Working without a contract (an employment contract or a civil law contract) is illegal. It is associated with a lack of mandatory social insurance for the employee and non-payment of taxes, etc.
In general, the responsibility for signing the contract lies with the employer. If they deceive you regarding the signing of the contract or tax payments, they bear the responsibility. The employer is obliged to prepare a contract in two copies and give you one of them.
Working “off the books” can have direct consequences for you as an employee.
First and foremost, by working without a contract, you expose yourself to abuse and fraud. The absence of a contract means that it will be very difficult for you to enforce your rights with the labor inspectorate or labor court. Similarly, in the case of receiving part of your salary under the table, it is difficult to recover unofficially earned money if the employer is dishonest.
You can face legal consequences for working “off the books” in three cases:
- You do not have a valid visa or any other document authorizing your stay in Poland (meaning you are in Poland illegally).
- You do not have a work permit, and you are not exempt from it (like Ukrainian citizens currently).
- Your residence permit excludes you from working (e.g., you have a tourist visa).
For illegal work, you can receive a fine ranging from PLN 20 to PLN 5,000 (Article 120(2) of the Foreigners Act), be required to leave Poland, and receive a ban on re-entering the territory of the Republic of Poland and other Schengen countries for a period of 1 to 3 years (Article 318 and Article 319(2) of the Foreigners Act).
If you register as an unemployed person at the Labor Office and then take up employment without informing the office, you may be fined from PLN 500 to PLN 500.