On April 7, 2023, the act regulating the rules of remote work will come into force. Currently, this institution is established on the so-called “covid act”*, which gives it a very informal character.
It is based on the employer’s instructions, and it can be applied if the type of work and the conditions of its performance allow it. The introduction of the amendment will replace the existing regulations and will also expand the catalog of formal requirements allowing employees to use this form of work.
The basics of introducing remote work
As a rule, remote work will be allowed only based on an agreement between the employee and the employer, when concluding an employment contract or during employment. Such an arrangement may include:
- At the company level – agreements with trade unions or remote work regulations
- At the individual level – an agreement with a given employee.
An exception to the above rule of agreement is the employer’s order to work remotely justified only by circumstances beyond the control of the employer. Examples of such circumstances include a state of emergency, a state of the epidemic, a state of epidemic threat, and a period of 3 months after their cancellation or a period during which it is temporarily impossible to ensure compliance with OHS regulations in the workplace due to force majeure.
It should be remembered that before being allowed to work remotely, the employee should submit a declaration of having appropriate premises and technical resources to perform it. The lack of such a declaration makes it impossible to perform work in this form.
Binding requests from employees to take up remote work
The employer will be obliged to consider employees requests for remote work in the following cases:
- Pregnant worker
- An employee raising a child to the age of four
- An employee – a parent of a child with an opinion on the need for early support of the child’s development, a certificate on the need for special education, or a certificate on the need for revalidation and educational classes
- An employee taking care of a family member or other household member with a certificate of disability or a certificate of moderate or severe disability
- Employee – parent of a child with a certificate of disability or a certificate of moderate or severe disability
- Employee – parent of a child with a certificate of severe disability or an incurable life-threatening disease (Article 4(3) of the Act of November 4, 2016, on support for pregnant women and families “For life”).
Extended information obligation
Under new regulations, employers will be required to extend the information on employment conditions with additional information required for remote work. It is necessary to fulfill this obligation before the employee begins to perform work in this way.
Obligations of the employer
Employers will also be required to provide the employee with:
- Work materials and tools
- Training and technical support
- Installation, service, and maintenance of the supplied materials and tools for work
- Reimbursement of costs necessary to perform remote work in the form of the cost of electricity and telecommunications services, and other necessary costs of remote work, if indicated in the order, individual agreement, regulations, or agreement with trade unions.
The obligation to reimburse the costs necessary to perform remote work may also be fulfilled by paying a lump sum, the amount of which will correspond to the expected costs incurred by the employee in this respect. The employee may use his materials and work tools if they meet the health and safety requirements and is entitled to an equivalent payment by the employer. Due to the characteristics of remote work, the regulations on occupational health and safety and control of the workplace by the employer have also been updated.
Occasional remote work, or “home office” in a new way
Considering the popularity enjoyed in recent years by the form of performing work outside the employer’s seat, commonly referred to as “home office”, to meet the expectations of employers and employees, the legislator introduced its equivalent to the Labor Code called occasional remote work. It is highly informal and performed only due to the needs of the employee. Its duration is limited to 24 days a year. Employees who already use the basic form of remote work partially, e.g., several days a week, have not been excluded from using it.
In the case of using occasional remote work, several obligations associated with the basic form of remote work have been excluded, including the formal grounds for agreeing on remote work, expanding information on employment conditions, the obligation to provide tools and equipment, and reimbursement of their costs.
* Act on special solutions related to the prevention, counteracting, and combating COVID-19, other infectious diseases, and crises caused by them of March 2, 2020 (Journal of Laws of 2020, item 374)
Legal basis: Act on special solutions related to the prevention, counteracting, and combating COVID-19, other infectious diseases, and crises caused by them of March 2, 2020 (Journal of Laws of 2020, item 374), Act of June 26, 1974, The Labor Code with later amendments, Draft Act of December 1, 2022, amending the Act – Labor Code and certain other acts.
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