Access to the labour market


Country Report: Access to the labour market Last updated: 16/04/21



The law allows for access to the labour market for asylum seekers after six months from the date of submission of an asylum application if a final decision has not been taken within this time and if the delay is not attributed to any fault of the asylum seeker. The Head of the Office for Foreigners upon the asylum seeker’s request, issues a certificate, which accompanied by a temporary ID document entitles the asylum seeker to work in Poland.[1] The temporary ID document is valid for 90 days and can be subsequently prolonged for renewable periods of 6 months (during the COVID-19 pandemic, the validity of temporary IDs was prolonged by law, as the Office for Foreigners limited temporarily its direct customer service). The certificate is valid until the day the decision concerning international protection becomes final.[2] However, if the asylum seeker avails himself/herself of a judicial remedy and the court suspends the enforcement of the negative asylum decision, the certificate regains its validity.[3]

In practice, the issuance of the above-mentioned certificate is not often requested. Most probably it results from the fact that the asylum proceedings often last shorter than 6 months, the asylum seekers leave Poland before they can access labour market or they have no knowledge that they can work in Poland after 6 months. Moreover, there is a relatively high percentage of refusals in this regard. According to the Office for Foreigners, asylum seekers tend to apply for a certificate too early (before 6 months has passed) or too late (the final asylum decision is delivered before the decision on the certificate is reached).[4]

Access to employment is not limited to certain sectors, but can be problematic in practice. Many employers do not know, that the above-mentioned certificate with a temporary ID document gives an asylum seeker a right to work or do not want to employ a person for such a short time (i.e. up to 6 months, as the employers are unaware that the procedure will actually take longer than the validity of a single temporary ID document), which causes that those certificates have no practical significance.[5] Moreover, the certificate is valid until the decision on asylum becomes final but employers are not informed that such decision was issued by the Polish authorities, they must trust that the asylum seekers will inform them about it on time.[6] Furthermore, asylum seekers often live in centres which are located far away from big cities and in the areas with a high level of poverty and unemployment in general, which makes it difficult to find a job in practice. Moreover, most asylum seekers do not know Polish well enough to get a job in Poland.[7] Asylum seekers also face a problem of a limited recognition of education and skills acquired outside Poland, so they are often underemployed. Moreover, foreigners endure a discrimination in an employment, e.g. they are offered lower salary than Poles.[8]

Furthermore, even receiving the above-mentioned certificate may be in some circumstances problematic. Asylum seekers who reached majority during the asylum proceedings that had been initiated by and continued with their parents and who declared that they did not want to apply for asylum separately, are refused a right to work. In order to receive such certificate, they have to initiate asylum proceedings separate from their parents, which is criticised by the NGOs.[9]

Experts point out that the fact that asylum seekers cannot work for the first 6 months of the asylum procedure is one of the factors which leads to their lack of independence and reliance on social assistance.[10]



[1] Article 35 Law on Protection.

[2] Article 35 (3) Law on Protection. The Refugee Board’s decision is final. If an asylum seeker does not appeal, the decision of the Office for Foreigners, the latter becomes final 14 days following notification of such decision.

[3] Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 4 March 2021.

[4] M. Pachocka, K. Pędziwiatr, K. Sobczak-Szelc, J. Szałańska (2020) ‘Reception Policies, Practices and Responses: Poland Country Report’, RESPOND Working Papers 2020/45, available at:, 55.

[5] W. Klaus, ‘Rozwiązania prawne stosowane w odniesieniu do osób starających się o ochronę w Polsce’ in A. Górny, H. Grzymała-Moszczyńska, W. Klaus and S. Łodziński, Uchodźcy w Polsce. Sytuacja prawna, skala napływu i integracja w społeczeństwie polskim oraz rekomendacje (PAN 2017), available (in Polish) at:, 23.

[6] M. Pachocka, K. Pędziwiatr, K. Sobczak-Szelc, J. Szałańska (2020) ‘Reception Policies, Practices and Responses: Poland Country Report’, RESPOND Working Papers 2020/45, available at:, 82-83.

[7]  Lukasiewicz, K., ‘Exile to Poverty: Policies and Poverty Among Refugees in Poland’, International Migration Vol. 55 (6) 2017, 61, 66. See also M. Pawlak, ‘Zatrudnienie’ in A. Górska, M. Koss-Goryszewska, J. Kucharczyk (eds), W stronę krajowego machanizmu ewaluacji integracji: Diagnoza sytuacji beneficjentów ochrony międzynarodowej w Polsce (Instutut Spraw Publicznych 2019), 35.

[8] Lukasiewicz, K., ‘Exile to Poverty: Policies and Poverty Among Refugees in Poland’, International Migration Vol. 55 (6) 2017, 64, 66.

[9] O. Dobrowolska, ‘Zaświadczenie uprawniające do wykonywania pracy  dla pełnoletnich dzieci wnioskodawcy’ in Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej (SIP), SIP w działaniu. Prawa cudzoziemców w Polsce w 2018 r. (2019), available (in Polish) at:, 21-22.

[10] UNHCR, Gdzie jest mój dom? Bezdomność i dostęp do mieszkań wśród ubiegających się o status uchodźcy, uchodźców i osób z przyznaną ochroną międzynarodową w Polsce, 2013, 14.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation