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

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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.

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?:

  • an 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?

You can refer to the Art. 218 §1 of the Criminal Code, which specifies that malicious or persistent violation of employee rights is a crime.

Acts classified as crimes against the rights of workers can relate to:

  • social security – when the employer doesn’t register workers for social insurance
  •  occupational health and safety – when the employer fails to comply with health and safety regulations
  •  negligence of accidents at work
  •  malicious or persistent violation of the employee’s rights under the employment relationship or social insurance, for example, lack of payments or deducting illegal penalties

Not paying employee wages or benefits ordered by a court is a crime, regardless of the employer’s intent. But if there’s no court order to pay, not paying is only a minor offence.

Crime vs minor offence

For an employer to be charged with intentionally violating an employee’s rights, their actions must be shown to be intentional, malicious, or persistent. Malicious intent means they want to harm the employee; persistence refers to repeat or long-lasting violations. However, if a violation isn’t malicious or persistent, it’s considered a minor offence, not a crime.

Accidents at work – when does an employer commit a crime?

In workplace accidents, employers must give first aid, investigate and act to prevent future similar accidents. They are obliged to address and reduce risks.

In case of serious accidents, they must also notify the local labour inspector and prosecutor. A severe workplace accident involves significant injuries, diseases, or disabilities drastically affecting the victim’s life or appearance. Not doing so can lead to a fine between PLN 1,000 and PLN 30,000. Deliberate failure to report can result in even heftier penalties.

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