There are penalties for obstructing the formation of a trade union | Series on employment criminal law
Freedom of association in trade unions is guaranteed by the Constitution.
Employers cannot prevent employees from forming and joining trade unions (with a few exceptions, such as in the police). An employer who obstructs the formation of a trade union commits an offence punishable by a fine (theoretically up to PLN 1,080,000) or restriction of freedom (up to 2 years).
Who is responsible for obstructing the formation of a trade union?
It is committed not only by the management board member who is the employer, but also by other persons who, in relation to their function, hinder the establishment of a trade union organisation - e.g. a human resources director or an office or administration director. Obstructing the formation of a union includes, but is not limited to, inducing employees not to declare their desire to form a union (let alone threatening to do so), disrupting a constituent meeting, or concealing documents creating a union organization.
It is necessary to prove that the perpetrator acted intentionally - that is, he at least foresaw that his behaviour would hinder the establishment of a trade union and consented to it. However, there can be no crime if the employer (or a person acting on his behalf) does not facilitate the formation of a trade union organisation by the employees, i.e. does not cooperate with them beyond his statutory obligations.
There is also no crime if the employees themselves violate the law by setting up a trade union organisation - e.g. the resolution on its establishment has not been passed by the required number of persons and the employees take further steps to register the union.
Date: 29 December 2021