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You are on holiday and your employer calls. What next?

19 Jul 2018 16:58|Andrzej Tomasik

You are lying under the palm trees, sailing, surfing, walking, weeding - in other words, spending your time off the way you want. And suddenly your boss calls, telling you that the situation at work requires you to return immediately. Do you have the right to refuse? Unfortunately not.

Long months of waiting, counting down the weeks, days, hours… . Finally, the summer break at work begins. Usually, two or three blessed weeks without your alarm clock, daily tasks, appointments, responsibility. It may seem that no work issues can interrupt your accepted leave. But that is not true.

What rights does your employer have? And what about you?

Article 167 of the Labour Code clearly states that an employer may terminate an employee's leave. However, it doesn't depend on the boss' whim. In the same article, the Labour Code stipulates that a dismissal may take place only if the circumstances, which could not have been predicted, require the employee's presence in the company [citation from the Labour Code at the end of the text].

What is behind this? It is highly probable that the opinions of your subordinates and superiors will differ. In such cases, we should refer to the unwritten first point of the military regulations, paraphrased into full-time worker language. Namely: (1) Your employer is always right. If your employer is wrong - see point 1.

Fortunately, there is another provision in the Labour Code that makes it easier for employees to rest during their holidays. The employer must take into account the fact that they will cover the costs incurred by the employee who is brought back to work early. These may turn out to be significant when it comes to e.g. a trip from one side of the earth to the other, price of flights and reimbursement for the unfinished part of the trip. However, foreign holidays are becoming more and more popular and are associated with more and more expenses. According to the Polish Chamber of Tourism report, last year Poles travelled most frequently to Greece, Bulgaria, Spain, Turkey and Egypt. The same report says that the average annual holiday price increased by 2-3%. This year, holidays in the eurozone can be even more expensive. "The average price of the European currency as of June 2017 was PLN 4.2083, whereas in June this year it was PLN 4.3054, according to the data from the National Bank of Poland," explains Bartosz Grejner, Analyst at Conotoxia.com, which provides online currency exchange and foreign money transfers.

Your call cannot be connected...

Only one thing can protect you from losing your holiday - a lack of contact. There is no obligation to be within reach via phone or email and to disclose your holiday destination to your employer. If your boss cannot get in contact with you, the Labour Code does not apply.

However, if an employer reaches a subordinate and then asks them to return to work as a matter of urgency on the grounds of extraordinary circumstances, any refusal may be treated as an unjustified failure to appear at work, with all the consequences. That would mean, in extreme circumstances, that the employment contract could be terminated in a disciplinary manner.

Selected from the Labour Code:

Article 167 Cancellation of an employee's leave

§ 1. The employer may interrupt an employee’s holiday only if their presence in the company is due to circumstances unforeseen at the start of the holiday.

§ 2.The employer is obliged to cover the costs incurred by the employee as a direct result of any cancellations.


19 Jul 2018 16:58|Andrzej Tomasik

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