Call for military exercises - how to settle accounts?

Service

A summons to a military exercise is, in principle, mandatory and the employer is obliged to dismiss the employee from work. How should the duration of such absence be accounted for? Is the employee entitled to annual leave then? Is the time of training included in the length of service on which employee rights depend? The answer to these and many other questions that employers ask themselves after receiving a call from an employee to undergo military exercises, in this article.

Military exercises - what employees can be called for?

As of March 24, 2015, the catalog of persons who may be called in for military exercises has been expanded. According to the Regulation of the Council of Ministers of February 11, 2015 on the introduction of compulsory military exercises for military exercises, the following may be called:

  • reserve soldiers and persons transferred to the reserve who are not reserve soldiers with mobilization assignments
  • reserve soldiers and non-reserve reassignments planned to receive such assignments.

A reserve soldier is a person who has been transferred to the reserve after being released from active military service, while a person transferred to a reserve who is not a reserve soldier is a person who is fit for military service but has not completed military service and has been transferred to the reserve.

From March 24, 2015, any Pole up to the age of 50 who is fit for service can be called up for military exercises - both those who have completed military service and those who have not been in the army at all.

How many days can military exercises last?

Military exercises may be:

  • one-day;
  • short-term - lasting continuously up to 30 days;
  • long-term - lasting continuously up to 90 days;
  • rotational - lasting up to 30 days in total and carried out with breaks on certain days during the calendar year.

How to account for the period of military exercises in the records of working time?

The employer should grant the employee unpaid leave while the employee is undergoing military exercises. This is explicitly stated in Art. 124 of the Act on the universal obligation to defend the Republic of Poland, in which we read:

The employer grants an employee appointed to undergo military exercises, perform periodical military service or territorial military service, rotating unpaid leave for the duration of these exercises or service. During the unpaid leave, […] the employee retains all rights resulting from the employment relationship, except for the right to remuneration”.

Unpaid leave for military training differs significantly from the ordinary unpaid leave, as its duration is included in the length of service on which employee rights depend, e.g. the right to:

  • annual leave;
  • jubilee award;
  • internship allowance.

The employee does not have to apply for unpaid leave, as is the case with unpaid leave under Art.174 of the Labor Code (hereinafter referred to as the Labor Code).

In the work certificate issued to the employee, it should be remembered to indicate the appropriate legal basis for such unpaid leave, i.e. Art. 124 of the Act on the universal obligation to defend the Republic of Poland.

Unpaid leave for military training should be entered in the employment certificate with the appropriate legal basis so that subsequent employers or institutions, e.g. ZUS, have information that the period of this leave is included in the length of service, as opposed to the usual unpaid leave granted for pursuant to Art. 174 of the Labor Code

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Special rights of employees during military exercises

An employee participating in military exercises is also under the special protection of the Labor Code. Like pregnant women, people on maternity and paternity leave, or employees in the protective period who are less than 4 years away from retirement, during unpaid leave granted for the purpose of military training to an employee:

  • the employment contract cannot be terminated;
  • it is not allowed to change its conditions, e.g. reduce the job, eliminate a functional supplement;
  • a return to the same post as previously held must be guaranteed.

These rules do not apply when:

  • declaration of bankruptcy or liquidation of the company;
  • disciplinary dismissal of an employee;
  • appointments to military exercises lasting 1 day.

The period of military exercises may also be considered a period of work in special conditions, because, as indicated in its judgment of 19 May 2016, the Supreme Court, II UK 275/15:

"[...] the employee is counted as periods of work in special conditions, periods of military exercises he has performed as a reserve soldier, if he returns to his previous work in special conditions".

If an employee working in special conditions is called to military exercises, the period of these exercises is included in the period of working in special conditions, provided that the employee returns to work under special conditions. This is of great importance for retirement pension rights, as work in specific conditions is entitled to a retirement pension earlier than the statutory retirement age.

Call for military exercises and remuneration

Although the period of unpaid leave for military training is included in the length of service, the employee is not entitled to remuneration for this period. Instead of remuneration, the employee is entitled to a cash benefit to compensate for the loss of remuneration related to the call to perform military exercises. Detailed rules for the granting and payment of benefits can be found in the Regulation of the Council of Ministers of 25 August 2015 on the method and procedure for the payment of cash benefits to reserve soldiers and persons transferred to the reserve who are not reserve soldiers.

The regulation states that:

  • the compensation benefit is paid to the soldier for the period of military exercises;
  • the number of days of military exercises completed is confirmed by the commander of the military unit by issuing an appropriate certificate;
  • the period of completed military exercises is the sum of days of exercises, counted from the day of arriving for the exercises until the day of being released from the exercises.

After returning to work, the employee should provide the employer with a certificate from the commander of the unit on the number of days of exercises completed. On this basis, the employer is obliged to issue the employee with a certificate of the amount of the daily lost remuneration in connection with the exercises performed.

The amount of the lost salary is the employee's monthly salary divided by 21 and then multiplied by the number of days of military exercises.

The application for compensation, together with a certificate of lost remuneration and the number of training days completed, issued by the unit commander, should be submitted by the employee to the president or mayor of the city or the commune head in the place where he lives.

Can an employee called for military exercises be dismissed?

Calling for a military exercise does not mean that he absolutely has to be there. The Ordinance of the Minister of National Defense of June 15, 2015 on military exercises indicates that in the event of:

  • death of the closest family member
  • bedridden disease
  • the occurrence of other particularly justified circumstances

the commander of the unit may release a person undergoing military exercises before their completion, or the military commander of supplements may release a reserve soldier or a person who is not a soldier from military exercises before their completion.

Summing up, summoning an employee to undergo military exercises is quite a challenge for the employer. He must know what to do in such a situation. The most important thing is to grant the employee an unpaid leave in an appropriate manner, which, unlike the statutory one, is included in the length of service, or to issue an appropriate certificate of lost income. The employer must remember that during the period of military exercises, the employee is protected, and when he issues a certificate of employment, the provision on unpaid leave for military exercises must be included on it, along with the relevant legal basis for granting it.