An amendment to Poland’s Labour Code regarding changes in the organization of employee working time will come into force on 23 August 2013. The new regulations introduce changes that have been long-awaited by employers with regard to the organization of employee working time.

The changes involve in particular:

  • the extension of the settlement period to 12 months,
  • the obligation to determine the distribution of working time,
  • the introduction of flexible working hours,
  • the treatment of the time involved in working off the time of leave.

The above changes will allow employers to make working time significantly more flexible and help to adapt the organization of work to meet a workplace’s current market, economic and technological needs.

  1. The settlement period of working time

The most awaited change for employers is the introduction of the possibility to extend the settlement period up to 12 months. This settlement period can be implemented in every workplace and every working time system if it is justified by objective reasons, technical reasons, or reasons concerning the organization of work.

  1. Distribution of working time

So far, the provisions of the Labour Code did not determine the rules for drawing up the distribution of working time, which led to different interpretations of this obligation by the individual regional labour inspectorates. Under the new rules regarding distribution of working time, the employer is obliged to provide this distribution in writing or electronically for a period shorter than a settlement period, but covering at least one month. The employer must inform the employee of his/her current working time schedule one week before he/she is set to commence work.

The employer does not have to make the distribution if:

  • employee work time is derived from the employment contract, collective labour agreement, work regulations or notice,
  • the employee individually agreed with the employer on the time necessary to perform entrusted tasks,
  • the employee submitted a written request to the employer to apply variable working hours,
  • the employee submitted a written request to the employer to apply a flexible work schedule.
  1. Variable working hours

Current practice and the needs of employees led to a situation in which variable working time was used in many workplaces, despite the absence of a statutory basis. Unfortunately, the regional labour inspectorates often regarded that form of organising working time as unlawful. Thus, the statutory introduction of variable working hours will eliminate any legal doubts in this regard.

The introduction of variable working hours means that:

  • the employee's work schedule may provide different hours for starting work,
  • the employer may set the time interval in which the employee him- or herself can decide the starting time for their work,
  • redoing work on the same 24-hour work cycle will not involve the employee working overtime.

Please note that variable working hours cannot affect the right of an employee to 11 hours of uninterrupted rest each day and a period of 35 hours of uninterrupted rest each week.

  1. Treatment of working off the time of leave

The employee has the right to submit a written request to the employer for time off to settle personal matters. If the employer agrees to provide the employee time off for this purpose, the period during which the employee works off such exemption will not be treated as overtime. So far, there were no regulations in this area, and the working off of such leave was considered overtime.

  1. Mode of introducing new regulations to the internal rules

The extension of the settlement period up to 12 months and the introduction of variable working hours are to be reflected in a collective labour agreement or an agreement with the trade unions.

In the absence of trade unions, the introduction of these regulations shall be effected by agreements that are to be concluded with employees’ representatives. Moreover, the employer is required to submit a copy of the agreement on the extension of the settlement period to the appropriate regional labour inspector within five days from the date of conclusion of the agreement.

Comment

In accordance with the transitional regulations, settlement periods which are currently in force end with the conclusion of timeframe for which they were introduced. This means that after a lapse of the current settlement periods, the new extended settlement periods can be introduced.

The introduction of the extended settlement period or variable working hours requires a change in the work regulations or notice, specifying the length of the current settlement period with the employer.

Thus, employers can start changing the internal regulations, so that at the end of the current settlement period, a new extended period could apply.