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Employment in Poland

At a Glance:

  • When making plans to work in Poland, you should look into the country’s main industries. These include machine building, iron and steel, coal mining, chemicals, shipbuilding, food processing, glass, and textiles.
  • In Poland, citizens and residents are required to pay income tax. The top personal income rate in 2018 was levied at 85,528 PLN per year and amounts to 32% of your yearly income.
  • The country’s social security system covers sickness, parental leave, old age, and accident insurance. Employers and employees are required to contribute to the system.
  • Business relationships in Poland tend to be formal, titles are considered prestigious and should be used to address your business partner.

A Growing Economy

Since the fall of Poland’s communist government, the country has made an impressive transition from a centrally planned economy to a capitalist market economy. The membership in the European Union supported this development: between 2014 and 2017 alone, over half of national public investment came from the EU. Today, Poland is one of the biggest and fastest growing economies in Europe. The country has recorded steady economic growth since 1990 and was the only EU country to avoid recession in 2007/8. However, some economic forecasts predict that growth will slow down within the next couple of years.

When you make plans for working in Poland, there are certain industries and key sectors you should look into. The country’s main industries include machine building, iron and steel, coal mining, chemicals, shipbuilding, agriculture, food processing, glass, and textiles. However, the majority of the work force is employed in the services sector. The percentage of service employees in Poland has indeed increased in the last ten years. According to the European Structural and Investment Funds report, key areas of investment will continue to be infrastructure, education, research and innovation, and the environment.

Finding a Job

If you are planning on working in Poland, it is a good idea to improve your language skills before the move. With 98% of the entire population, the vast majority speaks Polish. The younger generation as well as business people and academics often speak English, while German is often spoken among the older generation. However, this not always the case, and it is best to try and learn some Polish before your move.

While unemployment used to be a major problem in Poland, finding work in the country today is easier than in previous years. As of January 2018, the unemployment rate stood at 4.5%, significantly lower than the official statistics of previous years. If you wish to work in Poland, it is best to have special experience in a certain field, as well as major qualifications. Knowledge in foreign languages, logistics, direct marketing skills, and IT know-how are particularly in demand at the moment. Aside from the key sectors mentioned above, expats who dream of working in Poland may also find opportunities within banking, tourism, IT, transportation, business services, the pharmaceutical industry, or education.

Things to Keep in Mind

You can use the many different Polish employment agencies when preparing to work in Poland. In addition, you may also register with the employment services of the Polish Labor Office, provided your residency in the country is not dependent on having employment. Although it is easy to conduct the initial job search and application process from outside of Poland, be prepared to visit the country for your interview.

Telephone interviews are absolutely acceptable throughout the first round of the selection process, but you will probably be asked to come in for a final interview. Skype interviews are of course becoming more popular in the business world, providing an alternative for candidates who cannot be in Poland for their interview. Make sure to bring your references and diplomas for your face-to-face interview and have the most important documents translated into Polish. If you play your cards right, you will be working in Poland in no time.

Where to Look

You should not hesitate to send out unsolicited applications to companies you wish to work for. Particularly in the field of science, many expats have found a job that way. However, for the regular job search, have a look at the following online resources:

Additionally, you can have a look at Polish newspapers with a classifieds or jobs section. Here is a small selection:

Poland’s Business World

Taxation in Poland

Citizens and residents in Poland are required to pay income tax. Once you have lived in Poland for more than 183 days within the tax year, you are considered a fiscal resident and taxed on your global income. If that’s not the case for you, you will only be taxed on your Polish income. In any case, the taxes will be deducted from your monthly salary. If you work in Poland as a representative of a foreign company, you may be subject to tax exemptions. The top personal income rate in 2018 was levied at above 85,528 PLN per year, amounting to 32% of your salary.

One-off earnings, such as dividends, are taxed separately. Poland has signed more than 60 tax treaties with other countries, including Germany, the USA, and UK. You can check if such a treaty exists for your country on the finance website of the Polish government.

The Polish Social Security System

Just like every Polish citizen, you are obligated to contribute to the local social security system while working in Poland. The country’s social security system covers sickness, disability, old age, and accident insurance. With your contributions you qualify to receive the same benefits as Polish nationals. According to the social security scheme in Poland, employees and employers contribute to the following amount of their salary to the social security system (as of 2017):

  • 9.76% each to old age pension
  • 1.5% to survivors and disability pension schemes to be paid by employees, 6.50% to be paid by employers
  • 2.45% to sickness and maternity benefits funds (contributions are made by the employee only; not to be confused with the national health fund)
  • 2.95% to 6.15% to accident and labor funds (employer only)

In case of sickness, you should receive 80% of your average income for the first 33 days of sick leave in a calendar year (14 days for those aged 50 or older). This will be paid by your employer. After this, the employee receives a sickness allowance at the same rate of 80% for each day of absence, in some cases 100%, to be paid by the social security system.

The total length of parental leave in Poland is 32 weeks for the birth of one child (more in the event of multiple births). The parental leave follows a 20-week basic maternity leave and may be taken by either parent. Depending on which payment plan you choose, you may receive a combination of 100% of your average income for six weeks and 60% for 26 weeks, or 80% of your average income for the full duration.

If you are a national of another EU member country, you may still be able to contribute to the social security scheme and still receive social security benefits in Poland.

Building a Relationship with Your Business Partners

Initial contact with your Polish business partners might be rather formal and quite distanced. Of course, the level of formality will depend on the people you do business with. Some may consciously adopt formal manners while others make a point of doing away with them and adopting a more casual way of interacting with you.

For example, government officials tend to adopt more formal manners than most entrepreneurs, who are in favor of a more casual approach to business. Either way, titles are considered prestigious and impressive, so make sure to always address your business partners by their academic or professional titles as a sign of respect. Equally be sure to include your own titles on your business cards.

Once you begin your negotiations with your Polish business partners, you will realize that communication is incredibly direct. Poles tend to be straight-talking but at the same time somewhat sensitive. You need to be able to walk this fine line between directness and diplomacy. Particularly at the beginning of a business relationship, you need to be careful when communicating your thoughts. People will take their time closing a business deal with you until they have gotten to know you and can be sure that you are a trustworthy individual. It is therefore important to build personal relationships with your business partners and gain their trust.

On a final note, be sure to avoid shaking hands with a business partner in a doorway. In Poland this is considered to bring bad luck.

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  • Ivan Dlouhy

    Since moving to Warsaw, I have been able to make some great friends and attend InterNations events with other expats who understand what it's like to be so far from home.

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    During my first month in Warsaw, I attended an InterNations event and immediately felt as if I had acquired a great network of expats contacts and new friends.

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