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ZSP Challenges Discrimination of Workers on Fixed-Term Contracts

The ZSP Multi-Branch Union in Warsaw is preparing a legal challenge to the fact that workers on fixed-term contracts enjoy less protection than those on indefinite contracts. With Poland being the European leader in the use of temporary contracts, such matters effect a large part of the working population.

For years employers have enjoyed supportive rulings which hold that not extending a fixed-term contract is not equal to dismissal. According to ZSP, in such a way, they have been able to conduct what are actually discriminatory dismissals, without any consequence. This is especially true in the case of unionists, who are often discriminated against in the workplace. For this reason, workers on fixed-term contracts may be afraid to seek union affiliation because they may not have their contracts extended.

Under Polish law, union members, especially named representatives, enjoy certain protection against unfair dismissal. However, if they were on temporary contracts, they have no chance to prove they were unfairly dismissed because the predominant legal interpretations say that they were simply not dismissed. In our opinion, this makes it impossible for unionists on fixed-term contracts to enjoy the same rights as unionists on indefinite contracts and this fact constitutes discrimination of temporary workers.

ZSP is preparing a cassation appeal in the case of one unionist and is preparing to take this case, if necessary, to both the Constitutional Tribunal in Poland and the European Court of Justice, as it considers the lack of equal treatment before the law in Poland to be contrary to the 2008 EU Directive on temporary workers. We point out that the ECJ has already ruled against Poland for the fact that workers on fixed-term contracts had different statutory notice periods than workers on indefinite contracts and as a result, the regulations will soon change.

ZSP also points out that there is widespread overuse of temporary contracts when workers should in fact have indefinite ones and the main reason is to give employers more freedom in dismissing workers without having to provide a reason. In its opinion, such a situation is abused in many circumstances.