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The objectives and tasks of Polish employment policy are defined in the Constitution of the Republic of Poland of 2 April 1997 (Journal of Laws (Dz.U.) of 1997, No. 78, item 483, as amended). Its implementation is primarily the responsibility of public authorities.
The central role in the state’s public policy concerning the development of employment and entrepreneurship is played by the Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy (until November 2019 Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology and the Ministry of Investment and Development) which prepare strategic documents on economic security and the country’s development policy (including employment policy), monitors and coordinates the implementing of government's economic strategy and supervises the use of European funds.The Ministry of Development provides support for entrepreneurs and promotes entrepreneurship.
The Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy is, on the other hand, responsible for the preparation of the National Employment Action Plan (Krajowy Plan Działań na rzecz Zatrudnienia) and co-ordination of its implementation; co-ordination and development of Public Employment Services; promotion of employment, including policies to counteract unemployment, mitigate the effects of unemployment and stimulate professional activation of jobless people; development of human resources; as well as ensuring uniform application of law; and co-ordination of social security systems.
A detailed legal framework for the labour market policy in Poland is set out in the Act of 20 April 2004 on the promotion of employment and labour market institutions (Journal of Laws (Dz.U.) of 2017, item 1065, as amended).
The tasks of the state in the area of employment promotion, mitigation of the effects of unemployment and professional activation are implemented on the basis of the National Employment Action Plan passed by the Council of Ministers, which encompasses the principles of implementation of the European Employment Strategy and is based on the initiatives of the local governments of communes (gmina), districts (powiat) and provinces (województwo) as well as social partners.
The labour market policy at national level is consulted by social partners (including representatives of trade unions, employers’ organisations, and NGOs), as well as by representatives of local governments and educational institutions. At the national level the consultative body of the Minister is the Labour Market Council (Rada Rynku Pracy). At the provincial level, the body that provides province marshals (marszałek) with opinions and advice is the Provincial Labour Market Council, and at the district level, district governors (starosta) are consulted by the District Labour Market Council.
The state’s tasks pertaining to the policy of employment promotion, mitigation of the effects of unemployment and professional activation are performed by Public Employment Services, Voluntary Labour Corps (Ochotnicze Hufce Pracy- OHP), employment agencies, training institutions, social dialogue institutions, and local partnership institutions.
The Act on the promotion of employment and labour market institutions provides for additional forms of support to foster employment of young people (in addition to the standard forms of support available to all categories of the unemployed). Public employment services are equipped with the following tools and labour market instruments dedicated to young people:
- Those who are unemployed under the age of 30 are considered to have “special” status on the labour market and are given priority in referral to dedicated schemes (Article 49).
- Those who are unemployed under the age of 25 should be presented with an offer by the district Employment Office within a period of up to 4 months from the date of registration (Article 50(1)). This offer should be in the form of employment, other paid work, training, internship, job skills training for adults, intervention works or public works or other forms of assistance specified in the Act.
- Additional instruments targeted at the unemployed under the age of 30 include training vouchers, internship vouchers, employment vouchers, and housing vouchers (Chapter 13d, Articles 66k to 66n).
The activities of the state aimed particularly at youth at risk of social exclusion and the unemployed under the age of 25 are implemented through the Voluntary Labour Corps (Ochotnicze Hufce Pracy, OHP). OHP are government-financed entities supervised by the minister for labour that specialise in youth action (Chapter 5, Articles 11 to 17).
Regarding the education and training of young people, OHP conduct activities aimed at:
1) enabling young people who have not completed primary or lower secondary school, or who have not stayed in education after graduating from those schools, to acquire professional qualifications and to complete their primary or lower secondary education;
2) enabling young people to complete their general and vocational upper secondary education.
Within the field of employment and prevention of the marginalisation and social exclusion of youth, OHP undertake the following actions:
1) act as job centres and organise employment for: young people over the age of 15 who have not completed primary or lower secondary school or have not stayed in education after graduating from those schools; unemployed persons under the age of 25; pupils; and students;
2) provide career guidance for young people and Mobile Career Information Centres;
3) initiate international co-operation and youth exchange programmes;
4) refund the costs incurred by the employer for the salaries and social security contributions of young workers employed on the basis of an employment contract for the purpose of job skills training.
OHP, as labour market institutions, provide free services in the following formats: job centres; career guidance and vocational information services; active job search workshops; organisation of training; labour market schemes.
The duties of OHP are carried out through (as of 2017/2018):
- Mobile Career Information Centres (Mobilne Centra Informacji Zawodowej) (49 units),
- Youth Employment Offices (Młodzieżowe Biura Pracy) (49),
- Job centres (Punkty Pośrednictwa Pracy) (78),
- European Social Fund Vocational Training Centres (Ośrodki Szkolenia Zawodowego EFS) (34),
- Regional Vocational Training Centres for Young People (Rejonowe Ośrodki Szkolenia Zawodowego Młodzieży) (24)
- Youth Career Centres (Młodzieżowe Centra Kariery) (221).
Those entities are supervised by Centres for Youth Education and Work (Centra Edukacji i Pracy Młodzieży) (49).
Schemes for the education and employment of disabled youth are supported by a special purpose fund created from contributions paid by employers who do not employ people with disabilities – the State Fund for Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons (Państwowy Fundusz Rehabilitacji Osób Niepełnosprawnych, PFRON). The policy of supporting employment of the disabled is defined in the Act of 27 August 1997 on vocational and social rehabilitation and the employment of disabled people (Journal of Laws (Dz.U.) of 1997, No. 123, item 776, as amended). The funds from PFRON to support vocational activation and employment of young people with disabilities are funnelled to public, private and non-governmental entities as well as to individuals.
On the other hand, the Act of 13 June 2003 on social employment (Journal of Laws (Dz.U.) of 2003, No. 122, item 1143, as amended) regulates the processes of social and occupational reintegration of persons with the lowest chances on the open labour market due to their low qualifications, or lack thereof, and also those having problems with full participation in social and professional life. This applies in particular to homeless people, alcohol or drug addicts, mentally ill people, long-term unemployed, former inmates, refugees, and disabled people. Persons from those categories may participate in activities run by social integration centres and clubs (operated by local government units or by non-governmental organisations appointed to do so by the former) and receive various forms of assistance and support from public funds to aid employability (e.g. funds to establish a social co-operative).
The main mechanism of implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy in EU countries are National Reform Plans. Poland (based on the National Reform Plan) declared achieving in 2020 the following goals with respect to three social goals:
- employment rate for people aged 20-64 at the level of 71%
- decreasing to 4,5% the percentage of early school leavers and increasing to 45% the percentage of people aged 30-34 with a higher education dyploma
- decreasing by 1,5 mln the number of people at risk of poverty and social exclusion
The National Employment Action Plan 2019 (Krajowy Plan działań na rzecz Zatrudnienia) aims at increasing employment, in particular of young and elderly people, the long time unemployed and people with disabilities, while assuring the high security of employment. The particuar goals include:
- adjusting Labour Offices to the changing reality of the labour market
- increading adaptability of the unemployed, workers and NEETs on the labour market
- increasing the professional activity of agricultural workers towards out-of-agriculture professions
- development of vocational education and training and lifelong learning
- increasing the security of workplace
The specific actions aiming at fulfilling the above-mentioned goals are the following:
- creation of a professions' demand model (in order to predict the demand for professions, trends in education and professional development)
- implementation of social and professional activation programmes as well as support programmes for young people and people with disabilities
- implementation of programmes for higher education students in order to increase their competences necessary on the labour market and in the society (programmes such as Dydaktyczna Inicjatywa Doskonałości or Doktorat Wdrożeniowy)
- development of professional training within vocational education and training
Covid-19 pandemic contributed to the modification of these plans and reforms. The latest version of the National Reform Plan was updated on 28th of April 2020 and includes measures related to counteracting the negatove effects of Covid-19 pandemic. These measures include: increasing the security of workers and various forms of support for entrepreneurs (loans, suspended insurance premiums, taxes and bank guarantees, deductions in rents and changes in flexible work time).