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Financial Participation

In Poland the various forms of workers’ financial participation are not widespread. Employee share ownership was practiced mainly during the privatisation phase after 1990. After the privatisation wave, employee share ownership subsided. However, the decline was not as rapid or as extensive as in other central and eastern European countries.



The development of employee share ownership in Poland has two origins: on one hand, the privatisation process in the early 1990s and on the other hand, the sale of employee shares in private sector companies.1

The privatization programme after 1990 was characterised by significant incentives for employee participation, especially in firms privatized by leasing (leveraged lease-buy-out, LLBO) and transformed into so-called “employee-companies”.2 Ownership structures in these companies have been relatively stable, with a wide range of employees retaining a considerable portion of company shares.



Workers’ cooperatives, as another form of employee participation, have a long tradition in Poland. Today, the role of cooperatives in the Polish economy has become less important.



Profit-sharing schemes, though foreseen by the Polish legal framework, are not often used within companies. Instead, certain gain-sharing schemes, as additional payments related to the fulfilment of some predetermined targets, are more often used.3

By 1995, about 49% of all Polish privatized companies were employee-leased companies. Later the situation changed, following the implementation of the National Investment Funds (NIF) programme and the growing popularity of other methods of direct privatization. Most of the firms in this category are small to medium-sized firms, usually with less than 500 employees. Studies carried out in the late 1990’s on employee-leased companies privatized between 1990 and 1996 showed that the share of non-managerial employees in ownership decreased from about 59% directly after privatization to about 32% in 1999.4

Another privatization method which led to enhanced employee share ownership was the right of employees to acquire so-called “preferential employee shares”.5 Starting in 1990, employees had the right to acquire 20% (15% since 1997) of the shares of a privatized company at just half of their nominal value. The rule applied also to “direct privatization” transactions.6

Since 2003, all companies are allowed to issue “employee shares”. A company can either acquire own shares with a nominal value of no more than 10% of the company’s equity capital in order to offer them to current or retired employees, or issue new shares for employees.

Wilke, Maack and Partner (2014) Country reports on Financial Participation in Europe. Prepared for www.worker-participation.eu. Reports first published in 2007 and fully updated in 2014.