Release 33, 14 December 2015

LS Borkowski

Release 33, Poland, 14 December 2015

Using occupational medical service to violate civic and human rights in Poland

According to the current Polish Labor Code adopted in 1974, employee returning to work after a medical leave of more than 30 days must submit to a medical examination, which is carried out by an occupational medical service, a separate branch of medical services. The outcome of this examination should be a medical certificate of being either fit or unfit for the particular job. This medical procedure is independent of all the usual medical services normally used by a person on medical leave.

Małgorzata Głuchowska (MG), a certified teacher of piano with a 23-year experience, employed by the State School of Music (Państwowa Szkoła Muzyczna) in Zielona Góra, remained on medical leave between September 11, 2015 and November 3, 2015. On October 28, 2015 she was summoned for the medical control examination and on Oct. 29 showed up at the Regional Center of Occupational Medicine (RCOM; Wojewódzki Ośrodek Medycyny Pracy) in Zielona Góra.

On Nov. 3 a RCOM physician ordered MG to undergo a psychological consultation, while telling her also to obtain another medical leave from her family doctor for the period between Nov. 4 and Nov. 13, although MG did not complain about any medical symptoms and wanted to return to work. The Polish Labor Code does not address relations between occupational medicine and the family doctor. It is clear, however, that an occupational physician cannot requite the person to procure a medical leave from a third party, if the employee does not have health issues and wants to return to work. The occupational physician broke the law.

On Nov. 17 MG received from RCOM a copy of documentation related to the control medical examination. However, RCOM did not issue a medical decision, although it is the stated legal outcome of the examination. This means RCOM staff broke the law again. The medical decision has not been issued to this day, Dec. 14.

The requirement that the employee must submit to an additional medical examination after a medical leave exceeding 30 days implies that work is not a right. It is a privilege, which may be most easily taken away from the citizen. This is typical of prison-like schemes, where inmates are rewarded with a permission to work.

The labor law of many European and non-European countries is available on the Internet. The Polish law stands out as very repressive. Poland is possibly the only country with a compulsive medical examination following the 30-day medical absence. Undoubtedly the purpose of this obligation was to create an opportunity for violating fundamental rights.

The Communist laws, including the still binding Communist Labor Code from 1974, were designed to facilitate surveillance, control and repression. The repressions against MG are carried out for political reasons.

Małgorzata Głuchowska, M.A.

Lech S. Borkowski, Ph.D.


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