On Tuesday, October 13, during the POLPAN Seminar Dr. Anna Kiersztyn (Institute of Sociology at the University of Warsaw & POLPAN Team) presented a paper titled “Fixed-term Employment and Occupational Position in Poland: from disposable workers to free knowledge workers.”


The use and functions of non-standard work arrangements depend on the economic, legal and institutional context. In countries where regular employment is highly protected, temporary jobs tend to reflect an attempt to achieve flexibility at the margin and foster labour market dualization. Conversely, policies to increase the employability of workers and generous unemployment benefits (UB) have been found to reduce feelings of insecurity experienced by temporary workers. In Poland, the legal protection of fixed-term contracts is relatively low, giving employers both incentives and opportunities to use such contracts. Access to UB is restricted, similar to other post-communist countries. Workers unable to find stable employment may thus be motivated to accept temporary jobs allowing them to become eligible for unemployment assistance. Consequently, Poland now has the highest share of fixed-term employees in the EU.

However, not all limited-duration jobs necessarily provide inferior status and high insecurity: heterogeneity in fixed-term employment is an important and policy-relevant topic of analysis, and one which is not received sufficient attention. In particular, the situation and economic prospects of employees on fixed-term contacts differ depending on the purpose for which such contracts are used (screening new employees or lowering firing costs), and this in turn may depend on occupational position. This presentation analyses occupational differences among fixed-term employees in the Polish context, with respect to: (1) their demographic and socioeconomic characteristics; (2) the size of the wage penalty for fixed-term employment, and (3) the chances of transition from fixed-term into open-ended employment. The analyses are based on data from the Polish edition of the Survey of Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), 2005-2008. The linkages between occupational status and the psychological condition of fixed-term workers are further examined on the basis od data from the most recent waves of the Polish Panel Survey (POLPAN), 2008-2013.