European Commission critical of Polish pension system reform

The European Commission issued a Letter of Formal Notice to Polish government expressing concerns over the recent introduction of the new law on the organisation of ordinary courts.  The new regulation includes provisions concerning retirement rules for Polish judiciary members. Poland introduces different retirement age for different genders. Soon, Polish male judges will be able to retire at the age of 65, while their female counterparts at 60.


EU Commissioners point to the fact that such differentiation between male and female employees infringes European Union regulations, in particular the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Article 157) and Directive 2006/54 on gender equality in employment. Provided the new law comes into effect, Poland may have to face the consequences of breaching the EU law.


Today, the legal retirement age in Poland is 67 regardless of the gender of the employee. The bill introducing the new, lower retirement age has already been passed through the Parliament and signed by the President of Poland. It comes into effect this October. The initiative is a reversal of the retirement system reform that had been carried out by the previous government. The Law and Justice party promised voters they would do away with the unpopular law and have kept their word.


The signees of the letter to the Polish officials, Vera Jourova, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, and Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, indicate that different retirement ages for different genders is a form of discrimination. There are several EU member states with dissimilar pension ages, but the EU expects the member states to work towards revoking these differences. In the recent reform, Poland went in the opposite direction, changing the age from 67 for both men and women to 65 for men and 60 for women. Commissioners suggested such actions are not in line with the European spirit. They call for dialogue.


Polish officials are preparing an official reply to the letter. Polish Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy states the retirement age provisions are lawful and in line with society’s expectations and traditions. Moreover, officials highlight the fact that in Poland retirement is not mandatory.




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