The obligation to perform periodic examinations and health and safety training was suspended shortly after the outbreak of the pandemic in Poland. In practice, this means that a significant number of organizations has not directed their employees to periodic occupational medicine examinations and health and safety training for the past three years.
Cancellation of the state of epidemic threat - what does this mean for the employer?
The employer is obliged to update the suspended obligations related to directing employees for:
- initial, periodic and control occupational medicine examinations
- periodic training in the field of occupational health and safety.
Occupational medicine and health and safety training - important deadlines!
The employer is not obliged to direct employees to outstanding health and safety examinations and training as early as July or August. It can be done within the following deadlines:
- periodic health and safety training - within 60 days after the cancellation of the epidemic emergency- i.e., until August 30, 2023
- initial examinations, periodic examinations, control examinations - 180 days from the date of cancellation of the epidemic emergency, i.e., until December 28, 2023
Occupational medicine examinations
Pursuant to the provisions of the Labor Code, the employer may not allow an employee to work without a valid medical certificate stating that there are no contraindications to work in a specific position. This provision means that if an employee refuses to undergo the examination, the employer doesn’t have the right to allow them to work. In this case, the employee is not entitled to any remuneration during the time of not performing work.
An employer who abandons the obligation to order periodic examinations and allows an employee to work without valid examinations is subject to a fine from PLN 10,000 to PLN 30,000.
Important: Occupational health examinations are mandatory. Periodic and follow-up examinations should be conducted during working hours, if possible. The employee retains the right to remuneration for the time they do not work due to examinations. The cost of the examinations is borne by the employer.
Preliminary examinations do not apply to people reemployed by a given employer for the same position or for a position with the same working conditions, based on another employment contract concluded within 30 days after the termination or expiration of the previous employment contract with that employer.
Further important changes due to the cancellation of the state of epidemic threat
Use of overdue holiday leaves
From July 1st, 2023, the employer will no longer be able to send an employee on a holiday leave from previous years of up to 30 days within the period imposed by the employer, without the need to obtain the employee's consent and bypassing the leave schedule.
The obligation of granting leave will return, as a rule, in accordance with the leave plan agreed with employees or, in the absence of a leave plan, directly with the employees.
Forcibly sending an employee on leave will only be possible in the following situations:
- during the notice period of the employment contract (Article 167(1) of the P.C.)
- when the employee has an outstanding vacation, which should be granted no later than September 30th of the following calendar year (Article 168 of the P.C.)
Return of higher limit on severance payments and compensation in case of termination of employment
With the end of the epidemic emergency, the limitation on compensation and severance pay in the event of termination of employment, which during the pandemic period was limited to 10 times the minimum wage, will also disappear.
As of July 1st, 2023, employers will be subject to a limit of 15 times the minimum wage when paying severance pay or compensation on termination of employment.
Return of "Fiction of Delivery." The 14-day period for the delivery of a letter returns
The so-called "fiction of delivery" of twice-noticed mail has been restored.
If an employee ignores a letter sent to them via mail by the employer, 7 days after the second delivery notice the letter is considered as delivered.
In practice, this means that the termination of an employment contract sent by the employer through the Polish Postal Service and not picked up by the employee will be considered delivered after 14 days from the first delivery attempt.
Important! All terminations previously sent and not received for the last 3 years during the state of epidemic emergency will be considered as effectively delivered after 14 days from the date of lifting the epidemic emergency, i.e. contracts will automatically terminate on July 15
Return to the pre-pandemic ZFŚS write-offs
During the period of the state of epidemic threat, employers who experienced a decrease in turnover or a significant increase in the burden on the remuneration fund could withdraw from applying a higher contribution than specified in the act contribution to the Company Social Benefits Fund.
From July 1, 2023, the cancellation of the state of epidemic threat will mean that these employers need to return to the amount of the ZFŚS deduction guaranteed by the provisions of collective labor agreements or remuneration regulations.