Ministry of Economic Development, Labour and Technology

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Right to free movement of workers

In accordance with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), all citizens of EU Member States have the right to move and reside freely within the EU, subject to the conditions laid down by EU law. Freedom of movement within the EU is one of the fundamental rights of EU Member State citizens. In accordance with Article 45 of the TFEU, free movement of workers is based on equal treatment of EU Member State citizens as regards remuneration and other conditions of work and employment. Free movement of workers applies also to family members of migrants.

The right to free movement of workers in the EU applies also to citizens of EFTA Member States under separate association agreements and agreements with the EU.

The provisions on free movement of workers give the right to:

  • seek employment in another EU or EFTA Member State,
  • take up employment in another EU or EFTA Member State without the need to obtain a work permit,
  • reside in another EU or EFTA Member State because of work,
  • stay in another EU or EFTA Member State even upon termination of the employment,
    subject to conditions laid down by EU law,
  • be treated on equal terms with citizens of a given EU or EFTA Member State as regards access to employment, work conditions, access to social and tax privileges, access to training, rules of membership in trade unions, access to housing, access to education, vocational educational and vocational training for children of employees, as well as assistance provided by employment offices.

In Poland, free legal advice with regard to the rights arising from the freedom of movement is provided by district labour inspectorates. Providing such advice is among obligations of the Member States. A person who exercises his/her right to free movement of workers may refer to the competent institution in the host state to seek assistance. Information on the competent institutions is available on the European Commission website.  

When entering into an employment contract with a Polish employer, an EU or EFTA Member State citizen is generally subject to Polish labour law and does not have to apply for a work permit. However, there are restrictions concerning access of EU and EFTA Member State citizens to work in certain professions. They apply to certain positions in the public sector, including the public administration - both at the government and local self-government levels, certain positions in the judiciary (e.g. judges, judge assistants, legal secretaries, prosecutors, jurors, probation officers, bailiffs) as well as Civil Service officers and Prison Guard officers.

As regards employment in the civil service, by making available information about vacancies, general directors of offices specify, subject to consent from the Head of the Civil Service, positions available to EU or EFTA Member State citizens who have the right to take up employment in Poland in accordance with Community law. A person who is not a Polish national may be employed in a position which does not involve any direct or indirect participation in the exercise of public authority or functions which are aimed at protecting general interests of the state, provided that he/she can prove their command of Polish. Furthermore, such persons must be able to communicate in Polish, which should be confirmed by a relevant document. A similar solution applies to employees of at the local self-governmental level.

It should be noted that the so-called delegated workers are allowed to work in Poland (under the freedom to provide services). These are workers who are employed by an employer with its registered office in another EU or EFTA Member State and who have been delegated to work in Poland on a temporary basis. Conditions ensured to such workers must not be worse than those provided for under the Polish Labour Code and other provisions on the rights and obligations of workers. This applies to inter alia the minimum remuneration for work, the amount of remuneration and bonuses for overtime work, working norms and time, annual leaves as well as health and safety at work.

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