Amendments to the Polish Labour Code which introduce remote work into the Polish legal system came into force on 7 April 2023. It replaced the rules on the so called telework, which has been increasingly popular during the pandemic.
What are the changes?
In accordance with new regulations, remote work is performed fully or partially in a place indicated by the employee and each time agreed upon with the employer (including at the address of the employee’s residence). Thus, remote work may also be of a hybrid nature. Remote work is performed in particular with the use of means of direct communication at distance.
The performance of remote work may be agreed between the employer and employee at the time an employment contract is concluded or during employment.
The performance of remote work may be agreed between the parties at the employee’s request or at the employer’s initiative.
In certain situations, the employer will be able to give an employee a binding order as to the obligation to work remotely (periods of extraordinary state, state of epidemic threat or state of epidemic, and within 3 months after the states were lifted, or within a period in which it is temporarily impossible for the employer to ensure safe and hygienic work conditions in the hitherto workplace of the employee due to force majeure).
An employee’s request for performing remote work, except for certain situations, will not be binding for the employer. The exceptions are inter alia
as follows: requests of pregnant employees, of employees raising a child of up to 4 years of age, or a person taking care of another family member or a person remaining in the same household with a certificate of disability. It will be possible to refuse to grant a request made by the said persons only if its implementation it not possible due to the workflow organisation or the type of work performed by the employee.
The rules for performing remote work need to be determined in relevant documents:
- in the arrangement document (if there are trade unions at the employer's)
- in the remote work regulations (if there are no trade unions at the employer's)
- in the employer’s order or agreement with the employee (if no arrangement with a company trade union was concluded or no regulations were issued).
In accordance with the amended regulations, the employer will be obliged to cover expenses related to the performance of remote work as well as ensure materials and work equipment for the employee, including technical devices necessary to perform remote work.
The employer and employee may determine the rules for using materials and work equipment by the employee, including technical devices necessary to perform remote work, not ensured by the employer. The employee who uses their own equipment will be entitled to a monetary equivalent in the sum agreed with the employer.
The obligation to cover costs or pay out the monetary equivalent may be replaced with an obligation to pay out a lump sum, the value of which corresponds to anticipated costs incurred by the employee in connection with the performance of remote work.
The employer is obliged to determine procedures for personal data protection and, if needed, to carry out briefing and training in this regard.
New regulations provide the employer with the possibility to carry out a control of remote work as to occupational health and safety as well as the safety and protection of information, including procedures for personal data protection. The rules for carrying out the control should be determined in the arrangement, regulations, employer’s order, or agreement with the employee.
The regulations also provide for the possibility to perform remote work on an occasional basis.
Occasional remote work may be performed upon the employee’s request only, for a total period of no longer the 24 days in a calendar year.
What steps should be taken by companies?
New regulations came into force on 7 April 2023. The companies should adapt their HR policies to the new situation ASAP. Here are the steps which need to be taken:
- reviewing the existing internal regulations regarding telework and other forms of remote working which developed in the past;
- introducing changes that result from the new regulations;
- preparing the remote work regulations;
- updating the internal rules on health and safety and GDPR;
- introducing rules on handling remote work and carrying out controls.