The year 2020 contributed to the surge of digital transformation. Organizations, in the face of the epidemic, implemented remote work more willingly, seeing in this solution not only business benefits but also often organizational and social coercion. Undoubtedly, the result of growing popularity of such work provision, both in the employees’ and employers’ environment was the implementation of remote work in Polish law. The amendment to the Labour Code regarding remote work has already been signed by the President and announced in the Journal of Laws, which means that from 7 April employers can officially implement the solutions provided for by the amendment. The upcoming changes and the many fears employers have about it have created many questions and at the same time many answers, quite a few of which significantly miss the truth. In this article, we debunk the 7 most common myths about remote working.
Myth #1 As an employer who allows remote work, I may or may not introduce remote work regulations
This was the case until the Labour Code was amended. Nowadays, any employer who employs even part of its employees in the form of remote work is obliged to implement appropriate implementation documentation in its organisation.
In addition to being mandatory, the regulation of remote work within an organisation has another advantage: it safeguards the employer’s interests. Addressing issues such as:
- health and safety;
- personal data protection;
- or the possibility of inspecting the place of remote work;
is undoubtedly of fundamental importance from the point of view of the employer.
Myth #2 Employees must work fully remotely
Recently, we have received quite a few enquiries about the possibility to combine remote work with office work. Such a possibility is explicitly provided for in the amendment to the Labour Code. This means that employees can work completely remotely or in a so-called hybrid remote work, combining work from home with work in the office.
Crucially, in the hybrid remote work model, the legislator does not impose a minimum number of days of remote work or in-office work. The employer itself – precisely in the remote work regulations – regulates the remote work model and its assumptions, such as the number of days of office work.
Myth #3 Employees can waive the lump sum for remote working
This is probably the most common myth. Until the amendments to the Labour Code, reimbursement for remote work (electricity, internet, private equipment) was an employee benefit. Instead, the amendments to the Labour Code provide for an obligation to reimburse remote work. An obligation from which the law does not provide for exceptions.
Myth #4 An employer can always reject an employee’s request for remote work
Since remote work can be agreed during the course of employment at the request of a specific employee, we often hear that such a request can always be rejected by the employer. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The employer is obliged to take into account a request for remote work by, among others, a pregnant woman and employees raising a child under 4 years of age.
Refusal of remote work in such cases is only possible due to the organisation of work or the type of work.
Myth #5 An employer who allows remote work is deprived of control over work performance
This is also an issue that needs to be disenchanted. The provisions of the amendment provide explicitly that the employer is entitled to inspect the place where the employee performs remote work.
This inspection is, of course, subject to a number of restrictions, such as carrying it out:
- during the employee’s working hours;
- in agreement with the employee;
- and with respect for the privacy of household members;
which does not, however, mean that the employer is effectively deprived of this possibility.
Myth #6 The number of days of occasional remote work can be increased
The Labour Code, as amended, provides for an employee to be able to benefit from 24 days of remote work per calendar year. This is the maximum number of days of remote work, which thus:
- cannot be increased in intra-company regulations;
- cannot be carried over to the next calendar year.
The increase in the number of days of occasional remote work is indeed the introduction of ‘normal’ remote work, with all the consequences that this entails. Let us remember that occasional remote work is exempt from several obligations provided for full and hybrid remote work.
Myth #7 Any trip away from a remote work location is business travel
Recently, it has also been reported that business travel for employees will be any trip away from the remote work location, which is usually away from the employee’s residence, including travel to the employer’s headquarters. When analysing the provisions on remote work, it is impossible to agree with this.
Remote work is work carried out away from the workplace. This definition leads to two conclusions:
- a trip from the place of remote work (e.g. from the employee’s flat) to the employer’s workplace will not constitute business travel;
- only the employee’s departure in connection with the employer’s instruction to travel will constitute business travel.
Looking at the above facts and myths, it seems, in practice, employers can make many mistakes when implementing remote work. We encourage you to contact our law firm now – we will guide you through the implementation process and answer any questions.
Paula Staszak-Urbańska, LL.M., Trainee attorney-at-law (PL)