A draft law introducing comprehensive regulation of remote work to Polish Labor Code has recently been released by the Ministry of Economic Development, Labor and Technology. The draft legislation is not expected to take effect until the Covid-19 emergency is lifted, until then the regulation in this area introduced during Covid-19 will remain in force.
Definition of remote work
According to the draft, remote work may be performed entirely or partially in the place indicated by the employee and agreed with the employer, including the employee’s place of residence. There will be no requirement to perform remote work on a regular basis. The agreements on the performance of remote work will be allowed both at the conclusion of the employment contract and during employment.
Remote work on the basis of the employer’s order
The draft states that the employer will be entitled to order remote work in special cases, i.e.:
- during a state of emergency, a state of epidemic threat or a state of epidemic emergency and for a period of 3 months after their cancellation, or
- when it is necessary due to the employer’s obligation to ensure safe and hygienic working conditions to the employee, if for reasons beyond the employer’s control, ensuring such conditions at the employee’s current workplace is temporarily impossible.
The execution of the employer’s order will require the employee’s statement that he/she has the necessary premises and technical conditions to perform remote work. The assessment in this respect will be the sole responsibility of the employee.
Remote work at the employee’s request
Remote work will also be permitted at the request of the employee, which, however, will not be binding upon the employer.
Nevertheless, the draft defines a group of employees whose request for remote work will, in principle, be binding on the employer, namely employees raising a child up to the age of 4 years as well as parents of children with disabilities.
At the employee’s request, remote work will also be allowed on an occasional basis (up to 12 days per calendar year).
Rules of performing remote work
The rules of remote work will be determined:
- in case of an employer with trade unions – in an agreement concluded between the employer and the trade union or in regulations established by the employer – if no agreement is concluded,
- in case of employers without trade unions – in regulations set by the employer, after consultation with the employees’ representatives.
If no agreement is reached or no regulation is set, the rules of remote work will be determined by the employer in an order of remote work or in an agreement concluded with the employee.
Costs of remote work
In each case of remote work, the employer will be obliged to:
- provide the employee with materials and work tools necessary to perform remote work,
- cover costs directly related to remote work (primarily costs related to installation, service, operation and maintenance of necessary work tools, costs of electricity and access to telecommunication lines),
- provide the employee with technical assistance and necessary trainings in the use of the work tools necessary to perform remote work.
The employee will be able to perform remote work using work tools not provided by the employer, which will require an agreement setting out the rules for their use, while the employee will be entitled to an allowance (or a lump sum) agreed with the employer.
New rules of communication
In case of remote work, the employers will be able to communicate with their employees electronically, via e-mails, also in cases where the Labor Code currently requires a written form, e.g. requests for time off in lieu of overtime will be allowed to be submitted on paper or electronically.
Other obligations of the employer
Additionally, the draft includes provisions concerning new obligations of the employer in the area of occupational health and safety (e.g. in the area of occupational risk assessment, inspection of the place of an accident at work).
The employer will have to determine the principles of protection of data available to the employee performing remote work and to provide relevant trainings.
The draft is still to be approved by the Ministers’ Council before submitting it to the Parliament which may result in some modifications to the proposed rules.