27.04.2023 Labour law

Chief Labour Inspector explains when an employer can check the sobriety of employees

On 21 February 2023, the provisions of the Labour Code came into force, under which employers gained the ability to preventively control employees for the presence of alcohol or substances similar to alcohol. The Chief Labour Inspector explained when an employer can introduce such an inspection in its organisation.

The Chief Labour Inspector responded to employers’ doubts regarding preventive sobriety checks of employees in the workplace.

Not all employees subject to preventive sobriety checks

As indicated by Chief Labour Inspector, in accordance with the regulations, preventive sobriety check of employees is possible when the employer in the internal company regulations determines a specific group of employees who will be subject to sobriety control. In addition, the employer may introduce sobriety checks of employees if it is necessary to ensure the protection of life and health or protection of property.

Therefore, the group of people subject to control has been narrowed, not all employees of a given company will be covered by sobriety control. It is the employer who – in consultation with trade unions or in internal company regulations – determines the group of employees which will be controlled, and the groups must be indicated.

As the Chief Labour Inspector pointed out, this could be, for example, staff performing construction works or work on the production line. Not every employee who enters the employment establishment will therefore be covered by a sobriety check.

Suspicion of employee intoxication and possible actions of the employer

The Chief Labour Inspector in an interview with the media emphasized an important issue – namely that performing work under the influence of alcohol or coming to work under the influence of alcohol, even if the employer did not include a given employee under preventive sobriety control is a violation of basic employee duties.

In a situation where the employer suspects that an employee who is not subject to preventive sobriety control, is at work under the influence of alcohol or substances acting similarly to alcohol, the employer cannot examine that employee for the presence of alcohol or similar substances, but may, as the Chief Labour Inspector emphasized, call the police officers, who in such a situation will have the right to test the sobriety of such a person.

From such an examination, the police draws up a report, which is not forwarded to the employer, the employer only receives information about the result, date, time and minute of the examination, and the basic data of the employee.

If an employee is found to be intoxicated, the employer will not allow such an employee to work. In addition, according to the regulations, documents related to the employee’s sobriety check or control for the presence of alcohol-like substances should be kept in the employee’s personal file in the new fifth part E.

Learn more: Remote work in the Labour Code – amendment published in the Journal of Laws

Labour law – see how we can help:

Magdalena Wilkoszewska Director of The Labour Law Department, Attorney-At-Law
TGC Corporate Lawyers
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