Analysis

Supreme Court concerns relating to drivers’ stays overnight in the driver’s cabs

Legal alert (6/2014)

On 12 June 2014 the Supreme Court composed of seven Judges of the Supreme Court representing the Chambers of Labour, Social Security and Public Affairs issued a Resolution in respect of the concerns relating to drivers’ stays overnight in the driver’s cabs.

On 12 June 2014 the Supreme Court composed of seven Judges of the Supreme Court representing the Chambers of Labour, Social Security and Public Affairs issued a Resolution in respect of the concerns relating to drivers’ stays overnight in the driver’s cabs.

In the opinion of the Supreme Court (II PZP 1/14) “Providing an employee – a truck driver – with a designated place to sleep inside the driver’s cab of the vehicle while the driver performs the transportation-related duties in international transport cannot be interpreted as the employer’s provision of gratuitous accommodation within the meaning of § 9 clause 4 of the Regulation of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy dated 19 December 2002 on the amounts and the terms of determining the amounts due to individuals employed by state or local government public sector units on account of foreign business trips (Journal of Laws No. 236, item 1991, as amended)”.

Thus, the Supreme Court has closed the discussions and resolved the existing discrepancies in respect of the employer’s obligation to pay a lump-sum overnight allowance if the only accommodation ensured to the driver is that in the driver’s cab.

As indicated in our Alert No. 3/14, according to the regulations of the law the employer is under an obligation to bear the costs of employees’ business trips, inter alia their accommodation expenses. If the employer does not provide gratuitous accommodation, the employee is entitled to a refund of the accommodation costs (for instance, based on an invoice) or where the employee has not incurred any costs – a lump-sum overnight allowance.

As per the resolution of 12 June 2014, drivers are entitled to claim lump-sum overnight subsistence allowance for spending the night in the driver’s cab on account of the fact that the employer has not provided them with gratuitous accommodation.

In consequence of recognizing such claims as arising from the employment relation between the driver and the employer, the period of prescription should be computed pursuant to the general rules (as in the case of claims resulting from work performance) – such claims are prescribed after a period of three years.

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