A few weeks ago we were contacted by Alla, who worked for an NGO in the Kazimierz quarter of Krakow, seemingly concerned with building the local community. Unfortunately, it did not care equally about employee rights!

The organisation “employed” Alla on a volunteer contract, while at the same time giving him a document to sign about the settlement of so-called “paid hours”, accruing at selected times in the morning and evening. In a nutshell, Alla was working as a volunteer during the day and in the after-hours of volunteering work illegally. 😕 Employers passed the payment “under the table”, running it through an individual’s account. Unfortunately, it came to light that this was a certain culture of employment by the organisation and that the problem affected more people, including refugees and migrants from Ukraine and Belarus.

Alla asserted his rights. He not only negotiated a higher hourly rate, but also demanded a contract for his work. His duties mainly included working at the reception desk, handling events [waiter service, cleaning]. This means that in every sense of the word, an employment relationship was taking place: the time and place of work were set by the employer, and the employee was subject to work orders. Alla therefore asked for a suitable contract – an employment contract. He was offered a contract of mandate, and when he cited specific provisions of the Labour Code, the person in charge of drawing up the contract challenged him with ‘sh*theads’ and used verbal violence aimed at humiliating the employee, who, in a matter-of-fact, cultural manner and in accordance with the Code, was only trying to enforce compliance with the letter of the law.

Eventually, for another month, the organisation did not pay Alla for May. This was a salary of approximately 900 PLN. For any person, this is a not insignificant amount of money, especially for a student who is just going to university, and on top of that, his first experience on the labour market is an exploitation. However, the organisation wanted to pay the outstanding money, but… it had no basis for doing so, as it had not concluded a contract with Alla. 📄

So, due to the whole situation, we intervened at the workplace, during which it was suggested to sign a retroactive contract, which would have been invalid anyway ❗❗ We then prepared a pre-court summons for payment, and Alla reported the whole situation to the State Labour Inspectorate, which decided to make an inspection. In response to the action taken, the employer paid the outstanding wages 💪💪💪.

If the story described is similar to one that happened to you or someone you know, but the thought crossed your mind that it wouldn’t work or it wouldn’t be worth trying to fight, now you know that it is always worth it, because in addition to the possibility of filing a complaint with the State Labour Inspectorate or redirecting the case to the court, there is also the UHR team, an organisation that helps absolutely free of charge in matters related to employee rights.