The Polish Parliament adopted amendments to the Labour Code by, among other things, introducing new provisions regarding remote work and removing the so-called teleworking rules. It is expected that the amendments will come into force in March or April 2023. The changes are quite extensive and employers should start implementing bylaws and employment contracts to conform to the new legal landscape.
The main changes are as follows:
Decisions regarding remote work can be taken upon signing an employment contract and during employment. The initiative to introduce remote work may come from either side of the employment relationship.
In certain exceptional situations, the employer may unilaterally instruct the employee to work remotely. However, even then the employee must provide an appropriate statement about his/her possession of adequate premises and technical conditions at home (or at a different designated place) for remote work.
The employer may refuse the employee’s request for remote work unless the employee belongs to one of the groups specified in the act, in particular: pregnant women, employees raising children under four years of age, or employees with disabilities. In relation to these groups, such a request may only be refused if the nature of work prevents it from being executed remotely or the work organisation does not allow it.
Rules for organising remote work must be defined in the internal regulations consulted with employees’ representatives unless there are trade unions active at the company in which case the rules on the remote work should be set in an agreement concluded with trade unions. If there are no internal regulations in the company, the rules must be specified in the employment contract or an annex concluded with the employee. We strongly recommend that employers adopt appropriate remote work regulations rather than making piecemeal arrangements with individual employees.
Under the new rules, the employer is obliged to:
- provide materials and tools for remote work,
- ensure installation, service and maintenance of work tools or cover the related costs,
- cover the costs of electricity and telecommunications services necessary to perform remote work,
- cover other costs, as long as they are directly related to remote work and the employer has undertaken to incur them in the remote work regulations or in the agreement concluded with the employee,
- provide remote working employees with training and technical assistance necessary to perform remote work.
Employees may use their private equipment if working remotely. In such cases, however, the employer must grant them a cash equivalent of the equipment use. All financial benefits, i.e. the reimbursements of costs and the cash equivalent for the use of private equipment may be replaced by a fixed lump sum. The amount of the lump sum has to correspond to the expected costs incurred by the employee relative to the performance of remote work.
There are a number of subtle tax issues related to the use of private premises and private equipment in the course of remote work or hybrid work arrangements.
Before allowing employees to work remotely, it is necessary to collect a number of statements from them, including a statement on the safety of their private workplace, a statement regarding the rules of occupational health and safety, a statement regarding the occupational risk assessment, and a statement regarding rules on the protection of personal data. The employer must also provide the employee with extended information on the terms and conditions of employment. Templates of these documents, in addition to the remote work regulations, should be prepared before the new rules come into effect.
Remote work may take place at the employee’s home address or any other address agreed with the employer. The employer must know the address at which the employee will work, and the employee cannot arbitrarily change this address. The practice of allowing employees to work remotely from abroad seems questionable in light of the various rights the employers possess to control the employees and their performance.