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The Warsaw Voice » Law » May 14, 2008
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May 14, 2008   
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Bill to Ban Workplace Discrimination
The Polish labor ministry is completing work on a draft law to explicitly ban discrimination in the workplace. The new regulations, required by the European Union, will forbid any form of discrimination against employees on account of age, gender, social background, religion, sexual orientation and other grounds.

Civil Service to Admit Foreigners
The government has approved new regulations on the work of civil servants and submitted the proposal to the lower house of parliament for review.

If parliament passes it, the bill will guarantee equal access to jobs in the state administration, said Prime Minister Donald Tusk. He added that the current regulations are unfair. "We want to create a general system of open competition for positions in public administration that will make it possible to select people regardless of their political leanings and exclusively on account of their qualifications," Tusk said.

Among its provisions, the draft allows foreigners to be employed as civil servants in Poland. This option would be available to citizens of other EU countries and of non-EU countries that have signed agreements with the bloc on the free movement of employees; one such country is Switzerland. A decision to hire such a person would require a certificate confirming their knowledge of Polish. However, some jobs in the civil service would not be available to foreigners. Exceptions would include positions directly or indirectly linked to execution of power and lawmaking.

Another new idea is an assessment of every civil servant's work and qualifications every two years. If the result is positive, the employee may be promoted; if the outcome is negative, they will face sanctions and even might lose their job.

Ombudsman Calls for Speedier Justice
Poland's civil rights commissioner Janusz Kochanowski has appealed to the country's justice minister to take urgent action to improve the work of Polish courts. This is due to a growing number of complaints filed by Polish citizens against court rulings in their country and the fact that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg has found many of these complaints justified. Kochanowski quoted cases in which the ECHR had granted Polish citizens compensation for delays in court proceedings. Sometimes these delays reached several years, Kochanowski said. Moreover, the ECHR has stated on many occasions that the Polish government is responsible for improving the system to guarantee that court cases will be processed "within a sensible time."

Poland Brought Before ECJ...
Poland will face legal action before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg for failing to fully implement EU regulations on the safety of vessels at sea. The main problem is a directive that introduces a unified EU monitoring and information system for vessel traffic. The system requires ship operators to notify maritime authorities about ships carrying hazardous cargo; under the directive, such transport must be monitored. Officials in Brussels have decided that Polish law inadequately incorporates the directive's provisions on reporting accidents and collisions at sea and on notifying maritime authorities about any hazardous or contaminating cargo.

Poland should have incorporated this directive into its national legal system still before it joined the EU in May 2004, EU officials say. Before taking the matter to the ECJ, Brussels twice demanded that Poland deal with the problem.

...and Faulted for Lack of Transparency
The European Commission has criticized Poland for failing to comply with EU regulations on the transparency of information about exchange-listed companies. The problem is a 2004 directive that requires securities issuers in the EU to ensure transparency of their operations. The directive calls for the regular publication of specific information such as financial statements and data on majority stakes held in other businesses. Under the directive, such information must be made public periodically and on an ongoing basis throughout the EU.

The issue is not just equal treatment of shareholders, but also counteracting malpractice on the stock market. The European Commission says that Poland as well as the Czech Republic, Hungary and the Netherlands have not properly implemented the directive. The final deadline expired on March 9, and the European Commission sent out reminders on May 6. If Poland fails to change its regulations, it may face proceedings before the European Court of Justice.
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