Changes to the Labour Code – sobriety testing

New Labour Code provisions that will enable employers to check employees’ sobriety at workplaces will come into force as early as 21 February 2023.

The purpose of introducing this long-awaited provisions into the Polish labour law and allowing employers to independently carry out sobriety checks is to increase the safety of employees – to protect their life and health, as well as to protect the employers’ property.

Employers will be entitled to check on compliance with the sobriety obligation or compliance with the prohibition to use any intoxicating substances having similar effect to alcohol. It will be possible to carry out checks in the form of preventive checks (with a set frequency and on agreed, transparent conditions) or intervention checks (carried out whenever there is a justified suspicion that an employee or co-worker has violated the sobriety obligation – coming to work under the influence of alcohol or consuming alcohol or using intoxicating substances during the performance of their duties).

It is of utmost importance that it is the employer who is responsible for not allowing or dismissing from work a person who is under the influence of alcohol or intoxicated (within the meaning of the Act on Upbringing in Sobriety and Counteracting Alcoholism) or under the influence of substances acting similarly to alcohol.

If the employer decides that such checks are to be carried out at the workplace, they will be obliged to implement appropriate internal regulations. In these regulations, the employer must specify, in particular: the manner in which the tests are to be carried out, their frequency, the type of a device used and the groups of employees who may be subject to the examination.

According to the new regulations, the checks will be allowed to be carried out using methods that do not require a laboratory test, with a device certified with a valid calibration or verification document.

In addition, it must also be ensured that appropriate measures and rules for personal data processing are applied during the examination process and that the examinations carried out respect the dignity and personal rights of employees.

The employer will be allowed to carry out the first checks after two weeks from the date of informing the employees about the introduction of this legal institution. Given that this amendment to the Labour Code will enter into force on 21 February this year, on which date employers can start implementing these provisions; thus the first inspections may be carried out no earlier than on 7 March 2023.

Importantly, the solutions and procedures introduced in the Labour Code will also be applicable to persons providing work under civil law contracts, including, inter alia, mandate contracts, service contracts or B2B contracts, as well as subcontractors or suppliers – depending on the policy adopted.



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