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Flexible working arrangements for difficult times

President Bronislaw Komorowski has supported the need for flexible working time signed an act amending the Labour Code and the Law on Trade Unions. Employers in Poland with great satisfaction adopt these changes, as the new rules will facilitate the organization of working time, and thus have a positive impact on the situation of companies and their employees.

Longer trading period and introduction of variable hours constitute the most important draft amendments to the Labour Code adopted by the government. The draft amendment complies with the proposals presented by the Prime Minister Donald Tusk in the so-called second expose.

The trading period will be prolonged, but only up to 12 months. This change will apply to every type of working hours arrangement. It will allow the employers to manage the working time of their employees in a more flexible manner, depending on the level of demand for work in particular months.

The periods of longer working hours will be balanced by the periods of shorter working hours or non-working days, maintaining the amount of overall working time of a given employee during the trading period at the same level. Longer period should be included e.g. in a collective employment agreement or in an agreement with works union organisations.

In line with the new provisions the employee will have the right to receive minimum wage even if e.g. he would not be entitled to receive remuneration due to the work schedule adopted in a given trading period.

Prolongation of the trading period translates into better work organisation and makes it possible for the employers to account for the amount of time actually worked by their employees in a more effective manner. It is also a mechanism which allows the entrepreneurs to react to changing economic situation more flexibly.

However, the most important aspect of the adopted provisions is the fact that they will contribute to preserving jobs. Similar arrangements turned out to be exceptionally effective during the period in which the so-called Anti-Crisis Act remained in force (August 2009 – December 2011).

With regard to variable hours arrangements, two options were adopted:

• The first option provides the employer with a possibility to assign individual employees different hours of starting work on particular days, in line with the provisions on working time and daily and weekly rest.

• The second option allows the employer to specify the period during which an employee should begin his work (i.e. to establish the time at which employees should appear at work).

Variable hours options should be included in a collective employment agreement or in an agreement with works union organisations.

However, among the employers prevails the opinion that these changes are only cosmetics with reference to the challenges of the crisis, and that the improvement of the Labour Code should be continued.

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