Change in the Remote Work Law in Poland – What Can We Expect?
In 2023, a significant revolution in the realm of home office is expected in Poland. The Sejm has passed an amendment to the Labor Code. Let’s see what exactly will change!
Remote work offers numerous benefits, such as saving time on commuting, greater comfort, flexibility, and better daily work outcomes. Working from home is becoming increasingly popular, especially influenced by the pandemic and its consequent restrictions. Unfortunately, current labor law does not recognize the concept of remote work, often leading to conflicts between employers and employees. The year 2023 will bring changes in this area with new provisions in the Labor Code regarding remote work. When is an employee entitled to work from home?
Changes in the Labor Code – What’s New?
It turns out that work on the amendment of the regulations concerning so-called home office lasted for over two years. The new rules for remote work will come into effect from March 1, 2023. What exactly has changed? First and foremost, the Labor Code will now include a definition of remote work. According to this definition, remote work is the performance of duties entirely or partially in a location specified by the employee and agreed upon with the employer each time, using means of direct communication between both parties.
What does this mean in practice? During the hours specified in the contract, the employee must be in the place designated for remote work (usually the employee’s residence), where they will perform their professional duties. At the same time, they must be available to the employer. The home office cannot be moved to a café or a vacation spot.
These changes formalize remote work in the Polish labor law, providing a clear framework for both employees and employers. The aim is to balance the flexibility offered by remote work with the need for accountability and productivity.
Occasional Remote Work
The new definition of remote work is not the only update. It turns out that every employee will gain the right to occasional remote work. According to the provisions, this can be up to a maximum of 24 days within a calendar year. This right can be exercised at the employee’s request in incidental circumstances, justified by a specific need – for example, the necessity to care for a sick child.
This provision introduces flexibility into the work arrangement, allowing employees to balance their professional responsibilities with personal or emergency situations more effectively. By limiting the number of days for occasional remote work, the aim is to provide a benefit without disrupting the regular workflow of the organization.
What Can Remote Workers Expect?
Under the new regulations, it will be the employer’s duty to provide the employee with materials and tools for work, including the installation, service, and maintenance of the necessary technical equipment for remote work. If this is not possible, the employee will receive a financial equivalent for using private devices. The employer will also be obligated to cover the costs of electricity and mobile phone subscriptions.
The Labor Code mandates equal treatment of employees working remotely and those working on-site, in terms of employment commencement and termination, as well as conditions of employment, promotion, or access to training that enhances professional qualifications. This means that remote workers will be entitled to the same privileges they would have in an on-site position. This includes the ability to spend time in the workplace, interact with other employees, and use the employer’s facilities and equipment. According to the new rules, every employee must be treated equally and with due respect.
For Whom is Remote Work?
The amendment provides for the privilege of remote or hybrid work, according to the needs of a specific employee. The right to perform professional duties entirely or partially from home will primarily benefit pregnant women. This will surely have a positive impact on the well-being of pregnant women, for whom working under normal conditions is often difficult and demanding. An interesting provision in the amendment is that remote work will be possible during a complicated pregnancy or in the case of obstetric failures.
There are also good news for new parents. Employers will not be able to deny remote work to a person raising a child up to the age of 4, which solves many problems related to childcare. The right will also be granted to parents who need to devote more attention to their children due to a diagnosis requiring early developmental support, special education, or rehabilitative and educational activities. Interestingly, this privilege can be used even after the child turns 18.
Another factor enabling the transition to home office will be the need to care for a member of the immediate family or a household resident who has a disability certificate or a certificate of significant disability.
When can an employer refuse remote work? If the nature of the work or its organization makes it impossible to perform professional duties from home. It’s hard to imagine a construction worker or a cashier working from home. 🙂
Remote Work on the Employer’s Instruction- When?
An employer will be able to delegate an employee to remote work in two scenarios:
- During the period of a state of emergency, a state of epidemic threat, or during an epidemic.
- In a period when, due to force majeure, it is impossible to ensure safe and hygienic conditions at the employee’s current workplace.
Safety of Performing Remote Work
Typically, the employer is responsible for ensuring safe and hygienic conditions at the workplace. But what about remote work? The amendment introduces a provision to the Labor Code stating that maintaining hygienic working conditions will now be the responsibility of the employee. This includes, among other things, keeping the remote workspace clean.
Performing Control Activities During Employee’s Working Hours
“The employer will be able to control the employee at the workplace (usually in their home). The control will primarily cover whether the employee complies with safety and information protection requirements (including personal data protection procedures) and safety and hygiene rules. The employer will also be able to conduct an examination of the employee’s sobriety.
The control must take place only with the employee’s agreement, during their working hours. The method of controlling the employee should be adapted to the place and type of work. Control activities should respect the privacy of the employee performing the work and should not hinder the use of domestic premises in a manner consistent with their intended use.
Detailed rules for conducting control must be included in a regulation agreed upon by both parties. They may also be included in a remote work order or an agreement made with the employee.
Can the amendment to the Labor Code be considered the first step towards a new reality in which remote work becomes something natural for many professions? Anything is possible! Today, more and more people want to perform their duties based on home office principles. It’s not surprising. After all, working from home has many benefits.”