Littler Global Guide - Poland - Q2 2021

Browse through brief employment and labor law updates from around the globe. Contact a Littler attorney for more information or view our global locations.

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Vaccination Incentives Are Not Discriminatory

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

Authors: Robert Stępień, Partner and Miłosz Awedyk, Senior Attorney-at-Law - PCS | Littler

The Legal Department of the Polish State Employment Inspectorate (Państwowa Inspekcja Pracy) recently confirmed that vaccination incentives for employees are not discriminatory. The Inspectorate’s statement, though nonbinding, serves as important guidance, especially since trade unions and politicians had argued that granting additional days off or additional payments for people who agree to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is discriminatory.

The Inspectorate noted that while employers should treat all employees equally, there is no illegal discrimination if an unequal treatment is justified by “objective reasons.” Besides the duty not to discriminate, the law imposes a duty to ensure safe working conditions. The Inspectorate concluded that since vaccination itself reduces health hazards at work, extra days off for vaccination and recovery after vaccination are allowed and justified as objective reasons.

Breathalyzers in the Workplace

Proposed Bill or Initiative

Authors: Robert Stępień, Partner and Jakub Grabowski, Attorney-at-Law - PCS | Littler

A new bill has been introduced, which seeks to authorize employers to conduct noninvasive alcohol level tests (breathalyzers). If enacted, employers will be required to establish the rules for conducting such tests in the company’s internal workplace regulations. The draft bill also provides that employers can keep the test result for six months, except that this period can be extended if disciplinary actions were taken against the employee or the result is needed as evidence in a court case.

The current Polish regulations do not explicitly authorize employers to test employees’ alcohol level, which creates uncertainty about the issue. In our opinion, employers can conduct such tests given their duty to ensure the health and safety of the workplace. In practice, breathalyzer tests are common in many sectors (e.g., factories, construction sites, etc.). The draft bill mentioned above should finally resolve any doubts in this regard.

New Work from Home Regulations on the Way

Proposed Bill or Initiative

Authors: Robert Stępień, Partner and Miłosz Awedyk, Senior Attorney-at-Law - PCS | Littler

Despite some temporary COVID-19 measures, Poland does not have remote work regulations, under which employers may order employees to work from home (WFH). The government has introduced a bill to replace the existing telework regulation, which is inadequate for the current reality, and establish a remote work model that would allow employers to implement a fully remote or hybrid system. The hybrid system would allow flexibility for employees to work some days from the company’s premises and other days from home or another location.

As proposed, the bill seeks to allow employers to implement WFH arrangements unilaterally. If enacted into law, employers will need to issue internal workplace regulations, establishing the rules on communication, health and safety, data security, equipment use, reimbursement for related expenses, etc. Expenses to be reimbursed would include electricity and internet, which employers would be required to pay as a whole or in lump sums.

The New Polish Order: An Upcoming Revolution in Income Taxes and Social Security?

Proposed Bill or Initiative

Authors: Robert Stępień, Partner and Jakub Grabowski, Attorney-at-Law - PCS | Littler

The government has recently announced a new strategy called “The New Polish Order,” which will introduce a set of reforms, including modifications to the income tax and social security contributions. No draft bill has been presented yet, but the initiative is being widely discussed.

The income tax threshold that is free of tax is to be increased from about EUR 1,800 to approximately EUR 7,000 per year. The mandatory public healthcare contributions (constituting 7.75% of employee’s monthly income) would not be deemed as cost for tax purposes (which currently is the case), making the higher tax threshold indiscernible for people earning middle-class incomes and increasing the tax burden for people with higher earnings. There will be no limit for this contribution, which means that it will be paid from the total earnings of employees or B2B contractors, which in turn may cause B2B contracts to become less favorable for contractors.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.