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Labor law. Changes from November 17, 2023. New employee rights and employer obligations

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As of Friday, new regulations come into force, under which employees using laptops may request that their employer equip their workstation with a stationary monitor or an additional stand. Companies must also provide – at the request of employees – footrests. However, this will not happen immediately, the law gives employers half a year to adapt to the changed health and safety guidelines.

New obligations for employers and rights for employees are introduced by the amended regulation of the Minister of Family and Social Policy on occupational health and safety in positions equipped with screen monitors.

“After over 20 years of occupational health and safety regulations in force at positions equipped with screen monitors, we have new regulations in this regard. (…) The new regulations are intended to be a response to modern technological progress, as well as to correspond to the amended labor law provisions, e.g. “in the field of remote work” – indicated the consulting company Grant Thornton.

An additional monitor or stand from the employer

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Thanks to the new regulations, employees who use laptops at work will have the right to equip their workstation with an additional screen monitor. An alternative will be a stand that allows the laptop screen to be positioned so that its upper edge is at the employee’s eye level.

In both cases, employees should also receive an additional keyboard and mouse. As we read in the regulation, the issue of an additional screen or stand will apply to employees who use portable devices for at least half of their daily work. working time.

Additionally, if an employee uses documents while performing his duties, he may request that the employer equip the workstation with a document holder with adjustable height, inclination and distance. At the employee’s request, the workstation should also be equipped with a footrest.

“The obligation to organize his/her work station in the place indicated by him and agreed with the employer has been transferred to the employee performing remote work,” emphasized experts from Grant Thornton. They also added that “the employer may inspect a remote employee in terms of occupational health and safety.”

Reimbursement of not only glasses, but also contact lenses

Moreover, according to current regulations, the employer is obliged to provide glasses for an employee working at a screen monitor if an occupational medicine doctor issued a certificate during a check-up that the employee needs them while working at a computer. Now this will also apply to contact lenses.

To receive reimbursement, the employee must work at the monitor for at least four hours per day. The employee must take the invoice for the purchase of glasses in his name and surname and give it to the employer.

Typically, employee glasses are reimbursed every four years because that is how often check-ups are performed for employees working with computers.

Glasses for employees – who is entitled to them, in what amount and how often >>>

Workplace lighting

The new regulation also specifies the minimum requirements that the workplace should meet. “A workstation equipped with a screen monitor should be designed in such a way that the employee is provided with sufficient working space to enable placing all manually operated elements within the reach of the upper limbs,” the justification for the regulation states.

The regulation also specifies requirements for workplace lighting. According to the regulations, it should ensure visual comfort and be adapted to the type of work performed. “Direct glare from fixtures, windows, transparent or translucent walls or bright surfaces of the room, as well as reflected glare from the screen monitor should be limited, in particular by using appropriate lighting fixtures and installing devices that eliminate excessive sunlight falling on the workstation,” we read.

“Several key issues arising from the current wording of the regulation remain unchanged. This includes, among others, the at least 5-minute break that employees are entitled to after each hour of work while operating a screen monitor (included in working time), and the definition of an employee who is entitled to to use the above break. In the light of the new regulations, an employee is still a person employed by the employer who uses a screen monitor during work for at least half of the daily working time (including an apprentice and trainee),” explained Grant Thornton.

How long does the employer have until?

The consulting company’s experts also indicated that “employers will be obliged to adapt workplaces equipped with screen monitors created before the date of entry into force of the new regulation to the minimum requirements of occupational health and safety and ergonomics within 6 months from the date of entry into force of this regulation.”

“This means that employers (who already had workplaces equipped with screen monitors before November 17, 2023) should have their workplaces prepared in accordance with the new regulations around mid-May 2024.” – they said.

Main photo source: G-Stock Studio/Shutterstock

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