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Homeland defence and the obligations of employers and employees


by Natalia Patecka, Katarzyna Adamczak

27 April 2022 

The Homeland Defence Act was promulgated on 23 March 2022. It regulates a number of obligations relating to, among others, national defence, recruitment for military service, types of service, and also deals with actions of employees and employers in this respect.

The following is an overview of that statute and some of the obligations of employees and employers related to remuneration, unpaid leave or benefits in the context of homeland defence.

Who is subject to conscription?

As a rule, Polish citizens between the age of 18 and 60 (i.e. from the day they turn 18 until the end of the calendar year in which they turn 60) must enlist. This obligation does not apply to: 

  • persons recognised as being permanently unfit for duty;
  • pregnant women and women for 6 months after giving birth;
  • persons taking care of children under 8 years of age;
  • persons taking care of, among others, children between 8 and 18, bed-ridden persons, persons with severe disabilities (provided that they cohabit with these persons and have no one else to ask to take over the care).

What are the employee's obligations after receiving the list of days on which they have to serve in territorial defence force or perform active reserve service in a given calendar year?

The Act stipulates that upon reading the list, soldiers of territorial defence force or in active reserve must immediately notify their employers of:

  1. dates on which they will perform territorial military service by rotation (in the case of territorial defence force) and military service (in the case of active reserve soldiers); 
  2. changes in those dates; and 
  3. being called up to perform that service on other days, subject to the exception below: 
      •    when a territorial defence soldier is called up to immediately report for territorial military service by rotation or when an active reserve soldier is called up to immediately report for service:
  •  then the commander of the military unit to which the soldier is called up notifies that soldier’s employer of this fact;
  •  for territorial defence soldiers this is done immediately upon the soldier's arrival for duty, and in the case of active reserve soldiers, the act stipulates only that it is done “immediately”.

Is the employer obliged to grant the employee time off work/unpaid leave to defend homeland?


Pursuant to the Act, an employee called up for active military service, excluding professional military service, and for reserve service may ask the employer to release him from work for 2 days, without pay. In such a case, the employer must consent. However, the Act stipulates that this procedure does not apply in the case of being called up to immediately report for duty.

Furthermore, an employee who serves in territorial defence force by rotation, on a one-off basis, uninterruptedly for at least 30 days, may request the employer to grant him time off work after such service. The employee may request 1 day but without pay. In such a case, the employer must approve the employee's request.

In addition, if employers choose so, the Act gives them the right to pay the aforementioned employees remuneration for time off work at the employers' own expense.


In the case of unpaid leave, an employee who is undergoing training (referred to in Article 143(2) of the Act, i.e. basic or specialist training) as part of voluntary basic military service is entitled to unpaid leave for the duration of the training. The employer cannot terminate the employment relationship with the trainee or serve a notice of termination. This prohibition lasts from the date on which the employer is informed about the basic training until the date of its completion and during the period of specialised training, as well as for 12 months following its completion date. The Act stipulates that Articles 303(1) and 303(3) of the Act apply accordingly then.

  • to a probation employment contract or a contract of employment for a definite period of no more than 24 months;
  • if/when the employer is declared bankrupt or the company enters into liquidation;
  • in situations specified in the Labour Code (Article 52 of the Labour Code) and the Act on special principles of terminating employment relationships with employees for reasons not attributable to employees (Article 1(1) of the Act).

Furthermore, these regulations do not apply if the employer can terminate the employment contract without notice for reasons attributable to the employee and in the event of the employer's bankruptcy or liquidation, in which case this is done according to general principles.

Unpaid leave for the time in service is also granted to an employee called up for territorial defence duty by rotation. However, this does not apply to service performed on a single occasion or during a time or day off. To be granted the leave, the employee submits to the employer a leave request. If an employee is called up to immediately report for duty, the leave is granted on the basis of a notification from the head of the military recruitment centre.

In such case, the employee will retain all rights arising from the employment relationship except for the right to remuneration throughout the unpaid leave granted by the employer. These regulations apply accordingly to reserve soldiers.

Can a soldier's employer receive any additional benefit?

The Act offers a cash benefit for an employer who hires an employee being a reservist or a territorial defence soldier, for the time he is in service.

The cash benefit "includes compensation for costs only, excluding amounts of remuneration, incurred by the employer for hiring a new employee under a fixed-term employment contract to replace the soldier, referred to in paragraph 1, or for entrusting this replacement to another employee so far hired by the employer, as well as for paying a severance pay referred to in Article 306(2) to a territorial defence soldier" (Article 309(2) of the Act).

The application should be submitted no later than within 90 days of the date of discharge of the reserve soldier or territorial defence soldier from such service, to the head of the military recruitment centre competent for the employer's registered office.

The amount of the cash benefit for each day of service by the soldier which the employer may apply for cannot exceed 1/22 of two and half times the average monthly salary in the enterprise sector in force in the quarter immediately preceding the date of the call-up for that service. The amount of the benefit will be paid each time:

  • for the time of territorial military service performed by rotation or
  • for days of service in the reserve (in this case, for the month in which the service is performed).

If a called-up soldier is hired by several employers, the benefit is payable to all the employers pro rata to the costs they incur, however, the amount of the benefit for each day of the service must not be higher for any of the employers than that calculated in accordance with the guidelines provided in the preceding paragraph.

Is the employer obliged to hire the employee called up for service in his previous job position?

The employer who employed the employee on the day of him being called-up for basic military service must reinstate that employee to his position or an equivalent position as to the type of job and the remuneration. This obligation applies if the employee reports to his previous employer within 30 days of being discharged from the service.

When the employee obtains other or higher professional qualifications during his basic military service, the employer must hire the employee, insofar as possible, in a position which matches the qualifications gained by him in the military. The employee should make a relevant request to the employer in this regard.

Can an employee called up for basic military service or territorial defence service be fired?

Pursuant to the Act, the employment relationship with an employee called up for basic military service or territorial military service may be terminated, but only with the employee's consent.


This does not apply if:

  • the employee is hired under a probation employment contract or a contract of employment for a definite period of no more than 12 months;
  • the employment relationship may be terminated without notice for reasons attributable to the employee; or
  • the work establishment is declared bankrupt or goes into liquidation. 

Furthermore, a termination notice has no effect if the notice period expires after the employee is called up for the service. The employee may, however, still terminate the employment relationship at his request.

The Act entered into force on 23 April 2022. 


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Katarzyna Małaniuk

Attorney at law (Poland)

Associate Partner

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