Tackling The Pay Gap In Poland: From "Nice To Have" To Essential

Littler Mendelson


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Poland and other EU countries will have to implement the principles of equal pay and transparency into their laws by June 7, 2026, to comply with Directive (EU) 2023/970 of the European Parliament and Council of May 10, 2023, which imposes new obligations on employers.
Poland Employment and HR
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  • EU Directive 2023-970 requires Poland and other EU Member States to transpose principles of equal pay and transparency into their laws by June 7, 2026.
  • Among other requirements, employers must report or publish pay-related data, and provide salary ranges for job applicants.
  • Preparing now will allow employers to conduct a comprehensive analysis of their pay practices and introduce possible solutions to improve reportable data.

Poland and other EU countries will have to implement the principles of equal pay and transparency into their laws by June 7, 2026, to comply with Directive (EU) 2023/970 of the European Parliament and Council of May 10, 2023, which imposes new obligations on employers. The purpose of this legislation is to enforce the directive's principle of "equal pay for work of equal value," with a significant focus on closing the gender pay gap across the EU.

Although there is a relatively long time left for EU Member States to implement the directive, employers should already start preparing for the upcoming changes. Considering the nature of these obligations, it is best to deal with them internally at first, and to do so progressively, in a carefully planned step-by-step process. This is needed due to the complexity and breadth of the changes.

From a business point of view, the directive's rules represent another set of new obligations not only towards employees and job applicants, but also towards trade unions. The upcoming changes will affect not only the transparency of remuneration itself, but also the nature of the pay model and rules adopted by the employer. The enacted directive is not just a simple "employment and labor" regulation. The implementation of the new legislation may also affect a company's position in the market, its ability to attract and retain qualified employees, as well as the very perception of the company and its products and services offered.

The gender pay gap is a serious problem for some Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries. According to Eurostat research, countries such as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia and Estonia lead the way in the gender pay gap, with the imbalance in earnings between men and women in Estonia reaching as high as 21.3% in 2022. There is, however, good news in this area for some of the CEE countries. In Poland, the gender pay gap as targeted by the new directive is below 5%, already at a relatively good level, especially when compared to the so-called "old EU" members. Poland-based business may have an upper hand in this respect, but the significance of the changes to come cannot be underestimated. Polish employers will still have to adapt to the new regulations, which will certainly be time-consuming. Postponing the decision to implement appropriate procedures in an organization can be risky and costly.

What will the new directive introduce?

Employers will be required to report or publish pay-related data. These include, among others, the pay gap between all female and male employees, or the median pay gap between all female and male employees. Moreover, each employee, as well as their representatives (including, most notably, trade unions) will be able to obtain information on individual and average pay levels by gender for categories of employees performing the same work or work of equal value. In practice, this will probably mean that information on remuneration will be available to all employees internally. This will impact an employer's ability to control what information becomes public, e.g., shared on social media.

A significant development is also going to be the obligation to provide job applicants – before the job interview – with information on salary ranges for all applicable jobs. While this does not necessarily mean publishing this information in the job advertisement, the employer will have to provide this information at an early recruitment stage.

How to prepare for change?

The primary step should be an extensive audit of the current employment structure, remuneration system, and transparency within the company. It is worth paying attention to the core principles of the current remuneration policy, and the tools the company uses to attract and retain employees. In our everyday practice, we often encounter situations in which employees perform the same work or work of equal value, but are paid differently or under a different remuneration system. This may be for a variety of reasons, for instance related to past changes in the company's structure, changes in ownership, market fluctuations or perhaps even important projects that required last-minute hiring. Under the new directive, such a state of affairs will not be acceptable. The corporate organizational structure and the organizational scheme itself, regardless of remuneration rates, may merit additional attention. Often employees perform the same or similar duties while holding positions with different names, or within different grades. In light of the new legislation, such employees should be included in one group – and thus the assumption is that they should be paid equally.

Undertaking a careful examination of the current workforce composition, reporting channels, job descriptions, job titles, responsibilities and remuneration rates is the first major issue that needs to be addressed. If such a process is carried out early enough, it is possible to implement solutions in the company that comply with the pay equity rules without spending a lot of money in the future.

Why should employers start preparing now?

Starting early enough allows employers to conduct a comprehensive analysis, their own audit of any pay gap, and the introduction of possible solutions to improve reportable data. Tackling this issue in question even before the directive is implemented enables companies to perform their first review and assessment fully internally and confidentiality. Adapting the organization ahead of the mandatory public disclosure that the Directive will introduce may help avoid PR damage and protect a company from potential employee claims.

The new rules provide for significant trade union involvement. Thus, at least some companies may consider introducing necessary changes as soon as possible to bypass the special provisions for consultation (and agreement) with trade unions.

Implementing the proper measures ahead of the transposition of EU regulations into Polish law will certainly have a positive effect on the company's reputation and its appeal on the labor market. It's always good to be proactive and not wait until the last minute to try to comply. After all, acting now allows employers to test and improve their policies before the law requires they be set in stone. 2026 is closer than you think.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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