On 16 May 2022, Poland lifted the state of epidemic. This, together with concurrent amendment to the Labour Code, may make it difficult to perform professional duties remotely. What do these changes mean for employers?
On 16 May 2022, the state of the epidemic was officially lifted in Poland and replaced with the state of epidemic threat. At the same time, the Minister of Family and Social Policy is working on an amendment to the Labour Code, which is to govern the rules of remote work after the pandemic. If the amended provisions, as proposed by the law makers, enter into force in three-month time, many employers may have problems with adapting themselves to the requirements of new law. Employees, on the other hand, may face the prospect of losing the opportunity to work from home.
The anxiety among employees and employers is related to the proposal contained in the draft of the Ministry of Family and Social Policy that new provisions of the Labour Code regarding remote work should apply three months after lifting the state of epidemic. The Council of Ministers has not yet dealt with the bill.
Employers have doubts about the draft act amending the Labour Code which is to repeal Art. 3 of the Covid Act of 2 March 2020, relating to remote work. The announced amendment will come into force after 14 days from the date of its publication in the Journal of Laws, however, pursuant to Art. 19 of the proposed act, the provisions on remote work are to enter into force three months after lifting of the state of epidemic, or on 16 August 2022.
According to the draft amendment to the Labour Code – remote work will be possible in the form agreed with the employee or as occasional work (up to 24 days a year), or performed on the basis of a unilateral order of the employer due to the state of epidemic threat. The bill has already been reviewed by the Legal Committee, but we don’t know whether the Parliament will have time to pass the bill before summer holidays. It is worth remembering that the state of epidemic threat is now in force and no one knowns whether or not the number of COVID-19 infections will start to increase in autumn (as it was the case in the last two years). In this context, the date of entry into force of the new provisions of the Labour Code is not certain.
The new regulations on remote work proposed by the Minister of Family and Social Policy impose many obligations on the employer and employee, also in terms of the place where the employee will work. It will have to meet the appropriate conditions, e.g. have proper lighting, surface, and a comfortable seat. The employer will have to provide the employees with appropriate equipment for the duration of remote work or pay employees an equivalent if they use their own resources.
The implementation of the law regulating remote work in the case of large organizations may require consultation with trade unions or employee representatives, which always takes time. It will also be necessary to sign agreements with employees.
In general, the introduction of new regulations will entail administrative burdens on the part of employers. The fact that the preparation period will fall in holiday season when employees are taking their annual leaves, complicates the situation even more. So, if the remote work regulations enter into force three months after lifting the state of epidemic in Poland, many employers may have problems with implementing the new law.
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