You could come across any of these phrases while perusing job offers for students:
- książeczka zdrowia do celów sanitarno-epidemiologicznych – health booklet for sanitary and epidemiological purposes
- książeczka Sanepidu/sanepidowska – Sanepid’s booklet
- książeczka zdrowia – health booklet
- badania do celów sanitarno-epidemiologicznych – tests for sanitary and epidemiological purposes
- badania na nosicielstwo – tests against contagions
No matter which one of these expressions your employer uses, they probably mean one thing – a special medical certificate based on laboratory tests. Using stool samples, you’ll be checked for typhoid, Salmonella, Shigella and other diseases of this type. Then you may also be sent by a doctor for extra tests, for example against Tuberculosis. After that you can start working with food.
In this article I’ll be calling it Polish food service worker certificate because that’s the closest English equivalent, although I’m aware of the differences between American and Polish systems.
Who should be subjected to the test?
The most typical examples of people who need to get a certificate are:
- People hired for positions that risk transmitting contagious diseases or infections, for example in the catering trade.
- Students and PhD candidates trained to do such jobs. For example medical students.
Everyone’s talking about booklets but I got only a piece of paper… why?
The booklet format used to be obligatory, but currently there is no required form of the certificate. In practice there are three possible scenarios:
- In the laboratory in Kraków I was told that they no longer use booklets. The lab will give you only a piece of paper with your results. You’ll show that to the doctor, who will give you a medical certificate in two copies. You’ll give one copy to the employer, and you’ll keep the second copy and the original lab results for yourself.
- Still all the doctors that I checked with in Kraków recommend that you buy a booklet on your own. Then you’ll get both a stamp in there and two copies of the certificate from a doctor. They told me that it’s not required but most people do that anyway.
- The laboratory in Wrocław told me that they will give you a booklet together with the results.
As you see, in theory you don’t need any booklet, but in practice it depends on the Voivodeship and actually most people buy booklets from paper shops even in the Voivodeships where laboratories no longer sell it.
How do you get the certificate step by step?
- Find the laboratory
- Check out a few details:
- opening hours
- cost of service
- their instructions for the procedure
- Follow the procedures at the laboratory
- Go to an occupational doctor or a family physician
Find the laboratory
You can conduct the tests only in the special laboratories that belong to Państwowa Inspekcja Sanitarna (the State Sanitary Inspection = “Sanepid”). In each Voivodeship there is a laboratory called Wojewódzka Stacja Sanitarno-Epidemiologiczna (the Regional Sanitary and Epidemiological Station).
Let me give you a few addresses. If you don’t find your city below, contact me and I’ll help you:
- Warszawa – ul. Żelazna 79
- Kraków – ul. Prądnicka 76
- Wrocław – Składowa 1/3
- Katowice – ul. Raciborska 39
- Łódź – ul. Wodna 40
- Poznań – ul. Noskowskiego 23
Check out a few details
I’m sorry to tell you this, but you won’t be able to go through the whole procedure without the assistance of a Polish speaker. The opening hours, costs and even procedures differ from city to city. I’ll describe how it all looks in Kraków and in Katowice in order to give you a general overview and to show you possible differences.
From example in Katowice:
- The test costs 99 zł.
- There is a special order form that you will be handed. You need to go to the lab before you start the procedure in order to take the form. You will need to fill it out and give it to the staff member of the laboratory together with the samples.
- The test will be based on three stool samples taken from three consecutive defecations.
- Every time you should fill up 1/3 of the plastic container using the plastic paddle attached to the container. In Katowice they ask you to buy containers at the pharmacy, but in other cities they may require that you use containers provided by the laboratory.
- You should keep containers with the samples at fridge temperature.
- On the day when you collect the third part of the material you should deliver all three samples at once to the laboratory. You can leave the samples in the laboratory from Monday to Thursday 8:00-11:00.
- You should write your name, date of collection and exam type on all three containers.
- After 2-7 days you can collect the results: either from the laboratory (each working day 13:00-15:00), or online.
And in Kraków:
- The cost of the test is 90 zł
- The full amount should be sent via bank transfer. Data for the transfer:
- Account’s number: 85 1010 1270 0037 0822 3100 0000
- Name of the receiver: WSSE Kraków, ul. Prądnicka 76, 31 – 202 Kraków
- Title of the transfer: Your name
- Then you go to the laboratory, to the ground floor, room 16, with the photocopy of the confirmation of the payment. You take 3 containers (delivered by the laboratory), instructions and this form that you need to fill out: click!
- You can do this from Monday to Friday, 7:30-15:00.
- Then you take three samples according to the instructions and bring it all at once to the laboratory together with the order and the confirmation of payment.
- You can do this only from Monday to Wednesday, 7:30-11:00. That’s why you should take the containers on Friday at the latest and start taking the samples on Monday.
- After 7 days you can go there again, to the ground floor, room 18 in order to collect the results.
- You can do that:
- Monday-Wednesday 12:00-15:00
- Thursday-Friday 7:30-15:00
- You can do that:
Go to the doctor
When you finally have the results, you should go to the doctor. You will either be sent for some extra tests or given a certificate. Before going to the doctor make sure to buy a booklet in a medical shop, or in a paper shop, for an even lower price. If you’re not able to find a doctor who is entitled to give you a certificate, ask other expats on a Facebook group. If they don’t know anyone, let me know and I’ll find someone for you.
How often should you do the test?
The law doesn’t regulate how frequently you should repeat the tests. In practice the certificate has no expiration date, unless the doctor requires that you repeat some part of the procedure after an indicated period of time. If that’s not the case, everything should be good as long as you don’t have a break from working or change your place of work. If you happen to do so, you don’t need to do the laboratory tests again – you only go to the doctor. But you need to start the procedure all over if you, for example, had contact with any bacteria that you’ve been checked against.
Let’s sum up the costs
In theory you shouldn’t pay a dime for these tests and your employer should cover all the costs. In practice almost all employers, especially those who offer civil contracts for students, hire only people who have already earned the certificate, so you need to pay for the tests out of your own pocket.
- Booklet – about 6 zł
- Laboratory tests – 80-100 zł
- Visit to the doctor – 50-100 zł
Now that you’ve overcome these obstacles, it should be easier for you to look for summer jobs. I know that it’s still not easy, but I hope that I managed to make your life here a little bit easier. I ask you only for one thing in return – join me on Facebook or leave a comment if you appreciate my work. This will enable me to build the biggest info center for expats in Poland. You can read more about my plans in the Start Here section. Good luck, I hope that you find a job soon!