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(en) Poland, ZSP: Fiction of "Employee Councils" and "Crew Representatives" [machine translation]

Date Tue, 12 May 2020 08:05:18 +0300

Over the past month, employees are increasingly asking about the rules for appointing a Workers' Council and Crew Representatives. We see that employers with which these institutions have not yet operated organize the election of Crew Representatives to push through the new work regulations and the salary reductions contained therein. ---- It is needed by the employer to conclude agreements on the application of less favorable employment conditions for employees than those resulting from employment contracts (Article 231a of the Code of Civil Procedure). That is why some employers are organizing the election of Crew Representatives at a rapid pace - even by groups on Facebook. Employees are questioning the correctness of this type of choices, if only because of the fact that not every employee has a Facebook account.

The issue of elections to Employee Councils is governed by art. 8 clause 1 of the Act of April 7, 2006 on informing and consulting employees. The provisions of the Act apply to employers engaged in economic activities employing at least 50 employees.

However, these provisions do not require the employer to form a Council. They are only required to allow elections. The Act on the "Anti-Crisis Shield" allows the conclusion of an agreement with the so-called Crew representatives. This is a separate institution. Crew representatives may be selected on the basis of the rules adopted by the given employer. They must be 2 people. There is not even a requirement that the elections be secret. So it is obvious that such employee representation is the worst of all possible - except with the exception of the unions formed by employers or management.

In accordance with art. 15g paragraph 12 "Shield", the employer has 5 working days to provide the National Labor Inspectorate agreement. However, PIP does not go into the mode of selecting employee representatives.

Election of members of the Employee Council is completely different. Employee Council elections are organized by the employer at the written request of a group of at least 10% of employees. The employer is obliged to notify employees about the date of the elections and to submit candidates for members of the Employee Council, notifying the date of the elections and the date of submission of candidates. Elections to the Employee Council may not take place earlier than 30 days after the day on which the employer notifies the employees about the date of the election. The deadline for submitting candidates for members of the Employee Council is 21 days (Article 8 of the Act).

Employees propose candidates in writing, and in the case of a company with up to 100 employees, the candidate must be nominated by at least 10 employees, and in the case of a company with more than 100 employees, a group of at least 20 employees. The Employee Council must consist of three employees for a company with between 50 and 250 employees; 5 if it employs between 251 and 500 employees, and 7 if it employs over 500 employees.

Elections are held by secret ballot. If at least 50% of the employees have participated, they are valid, and if not - after 30 days the elections are held again. The next election is considered valid regardless of the turnout.

Not everyone has a passive electoral right - that is, the right to stand as a candidate. Deprived of this right are: persons in charge of the workplace, their deputies, employees of the collective management bodies of the workplace, chief accountants and legal advisers.

The Association of Polish Syndicalists has been observing for years that employers often circumvent the law, also in this field. If you are suspected of the correctness of conducting the election, it is worth checking to see if it happened by accident. We try to act where the salaries have been reduced after an agreement with illegally elected representatives.

We would like to remind you that the Employee Council is an instrument that provides fewer opportunities than a trade union and if you do not already have a union in the workplace, you should act and defend your interests. Unfortunately, it seems certain that many employers now intend to worsen working conditions and there are indications that this will be permanent. It is all the more important to oppose this now, using all available means.

For more information, write to the Association of Polish Syndicalists at: info@zsp.net.pl

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