The Act amending the Civil Code and certain other acts of 22 June 2016 (JL.2016.1053) amended Article 176 of the Civil Code, effective as of 3 August 2016. According to the new provision – pregnant and breastfeeding women cannot perform work that is strenuous, hazardous or harmful to health and may adversely affect their health, pregnancy or breastfeeding.
The Council of Ministers was bound to determine, in an executive regulation, the list of such works including:
– while taking into account the latest expertise regarding the impact of work conditions and factors present in the work environment to women’s health, pregnancy and breastfeeding.
The Civil Code amendment affected also Article 179(1) and (2).
Under the currently prevailing legal situation, an employer that employs a female employee during her pregnancy or breastfeeding to perform work listed in the provisions issued under Article 176(2), which is prohibited with respect to such an employee, regardless of the degree of exposure to factors harmful or hazardous to health, is obliged to transfer the employee to perform other work, and if this is not possible, to release the employee from the duty to perform work for as long as necessary.
Whereas, an employer that employs a pregnant or breastfeeding employee to perform any other work listed in the provisions issued under Article 176(2), is obliged to adapt the conditions of work to the conditions determined in those provisions, or to limit the working time in such a way as to eliminate threats to the health or safety of the employee. If it is not possible or is pointless to adapt the conditions of work for a current jot position or to reduce working time, the employer is obliged to transfer the employee to perform other work, and if this is not possible, to release the employee from performing work duties for as long as necessary.
According to an obligation imposed by Article 176(2) of the Labour Code, on 1 May 2017, the new Regulation of the Council of Ministers of 3 April 2017 concerning the list of work strenuous, hazardous or harmful to the health of pregnant or breastfeeding women came into force (JL.2017.796).
The catalogue of works which are strenuous, hazardous or harmful to the health of pregnant or breastfeeding women includes, among others, manual lifting and carrying of objects whose weight exceeds 3 kg or works performed in a standing position for more than 3 hours during a work shift (whereas the time spent in a standing position cannot last more than 15 minutes at one time followed by a mandatory 15-minute break).
An important change was introduced with respect to work performed by pregnant women at workplaces with visual display units. From 1 May 2017, pregnant women employees may perform work at such workplaces for no more than 8 hours per day (24h), while the time spent in front of a visual display unit cannot last longer than 50 minutes at each one time. A mandatory 10-minute break – considered work time – must take place after each such work in front of a visual display unit. It does not have to be a break from work, only a break from work in front of a visual display unit
As far as breastfeeding women are concerned, the catalogue of works strenuous, hazardous or harmful to their health includes, among others, manual lifting and carrying of objects of weight exceeding 6 kg at permanent jobs and 10 kg at odd jobs or manual carrying of objects of weight exceeding 6 kg to the height of more than 4 m or distance of more than 25 m.
In addition, it is worth taking account of the fact that employment establishments in which work regulations were introduced – according to Article 104(1)(6) Labour Code – are obliged to include the list of work prohibited to women employees (including pregnant and breastfeeding) to their work regulations. The entry of the new regulation imposes an obligation to implement adequate changes to work regulations or their enclosure.
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