Confederation representative Krzysztof Bosak claimed during the election debate on TVP that in the case of Ukrainians, “it is enough to work in Poland for one day, reach retirement age, declare that you live here and the Polish taxpayer must pay several times the minimum pension.” This is a big simplification, because the reality is different. We explain.
Representatives of six electoral committees faced each other on October 9 in an election debate organized by state television. The leader of Law and Justice, Jarosław Kaczyński, refused to participate – PiS was represented by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. The head of PO Donald Tusk acted as the representative of the Civic Coalition, the New Left was represented by Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus, the representative of the Third Way was the leader of Poland 2050 Szymon Hołownia, the Confederation was represented by its co-chairman Krzysztof Bosak, and the Non-Party Local Government Workers – member of the board of the Lower Silesian Voivodeship Krzysztof Maj.
The second question in the debate concerned pensions. The candidates were asked which of two solutions they support: a forced increase in the retirement age, i.e. linking the retirement age to the demographic situation – or a concept that assumes leaving the retirement age at the current level with additional opportunities, such as: internship pensions. In response, Confederation representative Krzysztof Bosak said that the problem is that “we are financing pensions for another nation, the Ukrainian nation, on the basis of an agreement concluded by Donald Tusk’s government and undeniable by the PiS government.” And next:
This is a real scandal, because it is enough to work in Poland for one day, reach retirement age, declare that you live here and the Polish taxpayer has to pay several times higher minimum pension. This must be said immediately.
Not “one day”, just a few conditions
The message about Ukrainians, for whom one day of work in Poland is enough to receive the minimum pension, already appeared in the statements of Confederation politicians during the election campaign. When MP Stanisław Tyszka talks about it, we explained in Konkret24what is the manipulation in such a statement.
And so: Ukrainian citizens receive a pension in Poland on the basis of a bilateral agreement on social security signed in 2012 (or, as Bosak said: “by Tusk’s government”). In recent years, among others After many Ukrainian refugees were admitted to Poland, the legal status in this matter has not changed. The agreement assumes that when determining the right to a pension, insurance periods in the other country are also taken into account. Therefore, Poland recognizes the years worked by Ukrainians in Ukraine to determine pension rights – and vice versa. However, the same document states that in order to receive a Polish pension from ZUS, a Ukrainian citizen must meet several requirements:
– Suitable age: 60 years for women and 65 for men; – Paying contributions (social security or pension insurance and disability insurance) in Poland, i.e. legal employment, e.g. as an employee, contractor or as a person who conducted non-agricultural activities; – In the case of people born before January 1, 1949, work experience is also required – at least 20 years for women and 25 years for men. If such long service cannot be documented, a pension will be granted if the service is at least 15 years for women and 20 years for men.
Therefore, it is not the case that a Ukrainian comes to Poland for one day of work, returns to Ukraine and only for this reason he is entitled to the minimum Polish pension (from March 1, 2023, it is PLN 1,588.44 gross, i.e. PLN 1,445.48 net). The only truth is that in Poland it is enough to pay one contribution to obtain the right to any pension benefit, even a very low one.
Minimum pension and supplement to it
Krzysztof Bosak spoke about “Polish taxpayers”, but ZUS does not pay all pensions to Ukrainian citizens who previously worked in Ukraine. ZUS is only responsible for paying benefits in proportion to the length of insurance periods in Poland, while its Ukrainian counterpart – for the time worked in Ukraine. Therefore, the shorter the length of service in Poland, the smaller the pension from ZUS – e.g. after the above-mentioned day of work and meeting other conditions, its amount will be truly symbolic.
Moreover, in the message pushed by Confederation politicians, the minimum pension is confused with an addition to the minimum pension for foreigners, while there is a fundamental difference between them. If the pension resulting from the length of service from the Polish ZUS and the Ukrainian equivalent is lower than the minimum Polish pension, the difference is paid by the Polish ZUS as an allowance. So, for example, if the pension from Ukraine is PLN 300 and from Poland – PLN 200, the Polish ZUS will pay an additional PLN 1,088.44 to the amount of the minimum Polish pension (currently it is PLN 1,588.44). However, this does not result from the above-mentioned Polish-Ukrainian agreement, but from the principle of equal treatment adopted by ZUS, i.e. applying identical regulations to all other persons entitled to Polish pensions under Polish internal regulations, regardless of the citizenship of these persons.
To receive the pension supplement, a foreigner must meet additional conditions: – the right to a pension for foreigners (i.e. the required age, payment of contributions in Poland, as well as the appropriate length of service – 20 years for women and 25 for men); – permanent residence in Poland; – the right of legal residence on the basis of a document issued by the Office for Foreigners or on the basis of the legality of stay obtained through entry in the Border Guard register.
ZUS: this type of information is misleading
Therefore, you cannot leave Poland for Ukraine after a day of work in our country and receive benefits only for this reason. When leaving Poland, a Ukrainian citizen loses the right to supplement the minimum pension. And ZUS assures that both at the stage of submitting the benefit application and in the period of its payment, it checks whether a given Ukrainian citizen lives in Poland.
To sum up: one day of work in Poland, retirement age and declaration of residence in Poland will not be enough for a Ukrainian citizen to receive a supplement to the minimum pension, much less the Polish minimum pension. He must also demonstrate appropriate previous work experience in Ukraine and must reside in the country legally. Moreover, for this length of service, his pension will not be paid by the Polish Social Insurance Institution (ZUS), but by its Ukrainian equivalent, and thus this part will not be covered by Polish taxpayers. This is why ZUS issued it in April 2023 statementin which he assured that “this type of information is misleading.”
Main photo source: TVN24