Labour Code amendments, part 1: Upcoming changes

A major amendment to the Polish Labour Code is quickly approaching. Work is now underway on several bills, but employers should prepare now for the numerous upcoming changes.
Author:
Beata Bar
Payroll Manager

A major amendment to the Polish Labour Code is quickly approaching. Work is now underway on several bills, but employers should prepare now for the numerous upcoming changes whose implementation will require appropriate adjustments within their organization, to employment contracts, employee documentation, and internal rules and policies. We encourage you to read the first in a series of articles on Labour Code amendments.

The planned changes involve:

  1. Remote work and sobriety testing. The parliament is currently working on a bill in this area. The amending act is to enter into force 14 days after publication in the Journal of Laws. In our view, it is highly likely that the regulations on remote work and sobriety testing will enter into force before the end of 2022.
  2. Employment contracts, employee documentation, parental leave, and release from work. Currently the bill is awaiting approval by the Council of Ministers, and then it will be considered by the parliament. In the bill, the date of entry into force is stated as 1 August 2022, but given the state of advancement of work on the bill, it was not possible to meet that deadline. The new effective date is not yet known, but based on the parliamentary calendar, a possible date for entry into force of this amendment to the Labour Code is 1 January 2023. This amendment is aimed at implementing two EU directives into Polish law: Directive (EU) 2019/1152 on transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union and Directive (EU) 2019/1158 on work-life balance for parents and carers. These two directives were supposed to be transposed into national law in all EU member states by 1 August 2022 and 2 August 2022, respectively. Despite the lack of national provisions in Poland, EU labour law protects all EU citizens, and employees can seek resolution of disputes before the Court of Justice of the European Union. Thus employers should prepare now for the planned changes: new informational duties, changes to internal rules, and introduction of appropriate solutions and instruments within the organization.

Labour Code amendments: Remote work and sobriety testing

Changes concerning remote work

The regulations on remote work will be included in the Labour Code, replacing the provisions on telework.

A change from stationary work to remote work could be made at the initiative of the employer or the employee. This option will exist both at the time of concluding the employment contract and during the course of employment.

The bill addresses in detail the rules for introduction of remote work at an organization, additional duties and rights of the employer related to remote work, planning and settlement of working time in the case of remote work, and new occupational health and safety obligations of the employer.

However, the most important changes concern costs accompanying the performance of remote work. The employer will be required to provide an employee performing remote work the materials and tools necessary to perform the work, and to cover the costs of electricity and telecommunications services needed to perform remote work.

Changes involving monitoring of employee sobriety

The bill addresses rules for monitoring sobriety at the workplace. To introduce sobriety testing in the workplace, the employer will have to:

  • Enact or update work rules to include information concerning:
    • The group or groups of employees who may be subject to sobriety testing
    • The manner of conducting tests, including the type of equipment, time and frequency of testing
  • Appoint persons authorized to conduct testing on behalf of the employer, and prepare authorizations for them to process data
  • Update the informational clause.

Sobriety testing:

  • Could be conducted by the employer if necessary to ensure the protection of life or health of employees or other persons, or to protect property
  • Could be conducted using methods not requiring laboratory testing, via a device with a valid document confirming calibration or gauging of the device
  • Would consist of a determination of the presence or absence of alcohol or narcotics in the employee’s organism.

Labour Code amendments concerning employment contracts and leave

Changes concerning employment contracts and employee documentation

The bill calls for changes involving:

  • Rules for conclusion of employment contracts, particularly a contract for a trial period
  • Rules for terminating employment contracts for a definite period
  • Rules governing the contents of employment contracts
  • Contents of information on employment conditions provided to newly hired staff
  • Guidelines on the time for employee training during working hours and at the employer’s cost
  • Rules for prohibition of competition by employees
  • Employees’ requests to change their type of work, type of contract, or the fulltime nature of their work.

Changes concerning the work-life balance directive as well as additional days off and parental leave

The Polish government is obligated to implement the EU directive under which employees will gain new entitlements involving:

  • Flexible working arrangements for employees who are parents or carers of a child up to age 8. Flexible organization of work is defined as including telework, interrupted or shortened working time, weekend work, adjustable or individual working time, or reduced working time.
  • New rules for protection against termination of employment—protection of employees during pregnancy, on maternity, paternity or parental leave, and employees who have requested flexible working arrangements, will be expanded. Not only will the employer not be allowed to terminate or dissolve the employment relationship with persons on such leave, but it will also be prohibited to conduct preparations connected with the intention of dismissing such employees.
  • New duration of parental leave, rules for applying for parental leave, use of parental leave by both parents, and use of parental leave in parts. Longer parental leave will be introduced—the combined length of parental leave for both parents will be up to 41 weeks (in the case of the birth of one child) or up to 43 weeks (in the case of a multiple birth), where the second parent would be entitled to 9 weeks of this leave.
  • New rules for use of paternity leave—shortening the period when it will be possible for an employee raising a child to take such leave from 24 to 12 months after the birth of the child.
  • New types of leave:
  • Leave for urgent family matters. An employee will be entitled to be released from work for two days or 16 hours during the calendar year due to force majeure, in urgent family matters due to illness or accident, if the employee’s immediate presence is essential. During such release from work employees will retain the right to half their salary.
  • Carer’s leave. An employee will be entitled to the new “carer’s leave” of up to 5 days in the calendar year to provide personal care or support for a member of the family or household requiring significant care or support for serious medical reasons. This leave is unpaid.

You will find a more detailed discussion of the planned changes to the Labour Code in our subsequent articles, which will appear in a few days. More about the changes:

  • Labour Code amendments, part 2: Remote work and sobriety testing
  • Labour Code amendments, part3: employment contracts and leave

We invite you to follow our publications.

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