Employment certificate sent to the employee's outdated address - what next?

Service

After the end of the employment relationship, the employer is obliged to immediately provide the employee with an employment certificate. However, direct contact with the dismissed employee is not always possible. In such a situation, the certificate is usually sent by post. But what if the document is returned to the employer because it has been sent to an invalid address? We explain the details in the article.

Handing a certificate of employment

As mentioned, the employment certificate is a very important document and there are strict deadlines for its issuance. They result directly from the Labor Code, where, as can be read in Art. 97 § 1: "In connection with the termination or expiry of the employment relationship, the employer is obliged to issue an employment certificate to the employee on the day on which the employment relationship ends, if it does not intend to enter into another employment relationship with him within 7 days from the date of termination or expiry of the previous employment relationship".

Therefore, there is no problem in the case when the employee works until the last day - then on the last day the employer hands the document to the employee, who confirms receipt of the document with his signature. Unfortunately, this solution is not always possible. If, for objective reasons, it is not possible to issue a work certificate to an employee or a person authorized by him within this period, the employer should send the work certificate to the employee or that person via the postal operator, within 7 days from the expiry of that period, or provides it in another way. When it comes to 'otherwise' delivery, this is generally a courier service or - less commonly - delivery by another employee.

Sending the employment certificate by Poczta Polska

Although the Labor Code stipulates that the employer is obliged to issue the certificate within a specific time limit, the form of service itself is not fully specified. As can be seen in the act, it should be done by post or otherwise. Most often, however, employers still use the most common form, which is Poczta Polska. In practice, the prepared work certificate is sent by registered mail with confirmation of receipt. If the employee collects the employment certificate, then the confirmation of receipt with the employee's signature returns to the sender - this confirmation should be attached to the previously issued employment certificate. The situation becomes a bit more complicated if the stanza is not returned to the employer for various reasons. Then it is worth using the option of tracking the shipment: you can verify there whether it has been delivered or has been advised. It is worth mentioning that both the first and the second option meet the requirement to deliver the certificate to the employee. However, there may be a situation when the certificate will be returned to us, e.g. due to an out-of-date address of the employee.

Invalid delivery address

Concerns arise when the certificate is returned to the employer as there is an address mismatch. In this case, the employer should also not worry, because he fulfilled his obligation and sent the certificate to the address provided by the employee. Therefore, the employee may not appeal to the employer that he has failed to fulfill his obligation. Immediate sending of the employment certificate, i.e. in this case sending it to the address indicated by the employee, fully meets the requirements imposed by Art. 97 of the Labor Code.

An employee may not make a claim against the employer if the certificate has been sent to the address he provided. It is the employee's responsibility to report the change of address.

The employer is not obliged to determine the current address of the employee and should recognize that he has fulfilled the obligation to issue a certificate of employment.

When will the employee receive compensation?

If the employer sends the employment certificate by post to the employee's obsolete address, as mentioned before, it does not give the employee the right to claim. The situation is somewhat different when the employer does not issue an employment certificate at all. Then the employee is entitled to a claim for compensation for the damage caused by the employer. Not always, however, the mere failure to issue an employment certificate will immediately result in the necessity to pay compensation. To do this, a total of 3 conditions must be met:

  • the employer did not issue the certificate at all or did not issue the correct employment certificate;
  • the employee has suffered damage;
  • there is a cause-and-effect relationship between not issuing a certificate and being unemployed.

If the employer does not exist or for other reasons it is impossible to bring an action against him for the obligation to issue an employment certificate, the employee has the right to apply to the labor court with a demand to establish the right to receive an employment certificate.

Therefore, if an employee believes that the employer's failure to issue an employment certificate has affected his situation, including being unemployed, then on his part there is a need to prove that this effect results directly from the failure to issue the certificate, and not from other ancillary obstacles. The amount of compensation is set forth in Art. 99 § 2 of the Labor Code, defined as the amount of remuneration for the period of unemployment due to the inability to present a proper work certificate. However, the amount of compensation is limited and is due in the amount of remuneration for the period of unemployment for this reason, but not longer than 6 weeks.

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Issue of a certificate of employment before the end of the contract

There are times when an employee insists on obtaining a certificate of employment even before the end of the employment relationship. This situation is unacceptable - the employment certificate should be issued only after the employment relationship has ended, not earlier.

The employment certificate should be issued after the employment relationship has ended, not earlier.

For example, there may be a situation where, after the earlier certificate has been issued on the last day of the employment relationship, the employee has an accident or falls ill - then the previously issued employment certificate will be defective and it will be necessary to correct it.

Who can be issued a certificate of employment?

The work certificate should be handed over to the employee on the last day of his work. There are situations when an employee is unable to pick it up and does not want to receive the document by post. In this situation, the employee may submit an authorization to the employer. It results directly from the regulation on the detailed content of the employment certificate as well as the method and procedure for issuing and straightening it.

Art. 2 sec. 1 of the regulation on the detailed content of the employment certificate and the manner and procedure for issuing and straightening it:

"The employer issues a work certificate directly to the employee or a person authorized by the employee in writing - on the day on which the employment relationship is terminated or expires".

There is no one publicly available model for such authorization. It should contain basic data, both of the employee and the authorized person, such as:

  • name and surname of the employee who grants it;
  • name and surname of the person authorized to collect the certificate and their address of residence, as well as the series and number of the identity card or other document confirming the identity of the person receiving the certificate.

Summary

An employment certificate sent to an employee's invalid address has no legal consequences for the employer. It is the employee's responsibility to update the data. Therefore, if the employment certificate is returned to the employer, the employer may recognize that he has fulfilled his obligation and the employment certificate is deemed to have been correctly delivered. Going further, the employer is not obliged to find out the current address of the employee - it is in the employee's best interest to communicate with the employer and collect the certificate.