When does an employer commit a crime? What can we do?


When an employer commits a crime, and we know about it, we can react independently and report this information to law enforcement authorities (e.g. Police, Prosecutor’s Office).

How to file a crime report?

Crime can be reported in two ways:

  • Personally, at the police station competent for the place of the crime
  • In writing to the appropriate Police unit or the District Prosecutor’s Office competent according to the place of the crime

What should you include in such a notification?:

  • a more accurate description of the event
  • if possible, identification of the perpetrator of the crime or the person suspected of committing it
  • notifier personal data, correspondence address and telephone number
  • indication of the injured party, if different from the one notifying
  • indication of the time and place of the act
  • determination of the amount of damage suffered in the case of crimes against property
  • providing any witnesses
  • information about the evidence in your possession, in particular when there is a risk of their loss or distortion
  • the letter should be dated and signed.

What articles can you refer to?

Art. 218 §1 of the Criminal Code Who, performing activities in the field of labour law and social insurance, maliciously or persistently violates the rights of the employee resulting from the employment relationship or social insurance, commits a crime and is subject to a fine, penalty of restriction of liberty or imprisonment for up to 2 years.

A person who knows about a crime should notify law enforcement (police or prosecutor) authorities of the suspicion.

Acts classified as crimes against the rights of persons performing paid work divide into:

  • failure to report relevant data for social security
  • malicious or persistent violation of the employee’s rights under the employment relationship or social insurance
  • related to the failure to comply with the obligation resulting from the responsibility for health and safety at work, and
  • negligence relating to accidents at work.

The offence of malicious or persistent violation of the rights of the employment relationship can only be committed intentionally, with direct intent. The complainant must show that the employer intended to infringe on the employee’s rights.

Not every intentional violation of an employee’s rights is grounds for criminal liability. The commission of a crime is determined by the malice or persistence of the law violation. Deciding malice depends on the offender’s will to cause the employee pain or discomfort. Persistence relates to repeatability or a long duration of the breach.

Please note that a violation of an employee’s rights that is not malicious or persistent (and therefore not a crime) may be classified as a minor offence against employee rights.

The most common cases of violation of the employee’s rights are refusal to conclude an employment contract, refusal to issue a work certificate, and failure to pay remuneration for work or other benefits from an employment relationship or social insurance.

Persistent or malicious violation of employee rights is prosecuted ex officio without requiring the victim to submit a request to initiate proceedings (it is usually necessary to notify the prosecutor or the police about it). However, during criminal proceedings, the employee may request compensation for damage or harm caused by violating their rights.

The refusal to pay remuneration for work or other benefits resulting from the employment relationship by the person obliged to do so by a court decision is also considered a crime of malicious or persistent violation of rights. In this case, the persistence or malice of the perpetrator’s negligence is irrelevant.

Failure to pay remuneration for work is not a crime if the obligation to pay does not result from a court decision (it is a minor offence).

Following Article 234 § 1 of the Labor Code, in the event of an accident at work, the employer is obliged to take the necessary measures to eliminate or reduce the risk, ensure that the injured gets first aid and determine the circumstances and causes of the accident in the prescribed manner, and take appropriate measures to prevent similar accidents in the future.

In addition, by Art. 234 § 2 of the Labor Code, the employer must immediately notify the competent district labour inspector and the prosecutor about a fatal, severe or collective accident at work and about any other accident that caused the effects mentioned above, related to work, if it can be considered an accident at work.

Failure to notify the authorities mentioned above of a fatal, severe or collective accident at work following Art. 283 § 2 point 6 of the Labor Code is punished with a fine ranging from PLN 1,000 to PLN 30,000. In addition, intentional failure to comply with the above obligation constitutes an offence that, by Art. 221 of the Criminal Code, is subject to a fine of up to 180 daily rates or a penalty of restriction of liberty.

Therefore, to avoid the above consequences, it is worth reporting the event to the relevant authorities already at the stage of suspicion that it might have caused an effect corresponding to the definition of a severe accident at work.

A serious accident at work is an accident resulting in severe bodily injury, consisting of loss of sight, speech, reproductive capacity or other physical injury or health disorder, violating the essential functions of the body, as well as an incurable or life-threatening disease, permanent mental illness, total or partial inability to work in the profession or permanent, significant disfigurement or deformation of the body.