Poland: Workers waited until 5 September 2020 for a regulation allowing them to continue working remotely during the outbreak.
Under the Anti-crisis Shield Act, the possibility of assigning an employee to remote work was introduced. This regulation was only temporary and applied until 4 September 2020. The situation is unchanged, as the Polish legislator has now decided to extend remote working for the entire duration of the epidemic emergency declared due to COVID-19, and also for three months after its cancellation. This means that regulation of remote working is still temporary.
Working remotely has functioned for years as a solution regulated in the Labour Code, defined as teleworking. The COVID-19 epidemic has forced an even more flexible solution, namely remote working.
They both appear to be similar, but the difference between them is fundamental. In order to counteract COVID 19, an employer may, for a fixed period, instruct an employee to work (as defined in the employment contract) outside the permanent workplace. Remote working may use means of direct remote communication, but it may also involve manufacturing parts or material services. This means that remote working has a wider application than teleworking, which is limited to work whose results can only be sent electronically.
Employers recommending remote work should set mutual working rules. This is in the interests of both parties, because on the one hand the employer has a great deal of freedom to set the rules, but on the other hand bears occupational health and safety obligations and responsibility for accidents at work.
In addition to health and safety issues, it is worth clarifying the rules relating to compliance with policies and procedures on processing company secrets or protection of personal data. Remote working does not amount to exemption from the obligation to keep records of working time, except in situations where the employee is employed on the basis of task time or manages the workplace on behalf of the employer. The purpose of remote working regulations would be to determine presence at work, methods of communicating with colleagues and reporting emergencies. The issue of entrusting equipment and tools and bearing the costs of their maintenance, technical support and training cannot be forgotten.
The Ministry of Labour is preparing legislation on remote working on a permanent basis. This must be taken as a very encouraging step. However, the new regulations should be flexible enough so as not to restrict performance of duties in this form, but to give flexibility to the parties to the employment relationship.
Source: Act of 24 July 2020 amending the Act on posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services and certain other acts (Journal of Laws, item 1423)