Enterprises caught using labour without due legal basis notoriously argue that the workers in question are actually retained pursuant to civil law contracts, which do not require written form.

The details of this practice are as follows. On the day on which the National Labour Inspectorate comes knocking with an audit, unscrupulous employers and their unregistered workers jointly protest that the latter had just now (on this very day, barely a moment ago) started in new jobs based on civil law contracts, e.g. contracts for completion of a specific task. A contract from this category does not require written form, so – this line of defence goes – there can be no violation to speak of. A new employee must be registered with the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) within seven days of the commencement of work, and the enterprise assures the officials that it will duly abide by this duty. The net effect is that the enterprise avoids the penalty for illegally hiring workers, which can run up to PLN 30,000. According to National Labour Inspectorate reports for 2018, this is a regular practice.

“For many years, this loophole has been effectively exploited by workers as well as by entities hiring them”, the National Labour Inspectorate notes.

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“There arises the question whether a civil law contract ought to require the written form on pain of nullity. In this day and age, we are striving for simplification and streamlining of legal dealing, so imposition of such requirements would run counter to the global trend. We could, conceivably, go as far as to require that such contracts be signed and sealed by a notary public; this would afford absolute certainty as to the legal relationship. But is this really what we want ?”, ponders Adam Kraszewski, managing associate at GESSEL.

The full text of this article (in Polish) was published by Dziennik Gazeta Prawna on 9.10.2019.