Employer’s obligations towards an employee performing territorial military service

The territorial defense troops (Wojska Obrony Terytorialnej, WOT) were established in 2017 based on an amendment to the Act on Universal Duty to Defend the Republic of Poland. Soldiers of this formation are volunteers who perform military service in a rotational form. This means that they perform service at a time designated by the commander, at least once a month for two days. The key thing is that they perform these tasks during their free time from work or classes. The essence of territorial defense is to train citizens to support operational troops and become reserve forces in the event of an enemy attack. Their activities focus on the use of a specific area for defensive purposes. Therefore, they also cooperate with local government bodies during natural disasters. Due to the territorial aspect and service in the place of residence, this formation is commonly called Territorials.  

Tasks of military territorial service

Soldiers of the military territorial defense must undergo initial training. It lasts 8 days for those who have already served in the army and 16 days for volunteers who have not been in the army before. After 3 years of service, soldiers receive a certificate and can be called up to professional service. During the training the candidates are prepared for such actions as conducting diversion, gathering information about the enemy’s location, aiming to disrupt his activities or obstructing the movement of enemy troops. The training allows soldiers to acquire important military skills, but also those used in everyday life, such as first aid. Moreover, soldiers of territorial defense support the population in crisis situations, contribute to the reconstruction of damage, relieving local services.

If the above activities are undertaken on working days, soldiers in an employment relationship are obliged to inform the employer about the days of their service and their changes.

Employer’s obligations towards an employee performing territorial military service

– An employer may not dismiss an employee who has served him with a letter of appointment to territorial defense troops. He/she is entitled to the protection of the employment relationship until the date of completion of service. The above regulation does not apply to a soldier in the case of grounds for disciplinary dismissal or liquidation of the workplace.

– In the case of training, which can also take place on working days, in a continuous mode, the employer must grant the employee leave, which is unpaid. For the time of training or service, the employee is entitled to leave by law and does not have to apply for it.

– A soldier may be directed to take courses or training and, in such a situation, is entitled to leave from work and to be paid by the employer. Reimbursement of costs for the above activities can be made by the Commander of the military complement command (wojskowa Komenda uzupełnień, WKU) if the employer submits an application.

– In addition, an employee called to territorial defence troops receives a severance payment from the employer in the amount of two weeks’ salary for the time which he could have worked if he had not been on duty. The basis for the payment of the benefit is the card of appointment to the troops. The future soldier receives the severance pay before starting his/her service, on the last day of work.