Work life balance

Poland FlagWork life balance in Poland

The current economic situation in Poland is not conducive to a favourable work-life balance. With almost 20% of the population out of work, Poland is suffering from high levels of unemployment, which means that employer expectations are extremely high.

Due to the subsequent competition in the labour market, there is very little job security. People are often employed on a temporary basis, and their contracts are extended on a week-to-week basis, which can be very stressful for them and their families. If an employee is not willing and able to work overtime, there is a queue of people waiting to take their job. The average working hours are from 8am to 4pm weekdays and 8am to 2pm on Saturdays. Most Poles don’t take lunch during the day. Instead, they often eat a sandwich as a mid-morning snack and wait until they get home for dinner.

So, if you are ambitious, you will have to put considerable effort into your work life and forget about the balance.

Family values are very important in Polish society. Poland has one of the lowest divorce rates in Europe, and this is partly due to the significance of their religious beliefs. Poles value family more than money or professional status. So, when dealing with a Pole, you should be ready to talk about your family and show they mean a lot to you.

Weekends are devoted to family life and Sunday dinner at home is still a tradition that must be observed. Some families have small cottages in the countryside where they spend quality time together. Polish extended families are unusually large and members stay in touch with the whole family, even if they leave far away.

National holidays

  • January 1st – (New Year’s Day)
  • January 6th – (Three Kings)
  • April – Easter Sunday and Monday
  • May 1st – (May Day)
  • May 3rd – (National Day (Proclamation of Constitution of May 3, 1791). In practice many people book a holiday on May 2nd, in order to have the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of May off)
  • May 19th – (Pentecost Sunday (the date changes every year))
  • May 30th – (Corpus Christi (the date changes every year))
  • August 15th – (Assumption of Virgin Mary and Polish Army Day (the anniversary of the Polish victory at the Battle of Warsaw against the Russian Army in 1920))
  • November 1st – (All Saints’ Day)
  • November 11th – (National Independence Day (Poland regained its independence in 1918))
  • December 25th – (Christmas Day)
  • December 26th – (St Stephens Day)
  • 6 December: It is not a public holiday but it is known as Santa Claus Day, a day when people usually exchange gifts.

Working hours

Normal working hours are from 8am to 4pm on weekdays and 8am to 2pm on Saturdays. Employees can take a 15 minute break, if they are working more than 6 hours a day.

From 29th November 2002, an employer may allow an unpaid 60 minute lunch break. Going out for lunch is not common and employees normally bring in sandwiches from home. For shift workers, working hours are normally 6am-2pm, 2pm-10pm, and 10pm-6am.

Most shops that don’t sell groceries are open from 10 or 11am until 6pm in the main cities or 4pm in small towns.

An increasing number of stores are open on Sundays until 3pm. Most shopping centres stay open between 10am and 10pm Monday to Sunday.

The law stipulates that for overtime carried out on the employee’s normal working days, the extra salary must be paid at time-and-a-half. Overtime worked on days when the employee would not normally be working is paid at double time. Staff may be granted time off in lieu instead of being paid for overtime. In reality, in certain sector of the economy , paid overtime is not common practice and it is expected that employees will stay at work voluntarily until the job is done.

Work culture

In Poland, working practices depend on who you work for. If you work for the government, working practices have not changed from the traditional hours and expectations. For people working in the private sector, especially those working for big multinationals, they tend to follow a more western style of working with longer hours and less time for family.

Poland has a number of legal measures protecting workers. All companies have to adhere to government regulations in the areas of health and safety, discrimination, minimum wage levels, part-time employment, and equal opportunities.

Health insurance

The healthcare system in Poland is mainly a public service for the citizens, but many private hospitals and clinics are also offering health services but you have to pay for it, Polish citizens are entitled to free health care as long as they have their state insurance card. All employers are obliged to pay the health insurance and social security of their employees every month. The services of private clinics and hospitals are faster than the public sector hospitals but you have to pay for it because they don’t accept state insurance card.

Visitors to Poland from other European Union countries are entitled to primary healthcare, specialist out-patient care, hospital treatment, dental treatment and emergency services, including ambulance transportation.

You need to have a filled E 111 form issued in their country and European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Holder of one of these documents will receive free health services at health care providers who have a relevant contract with NFZ (State health insurance company).

In case you don’t have these documents you will be required to cover the cost of your treatment by yourself. The same obligation arises in case of treatment provided by a health care unit which has no contract with NFZ.

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