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Human Resources

Employing foreigners without tears or red tape

by Dariusz Ronka, communication specialist, KS Service
Header foto dariusz ronka


The Polish labour market has undergone a radical transformation in recent years. Just seven years ago, the unemployment rate was still in double digits.

At that time finding a job was not an easy task, each job offer attracted many candidates. As the supply of jobs was insufficient for Polish people, the inflow of foreigners was not necessary at that time.

There was however, a notable change over the past three to five years. As the economy became stronger and the GDP growth more stable, the unemployment rate dropped. As domestic labour resources were insufficient, exacerbated by a falling demographic trend, foreigners searching for jobs suddenly found Poland attractive.

Currently, we are experiencing an employee's market. Unemployment rates in some parts of Poland are so low that it would be hardly possible to go below that point; many Polish cities have official unemployment rates below 3%, but without those registered jobless but working in the informal sector of the economy, that falls to around 1.5%. Many foreigners have been able to find job in Poland, and the number of immigrants is still growing. The number foreigners working in Poland legally is estimated to be about 1.2 - 1.3 million. Among these, the majority are from Ukraine.

Changes taking place in the market have also influenced the role of employers and as a consequence other members of the market, such as employment agencies. All the above factors coincided with a new generation, the Millennials, entering the labour market.

New kinds of workers made employers change their human resources policies. No longer can they recruit new employees and hope for their long-term commitment. Not only do the economic conditions have to be met; much more has to be done to keep a person at work.

Also the role of entities operating on the labour market has evolved. Initially, temporary employment agencies helped employers to find people during periods of intensive demand for workers. Later, they became a very good basis for foreigners who, with such help, found living in a new country easier. Currently, the temporary employment agencies are transforming into labour counselling agencies, benefiting not only the labour market and employers but also employees, especially the foreign ones.

Employing foreigners in Poland, however, means fulfilling a lot of requirements. The existing formal simplifications concern only season work and pertain to people who search for short-term employment in Poland. Looking for a well-paid job, they do not necessarily want to be attached to one place or make long-term commitments. Temporary workers however, can still be attractive for companies hiring for the short term and not willing to sign long-term employment contracts.

Concentrating on the need for long-term employment, especially of people from eastern parts of Europe, one needs to be aware of significantly different requirements that need to be fulfilled.  Among those, there's the work permit, permit for temporary residence, visa with the purpose of employment, permanent- or temporary-residence card, and plenty of other requirements relating to tax and social security. All the legal and administrative procedures, such as list of documents necessary for every single work situation, documenting many elements of work are just the tip of iceberg. It is especially onerous for a foreigner who came to Poland to search for a job and does not speak adequate Polish.

The situation of employers willing to hire foreigners is not much easier. There are many administrative and procedural obstacles; overcoming them may take months. Self-involvement in the process of searching for a foreign employee may not be effective, especially that such worker might have to leave Poland soon, attracted by higher salaries further west. Entrepreneurs and HR managers face such a problem frequently, as turnover of foreigner labour force is high.

Having said that, cooperation with an employment agency is a very good solution both for the foreigners, especially from the east, and for employers searching for workers willing to make long-term commitment. It saves time, and helps gain loyal employees.

Employment agencies serve a significant role, acting as a middleman that manages the complex task of introducing workers into the Polish market. A foreigner coming to Poland and wishing to stay with their family for a longer period – or indeed permanently – should head to an employment agency. Agencies offer full support from the very beginning, such as finding a satisfactory job, through supporting and assisting with residential documentation as well as in gaining the required permissions and documents.

Cooperation between an agency and a foreigner is clear and transparent, supporting the process of signing an employment contract and other legal forms of employment. Having such a backup, no inspections or deportations pose a danger. Agencies may also provide an immense support in other issues related to the long- or permanent stay of a foreigner. Having the employee already working at a designated employer, administrative procedures aiming at receiving permanent residence card can be dealt with smoothly.  Not only do agencies help in finding an appropriate accommodation, but also in bringing families to Poland. All that make foreigners stay in Poland for good and, at the same time, bonds them with an employer for longer.

These solutions influence all the parties in a very positive way, limiting foreign employees’ turnover at the same time. More attention is paid to immigrants from eastern parts of Europe as they belong to the same cultural group, and find it much easier to adopt to living in Poland.

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