Remote Work in the Labour Code
The changing reality of the job market that has affected all entrepreneurs has also significantly impacted employees. The lack of regulations regarding hybrid or remote work issues is just one of the many challenges faced by entrepreneurs and employees in 2021. During the pandemic, many companies have implemented official remote work rules, but the legislative process for further changes is still ongoing.
Remote working currently applies on the basis of Article 3 of the Act of March 2, 2020 and specific arrangements for preventing, counteracting and combating COVID – 19, other communicable diseases and emergencies caused by them. This regulation is to have binding force only temporarily, for the duration of the epidemic and can only be applied for the duration of the epidemic emergency or epidemic state declared due to COVID – 19 and for a period of 3 months after its revocation.
The purpose of the Remote Work Act is to provide employers and employees with an instrument for building an agreement on arranging the terms of such cooperation. The following aspects, among others, are opined:
- determination of the exact place of remote work
- the possibility to perform remote work at the request of the employee
- situations in which it is the employer who orders the performance of professional duties remotely
- Regulation of the employee’s accommodation and technical conditions
- Regulation of the terms and conditions for termination of the consent to remote working
- Health and safety regulations and inspections
Remote working as agreed with the employer
Pursuant to the amendment, remote work may be performed in whole or in part at a location designated by the employee upon agreement with the employer. The amendments will oblige the employer to obligatorily consider requests for remote work of certain groups of employees. In particular, this concerns pregnant women and parents of children up to 4 years old.
Recommendation or regulations for remote work
Based on the draft, the obligation to determine the basic rules of remote work was regulated mainly by:
- Agreement (which is concluded between the employer and the company trade union organization)
- Regulations (strictly set by the employer), however, this solution will apply in 2 cases:
– if no agreement is reached with the company’s trade union within 30 days
– in the event that the employer does not have any company trade union organization (in this case, the regulations will be determined after consultation with employee representatives).
It is worth noting that the employer and the employee will be able to unilaterally withdraw the order to perform remote work with at least one day’s notice. However, only the employer will have the right to unilaterally order remote work during a state of emergency, a state of epidemic threat and a state of epidemics and in the period of 3 months after their cessation, as well as in the period when due to force majeure it will temporarily not be possible to ensure health and safety conditions at the workplace. He will be able to take advantage of this after submitting a statement to his employer about the premises and technical possibilities that will allow him to perform work in a place other than the workplace.
Costs of remote work – on the employer’s side
According to the amendment, one of the basic obligations of an employer is to provide its employee with materials and tools necessary to perform the work. In other words, this provision is intended to cover costs related to remote work. The costs will also include servicing of the provided tools, technical support and training. The parties to the employment relationship will be given the authority to establish rules for the employee’s use of private work tools and materials for remote work. Therefore, it will be possible to replace the employer’s obligation to provide materials and tools with the payment of a lump sum or equivalent by the employer.
Employer’s right to control its employee
The introduced amendment entitles the employer to control the employee in the place of his remote work. This is to be based on the principles set out in the regulations, remote work order, or in an agreement concluded between the two parties. The data protection procedures and health and safety conditions will be controlled. The employer will have the right to carry out the inspection during the employee’s working hours upon prior agreement with the employee so as not to violate the privacy of household members.
If an employer introduces remote working in his company, he will be obliged to regulate all data protection procedures in the company’s internal regulations. Therefore, it is important to train employees in this matter. As far as health and safety is concerned, the regulations require the employer to carry out an occupational risk assessment for remote working. The condition for allowing an employee to use this type of work will be the submission of an appropriate occupational health and safety declaration.
Accidents in the case of remote working will be investigated after an inspection of the accident scene at a time agreed upon with the employee or his/her household member.
New solution – occasional remote work
The draft amendment to the Labor Code introduces a new institution, the so-called occasional remote work. Its length will be up to 24 days in a given calendar year. The employee will be able to apply for such entitlement in paper or electronic form. The occasional remote work will not be connected with regulating it within the company. Furthermore, there will be no provision for the employer to cover the costs of remote work. However, the possibility of controlling the employee will apply.
More information about the changes to the Labour Code can be found HERE>>>.