· Features

A postcard from... Poland

Our 'postcard from' series keeps your updated on key HR areas in different countries

Economic briefing

Since breaking from its Communist past in 1989 Poland’s economy has witnessed positive year-on-year growth without exception, and was the only country in the EU not to fall into recession during the 2008/9 downturn. The World Bank has projected Poland’s economic growth to reach 4.2% in 2018, driven by private consumption and investments. However, the nation is currently in the midst of political uncertainty. It has made headlines in recent years because of protests from the public against what many believe to be curbs on democracy driven by the governing Law and Justice party.


Poland has a population of 38 million, of which 96.9% are Polish, with Silesian, German and Ukrainian making up most of the remainder. The population is concentrated in the southern region around Krakow and in the central region around Warsaw and Lodz – the three largest cities in the country.

Legal lowdown

Like the rest of the EU, the General Data Protection Regulation is affecting HR and employment rules. “We are also waiting for potential changes to the Labour Code,” says Paulina Roszczak-Sliwa, head of HR at Objectivity Bespoke Software Specialists, referring to the nation’s main legal act that regulates relations between employers and employees, and sets out the conditions under which work can be carried out. “The propositions discussed affect many areas, but employers still don’t know how seriously they should treat them,” she explains. Added to this, in February 2018 the draft of the Act on Employee Capital Plans was published. The planned legislation stipulates that, as of January 2019, large employers may be obliged to set up employee capital plans.

From the HR frontline

There are three key trends affecting the Polish labour market according to Roszczak-Sliwa: low unemployment, the lowering of the retirement age in October 2017 (from 67 to 60 for women and 65 for men), and the impact of the Family 500+ Programme (a government scheme giving parents 500 PLN a month for every child after the first). “Both the lower retirement age and the Family 500+ Programme are estimated to have reduced the number of professionally-active people,” she explains. This has most significantly affected numbers of low-income workers. HR is responding by turning its attention to attracting and retaining workers. Roszczak-Sliwa adds: “These trends have made employers more focused on wellbeing and building a company that is an employer of choice.”