We discussed the topic of planned changes to the Labor Code last year. One of the main and widely commented elements of the project is the introduction of the concept of remote work in Polish laws. This solution first appeared in the covid special act. Yet, the structure of these regulations was only meant to be temporary. The legislator noticed how much interest there was in the home office form. Both employer and employee organizations called for this solution to be made permanent. The bill on the amendment of the Labor Code which is currently being debated in the Sejm is an answer to such a request. The work on the project is coming to an end – the Senate’s amendments are currently being considered. Let’s take a closer look at the main assumptions of remote work.
Table of Contents
- Remote work – what is it?
- When is an application for remote work binding for the employer?
- Application for remote work as a reason for termination of employment? Protection for remote workers
- Equal treatment of remote and on-site employees
- Employers’ obligations related to remote work
- When will the Act come into effect?
Remote work – what is it?
According to legal definition, it is work that can be performed entirely or partially at a location indicated by an employee using means of distance communication. Every time, the location needs to be agreed with the employer. Both the employee and the employer can request work in this form. It is possible to determine it at the time of entering into an employment contract. Changing the work from on-site to remote form can also happen during the period of employment. The rules for the remote performance of duties should be specified in an agreement between the employer and a labour union. If there is no labour union, it should be specified in the statute. Such regulations should be introduced after consulting with representatives of employees.
When is an application for remote work binding for the employer?
Generally, an employer is not obligated to provide remote work to every employee. But, this does not apply to the following cases:
- Pregnant employees;
- Employees raising a child until they turn 4
- Employees caring for another family member or person living in the same household. Such person being under care must have a disability certificate.
- A parent of a child with a certificate of severe and irreversible disability or incurable life-threatening illness that occurred during pregnancy or childbirth. This applies even after the child turns 18.
- A parent of a child with a certificate of disability specified in the Act on occupational and social rehabilitation and employment of disabled persons. This applies even after the child turns 18.
- A parent of a child with opinion on the need for early support of the child’s development, a certificate on the need for special education or a certificate on the need for rehabilitation-educational activities. It also applies after the child reaches the age of 18.
In the case of these people, if remote work is technically possible, the employer is obliged by the employee’s request.
If the request doesn’t concern the cases listed above, the employer must inform in writing or electronically within 7 days about the denial. He must also state the reasons for denying a remote work mode. Similarly, in the case of the lack of possibility to perform work remotely. The employer must notify about that within 7 days and justify the decision.
Application for remote work as a reason for termination of employment? Protection for remote workers
The legislator secured the interests of people who perform remote work. There is a regulation protecting from terminating the contract due to remote work preferences. An employer may attempt to avoid unwanted remote work by terminating an employee’s contract. But, according to the bill, the reasons for termination cannot include:
- The submission of a request by an employee specified in the Act in this context. Namely, an individual whose preference for remote work must be obligatory respected by the employer.
- The employee’s refusal to modify the form of work (from remote to in-site or vice versa).
- The employee’s request to stop remote work during the employment relationship.
The employer also cannot issue a binding request to stop remote work and restore previous work conditions for an employee whose request for remote work is binding. This can only happen if continuing remote work is impossible due to the organization of work or its type.
Equal treatment of remote and on-site employees
Remote workers must not be treated less favorably in terms of employment conditions. This concerns the establishment and termination of an employment relationship. It also applies to promotion and access to training that improves professional qualifications. Of course, the specificities associated with the conditions of remote work must be taken into account. The employee also cannot be discriminated against in any way for performing or refusing to perform this type of work.
Employers’ obligations related to remote work
The bill imposes numerous obligations on the employer whose employee performs remote work:
- Provide the employee with adequate materials and tools. Providing Technical devices, necessary for remote work is also necessary. Alternatively, an employer may pay a cash equivalent or respective allowance.
- Provide and maintain tools, including technical equipment, necessary for remote work. Cover the costs of installation, service, operation, and maintenance of these tools. Additionally, the employer must cover the costs of electricity and telecommunications services needed for remote work.
- Provide a remote employee with training and technical support necessary to perform his work.
- Define procedures for the protection of personal data. If necessary, provide employees with instructions and training in this regard.
- Allow remote employees to come to the workplace, communicate with others, and use the employer’s facilities, social spaces, and social activities, as allowed for all employees.
When will the Act come into effect?
The Sejm will consider amendments proposed by the Senate in the first half of January 2023. So, it can be assumed that the act will come into force at the turn of the first and second quarter of 2023. According to the transitional provisions, most of its provisions will enter into force after 14 days from the date of announcement. Yet, there are some exceptions. Among them there are provisions on remote work. They will come into effect after 2 months from the date of announcement.