As remote and hybrid work becomes more widespread, countries around the globe have been updating their labor codes to reflect the changing nature of work. However, Poland’s new regulatory framework for remote work – which was passed in 2022 and will now go into effect on April 7, 2023 – stands out as one of the most comprehensive and robust.
Designed to formalize remote work in a sustainable, equitable way, the new framework is an important step forward for Poland’s business landscape. However, the new regulations mean companies will have to adapt and adjust how they engage remote workers.
To help us understand the specifics of the regulations, we sat down with Julia Górska, Global Manager of Client Solutions at GoGlobal, who is on the ground in Poland and has extensive experience with employment regulations in the country.
In this special Q&A, Julia answers common questions about the new regulatory framework and explains how it impacts companies in Poland.
What is Poland’s history with remote working policies? How does the new regulatory framework differ from previous policies?
Julia: Poland has a fairly long history of maintaining a teleworking working policy, dating back to amendments to the country’s labor code in the 1970s. However, the bullet points of this policy were brief and largely applied to work done via telephone.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Polish government also issued temporary regulations regarding remote work, which were aimed at preventing the spread of the virus. These regulations allowed employers to unilaterally order employees to work remotely, without the need to agree on the terms of remote work. However, these regulations were temporary and ceased to apply once the “state of emergency” status was lifted.
On the other hand, the new regulatory framework represents a significant evolution for remote work in Poland going forward. Overall, the new parameters are designed to formalize remote work in a more comprehensive and modern way – while providing greater protection and clarity for both remote workers and their employers.
How does the new regulatory framework in Poland define remote work? What should employers be aware of?
Julia: Under the new regulatory framework, remote work is defined as work that is either fully or partially performed at a location specified by the employee, including their home address. The location for performing the work is agreed upon by both the employer and employee on a case-by-case basis.
This framework covers work being performed via various methods of remote communication and covers full-time remote work as well as hybrid work arrangements.
The new remote work framework sets minimum standards and parameters but also allows employers to tailor remote work arrangements through internal regulations, ensuring that employees’ rights and working conditions are guaranteed while meeting a company’s unique needs.
What should be included in a company’s internal regulations for remote working?
Julia: The internal regulations for remote working should include the following:
- The specific groups of employees who are eligible for remote working
- Guidelines on how the employer will cover the additional costs associated with working remotely
- Rules and expectations for communication between the employee and the employer
- Protocols for monitoring and assessing the employee’s job performance while working remotely
By specifying these details, companies can help ensure that their remote work policies are clear, fair and effective.
How does the new remote work regulatory framework level the playing field for remote workers of all size companies?
Julia: Prior to the new framework, large companies were more likely to have remote work policies in place compared to smaller companies. The new framework aims to level the playing field by requiring all employers to formalize remote work policies for their employees, regardless of the size of the company. This means remote workers at smaller companies now have the same legal protections and benefits as those at larger companies.
Additionally, the framework requires that employers provide remote workers with the same conditions as office-based workers, including access to training and career development opportunities, ergonomic equipment and resources. By doing so, the framework helps to ensure remote workers are treated fairly and have equal opportunities for career growth and success.
Does the new framework alleviate any of the previous responsibilities of the employer?
Julia: Under the new framework, employees are responsible for ensuring the safety conditions of their workspace and must sign a declaration of compliance with health and safety rules. This shift in responsibility alleviates some of the burdens on employers, who were previously responsible for ensuring the safety of employees’ home offices.
However, employers still have a duty to provide guidance and support to employees regarding health and safety issues related to remote work.
What other responsibilities are passed on to the employee?
Julia: Under the new regulatory framework, employees are required to report any changes to the place of work agreed upon with the employer. This includes changes to the location or address where work is performed, as well as any significant changes to the technical conditions of the remote workplace that may affect the ability to perform work.
The employee is obligated to report these changes immediately. Failure to do so may result in liability for damages caused to the employer.
How do the expenses of remote working factor into the new framework?
Julia: The new regulations in Poland outline that the employer is responsible for covering any expenses related to the equipment and tools necessary to perform the work remotely. This includes items like computer equipment, office supplies and internet access.
Additionally, if the remote worker incurs any additional expenses related to the work – such as increased utility bills – those expenses must also be covered by the employer.
What else should employers know about these additional required expenses?
Julia: It’s important for employers to be aware of these requirements to ensure they are compliant with the new regulations and to properly budget for the added costs associated with remote work.
These expenses can be compensated at an exact equivalent or a flat rate, with most companies likely opting for the latter. No specific calculation guidance is given for the flat rate but it should be reasonable. The payment is administered free of tax, so the government will not allow it to be too much. It should be estimated based on time averages and prorated for time off.
Are there special stipulations for hybrid work or occasional remote working?
Julia: According to the new framework, employees can work remotely outside the company on an occasional basis, for up to 24 days per calendar year.
If the nature of the work allows, employers are recommended to grant their employees’ requests to work remotely. With occasional remote work, employers will have fewer formalities to worry about, such as not having to cover the costs of remote work or verifying the safety of the workspace.
How can Employer of Record (EOR) hiring help companies remain compliant with the new framework?
Julia: EOR hiring can help companies remain compliant with the new regulatory framework, taking care of the administrative and legal aspects of hiring and managing remote workers in Poland.
For example, we’re now in the process of working with our clients in Poland to develop new compliant work agreements that ensure remote workers have access to the necessary equipment, are given training and are covered by insurance.
Partnering with an EOR like GoGlobal will allow a company to prioritize its main business operations while seamlessly complying with the new regulations – which can help them build a productive, compliant remote team in Poland and beyond.