Working in the time of coronavirus

On Sunday, 8 March 2020, the Act of 2 March 2020 on special arrangements for preventing, counteraction and combating COVID-19, other infectious diseases and the crisis situations caused by them entered into force.

What does this Act mean for employees and employers?

The employer may instruct the employee to perform, for a fixed period of time, the work specified in the employment contract, outside the place of permanent performance. This means nothing else but the right of the employer to instruct the employee to work remotely. Importantly, this instruction must be related to the COVID-19 prevention. The Act indicates that an instruction to perform remote work should cover a specific period of time. Therefore, when giving an instruction to an employee to perform remote work, it is worth indicating the date when the employee is to return to work. Essentially, according to the Act (Article 36), the employer’s right to instruct employees to work remotely is valid for 180 days as of the date of entry into force of the Act. The new regulations do not indicate the form in which the employer should instruct the employee to work remotely. The safest form for the employer will be in writing (also by e-mail), although it is also not excluded, in exceptional cases, to give an oral order. It is worth noting that the provision of remote work, the purpose of which is to counteract COVID-19, is an employee’s responsibility. Therefore, if an employee refuses to follow the employer’s instructions to work remotely, this may result in the termination of the employment contract with the employee, also without notice.

The Act also introduces an additional carer’s allowance for a period not exceeding 14 days. It is for the insured person, who will have to take personal care of the child in case of closure, because of COVID-19, nursing schools, children’s club, kindergarten or school the child attends. What is important, the time of collecting the additional benefit will not be included in the period of 60 days during which the Insured is entitled to receive the carer’s allowance on account of the need to take care of a child aged up to 8 years in the case of unforeseen closure of the nursing school, children’s club, kindergarten or school the child attends, as well as in the case of a nanny’s disease with which parents have concluded a nanny agreement. The additional care allowance will be granted in the manner and under the rules set out in the Act on Cash Benefits from Social Insurance in case of sickness and maternity. This means, among other things, that the amount of the additional care allowance will be calculated on the basis of the provision stating that the monthly care allowance is 80% of the basis for the allowance.