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Remote work 2023. Major changes to the Labor Code. Ministry on reimbursement for electricity and the Internet, sobriety control

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Changes in the Labor Code are getting closer. On April 7, the provisions defining the rules of remote work come into force. In the published explanations, the Ministry of Family and Social Policy referred to some of the issues of the amendment, such as covering part of the costs by the employer, the issue of the place of remote work or sobriety control.

Remote work place. Where can you do it?

As the ministry explained, the new regulations do not exclude the possibility of performing duties under remote work from several different places. However, they must be indicated by the employee and each time agreed with the employer.

The resort also answered the question, whether the employee can perform remote work, e.g. from an internet cafe. As the ministry emphasized, the parties may agree that remote work will be performed in different places, about which the employee will inform the employer each time. Importantly, the regulations do not allow the employee to choose the place of remote work completely freely, i.e. without consulting the employer.

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Remote work applications

The request for remote work is binding on the employer in some cases. Among them, the ministry listed applications submitted by:

– a pregnant employee, – an employee raising a child up to the age of 4, – an employee taking care of another member of the immediate family or another person remaining in the same household, with a certificate of disability or a certificate of severe disability, – an employee a parent of a child with a certificate of support for pregnant women and families under the “For Life” program, a certificate of severe and irreversible disability or an incurable life-threatening disease that occurred in the prenatal period of the child’s development or during childbirth, a certificate of disability or a certificate of moderate or severe disability specified in the provisions on vocational and social rehabilitation and employment of disabled people, , certificate on the need for special education or a certificate on the need for revalidation and education classes.

That is, the employer must take into account the request received from such persons, unless it is impossible due to the organization of work or the type of work performed by the employee. In this case, the employer will have to inform the employee about the reason for refusing to accept the application in paper or electronic form within 7 working days from the date of submission of the application.

Remote work ordered by the employer

In some cases, the employer may as well recommend, and not agree with the employee, to perform remote work. According to the Ministry of Family, the employer has such a possibility in certain situations:

– during the period of the state of emergency, state of epidemic threat or state of epidemic and within 3 months after their cancellation, – during the period in which it is temporarily impossible for the employer to provide safe and hygienic working conditions at the employee’s current place of work due to force majeure (e.g. destruction of the workplace due to fire).

However, the employer cannot commission such work if the employee does not have the appropriate premises and technical conditions. Before changing the formula for performing duties, the employee must provide the employer with a special statement in this regard.

Individual agreement with the employer

The resort also answered the question under what circumstances it is acceptable to conclude an individual agreement with the employee specifying the rules for remote work.

According to the ministry, an agreement with an employee may be concluded when a company agreement (or regulations) has not been concluded. “This means every case in which there is no internal act regulating the rules of remote work at the workplace. Recommendation of remote work may also be covered by the scope of the company agreement (or regulations)” – we read in the ministry’s explanations.

Withdrawal from remote work

Another point made clear by the ministry is that whether in each case the employer can “take back” the employee from remote work to stationary work.

As the ministry explained, if remote work is performed on the basis of the previously discussed order, the employer may withdraw the order to perform remote work at any time, with at least two days’ notice.

The situation is different in the case of taking up remote work during employment. “Each party may submit a binding request to stop remote work and restore the previous conditions of work. The parties agree on a date for restoring the previous conditions of work, no longer than 30 days from the date of receipt of the request,” we read.

“In the absence of an agreement, the restoration of the previous conditions of work takes place on the day following the expiry of 30 days from the date of receipt of the request. The employer’s entitlement in this respect will not, however, apply to employees performing remote work on their own – binding for the employer – request, unless further performance of remote work will not be possible due to the organization of work or the type of work performed by the employee.

However, if it is agreed to perform remote work when concluding an employment contract, it is generally not possible to withdraw consent to remote work and reinstate the employee to work in the current place (e.g. in the office).

Remote work costs

The resort was also asked whether costs should be charged separately for each employee, e.g. for electricity.

“Detailed rules for covering the costs of remote work by the employer (and determining the cash equivalent or lump sum) will constitute a mandatory element of the internal company agreement or regulations or the agreement with the employee in the event that no company agreement has been concluded or regulations have not been issued,” the ministry said.

The Ministry pointed out that the act only indicated that when determining the amount of the equivalent or lump sum, it will be necessary to take into account, in particular, standards for the consumption of materials and work tools, including technical devices, their documented market prices and the amount of material used for the needs of the employer and market prices of this material, as well as electricity consumption standards and the cost of telecommunications services.

The details of determining the amount of benefits are left to the discretion of the parties and regulations at the company level.

Read also: The employer will add to the electricity bill. Here is the possible amount

Water bill surcharge? The resort responds

The next question was whether employers have to reimburse employees for e.g. water and office space used by them in the apartment. In response, the ministry noted that the mandatory coverage of costs in the field of media consumption applies only to the costs of electricity and telecommunications services necessary to perform remote work.

“Therefore, it does not include the costs of water consumption or the use of space in the house, unless regulations regarding the obligation to reimburse such costs have not been introduced into internal company legal acts (agreements or regulations)” – emphasized the ministry.

The ministry also addressed the issue of whether the employer is obliged to provide the employee performing remote work with a desk and a chair. “Immediately before issuing an order to work remotely – the employee will have to submit a statement in paper or electronic form that he has the premises and technical conditions to perform such work. It should be noted that it is the employee who assesses his premises and technical conditions, which means that the employer does not will be able to verify or dispute it.

As the ministry added, “the employer is obliged to cover costs other than the necessary costs related to the installation, service, operation and maintenance of work tools, including technical devices, necessary to perform remote work, if the reimbursement of such costs has been specified in the remote work order, regulations or agreement.”

Occasional remote work

The Ministry also answered questions about occasional remote work, which may also be performed occasionally, at the employee’s request submitted in paper or electronic form, for a period not exceeding 24 days in a calendar year. Remote work in this form will be used in incidental circumstances, justified only by the employee’s need. An example may be the need to care for a family member in need of emergency support.

The ministry explained whether the employer must take into account the employee’s request for occasional remote work. “The employee’s request for occasional remote work is not binding on the employer, so the employer may refuse to accept it,” we read.

As the ministry added, the length of occasional remote work is not dependent on working time. “The length of remote work performed occasionally is not more than 24 days in a calendar year and is independent of the employee’s working time (full-time job) as well as the number of hours resulting from the working time schedule on the day on which the employee performs work in the above-mentioned mode” – it was written.

Sobriety control during remote work?

The resort also replied whether a remote worker can be subject to a sobriety test.

“It does not seem possible for employees performing remote work to meet the conditions for sobriety control or control for the presence of substances similar to alcohol, such controls can be carried out when they are necessary to ensure the protection of life and health of employees or other persons or the protection of property” – we read .

He added that “as a rule, remote work is performed by employees using ICT devices and does not carry a high risk to health, life or property.”

“However, if employees performing remote work meet the conditions contained in the regulations being introduced, they may be subject to appropriate control, because it is the employer who determines the group or groups of employees subject to control and the manner of its implementation” – emphasized the ministry.

Main photo source: Grand Warsaw / Shutterstock.com

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