After a rather turbulent period of introducing the Polish Order (Polski Ład), thanks to which Poland has one of the most complicated tax systems in the world, the time has come for changes in the Polish Labour Code. This time I will describe the case for remote work in Poland. Of course, we are talking about full-time employees. The changes, apart from small exceptions, will not affect B2B contracts or mandated contracts. Nevertheless, these changes seem to be positive for full-time employees. So, what exactly are we talking about?
Remote work in Poland
COVID has redefined the meaning and ability to work remotely. However, as the changes are introduced, you will be able to use the form of full-time remote work permanently, based on the Labor Code, and not as it was previously according to the so-called “special covid act”. I would like to point out here that according to the new regulations, the place of remote work must be agreed with the employer. In exceptional situations, the employer gains the right to issue a recommendation to remote work. But it will be necessary to confirm that the employee has the appropriate conditions to perform work in this form.
The act also contains information that a company sending an employee to remote work will be obliged to provide him with materials and a tool necessary to perform such work, as well as to cover the costs of, for example, electricity. However, do not expect a 100% salary increase. Assuming that you need a laptop, additional monitor and headphones to do your job, and your employer provides them to you, all that remains is the percentage of electricity and Internet cost you use to do your work. In this model, the actual surcharge may vary between 30 and 80 PLN. The funny fact is that the amount of this surcharge is not taxed. What a relief, right?
Occasional remote work
Here I will start with a quote from the Labor Code:
‘Remote work may be carried out occasionally, at the request of the employee submitted in paper or electronic form, for a maximum of 24 days in a calendar year.’
And then I will refer to part of the analysis of legal and tax counsel, Mirosław Siwiński:
Thesis: “the mere submission of an application does not mean that the employee may no longer come to the workplace on the indicated day. – The employee must wait for the response and consent of the employer.”, remains unjustified, although we absolutely must agree with the conclusion (…) that “In extremely irresponsible situations that expose the employer to damage or negative financial impact, the employment contract may be terminated, including disciplinary proceedings.
This leads us to the conclusion that the employer receiving an application for occasional remote work has the right to assess it in terms of the interest of the workplace. It is the employer who will assess whether the type of work is suitable for performing it remotely, as well as what are the organizational needs of the workplace. Therefore, when thinking about remote work, think of it as a form of request that should be considered on a similar basis as a request for leave, but not leave on demand. Regardless of whether you are an employee or an employer. I highly recommend using a common-sense approach.
Can an employer deny remote work?
I will start with the list of groups for which the employer is obliged to acknowledge (not to be confused with accepting), a request for remote work:
- pregnant worker;
- parent of a child with a disability;
- a parent of a child with a certificate of severe and irreversible impairment or an incurable life-threatening illness that arose during the prenatal period of the child’s development or during childbirth;
- guardian of an immediate family member/other person in the same household with a disability or severe disability certificate;
- a parent of a child with an opinion on special educational needs;
- parent of a child up to 4 years of age.
The employer should take into account the request for remote work submitted by selected groups of employees. Unless this is not possible due to the organization of work or the type of work performed by the employee. The employer will have to justify the refusal of such an application within 7 working days. Translating into the language of regular human beings. If you are employed as a salesman, hairdresser, mechanic or other profession that requires your presence in the workplace, it is natural that you can not do your work remotely.
However, the concept that was born in my head while writing this paragraph is quite intriguing. Imagine the service of a hairdresser or mechanic who, sitting on his/her couch at home, connects with you remotely and tells you step by step how to perform a specific action… Hmm… I will cut this thought here, to touch on a topic that has further aroused my imagination.
As we all know, very often new laws result from situations for which the previous regulations were not prepared. Therefore, I am curious what kind of critical situations had to take place to introduce a provision regarding sobriety control when performing remote work. But to the point – what is it all about?
The ability to control the sobriety of employees went into effect on February 21, 2023. This is an important change for companies, entitling the employer to conduct an employee’s sobriety check. On similar terms, the employer may control whether the employee is not under the influence of other intoxicants. Once again, I will refer here to a quote from the Labour Code:
The employee is obliged to maintain sobriety at work and not to use measures that negatively affect psychophysical ability. Employees who engage in professional or professional activities after use alcohol, intoxicant, another similarly acting substance or product, are punishable by a fine or imprisonment.
Importantly, this particular provision also applies to people cooperating on terms other than an employment relationship. For example, B2B or a mandated contract. In practice, this means that the employer, in addition to checking the state of sobriety in the office, may ask the Police to verify the condition of an employee working remotely. Of course, if there is a suspicion that he is in a state of intoxication. In the event of a positive result, the employer can use the option of terminating cooperation with immediate effect.
Summary of Remote work in Poland
On the base of this what I mentioned at the beginning, remote work in Poland has taken root in our lives for good. As employees, we often demand it. As employers, we need to properly weigh the pros and cons. It is important to remember that often the employer’s decision about whether his employees can work from home is influenced by the relationship between them and something as mundane as trust. In my case – as an employee, remote work is a privilege. I save at least 2 hours a day on commuting, which I can use for something else.
And now a small digression – returning to the sobriety control of employees in their homes. Some specific abuses contributed to the creation of this law. Therefore, as an employer, I trust that the people who do the work for me will do it at least as well as in the office/dedicated workplace. I am convinced that eventual abuses will translate into newer and newer restrictions. Hence, here is my appeal at the end, for a common-sense approach based on mutual respect and trust. In the next article I will describe to you the changes in the Labor Code regarding different types of leave and salary disclosure in the whole EU.
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Special thanks to Eamon Gosney, who has helped with proofreading of this article.