11.12.2023 Labour law

[Poland] Overdue medical examinations of employees until 28 December 2023

28 December 2023 is the deadline for employees to complete outstanding medical examinations. Lack of up-to-date employee medical certificates for employers could mean a fine of between PLN 1,000 and even PLN 30,000. 

Epidemic emergency cancelled – important deadline passes soon 

The end of the state of epidemic emergency on 1 July 2023 means that the legislator has given employers 180 days for their employees to carry out overdue medical examinations that were not ordered due to the COVID-19 pandemic that was ongoing at the time. 

It should be recalled that periodic and follow-up medical examinations and any medical certificates issued during the epidemic by a doctor other than an occupational physician, which have not expired during the epidemic by virtue of the so-called special act, remain in force only until 28 December 2023, i.e. exactly 180 days from the date the epidemic emergency was cancelled (1 July). 

Employers therefore have less and less time to refer employees whose medical certificates are overdue for the required medical examinations – with a maximum deadline of 28 December this year. 

If employers fail to meet the aforementioned deadline, they should expect a fine. This fine can range from PLN 1,000 to as much as PLN 30,000. 

Read also: Epidemic emergency cancellation. How to carry out OHS training?  

Occupational health examinations of workers – key information 

Occupational health examinations include 3 types of examinations: 

  • preliminary examinations 
  • periodic examinations  
  • follow-up examinations 

Preliminary examinations are carried out before the person being hired enters employment and as a result, the prospective employee and the employer receive a medical certificate stating that there are no contraindications to work in the position specified in the referral issued by the employer. 

According to Article 229 § 4 of the Labour Code, an employer may not allow an employee to work without a valid medical certificate. 

Periodic examinations are occupational health examinations carried out during employment. In their case, the employer is the person referring the employee for examination (as in the case of initial examinations), but the frequency of these examinations is determined by the content of the medical certificate issued by the occupational physician and depends on the type of work performed on the job in question and the employee’s state of health. 

Follow-up examinations, on the other hand, are ordered when an employee has been on sick leave for more than 30 days. The purpose of the follow-up examinations is to determine whether the employee is fit to perform his or her job after a longer period of sick leave. A referral for a medical examination is issued by an employer. An employee’s refusal to undergo a medical examination may constitute grounds for termination of employment and, in addition, if the employee does not undergo the examination and does not receive another L4, he or she may also be punished with a warning, a reprimand or even a fine. 

Follow-up, preliminary and periodic examinations shall be carried out at employer’s expense. Periodic and follow-up examinations should be carried out during working hours, for which the employee retains the right to remuneration. In addition, if an employee is forced to travel to another location for these examinations, an employer should also cover the travel costs. 

Furthermore, when addressing occupational health examinations, it is also necessary to mention a specific type of periodic examination, namely the final examination for workers whose employment relationship has been terminated. Employees who are exposed to carcinogens and fibrosis agents after they have ceased working in contact with these agents are referred for a final examination. Final examinations are the only preventive examinations that are carried out at the request of an employee. Final examinations are carried out at employer’s expense. 

Occupational health examinations – employer’s liability 

An employer who allows an employee to work without up-to-date occupational health examinations violates occupational health and safety regulations and may be subject to a fine (Article 283 §1 of the Labour Code) of between PLN 1,000 and PLN 30,000. 

Moreover, if an accident at work occurs and it turns out that the injured worker did not have a valid medical certificate of work admission, this fact may be considered an external cause of the work accident (Supreme Court judgment of 17 November 2000, II UKN 49/00, Supreme Court judgment of 7 February 2006, I UK 192/05). 

Read also: PIP – number of labour rights violations and penalties imposed on employers on the rise 

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