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Working in Poland. Salaries, benefits, need-to-knows

Does it pay to work in Poland? If you’re looking for a job, you need to understand our labor and salary system, different types of agreements and the most common benefits. Many of them can really surprise you.

Good news for the very beginning: Poland has the third lowest unemployment rate in the European Union. There’s still not enough people to work – not only in new technologies or IT sectors (although first of all), but also in the service industry and construction.

Types of agreement

When browsing job offers, it’s important to understand what kind of agreement is offered to you. Below we also remind you what to do to work in Poland legally.

What kinds of agreements do we have in Poland and which one will be best for you?

  • umowa o pracęemployment contract -it’s the primary form of employment in Poland. Later on, when talking about salaries and benefits, we refer to this contract.
    A full-time job has an 8h work day for 40 h/week. The contract may be signed for a definite or indefinite period (usually at the beginning there’s a 3-month trial period).
    There’s a notice period and a minimum wage.
    Pros? Stable employment and regular pay – in Poland you get paid monthly, no later than on the 10th. Additionally you have health insurance, paid vacation, paid sick leave and maternity leave – the longest in Europe!
    Cons? Lack of flexibility and again: the notice period (especially if you’re the one who suddenly wants to leave).
  • umowa zlecenie / contract of mandate is popular especially for students and first time job seekers. There’s no minimum number of hours per month. There’s a minimum hourly wage.
    Pros? It’s more flexible and still you’re insured, have paid sick leave and maternity leave.
    Cons? No paid vacations and a rather low salary. It can also be terminated at any time.
  • umowa o dzieło / specific-task contract is a specific contract where both parties agree on the result of the work, and not the process itself. It’s flexible, with no defined work hours.
    Cons? No insurance nor other benefits and no minimum wage. It’s good if you have a sideline in addition to your main job.
  • And what about self-employment? In Poland, you can run a one person company and provide services based on a B2B contract – some companies may accept (or even prefer) such a contract to work with you.
    You pay personal income tax (PIT) and social and health premiums. The basic income tax is 17%.
    Pros: You’re independent, flexible and you can provide your services to more companies. You’re also more cost-effective for the employer than when hiring an employee directly.
    Cons: You settle your taxes yourself and you deal with all the red tape. Also, this solution is beneficial for you only above a certain salary amount.

Important info for foreigners.

Whether you can legally work in Poland depends on your citizenship and/or the visa on which you came here. We talk about this in detail in this guide

One more thing! Make sure to apply for a PESEL number – you’ll need this to settle your annual taxes. We talk about this in the above mentioned guide.

Wages

Time for something you’re here for – money!  But beware the advertised salary isn’t the same as your take home pay. 

Net and gross

Advertised salaries in job offers are usually given in gross amounts (they haven’t deducted income tax and insurance you have to pay). The final amount (the one that will take home) is the net amount after taxes and insurance have been paid.

The total cost to the employer is your gross salary plus some additional premiums he has to pay for you. 2022 is a crazy year – we’ve faced a huge tax reform – a New Polish Deal- and to understand all the calculations is kinda tough, but let us give an example:

  • to get 5000 zł net (your take home) your gross salary should be around 7000 zł, while the total cost for the employer is 8500 zł because of the additional premiums he had to pay.

Minimum and average wages

The Polish minimum monthly wage is currently 3010 gross, 2209 zł net. The hourly rate (if you work, for example, on a contract of mandate) is around 20 (just under 14 zł net). Not much, but the average monthly wage in Poland at the beginning of 2022 was about 6100 PLN gross, just under 4400 PLN net, quite a jump.

You can expect the minimum wage (or close to it) when working in the service industry – as a server or sales person, especially if you’re just starting out in the labor market. Unfortunately, government employees in Poland also earn closer to the minimum wage rather than the average salary. Higher salaries are possible in private companies in growing industries – we talk about them below.

Now your question surely is: how do I know my final net salary? There are special online payroll calculators. Check the link to one of them here.

Basic taxes in Poland

Your first 30 000 zł is tax-free.

Above that the tax is 17% – up to 120,000 zł per year (the first tax bracket) and above this amount the tax is 32%.

Important: Employees under 26 don’t pay income tax (so this is somehow intended to compensate for a lower salary when starting out).

Employee rights and benefits

Did you know that in Poland, after having a baby, a woman can return to work after up to 4 years of leave? What are  some other employee benefits in Poland? (remember, we are still talking about a full-time basic employment contract):

  • 26 days of paid vacation per year – these are weekdays, without weekends. On top of that there are 13 public holidays per year! What’s more, if a holiday falls on a Saturday, a day off can be used another time;
  • paid sick leave is 80% of your pay. Pregnant women get 100% pay on sick leave; Remember: it must be issued by a doctor;
  • maternity leave in Poland lasts 52 weeks – the longest in Europe! 20 weeks apply to the mother (she receives 100% of pay). Then the mother or father can  take “parental” leave for another 32 weeks, receiving 60% of their salary. This for a total of one year. You can add to this your paid vacation days that accumulated during that period, but it’s not over;
  • after that you can have… extended post-maternity leave for another 3 years! You don’t get paid, but you’re still an official employee with health insurance and your old-age pension insurance paid;
  • the notice period depends on seniority: up to 6 months seniority it’s 2 weeks, up to 3 years – a month, and above that your notice period is 3 months. This is a safeguard for you, but also for the employer – so that the employee doesn’t suddenly leave.You can leave earlier if your employer agrees (but he doesn’t have to). And additionally, a pregnant woman cannot be fired in Poland;
  • a work day is usually 8 hours including ONLY a 15-minute lunch break. Yeah, that’s official law but…
  • more and more companies agree to flexible work hours (so you decide when you start, when you have a break) and hybrid working models with some days from home.  Don’t be afraid to negotiate!

The most promising job offers in Poland

Time for some previously-mentioned data:

Top 3 best paid professions in Poland are: Brand Manager, Key Account Manager, and IT Security Specialist – they can expect around 10 000 zł gross a month.

Software developers only rank 7th, but this is an average salary. An experienced Senior Developer can expect 15 000 zł.

The fastest growing sectors with an ongoing need for skilled employees are: IT, telecommunications, marketing, and e-commerce. 

Although starting salaries may be lower, many jobs are also waiting in: construction, the services and hospitality industries, the medical profession, and logistics. 

How to search for a job in Poland?

Well, the best way is to search online. The biggest website for job offers in Poland is pracuj.pl. It’s available in Polish and Ukrainian only, but many offers are published in English. It’s Poland’s number 1 website for jobs. 

If you’re in the so-called “creative industry” we recommend rocketjobs.pl. Offers here often include the salary scale, which isn’t always given in Poland. So you already know what you’re fighting for and you can avoid the most embarrassing question you can get during an interview, which is: “how much would you like to earn?”. 

Are you curious how Polish salaries compare to the cost of living? Is it possible to get by? Take a look at our other relocation guides here.
Good luck!

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