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Introduction

The information contained on this page represents the situation as of 1 January 2014 and is a summary of the  country report produced by the country expert from the network. The summary can be downloaded  here as well.

Contact: 
Łukasz Bojarski
E-mail: lukeboja@gmail.com

Country context

Modern Poland does not have a long tradition and experience of combating discrimination. The process of implementing into the legal system EU anti-discrimination laws concerning race, ethnic origin, religion, age, disability and sexual orientation was initiated as a result of EU membership and not in order to improve the existing laws or to ease social pressures.

Main principles and definitions

The 2010 Equal Treatment Act introduced several legal definitions that until 2010 were included only in the Labour Code and related only to the employment field (currently definitions from the Labour Code are also binding, but sometimes they are slightly different from those in the ETA).

Enforcing the law

The 2010 ETA introduced a general compensation claim stating that anyone (natural and legal persons) who suffers from an infringement of the principle of equal treatment is entitled to compensation. However, as pointed out by the Ombud in its annual reports the new ETA refers to compensation only (odszkodowanie) which covers material damage (and not immaterial) and therefore limits the protection. The compensation claim under the Act should be widened and include immaterial damages as well.

Main legislation

According to general anti-discrimination clause in the Polish Constitution: all people are equal before the law and have the right to equal treatment by the public authorities, and no one may be discriminated against in political, social or economic life for any reason whatsoever. This principle does not specify criteria for prohibited forms of discrimination.

By 2010 Poland had transposed the equality directives, mainly in the employment field. Existing gaps, which caused some referrals to the European Court of Justice, mobilised the Polish Government to finally adopt the Act on the Implementation of Certain Provisions of the European Union in the Field of Equal Treatment that entered into force on 1 January 2011 (ETA).

Material scope

According to the Labour Code, in the field of employment any discrimination is forbidden, in particular with regard to concluding and terminating an employment relationship and the terms of employment, promotion and access to vocational training aimed at upgrading professional qualifications. The prohibition of discrimination also applies to all the institutions of the labour market, such as employment agencies and employment advice services as well as training courses for the unemployed.

Equality bodies

Until 2010, no institution or body was officially designated as the specialised body as required by Directive 2000/43. The 2010 ETAdesignatedthe Ombud’s Office as the equality body. The law appropriately amended the existing Act by granting the Ombud new competences (in addition to its very broad mandate of protecting human rights and freedoms). However, although the new law obliged the Ombud to undertake a number of responsibilities, the law on state budget did not envisage any additional resourcesandfunding for 2011.Notwithstanding these difficulties, the Ombud has started different functions foreseen by ETA.

Go to the European Commission - Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities This initiative is financed by the EC Programme Progress. But the views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect the official views of the EU institutions.