Remote working – Labour Code 2023
Remote working has become a very popular working model. With the development of technology, more and more companies are opting to use remote working, allowing employees to work from home, thus increasing their flexibility and mobility. In 2023, new provisions on remote working have been introduced in the Polish Labour Code, which aim to increase the protection of employees and guarantee equal rights and benefits. The new regulations governing remote working will come into force on 7 April 2023. What are the new rules for remote working in 2023? What new obligations do employers have in relation to remote working? What are the rules on remote working?
- Definition of remote working
- Remote working versus teleworking
- Remote working – changes to the Labour Code 2023
- Remote working – employer’s obligations towards the employee
- Types of remote working
- When can an employer not refuse remote working?
- Control of remote working
Definition of remote working
Remote working, also known as teleworking, is a form of employment in which an employee performs his or her duties away from the premises of a company or institution, usually from home or another location outside the office. It involves carrying out work wholly or partly at the employee’s place of work.
Remote working allows employees the flexibility to manage their time using communication and technological tools such as email, teleconferencing, project management software and many others. Remote working allows employees to avoid commuting to the office, which saves them time and money, while allowing companies to reduce costs associated with office rent and office infrastructure maintenance.
Remote working versus teleworking
The definition of teleworking is very similar to that of remote working. It is the provision of work away from the company’s premises by means of electronic communication. Telecommuting, like remote working, allows employees to manage their time flexibly and to work from anywhere, which contributes to an improved quality of life and work-life balance. In practice, the terms ‘remote working’ and ‘teleworking’ are used interchangeably and refer to the same form of employment in which an employee performs his or her duties outside the seat of the company or institution.
However, in the context of labour law in Poland, the term ‘telework’ is more specific and is defined by the Act on Special Conditions of Employment of Employees Performing Remote Work. According to this definition, telework is a type of remote work and its main difference is that the employee must agree to perform his/her duties outside the workplace.
In the case of remote work, the employee may be instructed by the employer to perform this type of work. This is a business order to which the employee should comply.
According to the provisions of the Labour Code (Articles 675-6717), an employee who performs his or her duties from his or her home or other place that is not the employer’s establishment is a teleworker.
Remote working – changes to the Labour Code 2023
Provisions regulating remote working are contained in an amendment to the Labour Code, which was adopted by the Sejm on 10 January 2023. From 7 April 2023, new labour regulations on remote working will come into force. The new Labour Code contains provisions regulating remote working:
- It is possible to work remotely or hybrid full-time.
- Agreeing the form of work can take place during the signing of the contract or during the course of employment.
- The location of the remote work will have to be precisely defined. The remote worker will not have full freedom to choose where to work.
- The employer will have to get a statement from the employee that the workplace is suitable.
- The employer will be able to refuse the request when it is not possible to work remotely due to the organisation and type of work. The refusal must be justified in writing within 7 working days of the employee’s request
- Before allowing remote working, the employer will be obliged to prepare a risk assessment.
- The Act covers both total remote working and hybrid working.
- The amendment introduces the possibility for either the employer or the employee to withdraw from remote working.
Read also: Maternity leave
Remote working – Employer’s obligations towards the employee
The employer is obliged to:
- provide the remote worker with materials
- provide the worker with work tools
- provide installation, servicing of technical equipment, maintenance of work tools,
- provide health and safety cover for the remote worker
- cover the costs of electricity or telecommunications services
- provide training and technical assistance to the employee
- cover other costs which make remote working possible
Where an employee uses his or her private equipment, the employee will be entitled to a cash allowance for his or her remote work at a rate agreed with the employer.
Types of remote working
The amended Labour Code distinguishes several types of remote work:
Remote working at the instruction of the employer
Remote working can be introduced in a company upon a decision to do so by the employer or at the employee’s request. Since the amendment of the Labour Code – the employer will be able to give an order to work remotely in certain circumstances:
- during a state of emergency, a state of epidemiological emergency, a state of epidemic emergency and 3 months after its cancellation,
- while the employer is not in a position to provide adequate working conditions due to force majeure
Force majeure, according to court case law, is an external event that cannot be foreseen or prevented. An event is external if it occurs outside the company. Force majeure can be natural phenomena such as fire, hurricane, flood, etc.
Remote occasional work
An employer may only give an instruction to work remotely for compelling reasons that are beyond the employer’s control. This should be on an occasional basis and only for a limited period of time. Even before the instruction itself, the employee must submit a statement on paper or electronically that he or she has the conditions to perform occasional remote work. He himself must assess whether he will be able to work in this way. The boss will not be able to verify this. If the employee does not make such a declaration, the employer cannot give instructions. The employer can revoke the instruction at any time, but should do so with at least 2 days’ notice.
Only at the request of the employee will remote working be allowed on an occasional basis. The employee may use up to 24 days of remote work per year. Reasons for remote working may include the need for childcare or an unexpected trip to another city.
The employer may refuse the employee to work remotely. The request is not a document that is binding on the employer.
Principles of occasional remote working
- The employer is not obliged to provide the remote worker with the materials and work tools necessary to perform the remote work. It does not have to cover costs or provide technical assistance.
- The supervisor does not have to provide additional information about the employee’s terms and conditions of employment.
- If the employer only allows occasional remote working in his company, he does not have to enter into an agreement or issue remote working regulations
- When an employee changes his/her employer and has not used the days for occasional remote working in a given year, he/she can use it at another workplace.
When can an employer not refuse remote working?
An employer cannot refuse remote working:
- pregnant workers
- employees raising a child up to the age of four
- employees who are caring for another family member or another person in the common household who has a disability certificate or a severe disability certificate
- workers who are the parent of a child with a certified complicated pregnancy
- workers who are the parents of a child with a disability certificate or a moderate or severe degree of disability
- employees who are the parent of a child with an opinion on the need for early childhood development support, a certificate on the need for remedial classes.
The employer will be able to refuse the request when it is not possible to work remotely due to the organisation and type of work. The refusal must be justified in writing within 7 working days of the employee’s request.
Read also: What is economic activity?
Control of remote working
The employer has the possibility to inspect the employee at the workplace. He or she can check whether he or she is complying with safety, information protection, health and safety rules. The employer has the right to check the sobriety of the employee, through new legislation that came into force on 21 February 2023. Checks on the performance of remote work may or may not be carried out. It is up to the employer whether to use it or not. The employee should be at his or her designated location during working hours. Violation of these rules may lead to the employer giving notice to terminate the employment contract without a notice period. The control of remote working is intended to be a check that the remote working conditions and the employee’s working tools are adequate.
The supervisor has the right to:
- check the quality of the remote work performed
- check the remote work station and equipment
- check the safety conditions of the work
The inspection shall be carried out in agreement with the employee at the place of remote work during the employee’s working hours.
For the remote worker, the above new working rules are very important. They make remote workers have equal rights and benefits. Currently, there are many remote working offers and more and more companies are switching to this working system. Being able to work remotely saves us a lot of time and money on commuting, which makes our work more flexible. Employees’ work opportunities increase because they can work remotely from another city in Poland. So, if an employer introduces remote working in your company – you need to familiarise yourself with: work control, hygiene rules for remote working, the employer’s obligations towards the employee, changes in the employee’s working conditions, provision of work tools and much more.
The above provisions of the Labour Code will come into force on 7 April 2023.
See also: Organising remote working