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Social security

In addition to income tax and health insurance, salaries in Poland are subject to social security contributions. (Note: all compulsory contributions are deducted from your income and transferred by your employer directly to the relevant institution).

National social policy is the responsibility of the Ministry of Family and Social Policy, and the Social Insurance Institution (Zakład Ubezpieczeń Społecznych -ZUS) acts as its executive agency. ZUS is responsible for collecting contributions and paying benefits to eligible employees.

ZUS brochure "Social Security in Poland" (2022)

European Commission's brochure "Your social security rights in Poland" (2022) in French, English, German and Polish

Types of contribution

Social security contributions can be compulsory or voluntary, depending on your status - employee or doctoral student - and the type of contract you have. They are divided into 4 categories:

  • Old-age pension insurance - provides income after retirement from work (in Poland, women can retire at age 60 and men at age 65)
  • Disability pension insurance - guarantees an invalidity pension in the event of loss of income due to health problems and in the case of long-term incapacity to work.
  • Sickness insurance - provides payment in the event of illness, hospitalisation or parental leave (more on this in the EURAXESS Parental Leave section). If you are on sick leave, you will be paid 80% of your basic salary (calculated on the basis of your average monthly salary over the last 12 months, excluding any additional components such as bonuses);
  • Accidents at work insurance - provides social security benefits in the event of an accident or other mishap at work or on the way to and from work;

Social security for employees

Compulsory contributions are deducted from your income and paid by your employer directly to ZUS. Monthly contributions are paid by both the employer and the employee at the rates shown below. In addition, your employer is obliged to pay an additional 2.55% into funds to mitigate the effects of unemployment, to support people with disabilities and to protect employees against loss of wages due to the bankruptcy of the company. However, the salary shown on your employment contract is the gross salary, which only includes the contributions to be paid by you. This means that every employer has to pay an additional contribution of 20.48%. Employers are obliged to provide their employees with information on the amount of contributions paid (annually or monthly). You can also ask for this information whenever you need it, for example when applying for a residence permit..

Social insurance and your employment agreement

  • regular employment contract (PL: umowa o pracę) - you are obliged to take out the 4 types of insurance listed above;
  • free-for-task agreement (PL. umowa zlecenie) -  the following 3 types of contributions are compulsory: old-age pension, disability and work accident insurance. The sickness insurance is not compulsory but can be taken out voluntarily;
  • specific-task contract (PL. umowa o dzieło) - none of the above contributions are compulsory.

Monthly contribution rates

Contribution type

Total rate (%)

Employer (%)

Employee (%)

Old-age pension












Work accidents*

0.67 - 3.33

0.67 -3.33



31.64 %

17.93 %

13.71 %

* this rate is determined by the risk category defined for the specific group and the type of employer (1.67% was used to calculate the total). 

Social security for PhD candidates

In Poland, doctoral training is carried out in doctoral schools and all doctoral students receive a monthly scholarship for a maximum of 4 years, which includes compulsory old-age pension, disability and accident insurance.

The sickness insurance is not included in the scholarship, but can be taken out voluntarily with ZUS. The monthly contribution of 2.45% will be deducted from your scholarship. Please note that your scholarship will be paid during the period of illness when you are not attending classes. Therefore, there is no need to take out sickness insurance. However, it may be useful in the case of parental leave, when you are taking a break from your studies. In this case, your scholarship will be suspended and you will receive the monthly maternity or paternity allowance.

Note: PhD students who started their training before the 2019/20 academic year (in the "old" mode) are not covered by the above insurance. However, all doctoral candidates, including those who started before 2019/20, are covered by health insurance, unless they are insured on another basis, e.g. as family members or through employment. This means that as a doctoral student you can use the public health services free of charge.

Coordination of social security systems in the EU

Within the 27 EU Member States, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, there is a mechanism for coordinating national social security systems. It provides common rules to protect your social security rights when you move within Europe. (Note that, there are specific coordination rules for the United Kingdom). The rules don't replace national systems. All countries are free to decide who should be covered by their legislation, what benefits should be provided and under what conditions.

The system applies to all persons (researchers and their family members) who are subject to social security obligations in the EU (because they work or study), regardless of their nationality. The mechanism avoids situations where a person moving from one country to another is subject to the social security legislation of more than one country or none at all. It also regulates social security contributions and benefits for people who work and live in more than one country. Thanks to the coordination system, you never "lose" your contributions and you do not pay double contributions to the insurance systems in each country.

More on the EU social security coordination website

How it works in practice:

  1. If you move to Poland and are only employed in Poland, you must pay social insurance contributions in Poland in the same way as Polish employees. The contributions you pay here will be added to any contributions you have paid before and after in other EU countries.
  2. If you are employed in another EU country and you come to Poland for the purpose of employment, you can still pay social insurance contributions in the other country if you bring an A1 form with you. Form A1 is a document confirming that you are an employee covered by the social security system of another EU Member State. The standard form can be obtained from your employer and its validity is certified by the national social security institution. Form A1 is available in all the languages of the above countries.
  3. If you are employed in an EU country and your employer delegates you to a Polish institution for a period not exceeding 24 months, you will continue to pay social contributions in the first EU country. In this case, form A1 is also required.
  4. If your stay needs to be extended, your employer can apply for an extension of the possibility to pay contributions in your home country. In this case, he/she should apply on your behalf to an appropriate institution in your country for permission. If you do not receive permission, you will be obliged to pay contributions in Poland.

Employees from outside the EU

As regards third countries, Poland has concluded bilateral social security agreements with Australia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Israel, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine, South Korea and the United States of America. The purpose of such an agreement is to avoid paying double contributions to social security systems (in your home country and in Poland) and to regulate the transfer of paid contributions. Although the general rule (the principle of territoriality) is that the social security obligation arises in the country where the employment takes place, you should always be aware of certain exceptions resulting from bilateral international agreements.

In the case of countries with which no agreement is in force, foreigners employed in Poland must pay full social security contributions in Poland in accordance with national regulations. All contributions paid remain in Poland and cannot be transferred to a third country or withdrawn from the social security system after the end of employment in Poland.