In 2022 the Polish Labour Code is due to be amended in order to implement EU Directive 2019/1158 of 20 June 2019 on work-life balance for parents and carers. The main objective of the Directive is to achieve equality between women and men both in the labour market and in the share of caring responsibilities, as well as to promote the idea of “work-life balance”.
The first significant amendment concerns the rules relating to parental leave. Each parent will be entitled to four months of parental leave until the child is eight years old, including two months of paid leave which cannot be transferred to the other parent. Currently, parents are able to decide that the whole of the parental leave is taken by the mother.
The regulations on care leave are also to be amended. Pursuant to the Directive, every employee is entitled to five days off work during a calendar year in connection with the need to provide personal care. This more than doubles the current amount in Poland, which is two days per calendar year. According to the Directive, employees are entitled to remuneration during this leave, but it is up to each Member State to determine the amount of the remuneration or benefits that an employee receives.
Another amendment concerns the possibility for parents and guardians of children up to eight years of age to request flexible working hours. Such employees will be able to request (i) a more flexible work schedule, (ii) a limitation of working hours, or (iii) the possibility to work from home. However, employers will not be obliged to grant such requests. Employees will also be able to request a return to the previous working time schedule before the end of the agreed period of flexible working.
The final amendment will give employees the right to time off work due to an emergency, such as an urgent family matter caused by illness or accident.
In conclusion, the EU Directive certainly gives more rights to fathers in particular, and also makes it easier for carers to balance work and family life. Member States have been given until 2 August 2022 to implement it and the Polish government has already prepared a relevant bill, which – according to information on the website of the lower house of the Polish Parliament (Sejm) published on 29 November 2021 – has been sent for the first reading.
Justyna Helbing, Intern