16.04.2024

Can an employer call an employee into the office for remote working?

 

Since last year, new regulations of the Labour Code regarding remote working have been in force. As a rule, the rules for remote working are set out in an agreement between the employer and the company trade union organisation(s). If there are no company trade union organisations at a particular employer, the employer defines the rules for remote working in regulations after consultation with employee representatives. Even if the employer does not regulate remote work in the regulations, the performance of remote work by the employee is possible through a remote work order or an agreement concluded individually with the employee.

In the Labour Code, the rules for remote working are set out in Article 6720. Section 6 of the aforementioned provision indicates the minimum content of an agreement with the unions/regulation of remote working. In view of this, for the rest, the employer has the right to regulate remote working at its own discretion. Therefore, the employer may also regulate in the agreement or regulations the issue of the employee’s possible appearance at the workplace at the employer’s call for specific purposes, e.g. for meetings, organisational purposes, etc.

However, the situation is different if the employer does not regulate this, as the provisions of the Labour Code also do not address the issue of whether an employee working remotely may be summoned to appear in the office, e.g. for a meeting.

First of all, it is worth noting the content of Article 100 § 1 of the Labour Code, according to which the employee is obliged to comply with the instructions of his/her superiors. As a rule, a remote employee should not be treated differently from a stationary employee, as employees should not be discriminated against due to their form of employment. This leads to the conclusion that a superior could issue an order for a remote employee to attend a meeting or training in the office.

It is also worth pointing out that the legislator introduces in the Labour Code explicit prohibitions on certain actions of the employer towards certain groups of employees. By contrast, there is no prohibition on summoning a remote worker to the workplace, e.g. for organisational reasons. It should therefore be concluded that in the absence of such a prohibition, the above-mentioned action of the employer is permissible under the provisions of the Labour Code.

It is also sometimes indicated that, depending on the definition of the place of work in the remote employee’s contract, a remote employee’s travel to the office may be considered as business travel. A business trip is a trip away from the location of the employer’s registered office or the employee’s permanent place of work, during which the employee performs official tasks, and at the same time it must be at the employer’s instruction. Therefore, if the contract specifies only the employer’s registered office (or both the employer’s registered office and the place of remote work, such as the employee’s place of residence) as the place of work, then the commute to the office should not be included as a business trip.

On the other hand, if the employment contract specifies that the remote employee’s place of work is only a place that is not the employer’s registered office, such as the employee’s residence, then the employee’s travel to the office could be considered as business travel.

Author:

apl. solic. Klaudia Szymańska

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