Labor inspection: there are many tasks ahead of us
Over 5100 inspections regarding over 237 thousand working people and over 2400 complaints – this was done by the District Labor Inspectorate in Gdańsk. The data was included in the summary presenting the year of District Labor Inspectorate (DLI).
“Our goal and mission is to improve the rights of those providing work, which is why we undertake actions with great commitment aimed at eliminating problems with irregularities.” – noted Mariusz Pokrzywiński, district labor inspector in Gdańsk, we introduce the report.
The District Labor Inspectorate dealt with, inter alia, complaints and applications submitted by trade unions. There were 47 of them in 2019. They concerned collective labor law (almost 30 percent of cases), as well as, among others remuneration, discrimination and mobbing and harassment.
The result was 44 controls and legal sanctions, including three penalty fines and one application to the court for punishment. In four cases, labor inspectors deemed it necessary to send notifications to the prosecutor’s office of suspected crime.
Let us add that the number of complaints and applications submitted by trade union organizations compared to 2018 has only slightly decreased. On the other hand … “Difficulties of employers with finding hands for work probably translated into an increase in wages and forced a change of approach to a more flexible and pro-employment and willing to make concessions” – believe the authors of the document.
The report shows a very wide spectrum of issues
The document summarizing the DLI’s year of work also includes issues related to legal and technical advice or proceedings in cases of offenses against employees and requests for punishment that have been submitted to criminal courts. OIP also discussed safety and health protection in the workplace (including accidents at work and issues of supervision and protection of the work of young people), as well as the legality of employment. The authors also drew attention to the preventive activity carried out by the labor inspectorate and the promotion of labor protection, as well as international cooperation.
“As a result of actions taken by DLI inspectors in Gdańsk in 2019, 3803 offenses against the rights of persons engaged in paid work were disclosed. In connection with the inspections, inspectors submitted a total of 103 applications for punishment, including 25 to criminal courts. They covered a total of 330 offenses” – we read in the document.
The largest number of offenses included in court applications concerned non-payment of remuneration (68 charges), violation of the provisions of the Act on employment promotion and labor market institutions (59 charges) and provisions in the field of occupational health and safety (59 charges).
“The number of offenses related to obstructing the work of the National Labor Inspectorate was also alarmingly high (48 charges),” notes the DLI.
Some cases were referred not to the court but to the prosecutor’s office. There were 46 such cases in total, and most often they concerned the article of the penal code just about obstructing control.
We should add that as a result of all activities last year, inspectors issued a total of 808 criminal fines, which concerned more than 2,100 offenses, and the amount of fines was over PLN 970 thousand (the average fine is PLN 1201).
“In the mandate proceedings, labor inspectors punished, among others 512 employers, 190 people acting on behalf of the employer and 43 people managing the work of other people at the employer” – we read in the document.
Other complaints submitted to the DLI concerned equal treatment in employment, harassment and mobbing. In the first case, there were 63 cases (of which 9 were found to be justified, 18 as unfounded, and in other cases the inspector stated that the circumstances were impossible to determine), in the second 3 cases (2 were justified), and in the third 135 cases ( only 8 proved to be justified, and in the vast majority, in as many as 85 cases, no circumstances were established).
Collective agreements and disputes, and social inspectors
According to the data contained in the report, throughout the year 2019, DLI in Gdańsk received 112 applications for the registration of additional systems and protocols and agreements, of which the vast majority, almost 90, concerned the registration of additional protocols (at the end of the year, all 440 layouts).
On the other hand, 17 collective disputes were filed. DLI divided them according to the Polish Classification of Activities and according to this system, 7 cases concerned industrial processing and public administration, national defense, compulsory social security, and 3 health care and social assistance.
The expectations raised by trade union organizations concerned mainly pay conditions (29 requests), including increases, disclosure of information about the financial situation, increase of the allowance for work, working conditions (9 requests), including employing more employees due to the increase in tasks, introducing the same OHS rules for people working under civil law contracts as for people working under the terms of an employment contract, enabling the raising of professional qualifications, reducing the amount of work so that tasks can be completed within eight hours and fair distribution of individual tasks, as well as trade union rights and freedoms (one request) in respect of compliance with the provisions of the Trade Unions Act. There were also three claims that were not covered by the definition of collective dispute.
The DLI report also contained information on social labor inspectors. The monitoring of their activities was made possible by the “Social control of working conditions” survey filled out by inspectors (provided that it is determined that social labor inspection operates in the controlled place).
“Based on 75 surveys, it was established that the controlled employers had a total of 180 social inspectors, including 75 in-house SIP and 105 departmental, faculty and group departments. Among the company social labor inspectors, 45 belonged to NSZZ “Solidarność””, 7 to OPZZ, 4 to the Forum Trade Union, 11 to other trade unions, and 8 social labor inspectors were not associated in trade unions. The audit found that in 12 cases the work plan of the company social labor inspector was not developed. In turn, in 62 cases, the work plans of social inspectors were approved by trade union organizations. In three cases, employers did not set up a book of recommendations and remarks of the company social labor inspector, “reads the document. “In total, social labor inspectors issued 132 recommendations (and 82 percent were made of this) and 143 comments (made: 98 percent). Attention should be paid to the large number of recommendations issued and social remarks of labor inspectors and implemented by employers. In addition, often social inspectors’ comments are reported orally and implemented without a written entry in the book of recommendations and comments.”
At the same time, DLI notes that these statistics confirm “how important a social partner in the ongoing monitoring of compliance with labor law, including occupational health and safety at work, is social labor inspection.”
There are still accidents
Last year, 296 accidents were registered at the District Labor Inspectorate in Gdańsk. Of these, 56 were fatal, 69 heavy, and 26 collective (of which 70 were injured).
OIP, writing about safety at work, drew the attention of, among others for construction. Here, one of the basic hazards when performing construction and demolition works is the possibility of falling from a height. This is confirmed by the results of inspections as well as analysis of the causes of fatalities and severe accidents.
“This is primarily due to employers and employees not applying appropriate protection measures against falls from a height,” warn labor inspectors. “As the basic reason for the lack of collective protection, protecting employees against falling from a height, the cost and time-consuming nature of the security measures are mentioned. Simple negligence and disregard for danger by supervisors and employees themselves have a significant impact on the prevalence of these threats.
Incorrect work from the level of all types of landings that are no more than 3 meters high is a very common phenomenon. Employees underestimate the need to secure themselves from falling due to seemingly low altitudes. They are falsely convinced that a fall is not a serious threat, “reads the document of the District Labor Inspectorate in Gdańsk.
Irregularities were almost everywhere
The DLI report also draws attention to how often irregularities occur in relation to the number of inspections. For example, six inspections in six corporations inspectors found irregularities in five of them. On seven inspections in seven local government units, irregularities were found in six. It was the same in state administration offices. But … “What is the greatest success of the business is completely immeasurable, because it should be measured by the number of events that did not take place,” note the inspectors. “However, it is impossible to count the number of accidents that have not happened, and even more so the suffering that has been spared to potential victims. It is also difficult to guess how many employees would have to assert their rights in labor courts, while explaining the applicable regulations to the employer was sufficient to regulate the situation. These and other immeasurable quantities cannot even be roughly estimated. However, the District Labor Inspectorate still has many tasks ahead of it.”