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National Labor Inspectorate’s inspectors: Employers most often break the regulations on health and safety and payment of wages

Over 30 percent the number of legal measures taken has also decreased. Most of the reservations concern issues related to compliance with health and safety regulations and payment of wages.

From the beginning of June to the end of August this year. National Labor Inspectorate’s inspectors carried out 13,906 inspections throughout Poland. This is 4,449 less than in the corresponding period of last year, when there were 18,355 of them. Recently, most of such activities were undertaken in Katowice – 1,901 (the year before – 2,357), Warsaw – 1,895 (1,939), Gdańsk – 1,171 (1,302), Poznań – 1,148 (1,615) and Łódź – 1,023 (1,280). On the other hand, the fewest controls were carried out in Zielona Góra – 331 (561), Kielce – 339 (689) and Opole – 395 (623). This is the result of the data as of September 25 this year.

– The National Labor Inspectorate has decided that the inspectors will start to perform their duties to the full extent only on June 22, 2020. This could have influenced the number of inspections carried out. In addition, according to PIP, the number of active inspectors has recently decreased by as much as a quarter due to holidays or childcare during the pandemic. Additionally many companies are still working remotelyand the control can only take place at the company’s headquarters – comments Kamila Sotomska, analyst of the Law and Legislation Department at the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers.

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In turn, Monika Fedorczuk from the Labor Department in the Lewiatan Confederation emphasizes the importance of the lockdown in this context. This period was characterized by a very high solidarity of employees and employers focused on a common goal, i.e. the survival of the workplace. Perhaps this was one of the decisive factors in reducing the number of notifications.

– Labor inspectors have more responsibilities during pandemic inspections. Currently, PIP is also checking whether coronavirus-related security rules have been implemented in enterprises. We are talking about maintaining an appropriate distance between employees and access to disinfecting liquids and personal protective equipment – emphasizes Kamila Sotomska.

As a result of inspections carried out from June 1 to August 31 this year. 87,321 legal measures were applied (the year before – 127,874). These included decisions – 43,275 (63,731), motions in speeches – 41,927 (60,882) and orders – 2,119 (3,261). In this context, Monika Fedorczuk points to the decreasing number of legal measures. On the basis of this, a conclusion can be drawn about greater compliance with the law by employers in the field of labor rights.

– Paradoxically, the number of offenses against the provisions of the labor law is a relative term. The vast majority of the legal remedies are directed against large multinational corporations, which are often harassed by controls. There, the safety standards usually exceed the legal requirements to a significant degree. Even so, these companies cannot prevent violations. Recipes are meticulous, rigid, often old-fashioned and out of date. In turn, there are thousands of small Polish enterprises where the labor law is not respected at all. However, the inspections do not reach there – says advocate Bartłomiej Raczkowski.

As an expert from the Lewiatan Confederation points out, before the pandemic, many companies had great difficulties filling the vacancies. This meant that it was necessary to take care of the company’s image, both among current and potential employees. One of the basic conditions for the success of this project is compliance by employers with labor law.

– In general, compliance with this law is not the best. However, sanctions are often stretched, inspectors apply rules and interpretations so that they can only prove that they have found a violation. The purpose of an audit is not to ensure compliance with the law, but to forcibly find anything that can be interpreted as illegal. I have the impression that the problem does not exist where one is forced to look for it, but where it is rather not looked at – adds Raczkowski.

PIP indicates the most common grounds in legal measures issued after inspections. In the analyzed periods it was Art. 11 points 1 of the Act on the National Labor Inspectorate. Recently, it was indicated 21,347 times, and a year earlier – 32,075.

– The aforementioned article concerns ordering the removal of the identified deficiencies within the prescribed period in the event that the infringement concerns the provisions and principles of health and safety at work. Undoubtedly, the employer is responsible for ensuring safe and healthy working conditions. However, sometimes the literal application of all standards is very difficult, e.g. with regard to the distance of desks that employees often freely move around, informs the expert from the Lewiatan Confederation.

Looking at the list of the most common grounds in legal measures from June 1 to August 31 this year, the next one is Art. 207 § 2 of the Labor Code – 1,260 times (a year earlier – 2,160). Next are Art. 11 points 7 of the Act on National Labor Inspectorate – 1,144 times (1,365), art. 29 § 3 of the Labor Code – 1,130 times (1,612). The fifth position is § 10 sec. 2 of the ordinance of the Minister of Labor and Social Policy on general provisions on occupational safety and health – 1,029 times (previously 1,540).

– Analyzing this data, the most legal measures are therefore spent on health and safety matters, including the safety of electrical devices. Immediately after that, there are unpaid wages. The following is a violation of the obligation to provide the employee with information on the terms of employment. On the one hand, occupational health and safety regulations are so complicated and often non-existent that in practice it is impossible to comply with all of them. On the other hand, there are indeed cases of insufficient attention to basic safety rules. As for unpaid wages, the matter is obviously serious – sums up the expert from Raczkowski Law Firm.

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