Working in Poland
The job market
What are your chances of getting a job?
Poland was one of the only European countries that did not suffer greatly from the recent economic recession, but it still has many employment problems. Salaries are low and unemployment has long been a problem for young people, women and for those who live in populated areas and large cities.
There has been recent growth in the country, with opportunities in IT, finance, HR, business services and management. Foreign investment and plans to privatise some sectors means that Poland is one of the fastest developing EU countries. You will need to have an excellent grasp of Polish to secure a job.
It may be relatively easy to find part-time or temporary work, but securing a full-time graduate level role may be more difficult, particularly with the high unemployment rate that Poland faces.
A lot of graduates, even from the best universities in Poland, have difficulties in finding a good job.
To improve your chances of getting a good job in Poland, try to gain extra qualifications and work experience.
Where can you work?
- Major industries: machine building, food processing and beverages, chemicals, iron and steel, shipbuilding, glass, textiles, coal mining.
- Industries in decline: agriculture and metalwork.
- Shortage occupations: sales representatives and general office, industrial, construction and technical workers.
- Major companies: PKO Bank Polski (regional banks), PGE (electric utilities), Grupa PZU (insurance), Pgnig Group (oil and gas), KGHM Polska Miedz (metals and mining), PKN Orlen (oil and gas), Tauron Group (electric utilities).
What’s it like working in Poland?
- Average working hours: working hours should not exceed eight hours per day, or 40 hours in a five day working week. Overtime hours are possible, as is night-time work (classed as between 9pm and 7am).
- Holidays: annual leave is accrued after the first month of work. Employees who have worked for a year or more are entitled to at least 20 days paid annual leave, 26 days if they have worked for more than 10 years.
- Tax rates: Poland's tax system is progressive; the higher the income, the higher the rate of tax. The rate of income tax paid is 18% if you earn up to 85,528 PLN. If you earn over 85,528 PLN you pay 32% in income tax. Don't forget to check your UK tax and National Insurance position with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to ensure that you are not losing any UK pension rights.
Applying for jobs
Both foreign and Polish jobseekers can use the services of the Polish District Labour Offices to help find employment. These can be found in many of the major towns and you'll need to register by taking in your education certificates, any work-related certificates and personal ID. Opportunities through the District Labour Offices may be limited however and you may find better results with private recruitment agencies.
You can also apply for jobs online through recruitment websites, which can be done from outside of Poland. However, you may need to visit the country for some of the interview stages.
Applications are typically made with a CV and covering letter similar to those used in the UK. The covering letter should be tailored for the individual company stating why you'd like to work in Poland and how your skills and interests match the job advertised. Get more applications and CV advice.
Most recruiters will expect applications in Polish and you should write in this language unless the company has said they'll accept applications in English (or another language).
The interview process is similar to that in the UK and varies depending on the employer. You may be asked to take your certificates or references along to the interview; if you do make sure you find out if they should be translated into Polish.
Will your UK qualifications be recognised?
Following the Bologna Process and the creation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), UK qualifications are usually recognised by an employer.
Most jobs are advertised in Polish and relevant websites include:
Adverts in English are available from EURES – European Job Mobility Portal.
National and corporate members are listed at World Employment Confederation.
- Gazeta Wyborcza – features a job supplement ‘praca’ on Mondays
- Rzeczpospolita – job supplement on Wednesdays
- Warsaw Business Journal – has a careers section
- Zycie Warszawy – job supplement on Wednesdays
Jobs are also advertised in local daily newspapers.
Speculative applications are acceptable across the job market and are particularly effective for jobs in science.
Getting work experience
Erasmus+ is the EU programme for education, training, youth and sport for 2014-2020 and covers student exchange, work experience and volunteering opportunities. Both undergraduate and postgraduate students can study abroad for 3 to 12 months. Erasmus+ also provides opportunities for work experience for students to learn new skills or languages, as well as volunteering in different countries for between 2 weeks and 12 months.
Work placements and internships
- Course-related placements starting in the summer, lasting from four weeks up to one year for undergraduates of science, engineering, technology and applied arts courses, are available with IAESTE (International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience).
- Professional internships in management, technology, education and development are available from 6 weeks–18 months through AIESEC (Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales).
- You can search for various placements in Poland on Europlacement.
- Many international companies may offer internships and it is worth looking at their individual websites.
English native speakers are often needed for teaching English as a foreign language in state and private schools. Opportunities may be available through ELS-Bell School of English and Promar–International.
Casual work is most often found in bars, restaurants, shops, childcare or cleaning. Seasonal work is also possible. Recruitment agencies and Polish District Labour Offices can help with finding short-term vacancies. Also try searching in employment sections in various national and local newspapers.
Gap year and volunteering opportunities
Poland occupies a central location in Europe with good railway connections making it a gateway to both Western and Eastern European countries. iGapyear lists gap year projects available in Poland.
There are various opportunities for volunteering in Poland:
- Polish Humanitarian Organisation helps communities in crisis, both in Poland (regions that have suffered flooding, for example) and abroad (some of the projects were carried out in Somalia and Syria).
- Polish Work Camps has camps throughout the country which cover various activities.
- Volunteer Abroad offers a list of volunteer programmes around the globe, including Poland.
Do you need a visa?
Citizens from EU countries don't need a visa to enter or work in Poland. If you plan to stay for longer than three months you will need to register with the local ‘voivodeship’ office which will issue you with a temporary residence card. These are usually issued for up to two years and you may be able to apply for an extension at the end of it.
You may have to prove you have health insurance – or a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) – and sufficient money or funds to cover the cost of your stay. Further information can be found at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland.
If you're from a non-EU country, contact the Polish embassy in the country where you're currently living for information on whether you require a visa or work permit. If you're living in the UK, go to the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in London.
How do you become a permanent resident?
A person is eligible to apply for citizenship of Poland if they have resided in the country as a lawful permanent resident for at least five years. More information is available from the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in London.
Living in Poland
- Cost of living: it's less expensive in Poland than in other EU member states, although income also tends to be lower. Students can typically get 50% discount on public transport with a valid student ID card. Costs are highest in Warsaw and other large cities.
- Internet domain: .pl
- Currency: Zloty (PLN)
- Health: the Polish healthcare system is state-financed through the National Health Fund (NFZ) and everyone who is working in Poland is required to contribute to it. People who contribute and who are covered by the national health insurance system receive free primary health care. If you're an EU citizen, you should make sure you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before travelling to Poland. This entitles you to state-provided medical treatment. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Polish nationals, so if a Polish national has to pay a fee for treatment, you'll also have to pay a fee.
- Type of government: parliamentary republic
- Laws and customs: you are not allowed to drink in public places. If you're found by the police to be drunk in a public place you may be taken to a drying-out clinic and won't be released until you're sober. You will be required to pay for the stay at the clinic. Always cross roads at designated crossing points as jay-walking is an offence and results in a fine.
- Emergency numbers: the European emergency number 112 can be used in Poland for ambulances, fire service and police. UK citizens can get help in an emergency from the British Embassy Poland.
- People: Polish (97%); the remainder are German, Ukrainian and Belarusian.
- Major religion: Catholic 87% and lower numbers of Orthodox and Protestant.