16.04.2021 Remote work

[Poland] Accident at remote working – guidelines of the Chief Labour Inspector of Poland (GIP)

According to the guidelines of the Chief Labour Inspector, in certain cases it is not necessary for the district labour inspector to investigate accidents occurring during remote working. What situations does that concern and how does it affect the employer’s liability?

Employers are responsible for the organisation and safety of work, including remote working and teleworking. An employer shall notify the competent district labour inspector and other authorities (depending on the type of accident) of an accident at work, and they shall, inter alia, investigate its causes. 

Failure to notify the competent authorities, including the competent district labour inspector, of an accident at work constitutes an offence and is subject to a penalty.

Therefore, an employer must immediately notify the competent district labour inspector of any work-related incident if it can be considered an accident at work (see definition below).

However, Ordinance No. 3/21 of the Chief Labour Inspector of 18 January 2021 allows, in justified cases, the district labour inspector or his deputy to decide not to investigate medical emergencies, traffic accidents or accidents occurring during remote working.

The non-investigation of a remote working incident will be particularly possible if preliminary information indicates that the incident was not related to a violation of health and safety regulations and the injured party’s entitlement to benefits thereunder.

It should be recalled that the definition of an accident at work states that it is a sudden incident caused by an external factor resulting in injury or death and, most importantly, it is an incident that occurred in connection with work:

  • during or in connection with the performance of the employee’s normal activities or the orders of his/her superiors;
  • in connection with or during the performance of activities by an employee for an employer, even without being instructed to do so;
  • while an employee is at the employer’s disposal on the way between the employer’s premises and the place of performance of the duties arising from the employment relationship.

Moreover, it is worth noting that if an incident takes place in a private residence, the National Labour Inspectorate (PIP) has no statutory powers to carry out inspection activities in such locations, and there is as yet no case law specifying the assessment of incidents during remote working.

It should be emphasised, however, that the GIP guidelines, regardless of their nature, do not exempt employers from the obligation to call a team for the accident, determine the circumstances and cause of the accident, as well as draft and approve the accident report, also for incidents occurring during remote working.

From March to December 2020, the PIP was notified of 6 accidents that occurred during remote working.

Learn more: COVID-19 vaccination – is an employee entitled to a day off?

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