In professional life, one of the most frustrating things that may happen to you is not being paid for your hard work. Regardless of the reason this happened to you, the fact remains that you put your effort and got nothing (or little) in return. Such situation is certainly more difficult if you are in foreign country and don’t really know what kind of rights you actually have at your disposal.
So what countermeasures can you utilise in Poland to get your employer to pay the salary?
First of all, please mind that much depends on what kind of contract you have, what is it’s content and what is the reason for refusal of payment. Any additional agreements made with your employer may also be of much importance. Therefore, as with every legal case, to get the best solution, each case should be considered individually.
This is why the following points are listed only to give you general idea on what is possible.
1. Written demand for payment.
Even if you already discussed the topic of late payment with your boss, it should always ba a starting point to request the payment in a more official manner. The way to do this is to send written demand for payment.
Speaking, whether in person or by phone may oftentimes be just a waste of air. And it leaves nothing but memory. Sending a written letter (by registered mail – list polecony) will leave an evidence that you requested your salary and possibly prompt your employer will also write an answer in writing.
It also shows that you mean business – especially if you decide to use help of professional attorney. The letter should point out possible consequences of further delay in payment.
This will give your employer a chance to pay what is owed without a need of further steps.
2. Complaint to the National Labor Inspectorate (Państwowej Inspekcji Pracy). [ONLY IN CASE OF UMOWA O PRACĘ]
If you have umowa o pracę (NOT: umowa zlecenia, umowa o dzieło, etc.), your employer is obligated to pay your salary not only by the contract, but also by Polish labor law. This means you have some additional rights. You can submit a compleint to Polish National Labor Inspectorate (Państwowa Inspekcja Pracy).
The Inspectorate can then perform a check on this situation – the regional inspector will demand your employer to provide an explanation of his misbehavior. If the inspector will determine that your employer didn’t pay you (or pays with a delay), he can:
- order employer to pay you immediately and
- initiate proceeding for an offense against employee’s rights.
3. Claim for payment.
If the employer doesn’t pay and all you can get from him/her are empty promises, then you shouldn’t hesitate to claim for payment before the court.
This step requires very individual approach and if you didn’t consult a lawyer before, then now is the time to do this. In case of failure, you will have to pay the court proceeding costs.
Depending on your situation, the proceeding can take various course, but it is often possible to finish the case without a need of going to court in person. [This is a whole new topic and requires some more elaboration – I will do definitely cover it in the future, so stay tuned!].
The basic court fee to start the proceeding is 5% of the salary you claim (not including interest). If you decide to take advantage of simplified procedure, the fee is only 1,25% of the salary. Of course if the proceeding will be finished in your favor, your employer will have to return you this fee.
This is only relevant in case of umowa zlecenie, umowa o dzieło or other civil law contracts. If you have umowa o pracę, you don’t have to pay the court fee to start the prooceeding (unless you claim more then 50.000 PLN).
4. Debt collection stamp [ONLY IN CASE OF B2B CONTRACT]
If you have a company in Poland and you invoice your „employer” (your de facto client), you can take steps to encourage him/her to pay make payments on time.
In Poland the debt collection stamp (also known to as a preventive stamp) is usually placed on any invoice or other document stating the due amount from the contractor. The stamp informs the recipient of the invoice about cooperation with the law office and the consequences related to any delays in payment.
You can put such stamp:
- on invoices,
- on interest notes,
- on payment requests,
- on any documents confirming the claim.
In essence, it is a preventive measure that you can use to avoid any future conflicts.