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 Poland

Key Facts

Population38,167,000
Collective Bargaining Coverage 10-15%
Proportion of Employees in Unions 15%
Principal Level of Collective Bargaining

company

Workplace Representation

union (or works council)

Board-level Representation

yes: (formerly) state-owned companies

Company Board Structure

dualistic

Sources: see individual country sections; where a range of figures has been quoted, the lower number has been taken

Trade Unions

Trade union density is low at around 12% of employees and there are a large number of trade union organisations. But the vast majority (around 85%) of union members are in organisations linked to the three main union bodies, NSZZ Solidarność, OPZZ and the somewhat smaller, FZZ.

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Collective Bargaining

Only a minority of employees in Poland are covered by collective bargaining, which takes place largely at company or workplace level. This means that where there are no unions to take up the issue, pay and conditions are set unilaterally by employers – subject to the national minimum wage.

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Workplace Representation

Until 2006 unions provided the only legally constituted representation for employees at the workplace. However, legislation implementing the EU directive on information and consultation provides for the creation of works councils, which, following a decision by the constitutional court, must be elected by the whole workforce. However, their influence is limited and most of the works councils that were set up initially have ceased to exist.

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Board-level Representation

There is no right to board-level employee representation in privately owned companies in Poland. However, Polish legislation provides for employee representatives at supervisory board level in companies in the process of being privatised, as well as even greater powers in fully state-owned enterprises.

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European-level Representation

In most cases the union or unions choose the Polish representatives for the bodies linked to European Works Councils or European Companies. The exception is board members, who are to be elected by all employees.

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Health and Safety Representation

 

Employers should consult with employee representatives, chosen by the union if there is one, on health and safety. In companies with more than 250 employees a joint health and safety committee should be set up, and where a union is present, so-called social labour inspectors can be elected who have extensive powers.

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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.

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