What are the restrictions on employees' working time in Poland?
Published on 28th Nov 2022
Employers are required to have a broad knowledge of regulations related to the working time of employees
Organizing, settling, and recording employees' working time is one of the most basic obligations of an employer. Working time is defined as the time during which the employee is at the disposal of the employer in the workplace or other place designated for work. When organizing working time for employees in Poland, entrepreneurs should bear in mind working hours restrictions.
Standard working time may not exceed eight hours in a 24-hour period and average 40 hours in an average five-day working week in a settlement period not exceeding four months. This means that, as a rule, an employee can normally work eight hours a day, five days a week. The two remaining days are days off.
Employees may work under different working-time systems; that is, there may be different working-time arrangements within these working time standards. The most common working time systems are:
• The basic working time system, in which the employee works 8 hours a day, in a fixed mode, with predetermined working hours (for example, eight to 16) and the work is performed five days a week (for example, Monday to Friday).
• An equivalent working-time system in which the employee's working time may be extended to, for example, 12 hours; in this case, the employee should work less on another day or have a day off (to compensate for this longer working time) and so that the week has a total of 40 working hours.
• A task-based working-time system, in which the working time is determined by the tasks of the employee that have been entrusted to him by the employer; the employer gives the employee the tasks that should be possible to perform within the working-time norms (that is, eight hours per day), while the time when the tasks will be performed is usually decided by the employee himself; usually this working-time system is used for managerial staff or for employees working outside the office.
Regardless of the type of working-time system, however, the employee should be provided with a number of non-working days corresponding to at least the number of Sundays, public holidays and non-working days in an average five-day working week falling in the applicable settlement period.
Rest and breaks due to the employee
Every employee is entitled to at least 11 uninterrupted hours of rest each day. The employer is obliged to give the employee 35 uninterrupted hours of rest each week. The important thing is that 11 hours of daily rest are included in the 35-hour weekly rest period.
If a daily working time is at least six hours, an employee is entitled to a paid 15-minute break, included in the working time. This means that eight hours (seven hours 45 minutes of actual work and 15 minutes of paid break included in working time) should be taken as working time.
The employer may also propose additional one break not exceeding 60 minutes to eat a meal or settle personal matters. This break, however, is not included in the working time.
Work performed in excess of the working time standards applicable to the employee, as well as work performed in excess of the extended daily working time, constitutes overtime work. Overtime hours are allowed in the event of the need to conduct a rescue operation in order to protect human life or health, protect property or the environment, or remove a failure or the special needs of the employer.
For overtime work, the employee shall receive normal wages for that working time and overtime allowance or time off.
The limit of overtime per year, resulting from the special needs of the employer should not exceed 150 hours. However, it is possible to increase this limit.
Osborne Clarke's comment
In view of these and additional regulations under Polish law, working time, including overtime work, is subject to the following restrictions:
• Per day, due to the need to guarantee 11 hours of daily rest to employees, working time together with overtime work cannot exceed 13 hours per day.
• Per week (in a settlement period), weekly working time together with overtime hours cannot exceed an average of 48 hours in the settlement period adopted.
• In a calendar year, the number of overtime hours worked in connection with the employer’s special needs cannot exceed 150 hours for an employee (unless it is increased).
Polish law also allows for reduced working hours or the use of flexible working hours. However, such issues should be regulated directly with the employee or in intra-company regulations (for example, work regulations).
Employers in Poland are often required to have a broad knowledge of regulations and to prepare relevant documents, related to, inter alia, with the working time of employees.
We encourage you to contact our labor law specialists of Osborne Clarke Poland in order to obtain the necessary information.