Participation in an integration event - right or obligation?
For several years, integration events, especially in medium and larger companies, have been very popular. Enterprises organize trips and games to improve relations between employees and their superiors, inspire employees 'trust in management and increase their subordinates' motivation. Integration events also have opponents who question the employer's right to interfere with employees' free time. Therefore, is participation in the integration event obligatory?
Is the time devoted to participation in the integration event included in the working time?
The most important argument of the opponents of the participation of employees in integration events concerns the counting of the time spent at play to the working time and, consequently, the obligatory participation in the event and the right to remuneration for time spent in a way other than on the performance of official duties under the employment contract.
Pursuant to the general principle of the Labor Code (the provision of Article 129 § 1 of the Labor Code), the working time may not exceed 8 hours a day and on average 40 hours in an average five-day working week in the adopted settlement period not exceeding 4 months.
For most contracts of employment, standard working hours are eight hours a day in an average forty-day working week, usually Monday through Friday. Obviously, participation in an integration event organized in the evening or during the weekend will exceed certain standards. The Labor Code does not directly regulate whether participation in an integration event is included in working time. Hence, the issues related to such forms of spending time have been left to the loose interpretation of employers and labor courts.
During the hours included in the "working time", the employee is obliged to remain at the employer's disposal in the workplace or in another place designated for its performance.
If the company event takes place during working hours at the company's headquarters or at the place of work, the employee may not refuse to participate in this meeting.
In the case of team-building events outside working hours and outside the place of work, participation in the integration event and including it in the working time depends on several factors.
An employee may not refuse to participate in a company event that takes place during working hours and at the place of its performance.
If participation in an integration event outside working hours is a business order, the employee may not refuse to participate in this meeting or leave. In this case, the time spent at an integration event should be treated as overtime.
If a company event is organized in the form of a social gathering, often with the participation of spouses or partners of employees or their families (e.g. a company star for employees' children, a Children's Day festival, a carnival party, etc.), then participation in the integration event is usually voluntary. . In this case, the time spent playing will not be included in the working time and the employee will not receive remuneration for this time.
In the case of trips or meetings organized outside working hours, this time should be treated as overtime, if participation in the integration event is a business order issued by the employee's superior. As a rule, an employee cannot refuse to participate in an integration event, the more so as the company event is often combined with training. According to the position of the Supreme Court contained in the judgment of 4 June 2008, issued in the case file ref. II PK 323/07: “the employer's orders may be formalized in the form of an order stipulating that the employee must comply with certain procedures. An employee's conduct that is inconsistent with these procedures, with reference to a different practice, constitutes a breach of his duties that may justify the termination of the employment contract ”. Thus, the jurisprudence shows that in the event that the supervisor expressly orders to participate in a company event, the refusal to participate in a trip or meeting may have serious consequences for the employee, including termination of the employment relationship.
What is an employee entitled to for attending an integration event?
If a company event takes place outside working hours and participation in it is obligatory due to an official order from the supervisor, the time spent at the meeting or away should be accounted for as overtime.
In this case, the employee is entitled to - in addition to the normal remuneration - also an allowance in the amount of:
1) 100% of remuneration - for overtime work for:
- in the night,
- on Sundays and public holidays that are not working days for the employee, in accordance with the working time schedule applicable to him,
- on a non-working day granted to the employee in exchange for work on Sunday or on a public holiday, in accordance with the working time schedule applicable to him;
2) 50% of remuneration - for overtime work falling on any day other than that specified above.
If the corporate event takes place on a Sunday or holiday that is not working day for the employee, then the employee gains the right to a day off. In this case, the employer is obliged to provide the employee with another day off:
- in exchange for work on Sunday - in the period of 6 calendar days preceding or following such Sunday;
- in return for work on a holiday - during the settlement period resulting from the employee's employment contract.
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Disciplinary proceedings for an integration event
If the fun during a corporate event gets out of control, in extreme cases the employee's behavior may result in disciplinary liability.
The provisions of the Act on Upbringing in Sobriety and Counteracting Alcoholism prohibit bringing alcoholic beverages to workplaces. At the same time, the provisions of the Labor Code require the employee to behave in a specific manner, in accordance with the work regulations (which usually include provisions regarding the prohibition of drinking alcohol), health and safety regulations and the principles of social coexistence. Employees also have a duty to care for the broadly understood welfare of the workplace.
Art. 100 § 2 points 2, 3, 4 and 6 of the Labor Code - employee's obligations
"The employee is obliged in particular to:
2) comply with the work regulations and the order established in the workplace;
3) comply with the provisions and rules of occupational health and safety, as well as fire regulations;
4) take care of the welfare of the workplace, protect its property and keep secret information, the disclosure of which could expose the employer to damage;
6) observe the rules of social coexistence in the workplace ”.
Article 16 (1) of the Act on Upbringing in Sobriety and Counteracting Alcoholism
"It is forbidden to bring alcoholic beverages to workplaces, stadiums and other facilities where sports and entertainment events take place, as well as facilities or places that are prohibited from bringing alcoholic beverages."
The jurisprudence of courts indicates that these provisions should not be applied very strictly - if a company event takes place on the premises of the workplace and the employer provides employees with access to alcohol, he cannot blame them for consuming these drinks. A similar situation occurs when the employer provides premises located in the workplace for the organization of occasional meetings for employees (e.g. farewell parties organized in connection with retirement or termination of employment). At this point, it is worth recalling the position of the Supreme Court in the judgment of September 24, 2015, issued in the case no. I PK 120/15: "if the employees participating in such meetings do not violate order and peace at the workplace, health and safety regulations or fire regulations, or finally the provisions of public order, then there can be no violation of their employee duties, in particular in a manner qualified, which would justify the acceptance of the application of the strictest labor law sanctions, including disciplinary dismissals under Art. 52 § 1 point 1 of the Labor Code ”.
The employee must not, however, forget that while participating in an integration event he still remains at his workplace and therefore is subject to the obligation to behave in accordance with the applicable regulations and rules of social coexistence. According to the Supreme Court, “resulting from Art. 100 § 2 point 6 of the Labor Code the obligation to comply with the principles of social coexistence in the workplace also includes refraining from such behavior outside the place and working time that causes or intensifies a mutually negative attitude of colleagues and conflicts in the work environment "(judgment of the Supreme Court of 9 July 2008, issued in the case of reference number I PK 2/08). If his behavior gets out of control and the employee behaves in a manner inconsistent with the place and time, he must take into account the consequences of possible disciplinary action.