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2016 – Year of the Family

30-12-2016

“It has been a good year for Polish families. We implemented solutions that give families a sense of greater stability and security,” said Elżbieta Rafalska, Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy.

 

We present the effect of the most important measures improving the situation of Polish families:

 

1.     Governmental programme “Family 500 plus”

 

By the end of November this year, support from the “Family 500 plus” programme covered almost 3.8 million children under the age of 18. Families received more than PLN 15.1 billion. All over Poland, 55% of all children under the age of 18 are covered by support.

 

The programme has significantly reduced poverty among children and young people. Approximately, it decreased by 70-90%. Some of the large families or families with smaller income stopped using social assistance.

 

Thanks to the introduction of the “Family 500 plus” programme, there has been an increase in spending on family policy. This is a huge qualitative change for families. We are in the lead of European countries in terms of funds allocated for family policy.

 

We facilitate families' access to the benefits. An important change was to allow families to apply for 500 plus on-line. We have opened electronic channels for submission of applications, including an innovative solution – the ability to file the application via electronic banking. 20% of all 500 plus applications were submitted on-line, of which 95% through banks.

 

We are introducing this solution in other areas. We want all forms of support to be available to families without having to visit an office – it is convenience and time saving. Parents will soon apply for family benefits or the large family card as easily as in the case of 500 plus. Large part of forms for financial support submitted electronically will be filled in automatically. Parents will not have to submit so many certificates and statements.

 

2.     500+ in foster care

 

Children in foster care receive additional support of PLN 500 per month. The allowance in the form of the child benefit is granted regardless of income for each child up to the age of 18, placed in a foster family, children's home of family type and education care facility of family type.

 

At the end of November this year, over 48 thousand children in foster care benefited from the parental allowance and the allowance to the flat-rate amount. In total, nearly PLN 190 million went to families and carers.

 

3.     Introduction of the minimum hourly wage 

 

As of 1 January 2017, in addition to the minimum wage for employees, the minimum hourly wage will apply for people who work on specific contracts of mandate and for the provision of services, including the self-employed.

 

The purpose of the change is to prevent the abuse of civil law contracts by employers. According to the Central Statistical Office, 700 thousand Poles are working exclusively on such contracts, i.e. 4.4 per cent of the employed, and for 400 thousand people they are an additional source of income. Most of them could not choose other form of work. In 2014, 1.36 million people received gross remuneration which did not exceed the minimum wage.

 

The new regulation is to protect people receiving remuneration at the lowest level. The aim is to change the situation of people working on a civil law contract receiving remuneration far below the minimum wage paid to the employees.

 

Since 1 January 2017, with the minimum wage of PLN 2 thousand, the introduced minimum hourly wage for certain civil law contracts, according to the provisions of the Act, will be PLN 13 per hour of performed order or provided services. In subsequent years, this wage will also depend on the annual dynamics of growth of the minimum wage.

The National Labour Inspectorate has been granted powers to control compliance with the obligation to provide the minimum hourly wage. Fines provided for violations of the provisions on the hourly wage introduced range from PLN 1 to 30 thousand.

 

4.     Raising the minimum wage to PLN 2 thousand

 

Since 1 January 2017, the minimum wage will be PLN 2 thousand. This represents an increase of 8.1 per cent (PLN 150) compared to 2016 (currently, the minimum wage is PLN 1850 gross). Increasing in the minimum wage will actually translate into improvement in the situation of employees with the lowest income.

 

The minimum wage is the minimum level of remuneration of a full-time employee. Remuneration below the minimum wage is a violation of employee rights.

 

There are also other benefits associated with the minimum wage, e.g., the idle time pay cannot be lower than the minimum wage. The severance pay in the case of lay-offs is also related to the minimum wage. It cannot exceed 15 times the minimum wage.

 

The amount of the minimum wage also affects the amount of social insurance premiums paid by novice entrepreneurs (the preferential rates applicable within the first 24 months are calculated from the base of 30 per cent of the minimum wage). 1.3 million Poles will benefit from the increase in the minimum wage.

 

5.     Elimination of the first day employment syndrome

 

As of 1 September 2016, every employee, even before being admitted to work, is obliged to have a written contract or written confirmation of its conditions. This is a fight against the
so-called first day employment syndrome.

 

The provisions applicable so far allowed employers to attend to contract formalities by the end of the first day of work. This allowed postponing them, and in case of an inspection explaining that it is the first day of employment, so the statutory deadline for the conclusion of the contract has not passed yet.

 

According to a report by the National Labour Inspectorate in 2014, illegal employment was found in 18 per cent of the inspected entities. In 2014, irregularities concerned over 10.3 thousand employees covered by the inspection. Illegal employment was the most common in transport, warehouse management, catering services and accommodation-related services.

 

The changes in the provisions introduced are to prevent such practice and allow employees to full enjoy employment rights from the beginning of work.

 

Having a written employment contract or written confirmation of the basic arrangements related to the conclusion of the employment contract in the form other than written before admitting to work will make it easier for employees to claim their benefits and rights from the employment relationship, as well as to enjoy the protection guaranteed by the social insurance regulations.

 

6.     The same minimum wage, regardless of seniority

 

We are eliminating discrimination against young people on the labour market. We have eliminated laws that differentiate the minimum wage for a full-time employee due to job seniority.

 

At present, in the first year of work, an employee must receive at least 80 per cent of the minimum wage. After changes, since 1 January 2017, all employees – regardless of their seniority – will receive the minimum wage in the same full amount.

 

Allowance for night work will also not be included in the calculation of the minimum wage for full-time employees. Currently, this allowance is taken into account when calculating the minimum wage. This means that people with the lowest remuneration are treated worse than those who receive remuneration higher than the minimum wage.

 

7.     Increase in benefits for retirees and pensioners

 

As of 1 March 2017, the lowest old age pension, survivor's benefit and invalidity pension will increase by over PLN 100 to the amount of PLN 1000, exceeding net the level of 50 per cent of the minimum wage. Also, all social pensions will increase by almost PLN 100, and partial invalidity pensions by PLN 73.

 

Those who collect benefits from the universal pension scheme and almost all farmers who receive pensions from the Agricultural Social Insurance Fund (KRUS) will benefit from this.

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