for.  In some academic centres, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education finances courses that prepare grant holders of the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange (Narodowa Agencja Wymiany Akademickiej, NAWA) to take up studies in Polish. NAWA grant holders can take these courses free of charge.

[1] Persons who have pursued their education in accordance with the core curriculum laid down in regulations issued under Article 47(1)(2) of the Act of 14 December 2016 on the Education Law (in its codification in force before 1 September 2019) take the exam confirming their vocational qualifications and are issued a certificate confirming their vocational qualifications or a diploma confirming their vocational qualifications. Persons who have pursued their education in accordance with the core curriculum for vocational trade education laid down in regulations issued under Article 46(1)(3) of the Act of 14 December 2016 on the Education Law (in its codification in force after 1 September 2019) take the vocational exam and are issued a vocational qualification certificate or a vocational diploma.

Text last edited on: 04/2021

The cultural and social life

Cultural life

The main organisational form of cultural activity in Poland consists of publicly-funded cultural institutions,  ranging from museums, galleries, art centres and artistic institutions (such as drama and opera theatres and philharmonics) to small local libraries and cultural centres. There are currently nearly 7,000 cultural institutions in Poland. In addition to cultural institutions, cultural activity is carried out by numerous non-governmental organisations, churches, religious associations and private enterprises. Information about culture and entertainment in Poland is available in daily newspapers (on Fridays, the main daily newspapers publish cultural guides for the following week), TV, radio (including thematic channels) and the Internet.

Museums remain the most important institutions that preserve the cultural heritage and popularise knowledge about it. A number of historical monuments and sites important to Polish history now house prominent museums that are well known not only in Poland. They include e.g. the Royal Castle in Warsaw - the Residence of Kings and the Republic, the Royal Castle in Wawel - the National Art Collections, the King John III's Palace in Wilanów and the Royal Łazienki Museum in Warsaw. The John Paul II and Primate Wyszyński Museum in Warsaw was opened in 2020.

Exhibitions are among the most spectacular forms of museum and gallery activities. These establishments present exhibitions based on their own collections, compiled from collections of other museums or ready made borrowed from other establishments. Museums gather interesting collections of both ancient and contemporary art. Some of them have masterpieces of the world's art, including Leonardo da Vinci’s "Lady with an Ermine" and Rembrandt’s "Landscape with the Good Samaritan" in the National Museum in Kraków, and Hans Memling’s "Last Judgement" in the National Museum in Gdańsk.

Most museums are open from Tuesday until Sunday, until 4:00 or even 6:00 pm. Each museum offers free-of-charge admissions to fixed exhibitions on one day of the week. Admission fees are not high, and state museums offer many discounts like family tickets and reduced fees. Admissions to state martyrological museums are free of charge.

Drama theatres  operate in all big cities (with the summer break in July and August). In the summer season, theatres in holiday resorts (e.g. Sopot and Zakopane) as well as some private theatres, including Warsaw's Teatr Kamienica and Teatr 6. Piętro, remain open to the public. The most famous Polish scenes  include the National Theatre (Teatr Narodowy) in Warsaw, the Helena Modrzejewska National Old Theatre (Narodowy Stary Teatr im. Heleny Modrzejewskiej) in Kraków, the Arnold Szyfman Polish Theatre (Teatr Polski im. Arnolda Szyfmana) in Warsaw, Teatr Wybrzeże in Gdańsk and TR Warszawa in Warsaw. The most well-known musical theatres  in Poland include the Capitol Musical Theatre (Teatr Muzyczny "Capitol") in Wrocław, the Musical Theatre (Teatr Muzyczny) in Gdynia and the Roma Musical Theatre (Teatr Muzyczny "Roma") in Warsaw. In addition, large cities have puppet theatres which stage plays for children, youth and adults. Of numerous Polish theatre festivals, the most notable include inter alia the Shakespeare Festival in Gdańsk, the Divine Comedy International Theatre Festival in Kraków, the Singer’s Warsaw International Jewish Culture Festival in Bielsko Biała, the International Festival of Puppetry Art in Bielsko-Biała and the Stage Song Review in Wrocław.

The Grand Theatre - Polish National Opera (Teatr Wielki – Opera Narodowa), a major cultural institution in Poland and one of the largest in the world, presents classic operas and contemporary works, and cooperates with globally renowned soloists. Other opera theatres are located in the 10 largest cities across Poland.

Furthermore, the Polish Royal Opera in Warsaw, opened in 2017, popularises the opera art also in smaller cultural centres across the country.

Philharmonics operate in major cities of Polish regions, with the National Philharmonic (Filharmonia Narodowa) in Warsaw particular renown. The Krzysztof Penderecki European Centre for Music in Lutosławice, with its unique arboretum - one of its kind in Europe, is an exceptional musical centre. Worthy of notice are also the National Symphony Orchestra of the Polish Radio (Narodowa Orkiestra Symfoniczna Polskiego Radia) in Katowice and the National Music Forum (Narodowe Forum Muzyki) in Wrocław - cultural institutions which operate in newly built splendid edifices. Well-known classical music festivals include: the Musical Festival in Łańcut, the Chopin Festival in Duszniki Zdrój, the Contemporary Music Festival "Warsaw Autumn" in Warsaw, the International Musical Festival "Chopin and His Europe" in Warsaw and the Wratislavia Cantans Festival in Wrocław. In addition to classical music events, there are also jazz festivals e.g. the Jazz na Starówce Festival in Warsaw and the Jazz nad Odrą Festival in Wrocław. Music fans can enjoy classical music outdoors e.g. in the Royal Łazienki Park in Warsaw (between May and September) and in Żelazowa Wola, the birth place of the famous Polish composer Frederic Chopin. Poland organises important music competitions, including the International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition (Warsaw), the International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition (Poznań), the Stanisław Moniuszko International Vocal Competition (Warsaw), the I.J. Paderewski International Piano Competition (Bydgoszcz) and the Karol Szymanowski International Music Competition (Katowice).

Folk songs and dances are popularised by professional folk ensembles with long traditions, such as the Stanisław Hadyna Song and Dance Ensemble "Śląsk" and the Tadeusz Sygietyński National Folk Song and Dance Ensemble "Mazowsze".

Prices of theatre, opera and philharmonic tickets vary and depend on many factors (e.g. the location, profile and size of the institution). Nearly all institutions offer discounts for children, youth, students (on presentation of the International Student Identity Card) and senior citizens. For more expensive performances, it is possible to purchase reduced price tickets without the guaranteed right to a numbered seat.

Local government and state cultural institutions operate in large cities with the mission of presenting and promoting modern arts. They include inter alia the National Gallery of Art "Zachęta" in Warsaw, the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw, the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, the Museum of Art in Łódź, the Museum of Contemporary Art "MOCAK" in Kraków, the Contemporary Museum in Wrocław, the Centre of Contemporary Art "Znaki Czasu" in Toruń and the Arsenal Gallery in Bałystok. There is also the Polish Sculpture Centre in Orońsk, a specialised institution operating in a smaller town.

Poland has an extensive network of cinemas, ranging from multiplexes to small art cinemas.
They offer global blockbusters and the best Polish films as well as ambitious European, American and Asian productions. They also screen documentaries and short films. Foreign feature films shown in Polish cinemas are usually not dubbed, but animated feature films for children are.

It is worth noting that Poland is also an attractive tourist destination. The UNESCO World Heritage List includes the following Polish sites:  the historic centres of Kraków and Warsaw, the Centennial Hall (Hala Stulecia) in Wrocław, the historic salt mines in Wieliczka and Bochnia, the old town in Zamość, the Białowieża Forest, the medieval town of Toruń, the castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska – the mannerist architectural, landscape and pilgrimage complex, eight wooden Tserkvas (Orthodox churches) of the Carpathian Region (the entry include a total of 16 Orthodox churches in Poland and Ukraine), the Muskauer Park (Park Mużakowski) in Łęknica, the lead-silver-zinc ore mine in Tarnowskie Góry, and the Krzemionki prehistoric striped flint mining region near Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski. The List includes also Auschwitz-Birkenau, the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp (1940-1945) in Oświęcim.

Activities of some Polish cultural institutions has been temporarily restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic. Up-to-date information about the available cultural offering can be found on websites of the cultural institutions concerned.

Social life

Polish is the official language in Poland. The most popular foreign language spoken in Poland is English, followed by German, French and Russian.

Polish feasts which are also public holidays are as follows: 1 January – New Year; 6 January – Epiphany; March or April (Sunday and Monday) - the 1st and 2nd day of Easter (a moving holiday); 1 May – Public Holiday; 3 May – The 3rd of May Constitution Day; May or June - Descent of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost) - (moving holiday); May or June (the first Thursday nine weeks after Easter) – Corpus Christi; 15 August – Armed Forces’ Day/Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary; 1 November – All Saints’ Day; 11 November – National Independence Day; 25 and 26 December – Christmas; and all Sundays.

Text last edited on: 04/2021

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