Information and services website for entrepreneurs.

When persons under the age of 18 may be employed

See when and on what terms you may employ persons under the age of 18: when you are dealing with the employment of adolescent workers and when with the gainful employment of children.

Who adolescent workers are

Adolescent workers are persons who have reached the age of 15 but are under the age of 18. You may employ only adolescents who:

  • have completed at least an 8-year primary school
  • submit a medical certificate stating that the given type of work is not harmful to their health
  • have reached the age of 15.

Persons who have not completed an 8-year primary school and have not reached the age of 15 may be employed on the terms set out for adolescents only for the purpose of vocational training to receive training for a specific job.

Persons who have completed an 8-year primary school but have not reached the age of 15 yet may be employed on the terms set out for adolescents in the calendar year in which they reach the age of 15. Thus, they may be employed under contracts for training for a specific occupation, training for a specific job, and light work without any consent or opinion.

Persons who completed an 8-year primary school during the period preceding the year in which they reached the age of 15 may be employed only under contracts for training for a specific occupation and only subject to the consent of their statutory representative or legal guardian and the approval of a psychological and pedagogical counselling centre.

Persons who reached the age of 18 while attending an 8-year primary school may be employed on the terms set out for adolescents in the calendar year in which they completed this school.

Regardless of the rules for the employment of adolescent workers, the legislation permits the assignment of work or other gainful activities to children under the age of 16 in certain situations and subject to specific conditions. This applies to cultural, artistic, sports or advertising activities.

What working conditions should be ensured

You may employ adolescents:

  • for the purpose of vocational training – if they do not have professional qualifications, then you may employ them only for this purpose, or
  • to perform light work under employment contracts.

Please note:

  • you must provide the protection and assistance required by adolescents to begin to perform their work correctly
  • you must keep records of adolescent workers
  • adolescents employed under employment contracts are subject to social security on the same terms as other workers.

Employment contracts with adolescent workers

As a rule, you must employ adolescents for the purpose of vocational training under open-ended employment contracts.

An employer who employs more adolescents than that person needs, may conclude fixed-term employment contracts for vocational training with them, for a period no shorter than:

  • the period of education specified in the provisions on the classification of vocational education occupations, or
  • the period of education required to take a journeyperson’s examination.

Employment contracts for vocational training must be concluded in writing. They should specify:

  • the type of vocational training (training for a specific occupation or training for a specific job)
  • the duration and place of the vocational training
  • the form of theoretical training
  • the amount of remuneration.

Please note Persons who have completed an 8-year primary school and have not reached the age of 15 may be employed on the terms set out for adolescents for the purpose of vocational training subject to the consent of their statutory representative or legal guardian and the approval of a psychological and pedagogical counselling centre.

You must notify the office of the town or municipality having jurisdiction over the place of residence of an adolescent of the conclusion of a contract with that adolescent. If you are a craftsperson, you must also notify the chamber of crafts having jurisdiction over your registered office (a guild responsible for supervising vocational training in crafts for adolescent workers on the basis of an authorisation granted by a chamber of crafts should also be understood as a chamber).

Important: As adolescent workers should continue their education until the age of 18, you must grant them time off work to allow them to participate in training activities for the purpose of continuing their education.

In particular, adolescent workers are required to:

  • continue their education in an 8-year primary school if they have not completed such a school
  • continue their education in a post-primary school or in non-school settings.

Termination of contracts with adolescent workers

An employment contract for vocational training may be terminated with notice only if:

  • the adolescent has failed to perform the obligations under the employment contract or the obligation to continue education, despite the application of educational measures
  • you declare bankruptcy or liquidate your company
  • your reorganise your establishment in such a way that vocational training cannot be continued
  • you determine that the adolescent is not fit for the work for which that person undergoes vocational training.

Health protection

Adolescents must undergo medical examinations before starting employment as well as periodic examinations and check-ups throughout the employment period. If a doctor declares that the work concerned is harmful to the health of an adolescent, you must change the type of work. If this is not possible, you must terminate the employment contract immediately and pay compensation equal to the amount of remuneration for the period of notice.

Working time

  • Adolescents cannot work more than 8 hours a day (6 hours for adolescents under the age of 16).
  • Periods of education in accordance with the compulsory school curriculum must be counted as the working time of adolescents, regardless of whether that education is received during working hours or not.
  • If the daily working time of adolescents is longer than 4.5 hours, you must introduce an uninterrupted break of 30 minutes, counted as working time.
  • You cannot employ adolescents to do overtime work or night work (for adolescents, night time lasts from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and in special cases, especially for adolescents under the age of 15, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.).
  • The break from work for adolescents, covering night time, should last no less than 14 hours without interruptions.
  • Adolescents are entitled to at least 48 hours of uninterrupted rest per week, covering a Sunday.
  • You cannot employ adolescents to perform forbidden work, unless they have reached the age of 16 and the performance of such work is required for their vocational training. The types of forbidden work are listed in the Council Regulation of 24 August 2004 on the list of types of work forbidden to adolescents and the conditions for employing adolescents for certain types of this work.

Annual leave

  • Adolescents are entitled to leave of 12 working days 6 months after starting their first job.
  • After 1 year of employment, adolescents are entitled to leave of 26 working days. However, in the calendar year in which adolescents reach the age of 18, they are entitled to leave of 20 working days if the right to leave was acquired before they reached the age of 18.
  • Adolescents who attend school must be granted leave during school holidays (if they are not entitled to leave yet, you may grant leave during school holidays in advance, at their request).
  • At the request of an adolescent who attends a school for workers, you must grant that person unpaid leave during school holidays, not exceeding 2 months together with annual leave. The period of the unpaid leave is counted towards the length of service on which workers’ rights depend.

What vocational training is

Vocational training for adolescent workers may take the form of:

  • training for a specific occupation (i.e. training aimed at preparing adolescents for work as qualified workers or journeypersons; it covers practical vocational training and theoretical training)
  • training for a specific job.

Training for a specific occupation

Contracts for vocational training in the form of training for a specific occupation may be signed at the time when candidates are admitted to level I trade schools. The exceptions are contracts concluded with adolescents who do not continue their education in a basic vocational school – you may conclude such contracts also at another time. Training for a specific occupation lasts 36 months, unless:

  • an adolescent who attends a level I trade school was not promoted to the next class or did not finish school – in this case, the employer, at the request of the adolescent, or a chamber of crafts, at the request of the employer who is a craftsperson and the adolescent, may extend the duration of the training for a specific occupation, but for no more than 12 months, to allow that person to complete school education, and for no more than 6 months in other justified cases
  • the employer, at the request of an adolescent and, if the employer is a craftsperson, a chamber of crafts, at the request of the employer who is a craftsperson and the adolescent, agreed to reduce the duration of the training for a specific occupation, but for no more than 12 months, if the adolescent does not continue education in a level I trade school.

The occupations for which adolescents undergo training for a specific occupation are specified in the provisions on the classification of vocational education occupations. Training for a specific occupation provided by employers who are craftspersons may also concern occupations corresponding to the given type of craft, not included in the classification of vocational education occupations, specified in the provisions on the classification of occupations and specialisations for labour market needs.

Adolescents undergoing training for a specific occupation may be employed only to perform work covered by a practical vocational training curriculum.

If you employ adolescents for the purpose of training for a specific occupation:

  • you should follow a curriculum taking into account the core curriculum for vocational education occupations included in the classification of vocational education occupations for the occupation being taught or follow a curriculum ensuring that examination requirements specified in standards on the basis of which journeyperson’s examinations are conducted for occupations not included in the classification of vocational education occupations, specified in the provisions on the classification of occupations and specialisations for labour market needs are fulfilled
  • you should ensure that the persons who train the adolescents are suitably qualified.

An employer who employs more adolescents for the purpose of training for a specific occupation than that person needs, may conclude fixed-term employment contracts for vocational training with these adolescents, but for a period no shorter than the period of education specified in the legislation or the period of education required to take a journeyperson’s examination.

If you employ adolescents for the purpose of vocational training in the form of training for a specific occupation, then you must:

  • refer them for theoretical training to a level I trade school, or
  • refer them for theoretical training to a vocational training centre or a school providing vocational training in the form of theoretical training courses for adolescents, in accordance with the provisions on continuing education in non-school settings, or
  • organise theoretical training on your own.

You may reimburse an adolescent employed for the purpose of training for a specific occupation for the costs of travel to and stay at a vocational training centre or a school providing vocational training located in a locality other than the place of residence or place of work of the adolescent.

If you organise theoretical training on your own, then you must provide compulsory theoretical vocational training activities resulting from a relevant curriculum. The knowledge and skills acquired by adolescents during training for a specific occupation are tested during examinations. As an employer, you must bear the costs of these examinations (only regular examinations and, possibly, retakes).

Adolescents employed by an employer who is a craftsperson take journeyperson’s examinations conducted by the examination boards of chambers of crafts, in accordance with the provisions on journeyperson’s examinations, master’s examinations and verification examination conducted by the examination boards of chambers of crafts.

Persons who reached the age of majority before completing training for a specific occupation complete this training on the terms set out for adolescents.

Remuneration for adolescents

During the period of training for a specific occupation, adolescents are entitled to remuneration calculated as a percentage of the average monthly remuneration in the national economy in the previous quarter. Information on the amount of this remuneration is published by the Central Statistical Office every quarter.

A published amount is taken into account from the first day of the month following its publication by the President of the Central Statistical Office in the Polish Official Gazette (Monitor Polski).

Remuneration for adolescents from 1 June 2022 to 31 August 2022

Period of training

The amount of monthly remuneration

During the first year of training – no less than 5% of the reference remuneration

PLN 311,76

During the second year of training – no less than 6% of the reference remuneration

PLN 374,11

During the third year of training – no less than 7% of the reference remuneration

PLN 373.20

Please note Persons who reached the age of majority before completing training for a specific occupation complete the training on the terms set out for adolescents.

Training for a specific job

Training for a specific job for adolescents may last from 3 to 6 months.

For members of the Voluntary Labour Corps (Ochotnicze Hufce Pracy), the period of training may be extended until they complete an 8-year primary school and last no longer than 22 months in total.

You must determine the duration, scope and curriculum of training for a specific job taking into account selected content:

  • a curriculum taking into account the core curriculum for vocational education occupations included in the classification of vocational education occupations, or
  • a curriculum ensuring that examination requirements specified in standards on the basis of which journeyperson’s examinations are conducted for occupations not included in the classification of vocational education occupations, specified in the provisions on the classification of occupations and specialisations for labour market needs are fulfilled.

Verification examinations are taken at the end of training for a specific job. Adolescents employed by craftspersons take examinations before the examination board of a chamber of crafts, whereas adolescents employed by employer who are not craftspersons take examinations directly before their employers.

If an adolescent passes an examination, the employer or the chamber of crafts issues a certification confirming the acquisition of the skills taught during the training, specifying the type and duration of the training and the grade obtained.

If an adolescent fails an examination, the employer, and the chamber of crafts if the employer is a craftsperson, determines for what period the training for a specific job must be extended, but for no longer than 3 months.

For adolescents who have successfully completed training for a specific job and started training for a specific occupation that covers the scope of the training for a specific job, the period of training for a specific job is counted towards the period of practical vocational training.

Adolescents undergoing training for a specific job are entitled to at least 4% of remuneration calculated as a percentage of the average monthly remuneration in the national economy in the previous quarter (applicable from the first day of the month following its publication by the President of the Central Statistical Office in the Polish Official Gazette).

The minimum remuneration for adolescents undergoing training for a specific job from 1 June 2020 to 31 August 2020 is PLN 213.26, and will be PLN 200.98 from 1 September 2020 to 30 November 2020.

Please note Persons who reached the age of majority before completing training for a specific job complete the training on the terms set out for adolescents.

When adolescents may be employed to perform light work

Adolescents may be employed to perform light work under employment contracts. Light work cannot endanger the life, health or psychological and physical development of adolescents and cannot interfere with their attendance at school.

As an employer, you must draw up a list of the types of light work that adolescents will perform after obtaining the consent of a doctor responsible for occupational health care. This list must be approved by the competent labour inspector and established in the work rules (and in a separate act if you are not required to have work rules).

You must ensure that adolescents are familiar with this list before being permitted to work. The list should be displayed in the establishment. It cannot contain the types of work listed in the Council Regulation of 24 August 2004 on the list of types of work forbidden to adolescents and the conditions for employing adolescents for certain types of this work.

You must determine the working time of adolescents, taking into account the weekly number of hours of education resulting from the curriculum and from the schedule of school activities:

  • the weekly working time of adolescents receiving school education cannot exceed 12 hours
  • if adolescents attend classes on the day concerned, they cannot work more than 2 hours
  • the working time during school holidays cannot exceed 7 hours a day and 35 hours a week; however, the daily working time of adolescents under the age of 16 cannot exceed 6 hours
  • before establishing an employment relationship, you must obtain a declaration from an adolescent stating whether or not that person is employed by another employer (the working time described above applies also in cases where adolescents are employed by more than one employer).

When children may be employed

If you are engaged in cultural, artistic, sports or advertising activities, then you may assign work or other gainful activities to a child under the age of 16 if you first:

  • obtain the consent of that child’s statutory representative or guardian
  • obtain the permission of the competent labour inspector.

The application for the permission must be accompanied by the following documents:

  • the written consent of the child’s statutory representative or guardian for the performance of work or other gainful activities by the child
  • an opinion by a psychological and pedagogical counselling centre confirming that there are no contraindications to the performance of work or other gainful activities by the child
  • a medical certificate confirming that there are no contraindications to the performance of work or other gainful activities by the child
  • if the child receives compulsory school education, an opinion by the principal of the child’s school on whether the child will be able to attend school while performing work or other gainful activities.

The competent labour inspector refuses to grant the permission if the performance of work or other gainful activities in the area of culture, arts, sports or advertising endangers the life, health or psychological and physical development of the child or interferes with the child’s attendance at school.

The permission for the performance of work or other gainful activities by a child under the age of 16 should contain:

  • the personal details of the child and of its statutory representative or guardian
  • the details of the entity engaged in cultural, artistic, sports or advertising activities
  • information on the type of work or other gainful activities that may be performed by the child
  • information on the maximum period during which the child may perform work or other gainful activities
  • information on the maximum daily working time for the performance of work or other gainful activities
  • other necessary arrangements required to protect the best interest of the child, or the type, nature or conditions of the work or other gainful activities to be performed by the child.

Please note The competent labour inspector may withdraw the permission at the request of the child’s statutory representative or guardian. Moreover, the competent labour inspector will withdraw the permission ex officio if it is found that the conditions of the work performed by the child are not consistent with the conditions specified in that permission.

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