What awaits us in Polish labour law? Changes, changes, changes!

Hogan Lovells

Hogan Lovells

[co-author: Martyna Sieczka]

The spring brings with it a series of changes in the labour law. The most relevant and significant changes for HR Departments concern those regulations dealing with remote work, work-life balance, and whistleblower protection. As part of Hogan Lovells' Employment practice, we have prepared a brief summary covering which regulations have already come into force, when further changes will become effective, which legislative processes are underway, and what you should be prepared for.

Sobriety checks

On 21 February 2023, the new rules for employers checking the sobriety of their employees became effective. The relevant regulations address the following aspects:

  • The possibility for employers to carry out sobriety checks
  • The prohibition on allowing an employee to work if said employee is suspected of having consumed alcohol, or consumed substances which have a similar effect to alcohol
  • The methods for carrying out checks, i.e. methods that do not require laboratory tests, and which only require the use of a certified device
  • The ways for implementing the rules for the check, namely through collective agreements, regulations, or announcements
  • The additional possibility for an authority (established as a law enforcement body) to carry out checks (upon the request of the employer or employee).

Remote work

The new regulation on remote work will enter into force on 7 April 2023. The most relevant provisions are as follows:

  • The possibility to agree to perform remote work without needing to amend the employment contract
  • The obligation for an employer to accept a remote work request submitted by employees who have specific personal situations
  • The conditions that allow an employer to order the performance of remote work, (under special circumstances, and only if the employee has the necessary conditions that would allow them to perform work remotely)
  • Employee participation in establishing the rules concerning remote work, either through an agreement concluded with the company's trade union organisation, or through provisions included within the regulations after having carried out consultation with the employee representatives
  • New obligations for employers – mainly to provide remote workers with the appropriate tools and materials, as well as their installation and service
  • The rules for an employer to cover the costs of remote work either through the payment of an equivalent amount, or through the payment of a monthly fixed sum
  • The possibility to perform occasional remote work up to 24 days per year (only upon the employee's request, and without the employer covering the costs).

Work-life balance

The implementation of the EU directives on so-called work-life balance is now in its final stages since the Parliament adopted the final text of the Act on 9 March 2023. The Act is now waiting for the President's signature and for its publication in the Journal of Laws. The Act will come into force 21 days after its publication. This extensive amendment could possibly come into force in late April or the beginning of May.

The most important changes:

  • A non-transferable portion of parental leave of up to 9 weeks has been introduced for each parent (including those who began their parental leave after 2 August 2022)
  • Employees are granted the opportunity to take unpaid care leave of 5 days per calendar year in order to take care of a family member or household member
  • More flexible work arrangement options have been introduced for working parents with children under the age of 8, including the possibility to request remote work, to request a different work schedule, to request part-time work, to have the right to refuse overtime work, or to have the right to refuse being delegated outside the permanent workplace
  • Employees are granted either two or three additional longer working breaks (when working more than 9 hours or 16 hours a day, respectively)
  • A new exemption from work has been introduced with the right to maintain 50% of one’s salary on the grounds of force majeure, to be taken in the event of an emergency concerning family matters (2 days, or 16 hours per calendar year)
  • The granting of an unpaid leave to provide personal care or support to a family member
  • The length of a contract for a probationary period has been made subject to the length of the next fixed-term contract that the employer intends to enter into after the probationary period
  • An obligation has been introduced on the employer to justify the termination of a fixed-term contract, and to consult such termination with the unions
  • Information concerning the terms and conditions of employment has been expanded to include the scope of any training provided by the employer
  • Temporary employees who have had their contracts terminated contrary to the provisions of the regulations have been granted a claim for reinstatement if the termination occurred after they had applied for maternity, parental, or paternity leave.

Protection of whistleblowers

The draft act implementing the EU directive on the protection of individuals who report infringements of European Union law (so-called "whistleblowers") (the “Draft Act”) has not yet reached the level of Parliamentary work but is still being discussed at the governmental level. The Draft Act will apply to persons who, in connection with their work, report infringements of the law and includes, among other things, the following provisions:

  • The category of those persons who can report infringements in accordance with the rules set out in the Draft Act
  • The rules concerning the protection of the whistleblower (if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the information is true)
  • The possibility of internal reporting, external reporting, or public disclosure
  • The prohibition of any punitive measures towards, or less favourable treatment of, a whistleblower
  • No possibility of holding a whistleblower liable for any damages, or bringing about any disciplinary action in connection with the reporting action
  • The obligation to issue internal reporting regulations for an employer which employs more than 50 employees, provided that this requirement does not apply to entities within the financial sector
  • Criminal liability for the infringement of these prohibitions, or obstructing the whistleblowing, or failing to meet the obligations

We hope that the abovementioned summary is of assistance.

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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