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Labor Code. Remote work and sobriety check. NLI’s comment

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If the statutory conditions are met, the sobriety test may also cover employees working remotely, states the National Labor Inspectorate in the explanations posted on the website. At the same time – as it was added – in practice this possibility may be limited.

A definition was introduced to the Labor Code on April 7 remote work. It is the performance of work in whole or in part in the place indicated by the employee and each time agreed with the employer, including at the employee’s residence address, in particular using means of direct remote communication.

At the same time, from February 21, 2023, regulations have been in force enabling employers to conduct independent sobriety checks of employees.

Read also: Important changes in the Labor Code. Everything you need to know

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Sobriety checks

The National Labor Inspectorate reminded on its website that inspections may be carried out if it is necessary to ensure the protection of life and health of employees or other persons or the protection of property.

“The introduction of the sobriety test, the group or groups of employees covered by the sobriety test and the manner of conducting the sobriety test, including the type of device used for the control, the time and frequency of its performance, are determined in the collective labor agreement or in the work regulations or in the announcement, if the employer is not covered by a collective labor agreement or is not obliged to establish work regulations.

It was added that the company’s internal regulations should therefore indicate which groups of employees will be subject to sobriety checks and specify how the checks will be carried out.

Remote work and breathalyzer

As stated, “if the statutory conditions are met, the sobriety test may also cover employees working remotely”. “Decisive in this respect will be the provisions of the agreement, regulations or notices in force at the employer, specifying the rules for conducting sobriety checks of employees” – added.

However, it seems that in practice, in the case of remote work, the employer may have limited ability to control the sobriety of employees.

It was added that the situation is different when employees report to the employer’s headquarters or another designated place of work and are subject to a sobriety check there, and differently when the employee works remotely, usually at his place of residence. It should be remembered that in the case of remote work, the sobriety test may not violate the dignity and other personal rights of the employee, including the right to privacy of the employee and other household members.

Read also: Doubts about remote work. What costs will be reimbursed to employees?

“As a rule, we control employers and entrepreneurs”

Katarzyna Łażewska-Hrycko, Chief Labor Inspector, also spoke about the issue of controlling remote workers. As explained in an interview with PAP, the National Labor Inspectorate has launched a process related to inspections of compliance with the provisions on remote work. In her opinion, the changes in this area are revolutionary. – It is worth emphasizing that we will not conduct inspections at employees’ homes. As a rule, we control employers and entrepreneurs. An employee in a private space does not conduct business activity, but performs work, the head of the National Labor Inspectorate reserved.

In addition, as she pointed out, the employee’s private space is covered by the protection of the home.

– We will certainly control issues related to the implementation of appropriate procedures. It is primarily about whether, where there are trade unions, agreements have been reached and whether regulations specifying the rules of remote work have been created – indicated Łażewska-Hrycko.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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