Analysis

The Supreme Court will resolve the doubts related to as to drivers’ staying overnight in the driver’s cab

Legal alert (3/2014)

The Regulation of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy of 29 January 2013 on the amounts due to individuals employed by state or local government public sector units on account of business trips (Journal of Laws of 5 February 2013, item 167).

The Regulation of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy of 29 January 2013 on the amounts due to individuals employed by state or local government public sector units on account of business trips (Journal of Laws of 5 February 2013, item 167), which – where there are no internal regulations in that respect - should also be applied to individuals engaged by private entities, provides drivers with a possibility to claim a refund of the overnight accommodation expenses borne during business trips.

According to the above Regulation, 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: 1) a refund of the accommodation costs (for instance, based on an invoice) or 2) where the employee has not incurred any costs – a lump-sum overnight allowance.

As far as the practice and the case law are concerned, certain doubts have arisen regarding professional drivers who spend the night in the driver’s cab while performing their duties. The Supreme Court has also provided divergent opinions in respect of the employer’s obligation to bear the lump-sum costs when the driver stays overnight in the driver’s cab.

The Supreme Court has passed a judgement to the effect that designating a place to sleep in the driver’s cab should not be interpreted as ensuring gratuitous accommodation. This is so because provision of gratuitous accommodation cannot be limited to designating a place for sleeping, but it should also include other vital aspects linked with accommodation, such as, for instance, access to sanitary facilities. In the said judgment the court holds that the fact whether the employee actually bears accommodation expenses or not is irrelevant from the perspective of overnight subsistence allowance claims.

In another judgement the Supreme Court prescribes that if a driver uses the cab area designated for sleeping overnight, then he cannot claim the overnight subsistence allowance.

The foregoing inconsistence will soon be properly resolved, as a formal legal issue filed in this respect will be examined by the full Supreme Court. If the adjudicating panel concludes that staying overnight in the driver’s cab cannot be interpreted as the employer ensuring gratuitous accommodation, it is possible that, as a result, many suits will be filed by the employees of transportation companies.

Please do not hesitate to contact our experts in case of any questions or doubts in respect of the above.

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