A claim for unfair dismissal can be made if the reason for dismissal was not one of a number of ‘fair reasons’ (e.g. conduct, capability, "some other substantial reason", statutory ban or redundancy).
Most employees need a particular length of service to bring a claim for unfair dismissal. At present this is two years’ service. However, all employees can bring a claim for unfair dismissal if the reason for dismissal is deemed to make the dismissal automatically unfair (e.g. for whistleblowing or for family reasons such as dismissals for reasons connected to pregnancy, parental leave, or requests for flexible working).
Even if the dismissal is deemed to be for a fair reason, to avoid a successful claim for unfair dismissal the employer must still follow a fair procedure and act reasonably in dismissing the employee.
If the reason for the dismissal involves discrimination against the employee (because of a protected characteristic such as sex, race, age or disability), employees may make a discrimination claim irrespective of their length of service.
Employees with two years of service have the right to request a written statement of reasons for dismissal. Employers must provide the statement within 14 days of the request.
Irrespective of length of service, employees dismissed during pregnancy or statutory maternity or adoption leave are automatically entitled to a written statement of reasons for dismissal without having to request it.
The reasons for dismissal must be provided if a contract is terminated without notice or if a contract of unfixed duration is terminated with notice. The reason must be real and specific, so the employee can easily understand the grounds for dismissal. The reasons for termination with notice may be attributable to the employee (e.g. non-performance or improper performance of the employee’s duties), or not attributable to the employee (e.g. redundancy). The Polish Labour Code does not list such reasons.
Termination without notice (summary dismissal) may be justified for a number of reasons, but is only permitted when certain statutory conditions are met.
In the remaining case, involuntary termination does not require justification.