Sobriety control of employees is currently not regulated directly by the provisions of Polish law. This has caused many doubts in the past, but in June 2019 the Polish personal data protection supervisory authority issued an interpretation stating that sobriety testing can only be initiated by the employee, and the information about the employee’s state of sobriety is their personal health data. The supervisory authority also stated that there is no legal basis that would allow employers to independently check the employee’s sobriety.
Despite some opposition, the aforementioned interpretation has in practice, blocked the possibility of inspecting the sobriety of employees in Poland. To create the legal possibility of such controls, the government’s legislative work list currently includes a draft amendment to the Polish Labour Code authorising employers to introduce sobriety control measures in the workplace.
In the first place, the draft act provides for amendments to the Polish Labour Code. In particular, determining the legal basis for allowing the employer to introduce – for a legally defined purpose – random checks on the sobriety of employees or checks on the presence of agents acting similarly to alcohol in their organisms, as well as determining the principles for carrying out such checks.
The draft act also includes a regulation concerning the employer’s obligation not to allow an employee to perform work, as well as clarification of the rules under which a warning, reprimand or fine may be imposed on an employee, in the event that the employee shows up for work in a state of intoxication or due to his/her consumption of a substance while working.
The ongoing efforts to prepare such an amendment, have lifted expectations that employers will soon have the authority to introduce sobriety controls in the workplace, in order to ensure safety, not only for employees, but also for those using the services and products provided by the establishment.