2018 | 45 | 1(14) 100 Years Social Policy in Poland | 2
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From the time when Poland regained independence until now, Polish social policy has undergone significant transformations. These changes depended on the political and economic system of the state, the condition of the national economy, and on the objectives that public authorities set for social policy at that time. On the eve of the regaining of independence by Poland, social policy had already become one of the most important spheres of activity of public authorities. The Regency Council, the supreme state body, appointed a Minister of Social Welfare and Labor Protection on January 3, 1918. The responsibilities of this Minister were clearly defined at the same. They included issues of public charity, state care for the victims of war, worker relations, oversight for worker emigration, factory inspection, and preparing labor protection and social security legislation. The Minister took over the Temporary Labor Department of the Council of State and renamed it the Ministry of Social Welfare and Labor Protection. Over the following months and years, this Ministry underwent an organizational evolution. Among other things, it took over public health care matters that had previously belonged to the Ministry of the Internal Affairs. Apart from these and subsequent transformations, the basic tasks of the Ministry included the shaping of principles of social policy and their implementation. One of the successes of the reborn state in the social sphere was the introduction of regulations on national social policy. They were introduced by the decrees of Józef Piłsudski: an eight–hour working day, protection of the population against the consequences of war usury, conditions for the eviction of the unemployed, creation of a state office for the return of prisoners of war, refugees, and workers as well as associations and a labor inspectorate subordinate to the Minister of Labor. The outbreak of World War II interrupted the work of the Ministry of Social Welfare. It should be stressed, however, that in the interwar period it prepared and implemented many guidelines in the field of Polish social policy. This achievement made certain activities possible following the Second World War and subsequently in the free Poland after 1989. Over the years 1987–1999, the Ministry of Labor and Civic Policy carried out tasks related to employment, benefits, and social security. After the introduction of government administration departments, it was replaced by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy. This office was served by the minister in charge of the labor and social security departments. The office was later merged with the Ministry of Economy. After some time, the Ministry of Economy, Labor, and Social Policy was divided into the Ministry of Economy and Labor and the Ministry of Social Policy. It was only the previous government of the Law and Justice Party that restored the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy. In 2015, the Law and Justice government changed the name of the Ministry. Pursuant to the Directive of the Council of Ministers of December 3, 2015, it was renamed the Ministry of Family, Labor, and Social Policy. This designation fully reflects the scope of tasks of the ministry. At the same time, it reaffirms the fact that shaping conditions for family development is a priority for the government. The Law and Justice government places strong emphasis on family welfare, which is in performance of the provision found in Article 71(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, which states that: In its social and economic policy, the state takes into account the welfare of the family. Families facing difficult material and social situations, especially families with many children and single–parent families, have the right to special assistance from public authorities. This provision corresponds to the principle behind the economic system as expressed in Article 20 of the Constitution that, subject to Polish conditions, is based on a social market economy — i.e. based on freedom of economic activity, private property and solidarity, dialogue and cooperation of social partners. Although this is a programmatic norm, the concept of social market economy appears to be blurred, despite many attempts to define it. The social market economy is considered a third way. On the one hand it is different from the liberal concept of a free market, while on the other from a planned economy characteristic of totalitarian regimes. It is impossible not to agree with the opinion expressed on the following pages of this publication that it is difficult to predict the direction in which social policy will evolve over the next few or few dozen years. This will depend on many variables. There is no doubt, however, that it should constantly respond to the needs of a changing world. Today, specific challenges encompass trends involving demography, globalization, automation of production processes, investment in human capital, and the knowledge–based economy. This necessitates the application of new, previously unknown instruments, both in social policy and in economic policy, which are, after all, a system of interconnected vessels. This monograph provides a reliable diagnosis as well as many interesting predictions and guidelines. Its editors and the authors of individual chapters present numerous, often very complex, issues in areas of interest to social policy with great expertise and in a very accessible way. One Hundred Years of Polish Social Policy [in Polish] is an extremely valuable book in terms of its selection of comprehensive topics — the work of eminent experts in the field. It will inspire and contribute to further research on social policies. This publication is an expression of appreciation for those who have contributed to the development of social policy theory and practice. The content of the book, to which I have the honor and pleasure of adding a few words of introduction, should be read by all those who have an impact on the shaping of social and economic policy in Poland. It will surely also prove interesting reading for scientists and social policy practitioners as well as students of the social sciences, including political science, social policy, the family sciences, and sociology. I would like to express my appreciation to the editors and co–authors for producing this publication.
  • Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy
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