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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Heatwave in Poland. Employer's obligations. We explain

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During hot weather, the employer must provide their employees with appropriate conditions. Shortening working hours, providing drinks, or installing air conditioning or fans in rooms – these are actions mentioned in the Labor Code. For failure to comply with certain regulations, the entrepreneur can be fined up to PLN 30,000.

The Institute of Meteorology and Water Management issued a second-degree heat warning for practically the entire country on Thursday. The alert is to be in effect until Friday inclusive. Temperatures will range from around 30 degrees Celsius in northern Poland to 32 degrees Celsius in the centre and south. It will be colder only by the sea, locally around 26-28 degrees Celsius, and in the foothills where thermometers will show around 26 degrees Celsius.

What must an employer provide during hot weather?

The employer's obligations regarding ensuring safe and hygienic working conditions are specified in the Labor Code. The regulations cover changing work conditions, e.g. due to heat.

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If working conditions deteriorate due to weather conditions, the employer should take action to improve them. An example of such actions could be: reduction of employees' working hoursintroduction additional breaks at work, ensuring air-conditioned rooms for rest, or providing air conditioning in work rooms. Pursuant to labor law regulations, the employer may impose restrictions on hot days extra breaks or allow the employee to leave work earlier. However, this depends solely on the good will of the employer. Leaving work early cannot result in a reduction in the employee's remuneration.

The right temperature

Last year, the Ministry of Labor pointed out that although the existing regulations oblige the employer to ensure appropriate temperature in the rooms, air exchange and protection against moisture, unfavorable thermal conditions and sunlight, they – as a rule – do not specify the maximum air temperature at which work can be performed indoors. According to the provisions of the Labor Code, if working conditions do not comply with occupational health and safety regulations and pose a direct threat to the employee's health or life, or if the work performed by him poses such a danger to other people, the employee has the right to refrain from performing work by notifying him about it. immediately to your supervisor.

Provision of drinks

Reducing the nuisance associated with heat is possible, among other things, by ensuring proper ventilation and air conditioning of the rooms. The use of such solutions releases the employer from the obligation to provide drinks to employees working in closed rooms, as long as the temperature in such rooms does not exceed 28 degrees Celsius. When the room temperature is higher, the employer must provide employees with drinks. In such a situation, it does not matter whether the workplace is equipped with air conditioning or not. In the case of people working outdoors, the employer is obliged to provide drinks when the temperature exceeds 25 degrees Celsius. Regardless of whether work is performed indoors or outdoors, refreshments should be available to employees throughout the work shift.

Possible penalties

Failure of the employer to respect this obligation constitutes an offence punishable by a fine from PLN 1,000 to PLN 30,000. In accordance with the regulation of the Council of Ministers of 24 August 2004 on the list of works prohibited to minors and the conditions of their employment in some of these works, employees from this group may not work in rooms where the temperature exceeds 30 degrees Celsius and relative air humidity – 65 percent.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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