2020-03-26
A set of questions and answers for employers regarding some aspects of the COVID-19 epidemic

Limit of three days as to inform the employer on being under quarantine, remote work, personal data of employees and candidates for work. All of this reviewed in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic. We have prepared a set of answers to the most frequently asked questions of employers – updated as of 25 March 2020.

 

Q1.           What are the employee’s obligations towards an employee if he/she has crossed the border and therefore has been directed to mandatory quarantine?

 The employee should immediately inform the employer about the quarantine he/she is subject to. The Regulation introducing the state of the epidemic[1] indicates that the employer should be notified 'remotely' via communication tools. Nothing stands in the way to provide such information by text message or e-mail.

 Q2.           What obligations do employees have when the quarantine is over?

 The employee should remember to provide the employer with a written statement that confirms he/she was under quarantine. This duty has to be fulfilled within three days after the quarantine ends. An example of statement is available on the Social Insurance Fund (ZUS) website. Similarly, information in this respect should be submitted electronically. It is recommended the employer collects such statements as to ensure overall correctness having in mind future settlements, inspections and records.

Q3.           What changes are envisaged by the amendment to the Regulation introducing a state of epidemics[2] with regard to the quarantine obligation?

The amendment provides that as of 27 March 2020, employees performing their professional activities in Poland or in a neighbouring country, will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine. The amendment removes so far existing exception stipulated for this group of persons.

Another change is that since 27 March 2020, an employee crossing the border in order to perform professional activities in Poland or in a neighbouring country, may apply for a certificate which confirms that they are subject to a mandatory quarantine. Such a document will be issued by the competent sanitary inspection authority at the employee's request.

To sum up, as of 27 March 2020 exempted from the quarantine obligation will be exclusively sea and aircraft crews, drivers of international transport, soldiers and Police, Border Guard, Fire Brigade and State Protection Service officers.

Please note that a sanitary inspector competent for the place of residence or stay of a person subject to the quarantine may fully exempt him/her from the obligation to undergo quarantine or shorten its 14-day duration, if there are any justified reasons.

Q4.           Is it possible to oblige an employee to take a leave if he or she is a roommate of person being quarantined?

You cannot oblige an employee to take his/her current leave. However, if the employee is able to work, then he/she can be commissioned to the remote work. Also the outstanding leave may be granted regardless of the employee’s consent.

Q5.           Is the employer obliged to adapt the employee's workplace to remote work that is performed from home, e.g. by providing desk lamps, additional monitor and other IT equipment, and to pay or participate in the costs of Internet connection (if the existing one is too slow)?

Currently there is no such duty, but it can be implemented by the employer and serve as a good practice. It is recommended to consult a tax advisor if you wish to participate in related fees or costs.

Q6.           While recruiting a foreign employee (EU citizen) will we encounter obstacles related to closing the border / quarantine obligation?

The EU citizen employee must demonstrate that he/she is working in Poland (an appropriate letter from an employer is required). After crossing the border he/she will be subject to a quarantine.

Q7.           Is the employer obliged to provide personal protective equipment, disinfectants etc. in case of remote work performed from home?

There is no such obligation.

Q8.           While recruiting, can the employer ask whether the candidate was abroad, had contact with someone who came back from abroad, or is he/she under quarantine?

Yes, you can. It is the employer's duty to ensure safe and safety work conditions. The proportionality and data minimization principles are particularly important here. The employer should require information related to health only to the extent necessary to counteract COVID-19, at the same time taking into account the rules arising from the Labour Code.

Q9.           Is it the employee's duty to inform the employer (or is it the employer's right to ask) where exactly the employee performs remote work?

Yes. The employer instructs an employee to perform work in a specific place, e.g. at home. The employee may not individually change this place. Working remotely is not possible if the employee has no conditions at home to work. In such a case the employer can indicate another place. If this is not possible, the employer will be able to require the employee to come to work or will release the employee from the obligation to perform work.

 Q10.        Would it be illegal to check the temperature before entering a building?

It would not be if it is justified by the circumstances of the case and is carried out in accordance with the rules arising from the Labour Code.



[1] Regulation of Ministry of Health on introducing the state of epidemic of 20 March 2020 (O.J. 2020, item 491).

[2] Regulation of Ministry of Health amending regulation on introducing the state of epidemic of 24 March 2020 (O.J. 2020, item 522).



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