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Working in Poland as a Nanny

Many Polish families are seeking assistance from foreigners, such as nannies, governesses, caregivers for the elderly, or individuals performing domestic work. While families are not commercial organizations with well-known employment methods, foreign workers still require legal protection of their interests.

Can a Polish family enter into an employment contract with a foreigner?
This possibility is legally provided and available to both families/citizens who are entrepreneurs and to employees, farmers, and individuals with any other status.

General conditions that must be met for employing a foreigner:

1. Possession of a work permit document (if there are no grounds for working without permission).
2. Signed contract.
3. Legal residence.
4. Payment of all applicable taxes and social contributions for the employee.
5. The employee must be of legal age and capable of performing work.

Each of these points (except for the final one, which is self-explanatory) will be discussed in detail later. For now, let's address another question.

Who should enter into a contract with a foreigner?
Household assistance, housekeeper
If the assistance refers to tasks such as cleaning, cooking, shopping, etc., processes not directly related to caregiving, the contract can be signed with any family member or several members simultaneously.

This is the simplest form of relationship, where the responsibility (as an employer) lies with the person who signed the contract with the foreigner.

Assistance in caring for a disabled or elderly person.

This is a more specific case. The contract can be signed with the person with limited capabilities or the elderly person if they are officially recognized as capable, or with a family member.

In cases of incapacity, the contract can only be signed with the official guardian(s) of the person.

It is important to emphasize that we are specifically referring to work within a family, i.e., home care and not in specialized institutions. Employment in institutions follows the rules of regular employment.
Nannies, governesses
In these cases, the specifics of the contract parties are more pronounced. If the minor child has two parents/guardians, the contract must be signed by both of them. Otherwise, the document may be deemed invalid.

Only in the absence of the second parent/guardian can the contract be concluded with the one remaining.

"Absence of a parent" refers to single mothers or fathers, widows, widowers, divorced individuals, or unmarried individuals who have decided to live separately, as well as cases where the second parent has been deprived of parental rights or is serving a prison sentence.
Is there a difference between a governess and a nanny in Poland?
Governess, in-home caregiver, assistant in upbringing—these and other terms can be used. From a legal standpoint, they are not essential, but there is one important term whose meaning is crucial—nanny.

"Niania" (Polish for nanny) is a helper (female assistant) in the care and upbringing of a child whose age is over 20 weeks but less than 3 years. This is a fundamental aspect because only those falling under the definition of "nanny" can enter into an Umowa uaktywniająca—a highly advantageous contract, which will be explained in detail later.

Accordingly, for children older than 3 years, a person cannot be hired as a nanny, although the profession may be called differently. Most often, it will simply be referred to as "Opiekunka domowa" (housekeeper).

Employment of a foreigner in a Polish family.

The difference between employing a helper in a Polish family who is a Polish or EU citizen and a foreigner from third countries, as in any other case, lies in the need for the latter to obtain a work permit document.

However, there are specific categories of foreigners (hereinafter referred to as "foreigners" meaning individuals from third countries) who are exempt from the requirement to obtain a permit. You can find information about such cases in this article.

Another type of document, a seasonal permit of type S, is excluded as it is not suitable for this type of work. Therefore, two types of work invitations are applicable to foreigners: "Oświadczenie" or "Zezwolenie" (Declaration or Permit).

Oświadczenie (Statement of Intent to Employ a Foreigner)

Oświadczenie (slang for "Oświadczenie o zamiarze powierzenia pracy cudzoziemcowi" in Polish) is a document that allows foreigners from Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, and Moldova (citizens of Russia have been excluded from this list, while citizens of Ukraine can work without any permits) to work in Poland for up to 24 consecutive months.
The employer submits the statement at the PUP (Poviatowy Urząd Pracy - District Labor Office) within a relatively short time (2-4 weeks at the time of publication of this material). The cost is 100 złotych, paid by the employer.

All the details about this type of document can be found in this article. Here and further, the main point to understand is that a Polish family can issue it, even without being a legal entity, individual entrepreneur, etc.

Upon the completion of one statement, another one can be immediately opened (previously, statements were issued for only 180 days, after which it was not possible to work for the next 180 days - these restrictions have been lifted) or a permit can be used.

Zezwolenie (Type A Work Permit)
Zezwolenie (Polish for "Zezwolenie na prace typ A") is a full-fledged work permit in Poland issued to foreigners from other countries (excluding EU citizens) who are not allowed to work without a special work document. It is issued for a period of 3 months to 3 years.

Another name for this permit is "voivodship invitation" or "voivodship permit." The document takes longer to process than a statement (it can take several months). The employer submits it to the voivodship office. The cost is 100 złotych. For more details about Zezwolenie, you can read this article.

A few important points to note are:
- Working without one of the mentioned documents will be considered illegal, with all the consequences that follow, unless the foreigner is exempt from the permit requirement.
- The employer is responsible for paying for any of the documents, and demanding money from the employee (applicant) is a violation.
- The document is issued for a specific employer (in this case, the family or its member).
- You can find the addresses of district and voivodship offices here.
- Changing employers will require a change in the work permit document.

It is worth mentioning the option of a Single Residence and Work Permit (Karta Pobytu), which will be discussed in detail later.

Legalizing a Nanny or Housekeeper in Poland

In addition to the work permit document, a foreigner must have a legal basis for staying in the country. The statement or permit itself does not serve as such, but it can be a reason for applying for the corresponding visa.

When in their home country, a foreigner planning to work in a Polish family should obtain a document from the potential employer allowing them to work, which will then be used to enter Poland based on:
1. Visa-free regime: Currently available only to citizens of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia among the considered CIS countries. It allows a stay, and therefore work, for up to 90 days within a six-month period.
2. Schengen visa: Similar to the previous option, for citizens of other countries or those who, for some reason, do not have access to the visa-free regime (e.g., no biometric passport).
3. Visa D05a: This is a national visa for up to 365 days per year, issued based on the statement.
4. Voivodship visa D06: Similar to the previous visa, valid for up to a year without corridors before or after, issued based on the permit.

These grounds are either already available to the foreigner (visa-free regime) or are obtained in their home country. The grounds can be combined (e.g., visa-free regime after the expiration of a visa) or extended.

One option is obtaining a residence card for work, which can also be obtained based on working in a Polish family. The process of obtaining a residence permit is not simple, and you can find all the details in the articles of this section.

It is also possible to use a residence permit obtained on other grounds (e.g., already having a residence card) or for other reasons (e.g., temporary protection for Ukrainians).

What Type of Employment Contract Can Be Signed?

Signing a contract is a mandatory requirement for any legal employment. The issue of with whom the foreigner should conclude the contract has already been discussed above, so now let's talk about the types of contracts that are available. They include:

1. Umowa o pracę (Employment contract): A full-fledged employment contract that complies with the Labor Code. This type of contract provides the highest level of protection for the employee's rights. It can be concluded for a trial period, a fixed term, as a replacement, or for an indefinite period. The salary cannot be lower than the minimum wage set by the government.

2. Umowa zlecenie (Contract for specific task): One of the most popular contracts in Poland, especially for foreigners. However, there is a tendency, encouraged by the government, to reduce the number of such contracts.

For more details about each type of contract, refer to the corresponding articles mentioned above.

Labor legislation exemptions: Minimal worker rights protection
It is important to note that certain employment arrangements in Poland are exempt from labor legislation, resulting in minimal worker rights protection. However, under these exemptions, employers have the opportunity to pay lower social contributions, allowing them to earn more. The monthly wages can be lower than the established minimum if the number of hours worked is minimal, but the minimum hourly wage requirement must still be met.

It is crucial to understand that under certain conditions, the legislative framework prohibits the use of specific task contracts (Umowa zlecenie). Employers who violate these regulations can be fined.

Umowa uaktywniająca (Activation Contract)
The Umowa uaktywniająca is a type of contract that was previously announced as the most advantageous. However, its benefits are primarily related to the level of wages and not the protection of workers' rights.

The Umowa uaktywniająca is a subtype of the specific task contract (Umowa zlecenie), which can only be concluded by a foreigner who falls under the definition of a "nanny" (Polish: niania) and is responsible for the care of children aged 20 weeks to 3 years.

The main advantage of this contract is the method of social contribution payments for the employee, which includes pension, disability, accident insurance, and health insurance (ubezpieczenia emerytalne, rentowe i wypadkowe, ubezpieczenie zdrowotne):

- ZUS (Social Insurance Institution) calculates and pays social contributions to the employee based on 50% of the minimum monthly wage (subsidized by the government).
- The employer (family) calculates and pays contributions to ZUS for the employee only on the portion of wages exceeding 50% of the minimum wage.
This allows the employer to increase the overall payment amount, but it is not guaranteed. Under the current legislation, the wage amount is determined through mutual agreement between the parties.

How to formalize an Umowa uaktywniająca?
The process of formalizing an Umowa uaktywniająca is similar to that of a specific task contract (Umowa zlecenie).

The key provisions to include in the contract are:
- Information about the contracting parties.
- The purpose and subject of the contract.
- Time and place of childcare services.
- Duties of the nanny.
- Wage amount, calculation method, payment terms, and methods.
- Contract duration, including the start date (without which the contract will be considered effective from the date of signing) and termination details (for fixed-term contracts).
- Conditions and procedures for contract amendments.
The Umowa uaktywniająca can be concluded for a fixed or indefinite period. It is also recommended to specify and include living arrangements and conditions in the contract.

Guide to Employment in a Polish Family
Let's summarize the information and outline the sequence of actions for a foreign worker who is still in their home country and unfamiliar with the potential employer:

1. Job search.
2. Negotiations and agreement on conditions.
3. The family arranges the necessary declaration or permit (those exempt from the permit can skip this step and the next).
4. The original document is sent to the worker.
5. The worker applies for a visa (or decides on visa-free entry if eligible—those already in Poland on legal grounds can skip this and the next step).
6. Crossing the border.
7. Arrival at the potential workplace.
8. Contract signing.
9. Notification of ZUS and PUP/voivodship labor office.
10. Commencement of employment.

Working as a nanny, household helper, or caregiver for the elderly—while the terminology may be ethically questionable—refers to a distinct type of employment in Poland. Such work has its specific characteristics, and we have covered most of the nuances in detail.

If anything remains unclear, you can ask your question in the comments section of this article. However, please ensure that the topic of the comment aligns with the content of the article.

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