In today’s dynamic and technologically advanced world, the possibility of working remotely has become obvious. Amendments to the Labor Code aim to adapt to the changing reality, introducing new regulations on flexible forms of employment. The new regulations on remote work entered into force on April 7, 2023. How do they affect employees and employers, and how do they shape the future of the labor market?
New remote work regulations
New regulations governing remote rok in the Labor Code entered into force on April 7, 2023. The concept of telecommuting has become obsolete, replaced by a new, broader definition of remote work. It was noted that the work may be carried out wholly or partly at the place designated by the employee and agreed with the employer in each case, including at the employee’s home address, in particular by means of direct remote communication.
Introduction of remote work
Remote work can be implemented in two ways. Already at the conclusion of the employment contract, or during the course of employment. Remote work can be introduced at any time as a result of an agreement between the employer and the employee, but the legislator has provided for situations in which it is possible for both the employee and the employer to take the binding initiative to perform remote work.
Occasional remote work
Amendments to the Labor Code also regulate the concept of occasional remote work. According to the new regulations, an employee has the right to perform occasional remote work for no more than 24 days in a calendar year, regardless of working hours and type of contract. The employee’s request for occasional remote work is not binding and the employer may refuse to grant it.
Extension of workers’ rights
The amendments to the Labor Code are aimed at protecting employees who work remotely and ensuring that they have equal rights and conditions as in the case of traditional stationary work. Employees working remotely are now entitled to the same benefits and protections as those working in offices.
The employer was prohibited from discriminating against an employee for performing remote work, as well as for refusing to perform such work. In addition, the employer is required to allow an employee performing remote work to be on the premises of the workplace, to communicate with other employees and to use the employer’s premises and facilities on the terms and conditions accepted for the general workforce.
Who can apply for remote work?
Under the new regulations, certain groups of employees can make a binding request to work remotely:
- pregnant workers;
- employees raising a child up to the age of 4. year of age;
- employees caring for an immediate family member or household member with a disability certificate;
- employees who, under the existing regulations, were entitled to work in an individual, intermittent or flexible working time system.
The indicated groups were identified through the prism of making it easier for employees to combine their parental and caregiving responsibilities with their professional ones. The employer may refuse only if it is impossible to perform work remotely due to the organization of work or the type of work.
Both the employer and the employee can request remote work in certain situations, and in both cases the consent of the other party is required.
New obligations of the employer
The introduction of amendments to the Labor Code on remote work also aims to regulate the organization and monitoring of remote work. The legislator has imposed a number of new obligations on the employer. They remain the same regardless of who requested the remote work. Thus, it is irrelevant whether this was determined on the basis of an employer’s order or an employee’s request.
An employer who wants its employees to be able to use remote work is required to determine the rules for performing remote work at its workplace, and bears the responsibility for covering the costs necessary to perform remote work.In addition, the employer may establish with the employee the rules for the employee’s use of work materials and tools not provided by the employer. For the use of these tools and materials, the employee is entitled to a cash allowance in the amount agreed upon with the employer.
Responsibilities of the employee
The amendment also imposes certain obligations on the employee. First of all, the employee should indicate to the employer the location of the remote work and obtain the employer’s approval to provide work at that location. The employee is also obliged to provide himself with suitable premises and technical conditions for remote work and declare this to the employer.
The employee must confirm in a statement that he or she is familiar with the occupational risk assessment and the information containing the principles of safe and healthy performance of remote work and undertakes to comply with them. The employee should also submit a statement that he or she is familiar with data protection procedures and a statement confirming that safe and hygienic conditions for such work are provided at the remote workstation.
The employee is also obliged, together with the employer, to provide each other with the information necessary for mutual communication by means of direct communication at a distance or by other means agreed upon with the employer.
Challenges for employers and employees
The introduction of the amendment to the Labor Code, unfortunately, does not answer all the questions that arise, so despite the fact that remote work benefits both employees and employers, many challenges arise in this area.
“This is the beginning of changes that are more favorable to those employees who did not have the opportunity or clear rules to use this type of work model before… However, for the IT industry, the regulations may not be enough, so most people will continue to work on more flexible B2B contracts.” – Aleksandra Kupiec, HR Manager at Talent Place
How entrepreneurs evaluate the new regulations and what it looks like in practice to comply with the new regulations is presented in an article published by Bankier.pl.