As the holiday season approaches, we would like to remind you of the terms and conditions of employment for children and persons under the age of 18.
Pursuant to Article 3045 of the Act of 26 June 1974, the Labour Code (i.e. Journal of Laws of 2020, item 1320, as amended, hereinafter: “KP” or :Labour Code”), the performance of work or other gainful activity by a child under the age of 16 is exceptional and is permitted only for the benefit of an entity engaged in cultural, artistic, sports or advertising activities with the prior consent of the statutory representative or guardian of that child, as well as the permission of the competent labour inspector. The application for a permit must be accompanied by:
1) written consent of a statutory representative or guardian of the child for the child to perform work or other gainful activity;
2) an opinion of a psychological-educational counselling centre on the lack of contraindications for the child to perform work or other gainful activities
3) a doctor’s statement that there are no contraindications to perform work or other gainful activities;
4) if the child is subject to compulsory education – an opinion of the principal of the school which the child attends concerning the child’s ability to fulfil this obligation while performing work or other gainful activity.
The labour inspector shall refuse to issue a permit if performance of work or other gainful activity causes a threat to life, health and psychophysical development of the child or endangers fulfilment of the child’s compulsory education.
The Labour Code defines a juvenile as a person who is at least 15 years old and not more than 18 years old. According to the Labour Code, only those juveniles may be employed who:
1) have completed at least eight years of elementary school;
2) present a medical certificate stating that work of this kind does not endanger their health.
Young people without professional qualifications can only be employed for the purpose of professional preparation carried out in the form of vocational training or training to perform a specific job. An employment contract for professional preparation should specify in particular:
1) the type of vocational preparation (vocational training or training to perform a specific job);
2) the duration and place of vocational training;
3) the method of theoretical training
4) the amount of remuneration.
Termination by notice of an employment contract concluded for professional training is permissible only in the event of:
1) failure of the juvenile to fulfil their obligations under the employment contract or the obligation to undergo further training, despite the use of educational measures against them;
2) the employer has been declared bankrupt or liquidated
3) reorganization of the workplace making it impossible to continue vocational training;
4) finding unsuitability of the juvenile for the work in which they undergo vocational training.
An employer employing a juvenile is obliged to provide juvenile employees with care and assistance necessary for their adaptation to the proper performance of work, to keep a register of juvenile employees and to release the juvenile from work for the time necessary to attend training classes in connection with further training.
Young people may be employed under a contract of employment to perform light work. Light work shall not endanger the life, health and psychophysical development of the young person, and shall not hinder the young person from fulfilling their educational obligations. The list of light work shall be specified by the employer after obtaining the consent of the occupational physician. The list must be approved by the competent labour inspector. The list of light work shall be specified by the employer in the work regulations. An employer who is not obliged to issue work regulations shall establish a list of light work in a separate act. The employer is obliged to acquaint young people with the list of light work before they are allowed to work. Examples of light work may be simple office work (typing short letters, preparing correspondence, stapling files) or simple physical activities (giving keys and keeping a register of such activities).
The employer shall determine the size and schedule of the working time of an adolescent engaged in light work, taking into account the weekly number of hours of study resulting from the curriculum, as well as the schedule of school classes of the adolescent. The weekly working time of an adolescent in the period of school attendance cannot exceed 12 hours. On the day of school attendance, the working time of an adolescent shall not exceed 2 hours. The work time of an adolescent during school holidays may not exceed 7 hours per day and 35 hours per week. However, the daily working time of an adolescent aged up to 16 years may not exceed 6 hours.
An adolescent is subject to an initial medical examination before admission to work and to periodic and control examinations during employment. If the doctor determines that the work endangers the health of the juvenile, the employer is obliged to change the type of work, and if this is not possible, immediately terminate the employment contract and pay compensation in the amount of wages for the notice period. The employer is obliged to provide information on the occupational risk, which is connected with the work performed by the juvenile, and on the principles of protection against risks also to the legal representative of the juvenile. The working time of a juvenile up to 16 years of age may not exceed 6 hours per day. The working time of an adolescent over 16 years of age may not exceed 8 hours per day. The working time of an adolescent shall include the time of study resulting from the compulsory school curriculum, regardless of whether it takes place during working hours. If the daily working time of an adolescent is longer than 4.5 hours, the employer is obliged to introduce a break lasting continuously for 30 minutes, included in the working time. A juvenile shall not be employed for overtime or during night time. The break at work of a juvenile, including night time, shall last no less than 14 hours uninterrupted. Young workers shall be entitled to at least 48 hours of uninterrupted rest each week, which shall include Sunday.
Young workers are entitled to 12 working days’ vacation after 6 months from the start of their first job. At the end of one year of work, a juvenile acquires the right to leave in the amount of 26 working days. However, in the calendar year in which they turn 18, they are entitled to leave of 20 working days.
An adolescent attending school should be granted leave during school holidays. To a juvenile who has not acquired the right to leave referred to in § 1 and 2, the employer may, at his request, grant leave in advance during school holidays. The employer is obliged, at the request of a juvenile, a student of a school for working people, to grant them unpaid leave during the school holidays in the amount not exceeding 2 months, including the annual leave. The period of unpaid leave is included in the period of work on which employee rights depend.
Initially, it should be noted that it is not permissible to replace the contract of employment with a civil law contract (Article 22 § 12 of the Labour Code). Despite the civil law employment, the Labor Code obliges entrepreneurs who are not employers, organizing work performed by individuals on a basis other than employment relationship to ensure safe and healthy working conditions. In the case of civil law employment, there are no provisions that would order the employing entities to apply the time limits for employing juvenile workers provided for in the Labour Code, but they are certainly under an obligation to guarantee safe and hygienic working conditions.
The act on minimum remuneration for work introduces, as a rule, the obligation to pay remuneration at the minimum hourly rate (PLN 19.70 gross in 2022), to pay remuneration in cash at least once a month if the order covers a longer period, to confirm the number of performed order hours in a manner agreed upon in the agreement and to keep documents related to the confirmation of the number of orders for 3 years from the date when the remuneration became due. Payment of remuneration lower than the minimum hourly rate is punishable by a fine from PLN 1,000 to PLN 30,000.
When concluding a contract of mandate with a minor, the consent of the legal representative is necessary. Although the legal representative’s knowledge of the contract of mandate and their lack of objection is sufficient, their consent is recommended and may be given before or after conclusion of the contract.
A contract of mandate concluded with a student is not subject to compulsory social and health insurance.
Income, among others, from the employment relationship, but also from mandate contracts referred to in Article 13(8) of the PIT Act and from student internships referred to in Article 121a of the Act of 14 December 2016. – Education Law received by the taxpayer until the age of 26, up to the amount not exceeding PLN 85,528 in the tax year, are free from income tax.
Legal Advisor Anna Stokłosa LL.M.
Director of Labour Law Consulting