For Foreigners

The legalities of teaching English in Poland

I get a lot of questions in regards to teaching English in Poland and how it works legally. What kind of contracts are there? How can you get paid? There are generally a few options to choose from in terms of on what basis you can work in Poland. In this article, I’ll compare the most popular options: working on a work contract, opening your own business, and using an incubator service.

So you’ve found a job in Poland. Congratulations! Let’s say you’re going to work as an English teacher. It’s possible that the school you work for will hire you on a contractual basis. There are three types of work contracts in Poland:

  1. Umowa o dzieło – for people who create things, e.g., graphic designers, programmers, photographers, etc. This is the “lowest” level contract, which means you are not provided with health insurance or a retirement pension paid by your employer. Most schools will give you this type of contract, as you won’t be working 40 hours per week, most likely.
  2. Umowa o zlecenie – This is a full-time contract similar to the one below, but it does not include certain benefits like paid time off. However, your employer is required to pay social security (ZUS) and health insurance (NFZ) on your behalf.
  3. Umowa o pracę – this is a full-time work contract which includes all the benefits set out by the Labor Code like paid vacation. Your company pays your social security (ZUS), and, therefore, you are afforded public health insurance (NFZ) and a retirement pension.

Your own company

While I have my own company, I can’t say I recommend this method to everyone. Why? It’s expensive. You need to understand the laws in Poland. It helps if you speak Polish (or at least find an English speaking accountant). It complicates things if you don’t have help from a partner or good friend. Opening a business is quite simple. You can easily do this in Urząd Miasta. However, the costs connected are quite high. This includes social security payments, which, for the first two years, constitute 400 zł per month, and after that reach about 1,500 zł. Of course this covers health insurance, so you will have public coverage.

An incubator service

I don’t know if this is something special to Poland or what, but these “services” cropped up a few years ago, making it so that individuals working as freelancers, without owning a company, can provide their employers with invoices. If you sign on with one of these (e.g., TwójStartup, UseMe, English Wizards, they will hire you on umowa o dzieło and, if you’re a foreigner, they will get a work permit so you can legally work in Poland. They will charge you a monthly fee for this (usually about 250-300 PLN) and they will remove the tax from your pay each month for you as well. It’s quite convenient for foreigners who don’t understand the laws in Poland and don’t speak Polish, and it’s much cheaper than opening your own business. This is what my employees use and it seems to work quite well for them. I’d definitely recommend it to freelancers.

For anyone interested in teaching English in Poland for my company Talkback, please feel free to send me an email at leah@talkback.pl. Any other questions related to work in Poland are welcome as well.

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3 Comments

  • Reply stephen William earl 9 March 2021 at 11:02

    I will be moving to the Mazury in about 3 years time and am thinking of renting out boats in the summer just for something to do ! Would you need your own company for this or can you just do this without any official stuff? I see people doing this in Mikolajki, where we will live and just wondered about it! The people hiring out boats just sit on the quay all day, that would suit me! With a beer of course! lol

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 9 March 2021 at 11:30

      Hey Stephen – yes, for sure you’d need to have your own company for that. I mean perhaps some people do it “under the table”, but that’s not something I would recommend 🙂 Sounds like a lovely job! And Mikołajki – wow – nice place to live!

  • Reply stephen William earl 10 March 2021 at 16:16

    Thanks for replying Leah,very nice of you! The costs of opening your own company i don’t quite understand, here in England there aren’t any really apart from the initial cost set up which is very low. What are these social security payments for, i don’t need them? £80 to £3oo in English money seems rather a lot per month? I have a business in England and have had a few before and there are other costs involved such as business rates etc and rent of premises but nothing about social security payments unless you mean for the employees which is all taken care of by the accountants?

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