Remote work 2023
As from 7th April, the new provisions of law on remote work shall enter into force. The amendment to the Labour Code means new possibilities and benefits, but also new responsibilities for employers and employees. Malwina Ruczko, HR & Payroll department leader at TIAS, shares with us a rundown of the most important changes.
The pandemic has irrevocably transformed the job market. The professional reality of the average Pole has drastically changed over the past two years. Most of us have been working remotely and seeing our coworkers face-to-face during online meetings only. Having come to terms with this new reality, we are currently all quite familiar with the notion of remote work. However, not many people realize that this term hadn’t been properly reflected in the relevant acts until just recently. How could it have been regulated then? Questions arise as to the exact rules governing the application of remote work. What document regulates this kind of work? What are the rights and responsibilities of the employer? While the previous iteration of the Labour Code made mention of telework, the very concept of remote work only appeared in Art. 3 of the so-called COVID Act. Thus, legal updates were bound to happen sooner or later. The Sejm has just finished drafting a set of regulations on remote work. The amendment to the Labour Code has been already adopted, and the provisions published in the Journal of Laws shall become effective as of 7 April 2023.
What exactly is remote work?
Remote work translates into new possibilities and benefits, but also entails additional responsibilities for employers and employees. According to Art. 67(18) of the new Labour Code, it denotes the performance of work, fully or partially, at a place designated by the employee and agreed upon each time with the employer, including the residence address of the employee. It is important to then take into account the use of means of direct, distance communication. Before an employee commences remote work, they should submit a statement saying that they have access to premises and technical means allowing them to perform such work.
What is new, however, is the provision regarding occasional remote work (new Art. 67 §1 of the Labour Code). It stipulates that remote work may be performed occasionally, without an explicit reason, at the request of the employee, and for a maximum of 24 days per calendar year. Every employee is entitled to them. It should be noted that the current Art. 3 of the Act of 2 March 2020 on special solutions related to preventing, counteracting and combating COVID-19, other infectious diseases and emergencies caused by them (Journal of Laws 2020, item 1842, as amended) will be repealed.
Who cannot be denied the option to work remotely by the employer?
- pregnant employees;
- employees caring for children up to 4 years of age;
- employees who are parents of children with disability degree certificates or mild or severe disability certificates;
- employees caring for other members of their immediate families (or other persons belonging to their common households) with disability degree certificates or severe disability certificates;
- employees - parents of children with complicated pregnancy certificates and involved in obstetric emergencies;
- employees - parents of children who were issued a relevant opinion on the need for early childhood development support, a statement on the need for special education, or a statement on the need for rehabilitation and education classes;
The exception is when it would not be possible to perform remote work due to either the nature or organization of the work. The reason for the refusal should be provided by the employer in writing.
What are the employer’s responsibilities?
- determining the cash equivalent for the use of the employee’s private laptop and other equipment not provided by the employer.
- providing the employee with the training and technical assistance necessary to perform remote work;
- providing the employee performing remote work with materials and work tools;
- providing installation, servicing, and maintenance of work tools, including technical equipment, necessary for the performance of remote work or covering the costs thereof;
- covering the costs of electricity and telecommunications services;
- covering other costs directly related to the performance of remote work;
It should be noted that the equivalent will not constitute income for the employee.
What are the employer’s rights?
The employer may carry out an inspection. It may concern, among other things, compliance with security and information protection requirements, including the procedure for protecting personal data at the workplace, as well as OHS (BHP) rules. The new Article 67 §28 specifies exactly how such an inspection should be carried out:
- The inspection is carried out in consultation with the employee at the remote work location and during the employee's working hours.
- The employer adjusts the mode of inspection to the location where remote work is performed as well as its type.
- Performing the inspection activities cannot infringe upon the privacy of the employee or other people nor obstruct the use of household premises in accordance with their intended purpose.
However, it should be kept in mind that the inspection should be based on the rules set forth in the regulations, the remote work order, or in the agreement concluded between the employee and the employer," concludes Malwina Ruczko, TIAS expert.
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