Seasonal foreign labour

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5. Immigrants in Poland

5.1. Flows and stocks of foreigners according to the Central Population Register and other official

5.2.2. Seasonal foreign labour

In the post-accession period, mainly due to growing shortages of labour, Polish authorities have decided to gradually liberalize the rules of employment of third country nationals. The most important regulation has been introduced in 2006 and now it refers to the citizens of the Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine who perform work in Poland for a period up to 6 months within consecutive 12 months pursuant to an employer’s declaration. In practical terms the procedure starts with an issuance of a declaration by an employer wishing to offer temporary or seasonal employment to a foreigner from one of the above mentioned countries. The declaration is then submitted to the local (powiat) employment agency and serves as the basis for issuing a visa with the right to work. From past experience it follows that the period between filing the application and receiving the visa may vary from 7 to 30 days. Importantly, the whole procedure is very simple and does not entail any costs (Duszczyk, Góra and Kaczmarczyk 2013).

In fact, the introduction of the above mentioned rule has significantly changed the migratory picture of Poland as a destination country. Since the simplified procedure was introduced, it has been the basis for a relatively massive inflow of temporary workers from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, and since 2009 also from Moldova, and since 2010 from Georgia. This is clearly visible in the data on the number of issued declarations, Figure 13.


Figure 13. Number of employers’ declarations issued

Source: Own elaboration based on the data from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.

We suppose that the trends in the inflow of foreigners related to temporary seasonal employment are reflected by the number of declarations issued to persons without valid visas allowing to legally stay or work in Poland8. We can assume that in last two years (2012-2013) the inflow of foreigners for seasonal employment was smaller (an increase has been observed only in the case of scarcely represented Georgian citizens – from 2.2 thousand declarations in 2013 to 1.2 thousand in 2012).

8 We should take into consideration the fact that the scale of the inflow on the basis of an employer’s declaration is actually lower. For example in 2009 191.5 thousand declarations were registered, from which 13.5 thousand concerned persons already residing in Poland (having valid visa documents). In this period only 128.6 thousand visas were given – see Stefańska 2010: 11 (see also Figure 14)








0 50000 100000 150000 200000 250000 300000

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013


Figure 14. Number of employers’ declarations issued in the years 2007-2013 by legal status of foreigner – without visa (left axis) or with visa or permit for a fixed period (right axis)

Total Ukraine

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 no visa with visa

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 no visa with visa


Source: Own elaboration based on the data from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.

Among the declarations the biggest part concerns the intention to employ a foreigner in agriculture (50.3% - a slight increase as compared with previous years but still a much lower share than in 2009), construction (12.6%) and manufacturing (7.5%) – see Table 6. Although in this division there are differences between the representatives of different nations. Employers are more frequently willing to employ foreigners from: Belarus and Russia in trade (10.3% and 14.5% of the total number of declarations issued to Belarusians and Russians, respectively; while the share of trade-related declarations in the total is 5.1%); Georgians and Moldavians in construction (20.4% and 25.0% of the total number of declarations issued to the citizens of Georgia and Moldova; 12.6% of construction-related declarations in the total). Interestingly, the share of the “other” sectors is rising (18% in 2013) which shows that the simplified procedure is more and more commonly used as an entry gate into the Polish labour market not only for low-skilled workers but also for highly skilled ones (as it is e.g. in the case of Belarusians).

Table 6. Number of employers’ declarations of intent to employ a foreigner, by sector of employment, 2007-2013

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 no visa with visa

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 no visa with visa


Source: Own elaboration based on the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy data

In terms of the spatial distribution of employer’s declarations, the majority of them were issued in the Masovian voivodship (56%). This region was followed by Lower Silesia (10%), Lubelskie (8%), Greater Poland (5%), and Lesser Poland (4%) – all of them representing regions with economically important metropolises.

Available statistics for the first half of 2014 suggest that the popularity of the declarations is growing again. Already 191 thousand declarations have been registered while in the same period in 2013 there were only 146.3 thousand declarations noted. The increase can be almost completely attributed to the increase of declarations to employ Ukrainian citizens (182.9 thousand in the first half of 2014, 137.3 thousand in the first half of 2013) and can be associated with the political and military events in Ukraine from the end of the year 2013 and beginning of 2014. It is assumed that this is one if the ways to legalize residence and employment in Poland both for these who are already here and those who are going to move here at least temporarily.

To conclude, the data presented and discussed above shows clearly that the simplified procedure – a completely new regulation in the Polish migration policy – is used as an efficient migration scheme and eventually allows to channel irregular immigration into legal forms of inflow. Moreover, the rising trend continued despite of the economic crisis (even if in the case of Poland it had not been as severe as in many other EU economies).

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