Poland: Coronavirus - Information for employers
The spread of the coronavirus is confronting companies with many challenges, including those related to employees. On the one hand, employers should take precautionary measures to minimize the risk of coronavirus infection for their employees. On the other hand, they should also remember what rights employees are entitled to and not exceed their employer's competences. Therefore, we present you with a brief summary of the most important information and suggestions for employers that may help you act accordingly and avoid unnecessary stress and risk.
1. PROTECTION MEASURES
- Inform all employees of the recommendations for hygiene in relation to COVID-19 (‘coronavirus’) infection risk, of prevention methods recommended on the website of the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate (available here), and of the possibility to contact the National Health Fund helpline under 800-190-590 (24/7 hotline, Polish and English language) which provides general information on procedure for dealing when infection is suspected.
- Track updates on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland regarding possible travel bans (available here).
2. SPECIFIC PROTECTION MEASURES IN THE WORKPLACE
Analyse as soon as possible readiness to act in the specific workplace: “What steps have we taken so far?” and set up internal processes: “What steps will we take?”. These can include in particular the following areas:
- Set up processes for monitoring of travel and cross-border movements (especially in relation to employees) and analyse the attendant risks;
- Reconsider the existing, and if necessary introduce new and stricter, hygiene standards on the part of employees, and distribute disinfectants;
- Reconsider the existing, and if necessary introduce new, protection measures in order to prevent coronavirus transmission, e.g. by restricting presence in the workplace (working from home), limiting/restricting foreign business trips and participation in large work meetings.
3. THREAT ASSESSMENT: SELECTED SOLUTIONS
- The employer in order to counteract the coronavirus is entitled to order the employee to work remotely for the defined time.
- Has an employee just returned from a risk area? – Such employee should discuss this with the employer, visit a doctor or stay at home during the incubation period (ideally remote working from home).
- Does an employee show signs of the infection while in the workplace? – It is possible for the employer not to admit such employee to work and to refer him to a doctor.
- Should foreign business trips or teambuilding events be limited/restricted? – Travels to areas other than the risk areas are possible. However, as recommended by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, these should be limited to necessary travels. Risk areas are often quarantined and should, if possible, be completely avoided. As the situation is evolving, all potential further steps or bans should be consulted with the legal department.
The above protection measures and specific steps should also be considered with regard to employees’ rights and obligations, including the possibility of forced leave, employees’ entitlement to wage compensation, impediments at work on the part of the employer, etc. Further, it should be taken into account that, with regard to additional personal data processed by the employer in connection with the actions described, general requirements of the GDPR apply.