Home office

Commentary by Marcin Cetnarowicz, partner at the labor law team at SSW Pragmatic Solutions, about remote work:

“Despite the clear trend associated with more flexible employment, including at the workplace, telework within the meaning of the Labor Code is a phenomenon almost unheard of on the Polish labor market.

Apart from the specifics of our labor market (lower than in other EU countries, employment in services, limited use of IT tools), this state also includes unattractive legal regulations on teleworking.

The introduction of telework requires employers to conduct negotiations with trade unions and conclude an agreement (or issue regulations if negotiations fail) or consult with an employee representative. In addition, the legislator used a narrow definition of teleworking, assuming that only a person who works remotely on a regular basis (e.g. on certain days of the week) is a teleworker. Such regulation does not meet the needs of the labor market, which is looking for something between classic office work and teleworking.

It is worth noting that almost every case of performing work “from home” is of an ad-hoc nature and is agreed on an ongoing basis between the parties to the employment relationship. Employers, especially in innovative or creative industries, are increasingly allowing occasional remote work, while employees, especially younger ones, are increasingly eager to use this opportunity.

The home office has not received statutory regulation and, as you can see, real world practice has not been adversely affected by this gap. This is not worth spoiling. By introducing extensive regulation or including remote work in the teleworking legal framework, we will achieve a different effect from the intended one and unnecessarily impede the performance of remote work.

I would leave the social partners the key issues related to remote work. Many employers already have home-office policies. Thanks to these regulations, employers avoid ambiguities and disputes regarding e.g. the procedure for granting consent for remote work, the method of recording working hours or the rules and procedure for informing the employer of any accidents at work.

Legally, only issues that generate problems in practice should be regulated. I would include, first of all, the issue of the distribution of responsibility for health and safety during remote work. According to the current regulations, in the case of remote work, the employer may be hypothetically charged with responsibility for matters that are beyond his control (e.g. for the fact that an employee working from home does not have a suitable workplace, but still decides to work remotely). In addition to this, the statutory regulation should include the right to call an employee to the office in any event involving the specific needs on the part of the employer.”

The full text of the article on the pages of Gazeta Prawna. Polish version

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