he rules governing adolescent employees’ pay have been changed as of 1 September 2023, and a new list of jobs that adolescent employees are not allowed to perform becomes effective on 30 September 2023.
Pursuant to Art. 109 of the Labour Code, employees who have reached the age of 15 but are under the age of 18 are defined as adolescent employees. Adolescent employees may only be employed if they:
- have graduated from at least eight years of primary school,
- submit a medical certificate confirming that the job concerned is not harmful to their health.
Rules of paying remuneration to adolescents
The remuneration paid to adolescent employees is calculated in accordance with the Regulation of the Council of Ministers dated 6 July 2023 on Vocational Training for Adolescents and Their Remuneration (Journal of Laws, item 1348). The Regulation provides that, when learning a particular profession, adolescents have the right to remuneration calculated as a percentage of the average monthly remuneration paid in the national sector of the economy in the preceding quarter, effective from the first day of the month following the publication by the President of the Main Statistical Office (Główny Urząd Statystyczny, GUS) in the Official Journal of Poland (Monitor Polski).
This means that the remuneration paid to adolescents is subject to quarterly indexation made on the first day of the month following the month in which information on the amount of remuneration in the preceding quarter was published.
The communication from the Main Statistical Office dated 9 August 2023 reads that the average monthly remuneration in the national economy in Q2 was PLN 7,005.76. Therefore, in view of the revised remuneration percentage ratio, the minimum remuneration for adolescent employees from 1 September is as follows:
Minimum remuneration for adolescent employees from 1 September
|School year||Percentage of average remuneration||Remuneration (PLN)|
|In the first school year or in the first grade of level 1 vocational school – for adolescents in a theoretical supplemental programme in the school||Not less than 8 % (previously 5 %)||PLN 560.46|
|In the second school year or in the second grade of level 1 vocational school – for adolescents in a theoretical supplemental programme in the school||Not less than 9 % (previously 6 %)||PLN 630.52|
|In the third school year or in the third grade of level 1 vocational school – for adolescents in a theoretical supplemental programme in the school||Not less than 10 % (previously 7 %)||PLN 700.58|
|Adolescents learning a particular profession||Not less than 7 %||PLN 490.40|
The minimum remuneration paid to adolescent employees is increased by 3 percentage points. This is the minimum amount guaranteed to adolescents, and there are no restrictions that would prevent employers from offering higher remuneration.
List of prohibited jobs
A new list of jobs that adolescent employees are not allowed to perform comes into effect on 30 September 2023. This is because the Regulation of the Council of Ministers of 2004 – the List of Jobs that Adolescent Employees Are Not Allowed to Perform and Conditions of Employing Adolescent Employees to Perform Certain of These Jobs ceased to be binding, and will be replaced by a new Regulation of the Council of Ministers of 19 June 2023 having the same name (Journal of Laws item 1240).
The list of prohibited jobs was amended to reflect the currently binding work standards resulting from technological advancements that have taken place in most sectors of economy. The increased remuneration may encourage adolescent employees to pursue vocational training.
The new Regulation on the list of prohibited jobs brings the regulations into line with current standards for the performance of work by adolescent employees in the European Union and takes account of the needs of employers who employ them for hands-on learning. The amendments also consolidate certain provisions that make the performance of certain jobs conditional on gender.
In accordance with the Labour Code, adolescent employees cannot be employed to perform the prohibited jobs listed in the Regulation. However, there are exceptions. If:
- the adolescent is 16 years or older,
- performing the job is necessary for vocational training and is limited to teaching the adolescent employees the activities needed to learn the vocation,
- the job is not permanent,
- conditions are in place to protect the adolescent’s health,
then the adolescent may be employed, but only to perform certain types of prohibited jobs. A list of such jobs is appended as Exhibit 2 to the new Regulation.
Things to remember
The Labour Code does not include the term “permanent job”. Work performed by an adolescent should be limited to the working hours necessary for vocational training.
Revision of the workplace regulations
Considering the above, employers should update their workplace regulations, amending:
- the list of jobs that adolescent employees are not allowed to perform – in accordance with Exhibit 1 to the new Regulation on the List of Prohibited Jobs, and
- the list of jobs that adolescent employees are not allowed to perform which, however, adolescent employees may perform in order to pursue vocational training – in accordance with Exhibit 2 of the Regulation.
These lists should be made available in an easily accessible place, in all organisational unit where adolescent employees are employed. It is sufficient to specify only the types of prohibited jobs that are performed at a given employer. A general practitioner supervising preventive healthcare over adolescent employees must be present when these lists are drawn up.
Every update of the workplace regulations must be notified to employees. This also means that the revised workplace regulations come into effect two weeks after they are announced to employees.
Things to remember
Changes to the workplace regulations must be announced by 18 September at the latest. If the deadline is met, the revised content of the workplace regulations will be agreed in a timely manner.
Are employers who do not employ adolescent employees required to include relevant provisions in workplace regulations?
NO. In this case, the workplace regulations must clearly state that the list of jobs has not been specified because the employer does not employ adolescent employees. The Labour Code specifies what elements should be included in the wording of the workplace regulations.
In accordance with the Labour Code, workplace regulations should specify, inter alia, a list of jobs that adolescent and female employees are not allowed to perform, and the types of jobs and a list of positions that adolescent employees are allowed to perform for the purposes of vocational training. This is also the reason why some view the list as obligatory. Bearing in mind, though, that workplace regulations establish the order and organisation of work in a given organisation, we believe that such a literal interpretation of this provision is purposeless.
An employer that does not employ adolescent employees specified in the workplace regulations a list of jobs that adolescent employees are not allowed to perform in accordance with the Labour Code. In this situation, is the employer required to update the wording of the workplace regulations?
YES. If the employer’s workplace regulations contain provisions related to adolescent employees, the employer is required to update the provisions in accordance with the binding Regulation.
A failure to do so will certainly be considered a breach of the Labour Code and could expose the employer to an inspection by the Chief Labour Inspectorate.
Safety and special health protection
The Regulation also introduces changes to the measures employers are required to take to ensure the health and safety of adolescent employees employed to perform certain types of prohibited jobs. In particular, employers must:
- ensure that teachers, instructors of practical vocational training or other persons authorised to provide hands-on vocational learning supervise the work performed by adolescent employees on a continuous basis – this obligation has been made more specific with the added expression “on a continuous basis”,
- inform adolescent employees in an understandable manner about possible risks and the steps taken to protect their health – the obligation has been made more specific with the added expression “in an understandable manner”,
- organise rest breaks for adolescent employees in premises that are free of hazardous factors that are onerous or detrimental to adolescents’ health – the obligation has been made more specific with the added expression “hazardous”,
- provide adolescent employees with free personal protective equipment against risk factors affecting health found in the work environment, and inform adolescent employees on how to use the equipment – this is a new obligation,
- provide adolescent employees with free clothing and footwear as required by the Labour Code – this is also a new obligation.
Professional risk assessment
In view of the introduced amendments, a new professional risk assessment of jobs performed by adolescent employees must be made. This obligation has been expanded compared to the previous wording of the Regulation.
Previously, the Regulation stipulated that a risk assessment must be made only in two cases – before an adolescent employee commences work, and if the job conditions change significantly. Now, a risk assessment is required before the adolescent begins working, and additionally – in every case where an organisational change is introduced with respect to the work performed by an adolescent employee.
Things to remember
An organisational change also includes a change in location or in the manner of performing a job.
The Regulation provides that a professional risk assessment must include:
- an assessment of the equipment workplace organisation and locations where an adolescent works;
- how work processes are organised and connected;
- what chemical, dust, physical and biological factors are present in the environment where an adolescent works; the impact of these on the adolescent employee’s body; the degree and period of exposure to these factors; and protective equipment;
- the form, scope and manner of using equipment in the workplace, including machines, tools and equipment;
- the scope and level of training and instructions given to adolescent employees.
This is the English version of the article published in the leading Polish journal Rzeczpospolita on 31 August 2023.
For further information, please contact:
Olga Dabrowska-Mel, Bird & Bird