Work regulations – penalties for violations
Employers with at least 50 employees are obliged to introduce work regulations. This obligation may therefore affect more than 180,000 companies in Poland. In certain circumstances, it is also incumbent on companies with as few as 20 employees. The work regulations define the organisation and order of work, as well as the rights and obligations of the employer and employee. In the event of damage, it will protect from liability the one who proves that he acted in accordance with the regulations. Importantly for employers – the introduction and application of work regulations that are contrary to labour law can result in a fine of up to PLN 30,000.
The larger the employment in a company, the broader the HR and payroll responsibilities for the employer. Therefore, many entrepreneurs keep an eye on the statutory employment limits, the exceeding of which gives rise to increased burdens and liability. Pursuant to Article 104. § 1 of the Labour Code, an employer with at least 50 employees introduces work regulations, unless the organisation and order in the work process and the rights and obligations of the employer and employees are regulated by the provisions of a collective agreement.
However, the obligation to establish work regulations in a company may apply to a wider group of workplaces. As stipulated in Article 104 § 3 of the Labour Code, an employer employing 20 or more employees is obliged to do so if a company trade union organisation applies for the introduction of work regulations.
Penalties threatening employers for violation of work regulations
The Labour Code indicates that, in addition to defining the rights and obligations of the employer and employees relating to order in the company, the work regulations should, in particular, establish:
1) the organisation of work, the conditions of staying on the premises, the provision of tools and materials, working clothes and footwear, as well as personal protection and personal hygiene equipment to the employees;
2) the systems and schedules and the accepted reference periods of working time;
3) night time;
4) the date, place, time and frequency of payment of wages;
5) lists of work prohibited to young workers and women;
6) types of work and list of jobs permitted to young workers for the purpose of vocational training;
7) the list of light work permitted to young workers employed for purposes other than vocational training;
8) obligations concerning health and safety at work and fire protection, including the manner of informing employees of the occupational risks involved in their work;
9) the method adopted by the employer for employees to confirm their arrival and presence at work and to justify their absence from work;
10) information on the penalties for the employees’ disciplinary responsibility.
The employer is also obliged to familiarise the employee with the content of the work regulations before allowing him/her to work, and the regulations themselves, once agreed upon, become effective 2 weeks after they are made known to the employees.
Under section thirteen of the Labour Code, entitled: “Liability for offences against employee rights”, it is possible to read what penalties employers face for violating the work regulations. Pursuant to Article 281 of the Labour Code, a fine of between PLN 1,000 and PLN 30,000 shall be imposed on an employer who applies penalties to employees other than those provided for in the labour law provisions on employees’ liability for disciplinary action (i.e. contrary to the provisions of the labour regulations set out above in point 10), or who violates the provisions on working time or the provisions on employees’ rights related to parenthood and employment of juveniles (contrary to points 2, 3, 5, 6, 7).
Pursuant to Article 282 of the Labour Code, the same size of fine is imposed on the employer for failure to pay remuneration for work within the agreed time limit or for failure to pay any other benefit to which the employee is entitled, or for reducing the amount of such remuneration or benefit unjustifiably, or for making unjustified deductions (i.e. contrary to the provisions of the labour regulations in point 4). Pursuant to Article 283 of the Labour Code, also a fine from PLN 1,000 to PLN 30,000 is threatened to the employer for irregularities in the observance of health and safety (contrary to points 1 and 8).
The employer may violate the law already in the regulations themselves
Article 9 of the Labour Code specifies that the provisions of the work regulations cannot be less favourable to employees than the provisions of the Labour Code and other laws and executive acts, as well as the provisions of collective bargaining agreements and collective agreements. This means that the employer may commit a violation of labour law already in the labour regulations themselves. For example, by setting the company’s mandatory shorter night time between g. 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. than in the interval allowed by the Labour Code (between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.), while employees perform work for him from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Such procedures may bring employers tangible benefits, especially with a large number of employees. This is because for each hour of night work an employee is entitled to an allowance of 20% of the hourly rate resulting from the minimum wage.
Another example of irregularities in the work regulations may be the establishment in the information on penalties for the employees’ liability for order, a greater or impermissible penalty – regulated by higher in the hierarchy sources of labour law. That is to say, the employer may include in the work regulations more favourable arrangements for the employee than those provided for by the Labour Code (e.g. a longer length of leave), but not less favourable ones.
Work regulations with or without trade unions
Article 104 of the Labour Code stipulates that the work regulations are established by the employer in consultation with the company trade union organisation. However, if the work regulations are not agreed with the trade union within the timeframe agreed with the trade union or if there is no trade union at a given employer, the work regulations are set by the employer himself.
Although the regulations indicate the obligation to introduce work regulations in the company in the case of employing 50 or at least 20 employees, it is worth implementing them also in smaller companies. The Labour Code does not prohibit this, and in fact provides for it in Article 104 § 2. The work regulations established in the company improve the functioning of the company and the organisation of work. In addition, in the event of an injury or dispute, they protect whoever acted in accordance with the work regulations.
Skarbiec Corporate Services from the Skarbiec Law Firm group