21.03.2024 Labour law

[Poland] Follow-up examinations, i.e. returning to work after long L4

Follow-up examinations are commissioned if an employee has stayed on L4 for more than 30 days. In a recent opinion, the Chief Labour Inspectorate (GIP) has clarified the rules for referring employees for these examinations. What are the new recommendations of GIP?

GIP stance on follow-up examinations – what are the recommendations?

According to the current Labour Code provisions, follow-up examinations are aimed at determining whether an employee is able to carry out his or her professional duties in his or her current position after a prolonged sick leave.

This examination is ordered by an employer if an employee’s uninterrupted stay on L4 has lasted more than 30 days, i.e. at least 31 days. This period covers the sum of the days of incapacity from all sick leaves between which there was no break.

This view is maintained by both the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy and the National Labour Inspectorate (PIP).

However, in response to a question from the editorial board of Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, GIP emphasised that:

  • it is not necessary to direct an employee to a follow-up examination if an employer does not intend to allow the employee to work (he/she gives notice of termination of the employment contract with simultaneous release from work during this period),
  • an employer may inform an employee of a change in his or her terms and conditions of employment on the first day after his or her return to work if the change in those terms and conditions occurred during the employee’s absence due to illness. Such an action by the employer will not be treated as an offence.

At the same time, the Chief Labour Inspectorate indicated that if any person responsible for occupational health and safety, or any person in charge of employees, fails to comply with occupational health and safety regulations or rules, he or she is subject to a fine of between PLN 1,000 and PLN 30,000 (art. 283 par. 1 of the Labour Code).

Occupational health examinations – general rules

The Labour Code distinguishes 3 types of occupational health examinations, and these are preliminary examinations, periodic examinations and follow-up examinations.

The first type of examination faced by every newly employed person is the preliminary examination. The purpose of this examination is to rule out any contraindications to work in the position specified in the referral issued by the employer. As a result of these examinations, the doctor issues a medical certificate, without which the employer cannot allow the employee to work.

Another type of examination is the one undertaken already during the employment. These are periodic examinations. The frequency of periodic examinations follows directly from the content of the certificate issued by the occupational doctor (the employee’s health condition) and depends on the type of work performed by the employee in the given position.

The follow-up examinations mentioned above, on the other hand, are those ordered when an employee has been on sick leave for more than 30 days. It is the employer who refers the employee to the follow-up examinations, as well as the preliminary and periodic ones. Moreover, follow-up, preliminary and periodic examinations are carried out at the employer’s expense. In the case of periodic examinations and follow-up examinations carried out during working hours, the employee retains the right to remuneration for this time.

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