The principles of social insurance coverage and the rules of establishing social insurance contributions are regulated in the Act on the social insurance system, under which employees are subject to mandatory pension, disability, health and accident insurance.
The amounts of contributions to pension, disability and health insurance are expressed in the form of a percentage rate that is equal to all insured, as set forth in the Act. The percentage rate for accident insurance varies for individual payers of the contribution and is calculated on the level of occupational risks and the effects of the risks. Depending on the type of contribution, it is financed by the employer and the employee in different proportions. Nevertheless, it is the employer who is obligated to calculate the amount of the contribution to the Social Insurance Agency and deduct it from the employee’s income. The employer is also responsible for the punctual transfer of the contributions to the Social Insurance Agency.
Healthcare and Insurances
From the contributions made to the social insurance, an employee has a right to sickness benefits, maternity benefits, an attendance allowance, compensation benefits and a funeral allowance, as well as damages in the event of bodily injury caused by an on-the-job accident. Employees are entitled under health insurance to benefit from public health care centres.
Holidays and Annual Leave
An employee is entitled to annual, uninterrupted, paid holiday leave, the duration of which, depending on the number of years worked, is 20 or 26 days. Holiday leave is granted on days which, for the employee, are working days. Upon the employee’s application, the holiday leave may be divided into parts. In such a case, however, at least one such part of the holiday leave should last no less than 14 consecutive calendar days. The employee is entitled to the remuneration for the holiday leave, which he/she would have received had he/she been working. Apart from the holiday leave, the employee is entitled to time off from work on Sundays and public holidays. At present, there are 13 public holidays in a calendar year.
Maternity and Paternity Leave
The right to maternity leave is connected with giving birth to a child during employment, regardless of the employee’s length of service with the employer. Maternity leave is a right which can be exercised only in kind.
A female employee has a right to maternity leave of 20 weeks upon giving birth to one child. This leave is extended proportionately in the event of giving birth to more than one child. The female employee can use no more than 6 weeks of the maternity leave before the anticipated date of the birth. An additional 31-week-long parental leave may be granted to any of the parents, while 9 weeks of the parental leave are reserved individually for each of the parents and cannot be transferred to the other parent. As a general rule, the parent on childbirth-related leave will receive 100% of his or her basic remuneration for the period of maternity leave, and 70% for the period of parental leave.
Having used up at least 14 weeks of maternity leave after the delivery, the female employee can renounce the right to the remaining part of the maternity leave. In such a case, the remaining, unused time of the maternity leave is awarded to the employee – the father who is raising the child, upon his written request. Additionally, the employee – the father who is raising the child – is entitled to a paternity leave of 2 weeks.
While an employee is unable to work due to an illness or isolation caused by a contagious disease, lasting in total up to 33 days in a calendar year, and in the case of an employee who has reached 50 years of age, lasting in total up to 14 days in a calendar year, the employee retains the right to 80% of his/ her remuneration. In case of an illness during pregnancy – within the period specified above – an employee retains the right to 100% of her remuneration. If the period of incapacity to work should last longer, the employee is entitled to sickness benefits paid by the Social Insurance Agency.
A person classified with a severe or moderate degree of disability is entitled to an additional holiday leave of 10 working days in a calendar year. The right is acquired by the person after working one year and after being classified in one of the above degrees of disability.
Any Other Required or Typically Provided Leave(s)
The employer is obliged to release an employee from work for a period of:
- 2 days – in the case of the employee’s wedding, birth of a child, or death and funeral of his/her spouse or child, father, mother, stepfather or stepmother;
- 1 day – in the case of the employee’s child’s wedding or death and funeral of the employee’s sister, brother, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandmother, grandfather and other individuals maintained by the employee or under his/her direct care.
There are other special-case leaves as well, such as leave in order to donate blood or plasma or leave for persons summoned to appear before a court or administrative body.
Pensions: Mandatory and Typically Provided
The current pension system in Poland consists of three segments, generally referred to as the pillars. In the first pillar, the Social Insurance Agency manages the funds. The means are not invested, although they are recorded on the insured person’s individual account and are subject to valorisation. The second pillar is based on the operations of Open Pension Funds whose task is to trade and multiply the fund. The third pillar consists of the Employee Pension Schemes and Individual Retirement Accounts. The first and the second are mandatory, whereas participation in the third one is voluntary.
Pension under the first pillar is calculated on the basis of the sum of valorised contributions recorded on an individual account of the insured at the Social Insurance Agency, the valorised initial capital and an average lifespan for women and men. The amount of the pension under the second and the third pillar depends on the investment effectiveness of the funds.
At present, the retirement age is 60 years for women and 65 years for men. Only after reaching this age, may one apply for the retirement pension. The exceptions are bridge retirement pensions for those working under special conditions or performing work of a special character. Such persons have a right to pension benefits at the age of 55 for women and 60 years of age for men.