Magdalena Winiarska – the Chief Administration Officer is our master of persistence 🙂 . She is responsible for legal compliance (domestic and international) as well as administration management. It is so great that she found time in her busy schedule to answer to our questions!
What is your daily routine and when does it get derailed?
Usually, our team keeps track of labour rules in the countries where we work, ones that regulate working time, rests, salaries, taxes and so on. After many years in the business, we have gained this knowledge about most countries and we only need to stay up to date there. But new countries are always a challenge; we need to start on square one and dig really deep. The information is not always available in English, and sometimes the local authorities only speak their local language. A good example is Switzerland, where they speak in German, French or Italian, but not English.
What has been the strangest requirement you can remember?
In labour law, there are usually no strange requirements, it is all about humans everywhere – in a good and a bad sense. On the one hand, we all aim to assure that employees are working safely and securely, but a single request with the same set of documents and calculations can be approved by one officer and rejected by another – human factor plays a huge role all the time. It is tough when the same path for the same task cannot be repeated, but we also manage that. It just takes a bit more time and patience.
Looking back, what project country has been the most challenging?
At the beginning of the 2020 we were starting an installation project in Switzerland. Where we were expecting easy sailing, we discovered thick undergrowth of 26 distinct cantons, each with their own authorities and rules, as many as 250 separate collective agreements governing working time and salaries. You can imagine how happy we were when we cleared all the formalities, obtained the work permit and started the project. Screams of joy and relief in our department 😊
And how did Covid-19 affect your department?
On top of the usual, already not easy tasks, we started to deal with closed borders, closed authorities, offices and embassies. We started working more closely with our Travel and Accommodation and Project Management departments to assure safe conditions for our travelling colleagues. After a few weeks of intense paperwork, we have learned that a good antidote to the panic creeping in is to roll up your sleeves and look for solutions, not explanations or excuses. After a year in the “new reality,” we know what to do, where to find information, and how to fulfil not only the customer’s but also health authorities’ requirements.