15.05.2023 Remote work

Remote work – the Ministry of Family and Social Policy explains

On 7 April 2023, the regulations on remote work came into force. Along with the amendment to the Labor Code, the scope of employers’ existing rights has changed,  and they have also gained  new  obligations. The Ministry of Family and Social Policy has prepared explanations of the most important issues in this matter.

Place of performing remote work – more than one?

Remote work may be performed entirely or partially in a place indicated by the employee and each time agreed with the employer, including the employee’s address of residence, in particular using means of direct distance communication.

According to the above definition of remote work, it can be performed from more than one place. Each of these places must be approved by the employer.

In the light of the regulations, under remote work it is unacceptable to order:

  • particularly dangerous tasks,
  • tasks as a result of which the standards of physical factors for living quarters are exceeded,
  • tasks with the use of substances harmful to health, corrosive, radioactive, irritant, sensitizing or other odorous, dusty or intensely dirty.

Learn more: check out the Guide – changes in labour law in 2023

Application for remote work – when is it binding for the employer?

According to the new regulations, employees can request remote work. The employer must grant such a request if it is made by:

  • employee – a parent of a child with a disability certificate or a moderate or severe disability certificate,
  • a pregnant worker,
  • an employee bringing up a child up to 4 years of age,
  • an employee caring for another member of their immediate family or another person in the same household who has a disability or severe disability certificate.

In the above-mentioned cases, the employer may refuse the employee’s request in a situation where the organization of work  or the type of work performed by the requesting employee does not allow remote work.

In the event of refusal, the employer must inform the employee of its decision in paper or electronic form and presents the reasons within 7 working days of the request.

The situation is different in the case of occasional remote work.  An employee’s request for occasional remote work is not binding on the employer, and therefore it may not consent to it. 

Occasional remote work – what is the limit of days and what about 2023?

Let us recall that, according to the new provisions, this “remote work may be performed occasionally, at the request of the employee submitted in paper or electronic form, for a maximum of 24 days in a calendar year”.

The number of days of remote occasional work does not depend on  the employee’s working time and the number of hours resulting from the work schedule. The provisions concerning  the employer’s obligation to cover the costs associated with remote work do not apply to occasional remote work.

In addition, doubts have arisen regarding the limit of occasional remote work in 2023, as the amendment to the Labor Code entered into force during the calendar year. It is worth emphasizing, however, that this fact does not affect the number of occasional remote work in 2023, employees can apply for 24 days.

And information about the number of days of occasional remote work taken in the calendar year in which the employment relationship ended should be included in the employment certificate.  

Learn more: Changes in employee documentation and a new model employment certificate

Remote work – OHS duties and training

Health and safety at work is also an important aspect when working remotely. The employer’s obligations resulting from Section X of the  Labor Code, i.e. regarding ensuring occupational health and safety, apply both to employees employed on a regular, hybrid or remote basis.

In the case of remote work, however, there are some obligation exclusions such as:

  • organizing the workplace in accordance with the regulations and principles of health and safety (this obligation rests with the employee);
  • taking care of the safe condition of work rooms and technical equipment
  • concerning sanitary and personal hygiene products,
  • providing drinks and meals,
  • providing first aid in an emergency.

In addition, remote workers have to undergo health and safety training, both initial and periodic. Training of employees hired for remote work in administrative and office positions can be completed entirely via electronic means of communication.

It is the employer’s responsibility to develop an occupational risk assessment before allowing the employee to work remotely.

The assessment should include rules for safe remote work, including:

  • principles and methods of proper organization of the remote work workplace,
  • principles of safe and hygienic remote work,
  • activities to be performed after the end of remote work,
  • rules of conduct in emergency situations posing a threat to human life or health.

The employee’s obligation is to read the prepared assessment. The employer may also prepare an assessment for individual groups of positions working remotely – known as universal occupational risk assessment.  See also: Chief Labour Inspector explains when an employer can check the sobriety of employees

In addition, important from the point of view of both the employer and the employee is the fact that work tools and materials used by remote employee – regardless of whether they are provided by the employer or the employee – must meet the requirements set out in Chapter IV Section 10 of the Labor Code regarding machines and other technical devices.   

Read also: Remote work in the Labour Code – amendment published in the Journal of Laws

When a consent to work remotely may be withdrawn?

Under the new regulations, the right to withdraw from working remotely is granted to both the employee and the employer. During the period of employment both parties have the option of submitting a binding request to return to regular office work.

The employer agrees the employee’s reinstatement to work at the company’s office in consultation with the employee. If both parties do not reach an agreement, the employee is reinstated to work at the company’s office after 30 days from the employee’s or employer’s request in this matter.

Read also: Amendment to the Labour Code –  key changes after 26 April

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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