The work certificate and certificate
The work certificate is a document you should receive from the employer immediately after termination or expiration of the employment contract. The employer issues a work certificate without additional application. The obligation to provide a work certificate occurs only when you work on the employment contract.
Article 97 § 1 of the Labour Code states that:
“in connection with the termination or expiration of the employment relationship, the employer is obliged to issue an employment certificate to the employee on the day on which the employment relationship ends, if he does not intend to establish another employment relationship with him within 7 days from the date of termination or expiration of the previous employment relationship. If for objective reasons, it is not possible to issue a work certificate to an employee or a person authorized by the employee within this period, the employer shall, within 7 days from the date of expiry of this period, send the work certificate to the employee or this person via a postal operator within the meaning of the Act of 23 November 2012. – Postal Law (Journal of Laws of 2022, item 896) or delivers them by other means.”
The employer has to give you a work certificate on the last day of the contract. They can hand it over to you, or a person authorized by you. If that is impossible, the employer should deliver the work certificate immediately via post or other means, no later than within seven days from the employment relationship termination date.
You can request a certificate of employment in connection with the termination or expiration of any employment contract at any time – for example, if the employer did not issue it to you despite the obligation. The employer is obliged to issue a work certificate within seven days from the date of application in writing. It can’t depend on whether you have settled with your employer.
What does the work certificate contain?
The work certificate should contain information on working time, the period of employment, the positions, the mode of termination or the circumstances of termination of the employment relationship (with an indication of the legal basis), as well as other information necessary to determine employee and social security rights, including information on:
- the number of days of leave taken by the employee in the calendar year in which the employment relationship ceased,
- the use of additional leave or other benefits provided for in the provisions of labour law,
- the period of unpaid leave and the legal basis for granting it,
- the use of parental leave and the legal basis for granting it,
- the use of childrearing leave and the legal basis for granting it,
- the total number of days for which the employee received remuneration and for which he did not retain the right to remuneration (according to art. 92 of the Labor Code in the calendar year in which the employment relationship terminated)
- performing temporary work, if such work took place, specifying the period and the entity for which the tasks were done,
- the use of the exemption from work, in the calendar year in which the employment relationship ceased (provided for in art. 188 of the Labour Code)
- the period for which the employee is entitled to compensation in connection with the shortening of the notice period of the employment contract (according to art. 1 of the Labour Code).
- the period of work in special conditions or of a special nature,
- non-contributory periods during the period of employment to which the certificate relates, taken into account in determining pension rights,
- data that employee requests
Errors in the work certificate – what should you do?
If the received work certificate contains false information, e.g. regarding the period of being on sick leave, you can ask the employer to correct it within 14 days of receiving it. In such a situation, the employer should clarify such a certificate. If the employer refuses to correct this document, you may submit such a request to the labour court within the next 14 days. If a correction is necessary, the employer issues a new work certificate with the actual current date of issue. In addition, the employer should attach a letter providing information on this correction – points that were corrected and should include a reference to the employee’s request to correct the work certificate.
Certificate of work after completion of the contract of mandate
Issuing a work certificate after the termination of the employment contract is mandatory and regulated by the Labour Code. Yet it applies only if you have an employment contract. The Contractor (a person employed based on a contract of mandate) by the Labour Code is not treated as an employee and does not have such rights as a person employed based on an employment contract. The Principal is not obliged to prepare such a document for the Contractor. However, you can apply for a certificate of employment. This certificate will only be a confirmation of work for a given company – it doesn’t prove holiday seniority (when submitting the certificate to a new employer, you cannot count on taking this period into account when determining how much holiday you should get).
The certificate received from the Principal should contain information on
- duration of the contract
- social security contributions
- % of income tax
Information on the remuneration and contributions can affect the receipt of unemployment benefits e.g. When you worked on a contract of mandate and register in the employment office, you are only entitled to unemployment benefit if you worked at least 365 days during the 18 months before registering in PUP for not less than the minimum wage (in 2022, the minimum remuneration is PLN 3010 gross).