Employment & labor law

Sobriety control of employees in Poland

Polish Parliament is working on a draft of amendment to the Polish Labor Law, which, apart from regulating remote work, is also to introduce the possibility for the employer to control the sobriety of employees. Until now, in the event of any suspicions against an employee, the employer had to call the police – now he will gain the right to check whether the employee is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The new regulations are primarily intended to contribute to increasing safety in workplaces, especially where employees operate dangerous machines. Until now, even in the case of disturbing behaviour of an employee, the employer was unable to independently verify whether the employee is physically able to work. The necessity to call the Police meant that the whole process was prolonged and the work was not performed at that time, which was mainly loss for the employer. The amendment is therefore to improve operating in such situations.

Sobriety control without laboratory testing

The draft of the amendment states that the employer will be able to control the employee before commencing work and during the performance of work, but only using methods that do not require laboratory tests. In practice, this will mean the possibility of using special devices with appropriate certificates – for example, breathalysers or drug test strips. If the employee refuses to be tested with such a device and requests blood tests – the police will still need to be called for this purpose.

Consequences – drunk at work

The controlled employee, in the event of being drunk or under the influence of other intoxicating substances, will not be allowed to work. This will happen regardless of whether the device shows a state indicating only the use of alcohol (from 0.2 to 0.5 per mille of alcohol) or a state of intoxication (above 0.5 per mille of alcohol). The employee will not receive remuneration for the period of his inability to work.

However, the employee will be able to request the verification of the test performed by the employer by calling the Police and conducting a blood test. If it turns out that the blood test does not show the presence of any substances, the employee will be entitled to remuneration for the period of his inability to work.

Sobriety control related amendments to handbooks

The methods and rules for controlling the sobriety of employees will have to be regulated in the relevant internal documentation of the workplace – i.e. in the work regulations, collective labor agreement or – if the employer does not have such regulations – in the announcement made to the attention of employees. At the same time, employers will also have to properly store information about the course of conducted tests. Therefore, employers will once again have to adapt their internal documents and HR documentation to the upcoming changes to the Labor Code in Poland.

Sobriety control of staff (other contracts)

Labor law specialists from our law firm point out that the draft of the amendment also provides for the possibility of applying the new provisions to persons employed under civil law contracts (e.g. contracts of mandate) and self-employed persons (working under a B2B contract).

Currently, the act is only at the draft stage, but it is forecast to enter into force later this year. Therefore, both employers and employees should now prepare for new duties and rights.

Author team leader DKP Legal Joanna Kowal
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