Warsaw, 17th July 2018
POSITION OF THE UNION OF ENTREPRENEURS AND EMPLOYERS ON THE DRAFT ACT ON THE
LABOUR MARKET OF 29TH JUNE 2018
The Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers has repeatedly highlighted the necessity to introduce far-reaching changes in the rules and regulations of employing foreigners in Poland. This need stems from at least two factors – the first being the current deficit of people of working age which presents an undesirable situation for entrepreneurs, i.e. lack of hands to work. The shortage of qualified employees at the moment is one of the major obstacles to the development of companies – including those from the SME sector. The second aspect that needs to be considered is the fatal demographic situation of Poland in the long run. This problem is already manifested by the above-mentioned deficits on the market, but within several dozen years, it will take on a much more serious dimension.
A small number of working people will have a negative impact on the condition of the state budget, it will have a fatal influence on the pace of the country’s economic development and may ultimately lead to the collapse of the pension system. That is why it is vital to supplement the shortages that have already been created during the many years when the fertility rate in Poland did not ensure a simple replacement of generations.
An important element of the plan to prevent the long-term effects of this demographic disaster must of course begin with a wise and properly targeted pro-family policy that rewards having more than two children. The resulting “gap” cannot be supplemented, however, only with new births – according to available estimates, to maintain the pace of economic development, by 2050 we will need at least 5 million economic migrants. Immigration is currently a very touchy topic in Europe due to the so-called immigration crisis caused by an unreasonable “open door” policy for all visitors from the Middle East and Africa. As a result, a large part of Western European countries has brought about a situation in which their spending on social benefits regularly increases to horrendous proportions, while they do not receive an appropriate added value in return. Poland, being a country still economically catching up with the broadly understood West, should learn from the mistakes of its wealthier partners. Thus, we must not duplicate the immigration policy of Germany or France. We should benefit from the large resources of employees willing to take up employment in Poland from culturally approximate countries, or those who, as ethnic groups, during their many years of residency in the country undertook economic activity, and worked in a broader, statistically valid sense, while not generating neither criminal problems nor excessive social spending (e.g. the Vietnamese).
The rules and regulations of employing foreigners in Poland constitute a very important element of immigration policy in the economic context. The Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers has repeatedly advocated simplifying and liberalising the rules of employment of foreigners in Poland. Thus, we generally consider the draft law on the labour market as a step in the right direction. At the same time, we stress the fact that the proposed solutions are still insufficient, and it is necessary to undertake bolder actions.
Strong support should be given to the requirement that the work of a foreigner without a permit, on the basis of a declaration of intention to perform work for a foreigner, should be possible not for six months within a 12-month-long period, as is currently the case, but for 12 months within an 18-month-long period. Consequently, foreigners from selected countries (mainly from Ukraine) will have the opportunity to work in Poland for a whole year with a subsequent six-month break. In general, we acknowledge the system of declarations of intent to entrust work to a foreigner as optimal (although already to some extent complicated by recent changes –the earlier system was simpler and more informal), therefore a proposal to extend the time when a foreigner can work on the basis thereof, we definitely support, although we believe that a forced break from work on the basis of the statement makes no sense and one ought to have the possibility to continually prolong the declarations.
At the same time, a few changes to the system of declarations are introduced that require clarification. For example, Art. 298 sec. 8 of the Act granting the staroste (poviat authority) the right to issue a decision on the annulment of the entry of the statement on entrusting work to a foreigner in the record of statements, including “if the Polish employer does not conduct activities justifying the entrustment of work to a foreigner”. Admittedly, the premise is further specified by indicating that it is “in particular” a situation in which the employer does not conduct business, statutory or agricultural activity or its activity is in liquidation or suspension period. The catalogue mentioned by the legislator is not closed, however, and there is a risk of an expanded interpretation of this provision, in which the staroste could state that the Polish employer does not conduct any activity justifying the entrustment of work to a foreigner and make the entry of the statement in the register null and void. It would therefore be worth making the catalogue referred to in Art. 298 sec. 8 point 2, a closed catalogue of premises whereby the staroste could issue a decision on cancellation of the entry of the declaration to the register.
At the same time, we draw attention to the provisions facilitating citizens of culturally approximate countries their settlement in Poland. While the postulate itself should be commended, because we ultimately want economic immigrants, who are willing to take up jobs and contribute to the Polish economy, to stay in our country for a longer time, we do have serious doubts concerning the limiting those facilitations to people “possessing qualifications in professions desired for the Polish economy”. Bureaucratic determination of “professions desired for the Polish economy” will never keep up with the market or reflect its real, contemporary needs. Therefore, while we are definitely in favour of facilitations, we postulate the resignation from the criterion of having qualifications in some specific professions. From behind an official desk, it will never be possible to accurately diagnose employees of which professions and how many of them exactly does the Polish economy need at any given moment, especially that in the current realities and at the current pace of technological progress this can change very rapidly.
At the same time, we wish to point out that the draft bill did not address a number of our demands, which were raised often on the occasion of previous discussions regarding the issue of employing foreigners in Poland. Among others, not ascribing declarations and work permits to a specific employer, so that the documents would constitute entitlement to work on the territory of the Republic of Poland and not the fact of being assigned to a specific entity. This way, we will enable immigrants to adapt to the rapidly changing realities of the labour market.
To summarise, the presented draft bill is definitely a step in the right direction, albeit an insufficient one and in a few aspects deficiently precise. We postulate further works be undertaken concerning this project and that our comments presented in the official position above be taken into account.
Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers
fot. 13on / on lic. Unsplash