Please be informed that an act amending certain acts in connection with the shortening of the minimum period for the storage of employee personal files and their digitalisation entered into force on 1 January 2019. The act introduces the following significant changes regarding:
reduced storage time with respect to employment documentation and employees' personal files from 50 to 10 years,
employers' right to keep and store employment documentation and employees' personal files in electronic form,
informing employees about the personal file storage period and the right to collect their personal files,
new regulation on employee records,
payment of remuneration to the employee's bank account.
Documentation storage period
The new act introduces a shorter, 10-year (instead of the previous 50-year) minimum period of storage of employment documentation and civil law contracts.
The 10-year period counts from the end of the calendar year in which the employment is terminated or expires. Still, special regulations may require a longer storage period (e.g. with respect to miners).
The reduced storage period applies automatically to employees and contractors hired after 1 January 2019.
The documentation storage period may be shortened because all data necessary to determine the entitlement to and amount of benefits will be delivered to the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) on behalf of the employees and workers hired under civil law contracts.
In practice, employers must submit monthly individual reports on due contributions and paid out benefits (ZUS RCA form). The data will be saved in a dedicated account of each insured person.
The lawmakers have envisaged different rules for those hired before 1 January 2019 and divided them into two groups:
those employed after 31 December 1998 and before 1 January 2019. With respect to that group, employers will still need to store all documentation for 50 years after employment termination or expiry. However, they can cut this period to 10 years counted from the end of the calendar year in which they file a relevant report (Article 7(3) of the discussed act).
those employed before 1 January 1999. With respect to that group, employers will still be obliged to keep all employment-related documentation and employees' personal files for 50 years.
Employees to collect their documentation
The new act lets employees collect the employment documentation after the minimum storage period. Employers have to inform employees about this right. Pursuant to amended Article 946 of the Labour Code, in addition to the work record certificate (świadectwo pracy) employers must inform their employees about the personal file storage period, the right to collect the personal file until the end of the calendar month following the expiry of the storage period, and the necessity to destroy the file if the employee fails to collect it. The employee's personal file must then be destroyed beyond recovery within 12 months of the deadline for collection.
Voluntary digitisation of files
Another significant change introduced by the amended act is that the employer will be allowed to – but will not be obliged to – keep employee records in hard copy or soft copy, which may have a good influence on the current practices.
Employee records kept and stored in soft copy are considered equal to the hard copy version. Employee records in hard copy should be transformed into soft copy through digital reproduction, especially scanning, and by appending a qualified electronic signature or a qualified electronic seal of the employer or a qualified electronic signature of the employer's designee.
New regulation on employee records
Please be informed that the Regulation of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy of 28 May 1996 on the scope of maintaining by employers the documentation on issues relating to the employment relationship and the way of maintaining employees' personal files was repealed on 1 January 2019. The new Regulation of the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy of 10 December 2018 on employee-related documentation, in force since 1 January 2019, was promulgated in the Journal of Laws on 19 December 2018 in the afternoon.
Pursuant to the regulation, employee's personal files will be composed of 4 sections: A, B, C and D. Section D will comprise documents related to employee's disciplinary history. The new regulation provides also a detailed list of documents which should be stored in personal files. Furthermore, the scope of the other employment-related documents, including the timesheets, will also change.
Starting from 1 January 2019 the new regulation will be applied with respect to the personal files of new employees and of those who are in an employment relationship on 1 January 2019. This means that until 31 December 2018 personal files were kept in accordance with the old laws, and since 1 January 2019 – in accordance with the new laws. Employers may (but contrary to what was planned – do not have to) adjust the employment-related documents gathered before 1 January 2019 and personal files of employees who were in an employment relationship on 1 January 2019 to § 2–6 of the regulation.
Cashless payment of wages and salaries
Within 21 days of the act's effective date, i.e. by 22 January 2019, employers have to notify (in their usual way of communication) employees who receive wages in cash of the requirement to provide the bank account number to which the wage will be transferred. However, if the employee prefers being paid in cash, he or she may request the payment in such a form. An employee may submit the said request on paper or by e-mail within 7 days of receiving the employer's notification.
It is important that employers take actions to prepare for the new laws, in particular consider whether they would like to digitalise their employees' personal files and how long they are going to store them.
If you have any questions or doubts, Rödl & Partner experts will be happy to help your organisation adapt to the new legislation.