Remote work (home office) in Poland
At the moment, Polish labor law does not regulate remote work in detail. The special COVID act only introduced the possibility of entrusting an employee with the performance of duties outside the workplace. Currently, more and more companies use this solution on a permanent basis, which has resulted in the need to properly regulate remote work. Polish parliament is working on an amendment to the Labor Code, which will, inter alia, regulate remote work in detail. The changes will entail a number of new obligations for employers who offer employees the opportunity to work remotely.
New regulation – Remote Work / Poland
After the amendment to the Labor Code, a completely new chapter on remote work is to appear in Polish Labor Law Code, replacing the existing regulations on teleworking. Thanks to the new regulations, the employee will be able to perform work in any place of his choosing, after prior arrangement with the employer. The employer will be responsible for providing employees with appropriate equipment and safe working conditions.
Occasional remote work
Occasional remote work will also be regulated in the brand new chapter of Polish Labor Code.
Employers obligations for home office
The new regulations mean the necessity to introduce changes in workplaces where employees work remotely. Employers will gain new obligations, such as the need to prepare information about occupational risk for the employee, defining employee personal data protection procedures, drawing up regulations for performing remote work or new application forms for the employee. However, the introduced changes are not only the obligations themselves. The employer will also gain the right to inspect the workplace in terms of occupational health and safety, as well as in terms of protection of information processed by the employee.
Expenses in remote work
In addition to preparing the relevant documentation, the employer will also have to provide employees with appropriate equipment, equipment service, training, and in some cases cover the costs related to the consumption of electricity or multimedia. In the event that the obligation to organize the equipment is transferred to the employee, the employer will be obliged to pay the employee a cash equivalent. There will also be a possibility for the employer to cover in advance the anticipated costs of organizing the workplace.
Introduction of remote work
After the changes, there will also be the possibility of occasional remote work. The employee will be able to submit an application to the employer for a permit to perform remote work. The length of such occasional remote work may not exceed 24 days in a calendar year.
At the same time, the employer will be able to send the employee to work remotely. This will take place not only as before due to covid regulations, but also in the event when, due to force majeure, the employer will not be able to provide the employee with appropriate working conditions.
Amendment of law regarding home office
Work on the amendment is still in progress and it is not yet known when exactly the new regulations will come into force. However, it is forecasted that work on the act will be completed this fall. Specialists from the labor law team of our Law Firm emphasize that employers will have a short time to adapt to the changes, because according to the draft, the act is to enter into force 14 days after its publication. Therefore, employers should start preparing for the upcoming changes.
“Old” COVID regulations regarding remote work in Poland
Let us also remind you what are the currently binding COVID regulations regarding remote work:
A form of entrusting remote work
The table does not specify in what form the remote working command should be executed. Consequently, in principle, the employer may give such an instruction in writing, by e-mail, orally or even implicitly. However, for evidential purposes, we recommend that the order to perform remote work be documented (e. g. in writing, by e-mail).
Justification for the order to entrust remote working
The statement does not indicate the necessity to justify the decision to entrust remote work by the employer. However, it should be noted that the purpose of the Act itself, as well as the possibility of entrusting employees with remote work, is to prevent COVID-19. We therefore recommend that when recommending remote work to employees, we refer to the COVID-19 counteraction.
We would also like to point out that the possibility of recommending remote work to employees may be related to the identified cases of illness in the company, the place where the company is located or in the region, but it may also be purely preventive in nature. In accordance with Article 2(2) 2 Speculative statements „COVID-19 counteraction” means all activities related to infection control, containment, prophylaxis, prevention and combating the effects of the disease. The decision in this respect remains solely an autonomous decision of the employer.
The period of remote working
The specification does not specify the maximum period for remote work, but only indicates that the command to perform work in this mode should be performed "for a specified time”;. It should therefore be up to the employer to decide for how long an employee may perform his duties in a different place from his workplace. However, taking into account the purpose of this regulation, i. e. COVID-19 counteraction, this period should be adapted to the emergency. This means that, depending on the current situation, the period of entrusting remote working may be shortened or extended. At this point, however, we would like to point out that the specialty set will expire 180 days after its entry into force. As a result, the duration of remote working should not, in principle, extend beyond the indicated period.
Remote working and housing conditions
The law does not regulate the conditions to be met by the employee’s home office. If remote working cannot be performed due to the impossibility of ensuring safe and hygienic working conditions, the employer should designate another place to perform remote working.
The place where the employee performs remote work
We draw your attention to the fact that, in accordance with Article 3 remote work is defined as the performance, for a fixed period of time, of the work specified in the employment contract, outside the place of its permanent performance. It should therefore be noted that remote work does not have to be performed at the employee’s home – it can also be to any other, essentially arbitrary place. It seems obvious, however, that it is necessary to preserve the objective of the Act, i. e. The place of work should be selected in a way that allows for the prevention of COVID-19. As a result, an employer who wants to limit the access of employees to the workplace cannot at the same time rent out „shared space” for employees.
The possibility for an employee to challenge remote work
In this respect, reference should be made to one of the basic obligations of the employee, which is the obligation to follow the instructions of his superiors, which relate to the work, if they are not contrary to the law or the employment contract. The order to perform remote working falls within the limits of such a legal order, and therefore, in principle, the employee has no grounds for refusing to perform remote working.
Refusal to comply with the employer’s order to perform remote work justifies the imposition of a penalty of order on the employee. Given the circumstances of the case, it cannot be ruled out that the employment contract of an employee who persistently refuses to work in the „home office” mode can also be terminated, especially if it can be reasonably assumed that such a situation poses a threat to the health and life of other employees.