Starting in April 2023, these amendments are set to shape the future of work in Poland. In this article, we will explore the key changes and their implications for both employers and employees.
• Introduction of remote work (full time and hybrid) and the occasional remote work. The Polish labor law now officially recognizes and defines the terms "remote work" and "occasional remote work", creating a legal framework for employers and employees to operate within.
• Employers responsibility for costs. Employers are now required to cover the costs incurred by workers during remote work, such as the cost of equipment, utilities, and internet access. This includes providing necessary equipment, training, and support to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses.
• Eligibility for remote work. The new regulations establish clear rules on who can apply for remote work and under what circumstances, including the procedures for requesting and adjusting the working mode.
• Additional costs. Employers will incur additional costs to support remote workers. The estimated additional costs per employee are 55-65 PLN a month for a full remote worker and 35-40 PLN for a hybrid work model where employees work two days in the office and three days from home.
• Exemption for B2B contractors. It is important to note that these labor law changes do not apply to B2B contractors in Poland, as they are not considered employees under the labor law and are not subject to its provisions.
Check out also: Krakow IT Market Report 2023
The new labor law is going to introduce two new terms - remote work and occasional remote work (which refers to working from home ‘rarely’ or ‘sometimes’). According to new Article 6718 of the Polish Labor Code, remote work is when all or some services are provided by an employee from their place of residence or another remote location agreed upfront between an employee and the employer. According to new regulation, an employee working on-site will also get the new right to request from their employer up to 24 days of remote work per year (occasional remote work). These changes bring more flexibility to the way we work and ensure business continuity. More detailed description of the new regulations will be updated in Polish Labor Code Article 6718 – 6734, according to the law passed by the Polish Parliament.
The updated Labor Code clearly states that remote work does not encompasses only occupations classified as particularly hazardous or detrimental to health. Essentially, this implies that there should be no problem implementing remote work in a corporate setting or any other occupation that doesn't require physical presence to deliver services.
The change in the law comes with advantages, but it also requires employers to take on new responsibilities. This includes creating specific rules and guidelines for remote work, modifying employment contracts, seeking input from trade unions or employee representatives, establishing procedures to safeguard personal data, and implementing health and safety protocols for remote work or methods to monitor it.
There are some important changes to keep in mind regarding remote work. One of the most significant update is that employers will now be required to provide their employees with the necessary tools and resources to perform their job remotely. Additionally, employers are also required to cover expenses such as energy and internet bills. Although there are no clear instructions on how to calculate estimated costs, the most reasonable approach is to consider the average costs of electricity and energy and divide it by the number of hours or days spent working remotely.
For example, assuming an average internet bill of 55 PLN per month, the daily cost for internet is around 2 PLN after rounding, if we divide it by 30 days. If we assume that an employee works remotely for 21 days in a month, the final cost for the internet would be 42 PLN per month. For hybrid role with 3 days working from home, the following cost is ca. 26 PLN (13 days working from home). Calculating the lump sum for the electricity bill is a bit more complicated, as we need to consider the price per 1 kilowatt-hour and the average power consumption of the laptop and monitor. Assuming employees work on 65W laptops and 50W monitors, and spend 8 hours working from home each day, the cost for energy consumption would be around 0.92 PLN per day. Therefore, the total cost for the whole month would be around 20 PLN and for hybrid role 12 PLN.
Overall, an employer should provide their fully remote employees with around 62 PLN per month to cover the expenses mentioned in the new regulations of the Polish Labor Code. This sum may vary between 55 PLN and 65 PLN, depending on the hardware, the number of remote working days, and the average prices of internet and energy in Poland. Nevertheless, employers can choose to provide their employees with internet access instead of reimbursing these expenses.
The possibility of an employee performing remote work from different locations is not ruled out by the definition of remote work, as long as each location is approved by the employer. Typically, the employee's place of residence or another location chosen with the employer's consent will be enough. Nevertheless, regulations mandate that the employee cannot freely choose their remote work location without obtaining prior approval from the employer.
For those who are concerned about data and system security, agreeing upon a fixed location for remote work with the employee should eliminate any issues. It's important to note that an employee must inform their employer before changing their location of work.
The new regulation does not cover remote work that takes place outside of the employee's home country. As this type of remote work involves additional risks and requires adjustments to the remote work organization, it is recommended that employers consider implementing a supplementary internal regulation to address these issues. This regulation should provide guidance on the specific challenges of remote work from a foreign location and outline the necessary adjustments to ensure proper implementation of such remote work arrangement.
The change in contract terms can happen either at the employer's initiative or upon the employee's request, which can be submitted in either paper or electronic form. Employers can request that employees work remotely under specific conditions, such as during a state of emergency or when it is temporarily impossible to provide safe and hygienic working conditions. However, employees must first confirm that they have the necessary premises and technical conditions to work remotely. The employer can cancel their order with two days' notice.
Employees also have the right to apply for remote or hybrid work under specific circumstances. These circumstances include being a parent of a child with a severe and irreversible disability, being pregnant, being a parent of a child up to 4 years old, or caring for a family member with a disability, among other cases listed in the new regulation. However, in cases where the nature of the work or employee’s work organization does not allow for remote or hybrid work, the employer may reject the request. If such a request is rejected, the employer must provide a justification for their decision.
We mentioned the responsibility of employers to cover expenses related to remote work, which can be difficult to calculate. The law provides only general guidance, resulting in uncertainty about what expenses are deductible for remote work. The new regulations specify that employers should consider factors such as the amount of materials and tools used, market prices, electricity and telecommunication costs, and how much of these resources were used for work purposes.
In simpler terms, employers must pay for the electricity used by the equipment their employees use for work. When it comes to internet and phone bills, only the percentage of usage related to work should be taken into account. This means that usually the employer considers 8 hours of usage per day for work purposes.
Due to the several lockdowns, many of us have become accustomed to working remotely. This sudden change demonstrated that multiple professions can function efficiently in this way. However, while remote work has significant advantages, the preferences and needs of employees can vary. According to the Manpower Group's 2023 Trend and Salary Report, 87% of workers worldwide prefer more flexibility, rather than being restricted to office-based jobs. Of this group, 42% would like a hybrid model that combines office and remote work. The main reasons cited for returning to the office are social interactions (39%) and effective collaboration (26%).
In the past four years, our organization has had the opportunity to assist several large tech companies in establishing their presence in Poland. This has given us insight into the trends among new businesses establishing their entities here and how this relates to the needs of job seekers. The majority of the organizations we worked with planned to build hybrid teams where employees would be required to work on-site at least one or two days a week. Some organizations even offered more flexible arrangements, where employees could spend the majority of their work-time remotely, but were expected to visit the office at least one to three times a month.
We took a preliminary look at the opinions of IT professionals on remote and hybrid work by speaking directly to candidates who participated in our recruitment processes. Over the past year, the IT Recruitment team at MOTIFE has conducted hundreds of screening chats and the remote/hybrid working has been a recurring topic of discussion. It is no exaggeration to say that almost 99% of candidates said they would not consider a 100% office-based role.
On the other hand, it was not a challenge to find candidates who were willing to work partially remotely - hybrid. It was noticeable that engineers and other IT specialists, who usually work in larger teams and use agile methodologies to support the development of their projects, see an important value in live interaction with their colleagues. However, there are some professions where the tendency to work only remotely was seemingly higher, such as DevOps Engineers and Data Architects. In many setups those specialists work with multiple teams at the same time, and remote collaboration is the best choice to make it smooth and efficient. Due to the nature of their daily tasks, DevOps Engineers and Data Architects more often choose to work remotely only.
Another case that was raised quite often by applicants in the interviews was the flexibility during the day. Candidates wanted to know if it was possible to take a longer break during the day, e.g. to pick up the children from school and work it off later to make sure they met the required number of hours. The conclusion is that there are as many opinions on the market as candidates recruiters can hear from. The key for employers is to remember that the IT job market is still a market influenced by job seekers' requirements.
Regarding general trends including non-IT industries, based on our recruitment processes, we found that the hybrid mode was the most popular among candidates, as they preferred the flexibility of choosing which days to work on-site. However, the market is still full of “100% remote” job offers, so companies that can afford to offer at least hybrid arrangements should consider doing so.
One of the key considerations for candidates was understanding the reasons why they should visit the office regularly. They wanted to see the value in collaborating with their colleagues face-to-face, particularly if it enhances internal communication and promotes knowledge sharing. This is especially important when building a new entity or hub in a new country, as it is crucial to establish strong relationships between the first people who join the organization to help run the business effectively. Those considering starting a new team should take into account whether setting up the team on-site or allowing it to operate remotely would provide the most value.
Before the pandemic, the majority of EU Member States had already established rules regarding remote work, and some decided to update their regulations due to the lockdowns.
When it comes to regulating remote work, EU member states can be divided into two primary groups, with some slight differences mainly concerning the involvement of labor organizations or trade unions. Poland, as few other EU countries in Central Europe stays in the group where the law is regulated by statutory definition and specific legislation but role of collective bargaining is none or marginal. It puts us in the middle of a scale where in some countries the telework regulations rely only on the internal code of conduct of a specific company, while others decided to introduce specific legislation and let the trade unions have equally strong impact on the rules at the same time.
Remote work regulation at the national level mainly focuses on definitions and access, while sectoral and company level provisions cover access and organization of working time, as well as occupational safety and health. Few countries have a specific right to request telework (like Poland). Although most countries have regulations on compensating expenses, the scope and method of compensation vary. The diversity of remote work regulation across EU member states is visible, and there are ongoing changes in their legislation. “The rise in telework: Impact on working conditions and regulations” report released by Eurofound gives more insight into the rules implemented by each EU country.
If you are looking for information about setting up your presence in Poland, download our Krakow IT Market Report 2023.
If you are interested in alternatives to outsourcing, contact us at MOTIFE to learn more.
If you are looking for interesting job opportunities in tech companies in Krakow and remote, check out open roles at motife.com/jobs.
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