The draft amendment to the Labour Code which will finally introduce remote work into Polish legal system has long been awaited by both employers and employees who, unsurprisingly, eagerly accepted this model of work over the past year. Some of the proposed provisions coincide with the content of the “Anti-crisis Shield”, which currently regulates remote work, but among them you can also find completely new regulations.
The draft amendment deals with the issues that were questionable or sometimes problematic.
From the employees’ perspective, the provisions giving them the right to request remote working will certainly be beneficial. An employee will able to apply for remote working to be provided on a permanent basis or occasionally – up to 12 days in a calendar year. This means that an employee, in exceptional circumstances, will be able to work from home without the need to meet the requirements necessary to perform work remotely on a permanent basis. The draft amendment also provides for an additional family-oriented right for employees raising children under 4 and children with disabilities – the employer will be obliged to accept their application for working remotely.
A very important element is how the costs of remote work will be regulated. Until now, it has not been clear who bears those costs, and consequently many employees have had to cover additional costs of electricity or internet connection themselves. In the light of new provisions, covering all costs of remote work will be the responsibility of an employer which will be able to cover these costs in the form of a flat rate agreed with an employee. This provision will definitely please employees and will surely be an incentive to work remotely.
For an employer, another important thing is to regulate issues related to health and safety at work, i.e. to exclude the obligation to organize the workplace in a manner consistent with the principles of health and safety at work, which in practice is impossible with relation to an employee working remotely. Until now, the regulations did not deal with this issue – it meant that the employer was responsible for an accident at work that happened to an employee at the place of remote work, i.e. at home.
Under the current regime, it is also an employer who should provide an employee with appropriate equipment at workplace, including for example an office chair. In the light of the amended regulations, this obligation will be transferred to an employee. The issue of compliance with OHS rules in the context of remote work has been raised by employers since beginning of legislative work on remote working, so the draft amendment is a response to their repeated requests.
Director of the Labour Law Department, Attorney-at-law
TGC Corporate Lawyers
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