Termination of employment contract in Poland

September 19, 2023

Termination of the employment contract with an employee requires the employer to take certain actions in accordance with the Labour Code. The ways to terminate an employment contract stated in the Labour Code are:

  • termination of the contract by agreement of the parties,
  • termination of the contract with notice,
  • termination of the contract without notice,
  • termination of the contract at the end of the period for which it was concluded.

The employment contract may be terminated without notice due to the fault of the employee, on the day on which the employee becomes acquainted with the presented statement on termination of the contract. In such a situation, there is no notice period, and the very condition for terminating the contract in this way is the fulfillment of the conditions set out in legal regulations.

Termination of an employment contract without notice – exceptional situations

Termination of the contract in disciplinary mode may be applied only due to the fault of the employee. The Labour Code specifies three conditions, of which at least one of them must be met for disciplinary dismissal:

  • serious breach of employee duties by the employee,
  • committing a crime by an employee that prevents further work in the position or has been convicted of it by a final judgment,
  • loss of the right to perform work in a given position.

The employer has one month to terminate the employee’s contract without notice. The Labour Code specifies that the month is counted from the date on which the employer received information on the situation justifying the termination of the contract for a given employee. The employer is obliged to check and thoroughly verify the information received.

Serious breach of duty

A serious breach of duty refers to the essential obligations of an employee, the non-fulfillment of which may result in a violation of the employer’s interest. The employee is attributed to negligence or willful misconduct. Negligence is defined as unintentional fault, characterized by the employee ignoring the effects of his actions. Lesser negligence of the employee or failure to achieve the objectives intended by the employer is not taken into account.

Serious breach of employee duties includes:

  • breach of a basic employee duty,
  • violation of the employer’s interests;
  • fault, including both willful misconduct and gross negligence.

Violation of the basic employee duty, in other words the unlawfulness of the employee’s behavior, are activities such as:

  • deliberate refusal to comply with employee instructions, which may threaten the interests of the employer,
  • disturbing peace and order in the workplace,
  • physical violence against a co-worker,
  • using a company phone for private purposes,
  • use by the employee of non-working days without prior arrangement,
  • violation of occupational health and safety rules by an employee who is responsible for maintaining safe working conditions,
  • violation of the obligation of sobriety at work may result in termination of the contract with the employee by notice or even disciplinary dismissal, however, the alcoholism alone is not the basis for dismissing the employee,
  • performing other work duties during work.

These activities indicate that termination of the contract in disciplinary proceedings in the nature of a serious breach of employee duties takes place only in the event of a breach of the basic and key obligations of the employee.


In the case of a criminal offense, three cumulative conditions are required:

  • the offense was committed during employment;
  • the time of the offense is determined for the period of employment,
  • the offense makes it impossible to continue to employ the employee in the position in question;
  • the offense prevents the employee from continuing to be employed in his or her position;
  • the offense is obvious or established by a final judgment.

It was established that on the day when the employer will terminate the contract, he is obliged to have accurate information about the crime committed, as well as relate it to the given situation and circumstances. It should be noted that in order to terminate the contract with an employee without notice, it must be shown that a prohibited act has been committed.

Loss of rights

The contract may be terminated without notice if the employee loses the rights necessary to perform work in a given position. The reason for dismissal must be permanent or for a longer period of time, temporary suspension of privileges is not taken into account. According to the Labor Code, when an employee has lost his rights, not through his fault, then the employer cannot terminate the employment contract. Termination of the contract may take place within 1 month, from the moment the employer learns about the specific situation of the employee.

What is included in the employer’s declaration of intent?

The statement should be in writing and must contain the requirements set out in the Labour Code:

  • the reason for the termination of the contract, in which the employer indicates exactly what the fault of the employee is,
  • instruction on the right to appeal to the Labour court within 21 days of the declaration,

The employer’s declaration of intent to terminate the contract also applies if the employee is a pregnant person or covered by pre-retirement protection. The contract may also be terminated if the employee is on annual leave or during an unjustified absence. The employer is obliged to prove the reason for terminating the employment contract without notice due to the fault of the employee.


Text based on: https://www.pip.gov.pl/dla-sluzb-bhp/magazyn-inspektor-pracy/artykuly/tryb-dyscyplinarny?tmpl=pdf.

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