New regulations concerning working time come into force today

An amendment to Poland’s Labour Code and Trade Union Act which introduces the extension of the settlement period and the introduction of flexible working hours comes into force on 23 August 2013.

The regulations which come into force today will allow companies to adjust the working time of the employees to the current number of commissions in the workplace. They will also introduce the extension of the settlement period. 12-month settlement period and flexible working hours will help employers to organize working time, which is of utmost importance when there are fewer commissions. Then the employer will be able to adjust the working time to the needs of the company more easily and efficiently – says Wioletta Żukowska, an expert of the Employers of Poland.

The settlement period is the time after which the employer settles the working time of an employee. So far it could amount, with some exceptions, maximally to four months. The employer will be able to extend the settlement period to 12 months. The employer can do so but needs an approval of trade unions. If there are no trade unions, the employer needs an approval of a representative of the staff, i.e. there needs to be an agreement – says Wioletta Żukowska.

Extending the settlement period does not change the daily and weekly working time standards.

The regulations introduce also flexible working time. Flexible working time was already in force in the framework of the Anti-crisis Act. This solution means that we will be able to begin our working day at a different hour every day or within some time span. For example, if an employer agrees that in his of her company the working day can start between 8am and 10am then we simply need to come to work between 8 and 10 and after 8 hours of work we can go home – explains the expert of the Employers of Poland.

The Labour Code will also enable to make up for a leave for personal reasons. It will be possible to submit to the employer a request that one wants to run some errands during the working time, something concerning personal issues. If the employer agrees he or she also needs to state when the employer will make up for the time he or she was absent from work. Such "making up" will not be considered as overtime if the employer stays longer afterwards – says Wioletta Żukowska.

When the Anti-crisis Act was in force, 1100 companies took the opportunity to extend the settlement period. We will see what it is going to look like now. Such solutions as the 12 month settlement period are widely used in the EU countries, for example in France, Germany, Great Britain, and also in Romania and the Czech Republic. There are also countries where the settlement period is even longer for example Slovakia where it can be extended up to 30 months – says Wioletta Żukowska.

Longer settlement periods are advantageous especially for branches with seasonal demand for labour. Experience shows that the solution is most frequently employed by companies which have  declines in production and are characterized by seasonality of production, such as the automotive industry. For them the solution is especially important as at the time when there is more work to do, when they need to produce more, the employers can work longer, and when there is less work they work shorter hours. The time when there is more work needs to be compensated by shorter working hours or days off. Thus, of course, within the 12 month long period the work must cover the balance and the employee needs the time off if he worked longer – the expert of the Employers of Poland sums up.

The amendments are not welcomed by trade unions, which believe that the changes will bring longer working hours, no additional benefits for overtime and, in the result, lower remunerations.

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