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Business travel legislation in Poland: Overview of responsibilities | Infographic

July 12, 2023

Are you considering sending one of your employees on a business trip to or from Poland? If so, it is crucial to pay attention to several important factors to ensure compliance with all legal regulations. To help you understand the requirements and details of business travel, we have created an infographic that provides a basic overview of definitions and necessary steps.

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The duration of a business travel is calculated based on the number of calendar days from the employee’s departure from their permanent place of work to their return to either their permanent residence or workplace. Each day of the trip accounts for every 24-hour period spent during the trip.

Expenses related to vehicles used exclusively for business purposes are fully reimbursable. However, the company must maintain a logbook of kilometers driven to demonstrate that the car was used solely for economic activities. At the beginning and end of each trip, , the employee must enter in the mileage report the number of kilometers traveled, based on the car’s dashboard reading. The difference between the two numbers represents the distance covered during the trip. The employee is eligible for reimbursement based on the applicable rates determined by law, which consider the vehicle type and engine size.

During a multi-day business trip, the employee is entitled for an accommodation allowance. The specific amount is determined for each country where the trip takes place, considering the values established by law. There are three scenarios:

If the employer provides accommodation throughout the entire trip, the employee is not entitled to an allowance.

If the employee arranges and pays for their accommodation, they can submit an invoice for reimbursement. In such cases, the employee is granted an allowance equal to or greater than the amount set by law.

If the employee arranges and pays for their accommodation but doesn’t have an invoice for reimbursement, they are entitled to 25% of the legally established allowance.

During a domestic business trip, the employee is entitled to daily per diems to cover increased food expenses. If the employee receives a reimbursement for meals during the trip, they are not eligible for per diems. The amount of the daily allowance depends on two factors: 

1) The duration of the business trip:
Less than 8 hours: No daily per diem. 
Between 8 and 12 hours: 50% of the daily per diem. More than 12 hours: Full daily per diem.

2) The number of days and hours if the trip exceeds one day.
Less than 8 hours: 50% of the daily per diem,
More than 8 hours: Full daily per diem.

For business trips lasting longer than 1 day (24 hours), the employee is entitled to receive daily per diems for each additional day, equivalent to the full daily amount. However, there is an exception regarding the last day of the trip. If the duration of the last day is less than 8 hours, the daily per diem owed is reduced to 50% of the standard per diem.
During an international business trip, the employee is eligible to receive daily per diems that cover additional expenses for food and other small expenses. The specific amount of foreign per diems is determined for each country in which the trip takes place, taking into consideration the legally established values. When a foreign trip involves two or more countries, regulations do not provide a clear guideline for determining the end of the trip from the first country to the next destination. There are several possible scenarios that the employer can consider as the starting point for the journey to the next country:

the moment of completion of the assigned task in the first destination country.
the moment of departing from the territory of the first destination country.
the moment of entering the territory of the second destination country (if it is not adjacent to the first country).
the moment of assuming an official role in the second destination country.

Each of these versions can be argued for its correctness, as they do not affect the overall duration of the foreign business trip, but only the time allocation of its individual segments. However, there may be instances where expenses are reimbursed incorrectly due to variations in travel benefits across different countries. Adjustments in the duration of individual stages of the trip may impact the amount of compensation owed.

The daily allowances are calculated based on the following criteria: 
1) For each full day of the business trip, the employee is entitled to the full per diem amount. 
2) For the last day of the business trip, the allowance depends on the number of hours:
a) If the duration is less than 8 hours, 1/3 of the daily per diem is granted. 
b) If the duration is between 8 and 12 hours, 50% of the daily per diem is granted.
c) If the duration exceeds 12 hours, the full daily per diem is granted.

The conversion of foreign per diems into the employee’s local currency is determined using the average exchange rate provided by the National Bank of Poland valid to the day of payment (i.e., the day before to the employee submitting the settlement documents).
If the employer provides complimentary meals to the employee, the entitlement to a meal allowance is either reduced or not provided at all. The deduction amount depends on whether it is a domestic or foreign trip and whether the employee received breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The deduction is taken from the meal allowance for time periods exceeding 12 hours or from the highest agreed-upon food allowance. In the case of an employee traveling abroad and being provided with a full meal by the employer, only 75% of the allowance is deducted, while the remaining 25% is allocated for incidental expenses.
These are compensations that the employer must provide to the employee, including:

Compensation for verified travel expenses (such as travel tickets, plane tickets, taxis, public transport tickets). 
Incidental expenses (telephone fees, fax fees, internet usage fees, parking fees, highway fees, tunnel fees).

To cover travel costs by local transportation during a foreign business trip, the employee is entitled to a fixed amount of 10% of the compensation for each day of the trip. However, this lump sum does not apply if the employee used a motor vehicle (business or private) or received free transportation.
Employee consent is required to provide advances in Polish currency. If the consent is given, the employee will receive the equivalent of the advance payment in foreign currency, calculated based on the average exchange rate of the zloty against foreign currencies set by the National Bank of Poland on the day of the advance payment.
The employee must submit an invoice for the business trip within 14 days of its completion.
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