The middle of the year is behind us, and discussions about this year’s labor law changes have not quieted down. Not surprising, given the number of changes made in one year. Employers are often the ones who ask us what to look out for, which changes are the most important, and which can be ignored. I feel that while it is difficult to summarize the entire six months in one article – it is possible to isolate the key areas and the concerns that constantly arise. So let’s try to isolate those key areas that employers must face in 2023.
Remote work – what to look out for?
First of all, remote work should be treated as an entitlement of the employee, not an obligation of the employer.
Admittedly, there is a group of employees who have the right to request the employer to perform remote work, even if formally this form of work has not been introduced at the workplace. However, this is an exceptional regulation, which, moreover, contains limitations.
Instead, it is worth remembering in particular:
- regulate remote work – if work in the organization is done even partially in this way or if the employer plans to introduce it in the future;
- collecting relevant statements from employees;
- paying a lump sum – a common mistake is for employers to assume that an employee can relieve them of this obligation.
In addition, it is worth bearing in mind that:
- we distinguish three types of remote work, with occasional remote work (performed up to 24 days a year) differing from “standard” remote work – it is exempt from some of the formal requirements, including the obligation to introduce it in the form of regulations or an agreement or the obligation of the employer to pay a lump sum;
- there is a group of employees (among others, parents of children under 4) whose request for remote work obliges the employer to apply this form of work to the requesting employee, unless the type of work or its organization does not allow the application of remote work;
- the regulation of remote work is not only regulations or an agreement, but also data protection procedures or information on the principles of safe and healthy remote work;
- employers should have documentation to justify the lump sum adopted.
The adoption of the EU’s work-life balance directive into Polish labor law has significantly expanded the catalog of employee rights. In addition to their existing rights, employees gained, among other possibilities to:
- submit an application for a change in the form of employment;
- take care leave and leave due to force majeure;
- submit a request for flexible work arrangements.
However, employers often forget that the aforementioned implementation of the directive into Polish labor law means not only additional rights for employees, but also changes in the conclusion and termination of employment contracts. It is worth noting that most of the newly introduced provisions are binding on all employers. These changes concern:
- the content of employment contracts and information on terms and conditions of employment;
- rules for entering into probationary employment contracts;
- termination of fixed-term contracts.
This, in turn, means that the organization’s existing document templates should be revised and adapted to the new regulations, which is often a necessity.
Sobriety control – a duty or an entitlement?
The last element of the changes introduced, but equally important, is the possibility of conducting sobriety checks on employees. It is worth remembering that the regulations presuppose the right of employers (and not an obligation) to take the opportunity to check employees for alcohol or intoxicants.
The introduction of sobriety or intoxicant control at the workplace and its subsequent implementation require a number of formal steps, including:
- formal introduction of control – by developing regulations;
- properly informing employees about the introduction of controls;
- preparation of model documents;
- completion of documentation in accordance with the provisions of GDPR.
There are many changes, and the above-mentioned areas do not fully exhaust the catalog of amendments made to the labor law.
In addition to those mentioned, we also have an amendment to the regulation on the labor certificate or the regulation on employee records.
It is the duty of employers not only to know the revised regulations, but also to apply them correctly. In view of the many changes, this can often be a difficult task. However, it is worth remembering that knowledge of these regulations minimizes the risk of abuse, and also has a positive impact on the culture of the organization, creating an image of a company that cares about its employees and is open to change.
Paula Staszak-Urbańska, LL.M., Trainee attorney-at-law (PL)