Labour and immigration law: Recent developments, obligations and information

12 April 2024 | Knowledge, News, The Right Focus

The UODO reminds us: Surveillance information should be in writing and in a separate document

Employers who intend to introduce surveillance should, among other things, comply with the obligation on informing their employees.

In practice, this means that, irrespective of video or business email surveillance, employers must:

  • Inform employees at least two weeks before introduction, and
  • Provide written information on its purpose, scope and application

To date, in order to comply with the above obligations, employers were required to provide employees with work regulations or a notice containing information about the surveillance, and subsequently obtain a written declaration from employees of reading and understanding the regulations and the information about the surveillance.

However, the Personal Data Protection Office (UODO) has clarified that it is not sufficient to make employees aware of the work regulations containing the surveillance information.

Information obligation: What does the UODO say

According to the UODO, employers are obliged to draw up a written notice, separate from work regulations, which employees must sign. Only in this way can the information be considered to have been correctly provided.

The UODO also states that the surveillance information should be differentiated according to the type of surveillance. For example, if an employer uses video and business email surveillance, the information should be provided in two separate documents.

Temporary protection extended for Ukrainians fleeing war

From 22 February 2024, there is a new deadline for recognising the stay of Ukrainian citizens in Poland as legal (temporary protection).

It has been decided that Ukrainian citizens who came to Poland because of armed aggression in their homeland will be able to stay until 30 June 2024 without the need to apply for legalisation of their stay and work.

Employers should be aware, however, that in order to employ Ukrainian citizens legally, they must register them with the District Labour Office within 14 days of signing a contract.

Temporary protection for Ukrainians: What will happen after 1 July

After 1 July 2024, it is likely that there will be a further amendment to the so-called Special Act for Ukrainian Citizens, which will again extend their temporary protection. This is because the Council Implementing Decision (applicable in the EU from October 2023) required Member States to grant temporary protection to displaced persons from Ukraine until at least 4 March 2025. The question is why, with the latest amendment to the Special Act, the Polish government has extended this deadline only until the end of June this year.

It seems that lawmakers wanted to give themselves more time to prepare a new amendment to the Special Act, both with regard to the extension of temporary protection and other rights currently granted not only to Ukrainians who fled the war, but also to those who came to Poland previously or who declared a completely different purpose for their stay.

Poland Business Harbour visa suspension

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the suspension of diplomatic missions’ participation in the “Poland. Business Harbour” (PBH) scheme. This means that diplomatic missions will no longer issue PBH visas to citizens of the six Eastern European countries covered by the scheme.

The suspension does not mean that the scheme has been abandoned. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it needs time to find and implement the right solutions to ensure the proper vetting of foreign nationals applying for PBH visas and foreign businesses participating in the scheme.

It is also possible that the scheme will not be resumed at all, and that certain facilitations for foreign nationals will be introduced in the new legislation (the government is currently drafting a completely new act on the employment of foreign nationals). So far, the PBH has been heavily criticised for, among other things, allowing a certain group of foreign nationals to obtain documents that were de facto not used for their intended purpose.

From 2020, the PBH functioned as a government scheme to support start-ups, entrepreneurs relocating their businesses to Poland and IT professionals. Participants and their family members were given preferential access to long-term Polish PBH visas, giving them the right to freely take up employment and set up businesses in Poland. Beneficiaries of the scheme have been citizens of Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia and Russia.

Until the scheme is resumed or new statutory solutions are introduced for its participants, citizens of the above countries may apply for work visas under the general rules applicable to foreign nationals, i.e. after obtaining a work permit or other official document authorising them to work in Poland.

An exception is made for citizens of Ukraine, who have free access to the Polish labour market and can carry out business activities in Poland under the same conditions as EU citizens, in accordance with the Special Act on Assistance for Ukrainian Citizens. In addition, citizens of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia may enter Poland under the visa-free regime and then legalise their further stay, work or business at the relevant offices in our country.

Visa for Pole’s Card holders now has a different code

Since the end of January, visas affixed to the passports of Pole’s Card holders have displayed a different document issue code, with the ‘23’ code replacing the previous ‘18’.  This seemingly minor change to a provision of the Regulation on Visas for Foreigners is important to ensure the safety of Pole’s Card holders in certain countries.

The Pole’s Card is a document confirming that a foreigner belongs to the Polish nation. Issued to descendants of Poles and foreign Polish activists, the Pole’s Card entitles its holders to obtain long-term Polish visas on preferential terms, free access to the labour market and to start a business. It is a quicker and easier way to settle in our country and obtain citizenship.

Most of these documents have been obtained by citizens of Belarus, and quite a number of Pole’s Card holders also live in Russia. It is known that in these countries revealing one’s affiliation to the Polish nation can be a security risk, and the use of a passport with a Polish visa with code ‘18’ (code for Pole’s Card holders) can arouse excessive interest among Belarusian or Russian service officials.

The code ‘23’, on the other hand, is universal and, as the list of visa cases can be very broad, does not indicate the specific reason for issuing the document. The purpose of this change is to better protect those who have the courage to be Polish in circumstances which are not always favourable.

Questions? Contact us

Angelika Stańko

Eliasz Samojłow

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Contact us:

Angelika Stańko

Angelika Stańko

Attorney at Law / Senior Associate / Labour Law

+48 22 326 3400

a.stanko@kochanski.pl

Anna Gwiazda

Anna Gwiazda

Attorney at Law, Partner, Head of Labor Law Practice

+48 660 765 903

a.gwiazda@kochanski.pl