A recent report by Hon Marak Belka (the Governor of the Bank for the Republic of Poland) to the IMF World Bank Group (10 October 2014) stated that the situation in Central Europe looks somewhat brighter than elsewhere in the Eurozone.
The Polish economy is starting to hold its own following a temporary slow down in 2012/2013 and the Governor believes that the Polish economy is now on the path to relatively strong growth. In terms of macro economic changes this is a direct result of strong external support via the Structural Adjustment Funds and a greater level of private consumption/investment and consumer confidence.
The changes have no doubt had an impact on unemployment figures which although remain high are now starting to be tackled. It could well be argued that the Pole’s attempts to introduce elements of greater flexibility and certainty in the employment market in the last year or so are also catalytic factors.
The three main developments have been as follows:
• Amendments to the Labour Code in March 2014 which broadened the scope of classification of work that could be undertaken on Sundays/holidays to particularly assist the web based service sector organisations; and
• A range of incentives aimed at tackling unemployment including refund of social security contributions, and co-financing of remuneration; and
• Most recently a proposed draft amendment to the Labour Code which deals with the issue of flexible working giving a maximum duration of a fixed term contract of five years. This was a clear attempt to create greater certainty about when and where fixed term working could be used and to try and increase the attractiveness of fixed term contracts which traditionally had been seen as too long and therefore unwieldy. Also an interesting development is the attempt to introduce the concept of garden leave to allow companies to place senior decision makers on this type of leave. This suggests there is now greater competition amongst companies for talented labour and is surely a good sign.
Although it is clear that central Europe is still an area which requires substantial change in relation to labour market practices certainly member states such as Poland seem to be embracing a more flexible and competitive model which no doubt will continue to encourage inward and external investment.