Legislative work is currently in progress to further regulate remote work in the Polish Labour Code. The new regulations will replace the concept of telework and define in detail the principles governing the delegation of work to an employee outside the workplace. Several significant changes have recently been made to the draft presented in May.
The main principles of the new regulations are as follows:
- Regulations on remote working
The employer and the employee will be able to agree on remote working both at the time of signing the employment contract and during the employment relationship. Moreover, a hybrid arrangement will be possible, i.e. working partly at the workplace and partly off-site. The location of the remote work will have to be agreed with the employer in each case.
- Occasional remote work
Occasional remote work will be possible (up to 24 days per year) at the employee's request.
- The change to remote working during the employment relationship
The change to remote working during the employment relationship will be "conditional", i.e. each party of the employment contract will be able to, within three months of the change being introduced, make a "binding request" for the restoration of the previous arrangement. The employer and the employee will need to agree on a deadline for the restoration of the previous working conditions, of no longer than 30 days from the date of receipt of the request. Lack of consensus will result in the restoration of the previous arrangement on the day following the expiry of 30 days’ period from the receipt of the request.
- Establishing the rules governing remote working in an agreement or in the company’s internal by-laws
The introduction of remote working will require the conclusion of an agreement with the company trade union organisation, and if no such agreement is concluded or if there are no such organisations in the company, the principles of remote working will have to be set out in the company’s internal by-laws, after consultation with employee representatives.
- Possibility for the employer to instruct an employee to work remotely
The employer will be able to unilaterally instruct the employee to work remotely in specific cases provided for in the Act if immediately before the instruction is given, the employee declares that they have proper room and technical equipment to work remotely.
- Obligation to provide materials and tools
The employer will be obliged to provide the employee with materials and tools necessary to perform remote work, cover the costs directly related to remote work, including the costs of electricity and necessary access to telecommunication lines, and provide the employee with appropriate technical support.
- Cash equivalent for the employee's use of their own materials and tools
If the employee works remotely using his own equipment, they will be entitled to an allowance in the amount agreed with the employer.
- Health and safety requirements
Remote working does not release the employer from meeting the obligations provided for in the Polish Labour Code, with the exception of the obligation to organise the employee's workplace in accordance with the provisions and principles relating to occupational health and safety and to ensure the safe condition of work premises and technical equipment. The employee will be responsible for the proper organisation of their remote workstation, taking into account the requirements of ergonomics. Before allowing an employee to work remotely, the employer will have to carry out a risk assessment and, on this basis, prepare a document describing the principles and methods of appropriate organisation of the remote workstation and the principles of safe and hygienic performance of remote work. For their part, the employee will have to submit a declaration confirming that the remote workstation ensures safe and healthy working conditions.
It is difficult to say exactly when the new regulations will come into force because it is due to happen 3 months after the end of the epidemic state of emergency declared in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, irrespective of the precise date of the entry into force of the new regulations, it will be necessary for companies to introduce a remote working policy or to review their current remote working or teleworking policy and adjust it accordingly - as well as to organise elections of employee representatives in the absence of any trade union organisation.