The COVID-19 pandemic caused a slowdown in legislative work and court judiciary activity in Poland. Without a doubt, most legislative initiatives at present relate to actions to counteract the effects of the pandemic. Below we present an overview of the latest legal changes and proposals in the field of labor law.
Extension of the period for mandatory updates of periodic and follow-up medical examinations of employees
Currently, a bill is being drafted (after the second reading) to amend the law on special arrangements for preventing and combating COVID-19, other infectious diseases and crisis situations caused by them (so-called Anti-crisis Shield Act 6.0). The amendments to the draft extend the period of time that entrepreneurs will have to update periodic examinations of employees after the end of the pandemic, as well as to extend the period of validity of medical certificates issued during an epidemic danger state or epidemic state.
According to the proposed amendments:
- after an epidemic danger state or an epidemic state is revoked, the employer and employee will be obliged to immediately undertake suspended duties of updating periodic medical examinations and perform them within a period not longer than 180 days after the date of revoking a given state.
In addition, the following periods would be extended to 180 days from the date of revoking an epidemic or emergency condition:
- the periods of validity of medical certificates issued by another doctor (if a doctor authorised to carry out an initial or specific examination is unavailable);
- the periods of validity of medical certificates issued as part of preliminary, periodic and follow-up medical examinations whose validity expired after 7 March 2020.
Suspension of the obligation for persons employed in administrative and office positions to have preliminary medical examinations
In addition according to the drafted Anti-Crisis Shield Act 6.0, during an epidemic danger state or epidemic state, persons employed in administrative and office positions will not be subject to preliminary medical examinations if they have a current medical certificate stating that there are no contraindications to work under the working conditions described in the referral for medical examinations and the employer determines that these conditions correspond to those prevailing at the given work position.
Additional care allowance - extension of the period for granting the allowance and problems with interpretation of regulations
On Monday, 9 November 2020, the Regulation of 5 November 2020 on determining a longer period for drawing additional care allowance to counteract COVID-19 came into force. On its basis, the additional care allowance will be paid until 29 November 2020. According to the regulation, the allowance was to apply on the same terms as in spring. However, some doubts arise in connection with the new interpretation of the regulations by the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS).
On 6 November 2020, the ZUS website published a notice which stated that additional care allowance will be granted to parents of children under 8 years of age, when:
- a day care centre, children's club, kindergarten, school or other facility attended by the child is closed due to COVID-19,
- these facilities remain open but are unable to provide care due to their limited operation during the COVID-19 epidemic, or
- a nanny or day carer is unable to provide care due to COVID-19.
Therefore, no allowance will be granted to parents who decide to leave their child at home despite the readiness of the institution to accept the child, e.g. because of the fear of infection.
Mandatory register of contracts for a specific task from 1 January 2021 - new obligation for entrepreneurs
On 1 January 2021 a new obligation will be introduced to register contracts for specific work with the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) pursuant to the Act of 31 March 2020 amending the Act on special solutions related to the prevention, prevention and combating of COVID-19, other infectious diseases and crisis situations caused by them and some other acts.
This obligation covers:
- contracts for specific work concluded with a person with whom the contributor does not have an employment relationship; and
- contracts for specific work concluded with a person who does not perform work for the employer with whom the contributor has an employment relationship.
The obligation to register contracts for specific work will come into force on 1 January 2021. Entrepreneurs will have only 7 days to register them with ZUS. You will find a detailed discussion of this regulation in the next issue of our Newsletter.
Remote working in the Labor Code
According to draft Labor Code regulations, the performance of remote work by an employee may be agreed upon in the contract of employment or during the period of employment, at the request of the employee or at the initiative of the employer.
The employer will also have the right to instruct the employee (i.e. to unilaterally order) to perform remote work:
- during an epidemic danger state or epidemic state, or
- when it is necessary due to the employer's obligation to provide the employee with safe and hygienic working conditions.
The rules for remote working in a given workplace will be established in an agreement concluded between the employer and trade unions or employee representatives. If no such agreement can be reached, the employer will issue these rules in workplace regulations.
The draft regulations shows that an employee will be able to perform remote work in his / her place of residence or in any other place indicated by the employee that provides suitable premises and technical conditions to perform such work.
The consultation period for organizations, employers and trade unions only closed on 10 November 2020 so the draft regulations may still be subject to changes.
The proposed Anti-Crisis Shield Act 6.0 contains a number of other provisions on support and control of the granting of benefits, which are not presented in the above summary as they concern the selected sectors of activity, in particular the health and spa industry.