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Employment of disabled persons

Work is for a disabled person an essential form of the rehabilitation. It gives a chance to earn a living, but also – or perhaps most of all – it allows to keep in contact with the social environment, thus it gives invaluable possibilities of social rehabilitation. The possibility to work and earn gives a huge satisfaction and feeling of being financially independent. An employer receives a dedicated employee with a huge motivation in return for employing a disabled person. By giving a disabled person a chance of work, one may discover their potential.

If you are a disabled person remember that:

  • Your rights and duties under the labour law, same as in case of other employees, are provided by the Labour Code. It includes e.g. the prohibition of discrimination for any reason, also because of disability.

The act on Vocational and Social Rehabilitation and Employment of Disabled Persons provides disabled persons with special entitlements.

  • If you are a disabled person with the certified light degree of disability (third group) – your working hours cannot exceed 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week.
  • If you are a disabled person with the certified moderate or severe degree of disability (first and second group) – your working hours cannot exceed 7 hours a day and 35 hours a week; you should not work at night shift and overtime; you are entitled to extra 15 minute gymnastic exercises or rest break during working hours.
  • If you are a disabled person with the certified moderate or severe degree of disability and have already worked for a year since the day of certification of your disability, you are entitled to extra 10 working days holiday leave in the calendar year. This principle is not in force, if you are entitled to holiday leave exceeding 26 working days or extra leave based on separate regulations.
  • If you are a disabled person with the certified moderate or severe degree of disability you have a possibility to take special leave with the right to full 21 working days remuneration in order to participate in the rehabilitation batch, however it may happen only once a year.

It is worth adding that a disabled person should show the employer the certificate of disability in order to work in the decreased working time. The decreased working time is applied on the next day after the appropriate certificate was shown to the employer. Decreasing the working time of a disabled person does not result in pay reduction, because the basic hourly pay rates adequate to the personal classification or the classification of performed work, when being transferred to the decreased working time, grow adequately to the ratio of the previous working time in comparison to the new one.

We should remember that a disabled person acquires the right to extra holiday leave after one year of work since the day of receiving the status of a severely or moderately disabled person.

Remuneration for the time off work during the rehabilitation batch or the specialist medical check-up is the equivalent of the holiday leave. The reason to pay the remuneration for the time off work – granted for the rehabilitation batch – is a submittal of the document that confirms participation in the batch and is issued by the organiser of the batch.

Every disabled person has the right to extra gymnastic exercise or rest break during working hours. The 15 minute break is included in working hours. The extra break is vested irrespective of the break at work as stated in the Art. 134 of the Labour Code. Then if a daily working time of a disabled worker is at least 6 hours, they are entitled to 30 minute break during working hours – 15 minutes in accordance with the Art. 134 of the Labour Code and 15 minutes according to the Act on the occupational and social rehabilitation and employment of disabled persons.

The employer is obliged to separate or provide the appropriate workstation with the basic social facilities for an employee who as a result of an accident at work or occupational disease lost the ability to work on the previous position.

Sometimes a disabled person does not inform the employer about the fact of being certified disabled, being afraid that exercising their rights may result in a dismissal or other repercussions from the employer. We should remember that exercising disabled worker’s rights cannot be the reason for the termination of employment contract or termination of employment contract without notice. According to the Art. 113 of the Labour Code, that case would be treated as employment discrimination (Art. 25a-26f of the Act of 27 August 1997).

Employer and a disabled employee

The system of disabled persons employment in Poland imposes on the employers the obligation to employ disabled persons and simultaneously pay the specific amount of money into PFRON in case of not-employing them. On the other hand, financial incentives for employers are offered. An employer who hires a disabled person registered in the employment office (an unemployed person or a person searching for a job) for at least 12 months, may receive the 60% reimbursement of:

  • employee’s net salary,
  • compulsory National Insurance Contributions on this remuneration.

The employer can receive the repayment of the above mentioned costs from the Fund for the first year of employment of a disabled worker.

Basic benefits of employing disabled persons are:

1) wage subsidies for disabled workers,

2) social security contributions subsidies for disabled workers,

3) 60% reimbursement of the salary and compulsory National Insurance Contributions of newly employed disabled workers,

4) reimbursement of employment costs of disabled employee assistance,

5) reimbursement of costs of workstation adjustment,

6) reimbursement of costs of workstation equipment.

The amount of the subsidy received by the employer depends on three factors:

1) the degree of disability of the employed (and the kind of disability),

2) the size and status of the employer (supported employment enterprises receive higher subsidy),

3) higher costs related to the disabled persons employment.

An employer who hires disabled persons may benefit a lot: does not have to pay specific amounts to PFRON, takes advantage of different kinds of subsidies for disabled persons’s employment and, above all, creates positive image of the company – entrepreneur who combines capital increase with social conscience.


Disabled person and business activity

A disabled person registered in the employment office as the unemployed or searching for a job, can receive from the State Fund for Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons (PFRON) disposable money to start a business, agricultural activity or contribute it to the social cooperative. The maximal amount of granted financial means cannot exceed the fifteen times average wage (Art. 12a of the Act on the occupational and social rehabilitation of employment of disabled persons).

A disabled person running a business activity or own or leased agricultural farm, can receive a subsidy from the financial means of PFRON of up to 50% of interest on a bank loan granted for this activity. A disabled person can be granted a subsidy on condition they have not taken advantage of a loan from PFRON or the Labour Fund granted for the business start-up or agricultural activity or its repayment or remission (Art. 13 of the act on the occupational and social rehabilitation for employment of disabled persons). The fund refunds (under the condition these contributions were paid within a deadline):

1) a disabled person who runs a business activity compulsory pension and disability contributions up to the amount of the entire contribution, which is based on the 60% of the average monthly remuneration in the last three months;

2) a disabled farmer or a farmer who is obliged to pay contributions for a disabled household member social security contributions for farmers: accident, sick leave, maternity and pension and disability pension (Art. 25a of the Act on the occupational and social rehabilitation for employment of disabled persons).


Open and protected labour market

A disabled person may find employment on the open as well as protected labour market. The employment on the open labour market is available to all. Whereas, the employment on the protected labour market consists in providing special conditions adjusted to the psychophysical abilities and the limited productivity of disabled persons. On the open labour market the employment happens in the competitive conditions i.e. an employee is employed for their qualifications and professional competence. A disabled is hired and works on the same basis and in the same conditions, with the same scope of duties, responsibility and entitlements as an able person. The employer only has to consider regulations concerning working hours of the disabled employee and the longer holiday leave, according to the act (see the beginning of the article). The employer should also adjust the workstation to a disabled employee’s needs.

The protected labour market elements are:

Supported employment enterprises (ZPChr)

ZPChr associate disabled persons and healthy employees. Employees are employed there on the same basis as in the other enterprises – under the contract of employment or task order contract. They have the same rights, duties and privileges as other employees. However, the employer has a duty to provide rehabilitation as well as medical and social care and workstation adjustment for disabled persons.

Vocational rehabilitation facilities

They are established in order to employ persons with a severe disability. They give a possibility to take up a job adjusted to their needs and abilities. The establishments, similarly to the supported employment enterprises, provide the employees with occupational and social rehabilitation and prepare them to the independent life and competition on the open market.

Occupational Therapy workshops

Their main role is to restore and teach the skills essential to take up the employment. The workshops are meant for disabled persons incapable of taking any work. Their main goal is to development of the basic traits and abilities such as: the ability of dealing with day-to-day activities as well as personal resourcefulness. For a few years the model of disabled persons’s employment on the protected labour market has been replaced with other solutions – the disabled are encouraged to look for work and take up employment on the open market.


Addresses of websites providing job offers for disabled persons:



















Iwona Kuc


Ustawa o rehabilitacji zawodowej i społecznej oraz zatrudnianiu osób niepełnosprawnych z dnia 27 sierpnia 1997 r.