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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Funeral directors – changes. The government bill on cemeteries – Krzysztof Wolicki comments

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The government is working on a new law on cemeteries and the burial of the dead. As indicated by the authors of the draft, its purpose is to address a number of identified problems and to comprehensively regulate the sphere of the so-called posthumous right. According to Krzysztof Wolicki, the president of the Polish Funeral Association, the government bill will eliminate “garage funeral homes”. At the same time, he presented a number of comments on the proposed solutions.

It is a draft law on cemeteries and the burying of the deceased prepared by the plenipotentiary of the Prime Minister for the reform of administrative regulations related to the natural movement of the population and the protection of memorial sites, which has just undergone a process of public consultations. The draft was published on the website of the Government Legislation Center at the end of September this year.

“The regulations currently in force regulating the sphere of activity of state organs, local government, churches and religious associations, enterprises and citizens in matters related to human death (the so-called funeral law) are among the provisions that have caused many problems and controversies for years, mainly due to for its archaic, ambiguity, inconsistency or selective treatment of many issues “- we read in the justification attached to the project.

– The current law has been amended many times, since the beginning of the 90s it has been amended by inserts forced by the need of the moment, so it is very good that these provisions have been finally dealt with comprehensively. Unfortunately, the presented proposals were not consulted with the funeral industry or cemetery managers at a sufficiently early working stage. If it were done, a nice project could arise, but in its current shape it has many disadvantages – assessed Krzysztof Wolicki, president of the Polish Funeral Association.

As he noted, the current act contains 24 relatively transparent articles, and the presented draft contains 168 of them. – In addition, some of them have to be read several times to get an idea of ​​what it is about, and there is also an extensive draft of the provisions introducing the act – he said. In his opinion, the provisions currently contained in the ordinances were unnecessarily entered into the content of the act, as it makes it difficult to change them quickly, if necessary.

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Funeral directors – changes

According to Wolicki, it is right and postulated by the industry for a long time to introduce requirements for funeral directors. – At the moment, anyone can become a funeral director, all you need is an ID card. The project requires, among other things, a hearse, a farewell room or a cold store. This proposal would eliminate the “garage workers”. The point is that at the moment there are about 13,000 companies that have funeral services among the PKD (Polish Classification of Activities – ed.) Codes, while there are actually operating funeral homes – about 2,500, of which about 500 are companies, which are actually intermediaries: they sublet caravans, buy coffins, but do not bear the fixed costs of, for example, keeping a cold store. This should be cut short – he emphasized.

On the other hand, the President of the Polish Funeral Association criticized the proposals related to the extension of information obligations, including on the funeral home side to create multiple records related to burials and cemeteries.

– There will be a central register of all persons buried, a central register of funeral homes, a central register of death certificates, a central register of cemeteries, and a central register of cremated persons. It seems to us that it is too much, especially since the creation of each such register requires handling and entering data, also on the part of funeral parlors – explained Wolicki.

He indicated that, for example, the creation of a register of cremated persons is justified by the need to detect abuses, while since 1993, when the first crematorium was established in Poland, no cases of illegal cremation outside the system had been reported. – To count how many cremations there are in Poland, it is enough to compile the data from the proposed e-death card, which can include this information – he emphasized. The Association has similar objections to the scope of information provided for the transport of dead bodies, such as flight numbers or registration numbers of cars transporting them.

Coroner – who is it?

In Wolicki’s opinion, the institution of the coroner, who is to certify the death, proposed in the draft, will not fulfill its role either. In his opinion, the possibility that a coroner, who under the bill will have to have adequate experience and training, could give a 12-month power of attorney to an “ordinary” doctor, could lead to abuses.

“This privilege gives the coroner the chance to” subcontract “tasks, for example, to novice doctors for remuneration” under the table “, he noted. He also considered the proposal that the owner of the cemetery should have everything on it, including the tombstones, to be wrong. Currently, the tombstone belongs to the administrator of the grave.

His doubts are also raised by the proposal that people of merit for Poland could be buried in places other than in the cemetery, provided that the Sanepid agrees to it. – A suitable place for burial is a cemetery. We suspect that this provision will cause problems in the future when the assessment of whether the deceased is actually a deserving person changes and proposals for the transfer of the remains are made. Similar exceptions are now traditionally made for some priests and absolutely should not be extended, he assessed.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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