Co-authored by Małgorzata Wysocka and Tomasz Suwara of KKS Legal
As a member of the European Union (EU), Poland is required to allow nationals of any other EU country to live and work in the country. New immigration rules introduced on January 1, 2018 will make it easier to engage seasonal workers from outside of the EU in agriculture and tourism.
Following the change, there will be an increase in the maximum period of employment to nine months—measured from the date of entry into the EU rather than the first day of work.
As a result of the new rules, employers looking to employ a seasonal foreign worker will follow a simplified two-stage procedure when engaging foreign workers:
- Employers must submit applications for seasonal work permits and enter the permits into the register that a starosta maintains.
- Once a foreign worker arrives in Poland, his or her employer must issue the work permit, present a copy of the worker's passport and any required visa, and confirm the worker's place of accommodation.
The new rules will give priority to foreign workers who have already performed seasonal work in Poland for the same employer in the proceeding five years. The priority rule will not apply if a foreign worker performed seasonal work on the basis of a civil law contract instead of a labor law contract.
Another important change is a simplified procedure for nationals of Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine who are working in sectors other than agriculture and tourism, for periods of up to 6 months in any consecutive 12-month period. In these cases, a work permit is not necessary—an employer's declaration of intention to entrust work to a qualifying foreign worker is all that is required. The declaration should be filed with the district labor office.
Employers anticipated this change as Poland becomes more multicultural. In recent years, the percentage of foreign seasonal workers in Poland has increased steadily, and in 2017, Poland was home to approximately 2 million Ukrainian workers alone.
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