On 24 May 2022, the Council of Ministers passed a bill amending the Labour Code, which provides for the introduction into the Labour Code of provisions regulating remote work and rules for carrying out sobriety checks on employees, which we have already mentioned here.
This step announces the beginning of the end of a long road for labour law to address – at least partially – the current and practical needs of employers and employees. If the bill is passed into law:
- employers will be given the possibility of checking the sobriety of employees using methods that do not require a laboratory test – for example, with a breathalyser that has a valid document proving that it is in proper working order;
- teleworking will be replaced by more flexible regulations allowing remote work on the basis of an agreement between the employer and the employee, and – in certain cases – also at the request of the employer or at the request of the employee in the case of so-called occasional remote work, up to a maximum of 24 days per calendar year.
However, the law itself is not everything – employers need to be aware that both the rules on remote working and the rules on sobriety checks will need to be reflected in their internal regulations, because:
- the introduction of sobriety checks will have to be established in a collective agreement, workplace regulations or in the employer’s announcement (if the employer does not have regulations);
- the rules for remote working will have to be set out in an agreement between the employer and the trade union organisation or, if this is not possible, in regulations, taking into account the arrangements made with the trade union organisations in the course of discussions on the agreement; and in the absence of a trade union organisation, the regulations will require consultation with employee representatives.
Employers who wish to take advantage of the opportunities that the new law will offer will first have some of their own work to do. This is because the content of internal regulations should meet the criteria indicated in the bill, which means that:
- in the case of sobriety checks, the groups of employees subject to testing and the manner, time and frequency with which the tests are carried out, as well as the type of equipment used, will have to be specified
- in the case of remote work, the employer will have to , among other things, establish the rules for the payment of expenses related to remote work, the rules for communication and confirming attendance “at work”, the rules for supervising the performance of work and compliance with health and safety rules, and the rules on the maintenance and servicing of equipment.
Before the bill becomes law, it has to go through the entire legislative process – which includes being passed by the Sejm and the Senate and being signed by the President. The task for employers will be to implement internal regulations which not only meet the statutory requirements, but also – and perhaps above all – have a real, practical dimension for employers and employees and are appropriately adapted to the specifics of a given organisation. It is worth preparing for the upcoming changes in advance.
Marta Borówka, Associate