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„Trash contracts” – is it really a necessary evil

Recently, especially during last parliament election campaign, we’ve observed a heated discussion about so called „trash contracts”. It’s a matter especially important for youth entering job market, becuase this group is being hired for fixed-period contract most often. Research conducted by site concludes: first job of a Polish person is most probably at grey market without any contract whatsoever (38% of employees begins it’s carrer this way). Only every fourth person (26%) signs a fixed-period contract. And 36% of youth signs permanent jobs contracts.

1. Percantage quota of "trash contracts" in each age group










Study Sedlak & Sedlak,, on the 7.02.2012

We’re trying to establish whether  fixed-term contracts have indeed only disadvantages. Is it worthwile to conclude a contract with such terms and conditions? Or maybe we simply don’t have any choice because more and more often those will be terms offered by employers and all we can do is adjust?There are many questions regarding the matter, and just as many positive and negative opinions about it. One thing is sure though, we’re obliged to learn all the pros and cons and decide where the truth lies. Whether this is an acceptable and sensible form of employment.

Let’s start with disadvantages of fixed-term contract – colloquial term describing it: „trash contracts” is associated with something of little importance, something one shouldn’t give much attention to because it’s not worth it. All forms of employment other than permanent contracts are being suggested to youth as a bad deal. Let’s face it, „trash contracts” are less beneficial to employees than permanent ones since the latter give them much appreciated these days sense of security.

Let’s enumerate few main disadvantages of „trash contracts”:

  1. Unstable employment
  2. Minimal social insurance and health insurance contributions
  3. No matternity leave, sick leave or rehabilitation fund
  4. No right of notice, holiday or over-time payment
  5. Unstable source of income
  6. Phenomena of „nesting” – youth leave parental homes later and later due to less chances of being accepted for mortgage; this being forced by risky terms and conditions of „trash contracts”

This only outlines the problem of negative social consequences of „trash contracts” especially for young people. For how do plans and wishes of youth entering adulthood look like these days? The most popular version is a desire to have a good job, start a family or just to become independant. „Trash contracts”often make achieving those goals pretty impossible.But is it worthwhile to decline every job offer based on fixed-term contracts, especially when we’re only beginig our career? No, not only we shouldn’t  be doing that, but should make the most of the opportunity.

What about the advantages of „trash contracts”, are there any?

  1. „Trash contracts” for the most part offer flexible working hours - that gives us time to undertake some professional development courses, or makes it easier to reconcile family and professional life; it also gives opportunity to seek other, permanent employment.
  2. Fixed-term contracts are very attractive for employers (cost-wise), hence in effect we’re attractive as employees for them.
  3. We’re being accounted only for the effects of our work, rarely for the time spent in the office or on the premises.
  4. We have a possibility to be employed by more than one company; it all depends on our organizational skills because since we’re not bound to one employer we can arrange few other professional duties that would increase our income.
  5. It gives us independence and possibility to negotiate fees; we decide who we work with and when.

This short juxtaposition of „trash contracts”advantages and disadvantages should serve as base to consider your choice. Remeber that it may be worthy to gain some of your first professional experiences with fixed-term contract’s help. Maybe it would be good to think of such form of employment as a fruitful possibility during university courses when stability of employment isn’t that important just yet? It’s crucial to underline that getting rid of fixed-term contract won’t necessarily improve the quality of Poland’s job market. Costs of hiring are high so without „trash contracts” employers may just not hire at all or move to grey area. Therefore according to some specialist rejecting fixed-term contracts as option for employers may cause serious economical and social crisis. Let’s not forget that some people simply prefer fixed-term contract becuase permanent contract would limit their flexibility.

The decision of undertaking a job under a fixed-term contract requires a deep and careful analysis of advantages and costs. It’s not an easy choice for people positively looking at permanent jobs only. But consideration of pros and cons could help to make a proper, sensible decision. We shouldn’t surrender too much to public concern regarding „trash contracts” and think of only in terms of necessary  evil we can’t avoid.We also need to remeber that at this very moment job market is generally unstable and even permanent contract can be cancelled under certain conditions. So in actual fact secure employment is almost literally impossible. Obviously we should be able to make our own decision but it’s important to try finding optimal choices and solutions.


M.A. Wioleta Duda*

Employment counsellor

*Research worker in Jan Dlugosz Academy in Częstochowa;  author of several articles covering employment counselling; intersted in women professional cereer issue; employment counsellor in ESF projects










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