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Faced with fighting the negative effects of a pandemic, many companies have been forced to decide to cut jobs. Has your boss handed you a notice of termination of employment? Find out what rights you have.
Dismissal of an employee is an everyday occurrence in the labour market. According to the current provisions of the Labour Code it can take place by way of:
– agreement of the parties,
– termination of the employment contract with notice,
– termination of the employment contract without notice.
It is worth reminding that the last of the above-mentioned possibilities is the so-called disciplinary dismissal, which may take place only in strictly defined legal cases, including due to:
1. grave breach of basic employment duties;
2. committing by the employee during the term of the employment contract of a crime which makes it impossible to further employ the employee in the position held, if the crime is obvious or confirmed by a legally valid judgment;
3. culpable loss of qualifications by the employee, without which it is not possible to perform work on a given position.
Notice period for termination of employment
The notice period depends on the length of employment with a given employer and the type of contract.
In case of the contract of employment for an indefinite period of time, the notice period is equal to 2 weeks for the employment of less than half a year, 1 month for the employment of more than half a year and 3 months for the employment of more than 3 years. On the other hand, if an employee was employed for a fixed period of time, as a rule the contract cannot be terminated before the end of the period for which it was concluded. The only exception is if the contract was concluded for a period longer than 6 months, then the notice period is 2 weeks. In the case of contracts for replacement, the notice period is 3 working days.
Collective redundancies
To talk about collective redundancies, the company must meet several conditions. Firstly, at the time of redundancy the organization should employ a minimum of 20 full-time employees. Second, at least 10% of employees must be laid off within 30 days.
Thirdly, the dismissal must not be the fault of the employees, but a result of the company’s financial problems or liquidation of jobs. Contracts may be terminated by mutual agreement or by notice of termination by the employer.
The employer, in the face of collective redundancies, is obliged to inform the trade unions or employee organizations about the planned actions. He must give reasons for his decision, indicate the groups covered by the redundancies, and set the date of the planned redundancies. It should also inform on what principles it intends to part with the staff and what benefits it intends to provide. According to the act, the dismissed persons are entitled to the severance pay.
Employees under the so-called pre-retirement protection or pregnant women do not have to be afraid of group layoffs, but what is important, the Act on group layoffs clearly states that in the case of this type of layoffs people on parental leave and those returning to work part-time instead of parental leave are not protected.
The right to severance pay is available to both group and individual employees. However, the amount of severance pay will depend on the length of time worked for the organization.
If the employee has worked in the company for less than 2 years, he is entitled to the severance pay in the amount of one month’s remuneration, if he has worked from 2 to 8 years, the severance pay increases to the amount equal to 2 months' remuneration. In case of persons employed for more than 8 years the severance pay is equal to 3 months' remuneration.
It should be remembered, however, that severance payments are limited.
Each employee who was not able to use his/her holiday leave due to the termination of employment is entitled to the so-called cash equivalent. It is paid in proportion to the period of employment in the year in which the employment relationship ceases.
What about bankruptcy of the company?
Announcement of the employer’s decision on the company’s bankruptcy is not tantamount to handing the employees the notice of termination, but it announces that it will take place in the nearest future. If the company employs more than 20 people, everyone is subject to the rules of collective redundancies, with the exception that the terms of departure are not negotiated with the employer, but with the receiver or liquidator of the plant. The Labour Code protects employees who find themselves in such a situation – despite the fact that the employer may reduce the period of notice of termination of employment contracts to 1 month, the amount of severance pay is paid for the entire period to which the employee is entitled. In case of employer’s insolvency, the Guaranteed Employee Benefits Fund comes to your aid – it allows you to recover up to 3 salaries back from the moment of nonpayment.
Unfortunately, in the event of liquidation of the company no one is protected, neither the persons on parental leave, nor those on maternity and paternity leave. Trade unionists, employees on sick leave or vacation, and even those on pre-retirement protection are also deprived of protection.

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