2023 is the year of changes to the Labour Code. The most important of these are the provisions on home office and sobriety control introduced into the Polish legal order by the amendment of 13 January 2023, signed by the President of the Republic of Poland on 27 January 2023. The amendment on sobriety control will enter into force two weeks after its publication in the Journal of Laws, while the amendment on home office will enter into force two months after its publication in the Journal of Laws. There will be a lot of changes to be made, so it is worth preparing in advance.
Home office – what do you need to know?
The regulation of home office in the Polish Labour Code means the possibility for employees to carry it out wholly or partly at a place indicated by the employee and agreed with the employer in each case.
The home office itself will take place in particular by means of direct communication at a distance.
At what stage of employment will it be possible to introduce home office?
The employer will be able to agree with employees on the introduction of home office:
- by concluding the employment contract,
- during the course of employment, either at the employer’s initiative or at the employee’s request.
Types of home office
The amendment provides for several types of home office:
- total home office or partial home office, introduced in the form of home office regulations or an agreement with the employee;
- home office at the employer’s instruction – during a state of emergency, an epidemic threat or a state of epidemic emergency and for a period of 3 months after their revocation or during a period when it is temporarily impossible for the employer to ensure safe and hygienic working conditions at the employee’s current workplace due to force majeure;
- occasional home office – up to 24 days per calendar year, at the employee’s request.
Obligatory home office
In some cases, the introduction of home office may be mandatory for the employer.
The granting of an employee’s request to work remotely will be mandatory for, inter alia, pregnant employees and employees raising a child under the age of 4. The employer’s refusal of the request must be justified by the type of work or its organisation.
What obligations await employers in relation to home office?
Employers who are already keen to use home office in their organisations face a number of obligations under the Act, including:
- preparation of the relevant implementation documentation (regulations for home office, data protection procedure, completion of a risk assessment);
- collection of relevant employee statements;
- the correct calculation of the costs of home office and the corresponding amount of the lump sum or allowance for home office.
The ABC of sobriety checks – what’s good to know?
The regulation of sobriety control in the Labour Code means that the employer will be able to carry it out among employees on the premises of the workplace. What is more, such a test will be able to be carried out both for the presence of alcohol and for the presence of other agents acting similarly to alcohol (intoxicants).
Employer’s sobriety control obligations
It is worth remembering that before introducing sobriety checks on the premises, the employer must take a number of steps to justify its action, including but not limited to:
- the rationale behind the introduction of such controls is the need to ensure the protection of the life and health of workers as well as the protection of property in the workplace;
- informing employees of sobriety checks at least 2 weeks before they are due to be introduced;
- before allowing employees to work, the employer will have to inform the employee of the introduction of a sobriety check – the information provided on paper or electronically will have to cover how the check will be carried out, the type of device used for the check, the time and frequency of the check;
- sobriety checks that do not require laboratory control will only be able to be carried out using breath analysers that have a valid document confirming their calibration or calibration, based on the device being accredited by the Polish Accreditation Centre;
- amendment of the work regulations or notice (when the employer is not obliged to establish work regulations).
When will an employee’s sobriety be able to be checked?
The legislator has provided that sobriety in an employee can be tested when:
- there is a reasonable suspicion that the employee has come to work under the influence of alcohol;
- employee drank alcohol at work;
- through preventive sobriety checks on employees whose work poses a risk to the life and health of employees or other persons and property.
Employer’s actions following an inspection
The employer must remember that any sobriety test carried out at the workplace indicating a state of at least alcohol consumption must be recorded by the employer.
In the case of a result indicating an alcohol or alcohol-impaired state, the data of the controlled employee shall be kept in the employee’s personnel file for a period not exceeding one year from the date of collection.
These sobriety control regulations will come into force in February 2023. In view of the above, it is already necessary for employers to take action regarding the introduction of changes to the work regulations or the notice in force at the workplace. In view of the above, we encourage you to contact our law firm, which among other things provides comprehensive services to companies in the field of labour law.
And there are already plans for another amendment to the Labour Code regarding work life balance, which we will be analysing on the blog soon.
Paula Staszak-Urbańska, LL.M., Trainee attorney-at-law (PL)
Radosław Jastrzębski, Trainee attorney-at-law (PL)