What are the basic differences between employment contract and mandate agreement?

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There are two main ways people can work:

  1. As an employee under employment laws.
  2. As a non-employee under general civil laws.

An employment contract is used when someone is hired as an employee. In this setup, the worker (employee) agrees to do specific work for someone (the employer). The employer decides where, when, and how the work is done. The employee gets paid for their work. This type of work follows the rules set by the Polish Labor Code.

A mandate agreement is different. It’s for non-employee work and follows the Civil Code, not the Labor Code. Here, a person (the contractor) promises to do a specific task for someone else (the principal). It offers more flexibility and can include special arrangements, like extra pay for extra hours or paid time off.

In short: Employment contracts are for regular jobs with set rules. Mandate agreements are more flexible and can have special terms.

Employment contract:Contract of mandate
Legal basis – Labor CodeLegal basis – Civil Code
The employee always performs the work personally – no possibility to indicate a substitutePossible assignment of work to a substitute – a person indicated by the contractor
Minimum monthly wage guaranteeMinimum hourly wage guarantee
Employer decides on the place and time of workNo set hours and no specific place of work
The employer has the right to give work-related instructionsNo specific instructions or ongoing orders
Contributions for pension, disability, sickness, accident and health insurance are paid by the employer and the employeeContributions for pension, disability, accident and health insurance are paid by the principal, if the contract of mandate is the only title to social insurance. Sickness insurance is voluntary
The right to sick leaveThe right to sick leave only if one has registered for voluntary sickness insurance
The right to paid annual leave
The right to special leave
The right to leave on demand
No right to paid annual leave (unless otherwise agreed in the contract)
No right to special leave
No right to leave on demand
The right to maternity and childcare leave
The obligation to extend a pregnant employee’s contract
Right to maternity benefit and leave for childcare only if reported to voluntary sickness insurance
There is no obligation to extend the contract with a pregnant employee
Pursuit of claims ine the Labor CourtPursuit of claims in the Civil Court
The right to compensation for overtime hours in the form of time off or the payment of an allowanceNo right to overtime hours compensation in form of time off or payment of bonus
Notice period regulated by Labour Code (at least two weeks) – valid for the employer and employeeCan be terminated immidiatly at any time

Remember – if you work under contract of mandate, but your need to be at work at specific time and in specific place, and your work is directly supervised, you in fact work under provisions of Labour Code. In the instance of Labour Inspectorate control, your employer can be forced to change your to employment contract. That also means that you can go with your case to the Labour Court, demand compensation for dismissal without a notice period, claim compensation for overtime and unused leave etc.

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