Labour and Social Security Journal 5/2020
Publication date: 2020
Place publication: Warszawa
This article addresses issues that emerged with the COVID-19 pandemic. The issues of care by persons performing work have revealed their importance for the functioning of the market, although they remain invisible and largely underestimated as important for the functioning of the market and, above all, society. The author does not answer the question what to do next after the pandemic, but indicates the sphere of care as the approach to which requires a fundamental revision. Anyway, and to other issues that seemed to be the most important so far.
The outbreak of COVID-19 disease, in a way that has no precedent in recent times, forced adoption of a number of legal regulations to prevent further spread of the disease factor, i.e. SARS-CoV-2 virus. Such regulations did not bypass the Polish labor and social security law. Some of them aim — understandably — at providing financial assistance and relief in contributory obligations to employers and other contribution payers who, in connection with the COVID-19 epidemic, have suffered a significant threat to their operations. Others are aimed at reducing the scope of employee's protection, which is particularly evident in the case of employees of offices providing service to central government administration bodies. This article discusses these regulations and indicate basic problems associated with their application.
The COVID-19 pandemic challenges society and economy, which expects labour law and social security regulations response. The so-called anti-crisis act enables employees' rights to be limited and public aid to be granted. Suspensive collective agreements provided for in the special serve this purpose. Authors, analyzing the subjective and objective side of these agreements, indicate similarities and differences between them. At the same time, they draw attention to their different structures and showlegislative shortcomings in this respect, trying to appraise the effectiveness and efficiency of suspensive collective arrangements in practice.
In order to counteract the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic, pursuant to the Act of March 2, 2020, the possibility of sending an employee to work remotely was introduced by employer's official order. However, the concept of remote work has not been defined by the legislator, nor is it defined in the applicable labour law. This causes difficulties in distinguishing between remote work and telework as referred to in art. 675 of the Polish Labour Code. The issue of the range and form of admissible employees' control also remains controversial. As stated by the legislator, within the meaning of the COVID-19 Act, remote work means work rendered outside the place of its permanent performance. This includes also the possibility to provide work from the employee's home, so called "home office". Determining the limits of the employer's permitted control seems to be particularly problematic, while taking into account the obligation to respect the employee's right to privacy and the privay of the household members, as well as the employer's need to apply the principles of personal data protection regulated in the GDPR. In addition, the need to distinguish the concepts of remote work from telework, makes it necessary to dispute whether there is an obligation for the parties of the employment relationship to regulate in the order of the employer or in an agreement concluded with the employee the circumstances in which the remote work has to be concluded, as well as the possibility of applying warranty provisions regarding the specifics of providing work using means electronic communications as regulated in chapter IIb of the Labour Code.
The state guards the freedom and human rights and ensures the safety of citizens in every sphere of their lives and in all conditions. The actions of the state always refer to man as an individual and as a member of society. Their purpose should be to ensure and protect both individual and collective interests. As part of activities undertaken for the common good, we should indicate those which are related to the protection of human life and health. It is the public authority that has a legal obligation to take action to eliminate or at least minimize any threat to human life and health, including the fight against epidemic diseases. In this aspect, there is a possibility to forciblydirect the indicated person to work on fighting the epidemic. However, the legislator creates a group of people excluded from this possibility due to specific reasons. The purpose of the article is to discuss these circumstances.
The Polish legislator has introduced a number of provisions in the field of labor law, to remedy the numerous problems of employers related to pandemics and the economic crisis. Some of these provisions relate to working time. The author of the article tries to assess the coherence of new regulations with the existing labor law standards.
The outbreak of the coronavirus caused the necessity to introduce new obligations in the field of health and safety at work. The article presents temporary changes in the system of prophylactic examinations, new obligations imposed on employers as well as discusses the practice of measuring body temperature before entering the workplace, recently popular among employers using the achievements of "science and technology" within the meaning of art. 207 § 2 of the Polish Labour Code.
The article discusses specific normative solutions that have recently been introduced into legal circulation due to the spreading COVID-19 pandemic. They concern issues involving the exercise of entitlement to certain social benefits financed from public funds. Attention was drawn to the need for the legislator to clarify the wording of the new provisions due to interpretation doubts arising in this respect.
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