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Europe Day – do employees and employers have reasons to celebrate?

Europe Day – do employees and employers have reasons to celebrate?

70,000 European directives implemented, the free movement of workers and the increase in foreign investment thanks to accession to the European Union have permanently changed the Polish labor market. Another changes, for some even revolutionary ones, await us on the near horizon. Can employers and employees celebrate Europe Day on May 9 with complete conviction?

The implementation of directives related to, among others, equal pay or access to employment, maximum working hours, occupational health and safety (e.g., protection from noise or biological agents) have introduced the need for greater care for workers’ rights. ESG reporting results in increasing transparency of the organization towards all stakeholders – including employees.

Over the past 10 years, the wage gap has narrowed by 9 percentage points, inclusive language in job offers has become a standard. The movement of workers has ensured the exchange of experience and good practices, enabling companies to grow faster – and most importantly, a significant increase in foreign investment, which is estimated to have supported retention of 2.5 million jobs in 2023. This change has also been a huge boost for Polish companies supporting investors – at Antal, during this time, we have almost tripled employment and quadrupled the company’s turnover,” stresses Artur Skiba, CEO of Antal.

Workers want to know wage grids

Adopted in 2019, the EU Pay Transparency Directive aims to increase pay transparency in the European Union. Its main tenets are based on ensuring the right to information about the salaries of other employees who work in the same or similar positions. The law is expected to be passed in Poland in the coming months.

Pay transparency has been stirring up strong emotions in the labor market for years, not only in terms of companies’ wage grids, but also in terms of information about salary range spreads in job offers. However, it is important to remember that the process of salary disclosure as long as it promotes transparency is a difficult process for employers. Professional wage grids are not yet in place in many companies. Hybrid positions, in which individual competencies must be priced individually, are also a challenge. Often, employers do not have predetermined recruitment budgets. They want to meet candidates with different competencies and only then match the position to their skills. We are now receiving more and more requests from companies for audits which would check their preparedness for the implementation of the directive,” notes Karolina Korzeniewska, Strategic Client Advisor, Antal Business Consulting.

Whistleblowers are still waiting for protection

Poland is still in the phase of implementation of legislation protecting whistleblowers. The EU Directive on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law (2019/1937) was to be implemented into Polish law by December 2021. Failure to implement this directive resulted in financial penalties. The draft law is currently in the legislative process. 

Whistleblowing can help identify and prevent corruption, fraud and other illegal actions. It is also possible to respond more quickly to threats to public health, safety or environment risks. However, this law will also be a challenge for employers, as it may involve additional costs.

The glories and shadows of EU solutions

While the benefits for employees are innumerable, the implementation of EU solutions has not always been easy for employers. The cost of training, investment in new technology and infrastructure necessary to meet health and safety requirements has severely burdened some companies. Some employers and experts still criticize the excessively increased regulation, which, they say, limits the flexibility of the labor market. In case of failure to comply with the EU’s guidelines, both the state and private companies bear the cost of penalties.

In this situation, not always easy for employers, competitive advantage will be gained by companies that do not put off action until the last minute. While it is sometimes a challenge to implement EU regulations and it is worthwhile to take care of simultaneous regulations that facilitate the ability to remain flexible to the market, I know from experience that consistent care for good practices, transparency, environment and employees is not a barrier to financial success, but a healthy basis for it,” concludes Artur Skiba, CEO of Antal. 
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