No need to work far away or with your family. The expert is investigating the new rules for remote work

No need to work far away or with your family.  The expert is investigating the new rules for remote work
photo: dokurose / / Shutterstock

Will the employer guarantee me a table and chairs to work remotely? Will the employer pay for my electricity and internet? These questions, among others, must be answered by amending the long-awaited law on remote work, the Labor Code. But will he answer?

More than two years after the need to work outside the office has arisen and become popular, the Labor Code may contain relevant provisions in Polish law that include the concept of remote work. This year, May 25. In this regard, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted a bill submitted by the Ministry of Family and Social Policies. Both employees and employers demanded the act, as there were many problems in the two years that required legal interpretation, and this was not the case.

Can an employee work on his or her own computer? If so, is it equivalent? What about electricity bills? And with a table and chairs? What about an accident at home or at work? These are issues that require relevant provisions in the Labor Code, and their response must be provided by an act proposed by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy. However, will this happen? We appealed to a specialist in this regard.

The computer does, but is there anything else?

Until now, it is the employer’s responsibility to provide the necessary tools for the job in accordance with the rules in force in the workplace or office. However, a recent survey by CBRE found that this was not always the case in remote work, as about 73 percent. Most respondents admitted that they have been working on their computers since the pandemic began.

The bill already on the tables of the Council of Ministers is to change this. According to the document, the employer will have to pay not only for technical devices such as computers or telephones, but also for their maintenance, installation and “electricity and telecommunications services necessary for remote work.” It will also be possible to work with your own equipment, but not for free.

– When materials and tools for remote work, as well as technical equipment necessary for remote work are provided by the employee – will be accepted by both parties – the employee has the right to receive the cash equivalent in the amount agreed with the employer. – he explains in an interview with bankier.pl Wojciech J. Chmurak, lawyer.

This means that each employee will be able to apply not only for the company’s laptop or its equivalent to operate its own equipment, but also to pay for electricity and internet. The amount of such compensation will be affected by consumption and the employee will be responsible for documenting the costs. The Act does not provide for uniform tariffs or rates to which the parties may refer, but it does provide for situations in which the employer determines the equivalent for each employee individually. So, problems can arise from the very beginning.

– Only experience will show which solutions will be applied and how the amounts of these one-time and equivalents will be formed. It seems that there will be many practical problems that are not expected by the legislature. In particular, in the field of calculation of electricity consumption, equipment consumption and the like – explains our expert.

Own or company desk?

Immediately after the problems with computers and accounts are solved, the question of compliance with the rules of the workplace, health and safety comes to mind. The draft law provides for the provision of case materials by the employer. However, the regulations do not specify who will be paid for the organization of the relevant table or ergonomic chair, which leaves room for various interpretations.

– The employer is obliged to provide materials for remote work. As you can see, the use of chairs and desks is usually required to perform remote office work. However, the bill did not address this issue unequivocally, explains Wojciech J. Chmurak.

No need to work far away or with your family

Another breakthrough change is related to the organization of the workplace. This will be required each time, ie the employee will have to provide a permanent place of work, for example, home address, and if he wants to work elsewhere, he will have to get the consent of the employer.

– The organization of each workplace shows this the employer must know where and when the employee is performing remote work. The issue is particularly relevant to employer legislation conduct health and safety inspections at the workplace remotely. In my opinion, changing jobs will always require the consent of the employer, especially if the work will be done elsewhere, says Wojciech J. Chmurak.

This may be the end of the agility that has so far been characterized by remote operation. Because, for example, to do this while abroad can be very risky for the employer, which will result in the lack of permission for such a trip with a business laptop.

Control of vigilance at home?

The most recently discussed rules from the forthcoming amendment relate to vigilance in the workplace. This is a fragment that surprised the experts who analyzed the bill, but this is the most important. Provides the employer with the right to test the employee for both possible alcohol and drug vigilance.

The employer will be able to apply vigilance checks if necessary to protect the life and health of employees or other people or to protect property. In practice, the premises are very spacious, because it seems that even while doing office work, a drunk worker can pose a danger to himself, for example, it is easier to slip in such a situation or another accident – says our expert.

The employer will be obliged to prevent the employee from working if alcohol is found in his body. However, as in a stationary work situation, control rooms in this regard may be, for example, suspicious behavior or odors emitted by an employee, making it difficult to predict which suspicious behavior will be disturbing while the employee is performing his or her job. tasks from home. It seems that in the current situation it is necessary to wait and see how the implementation of these provisions will look in practice.

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