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Right to request remote work to be integrated into Work Life Balance Bill

9 Nov 2022

Under the integrated bill, employers must consider both their needs and the needs of employees when considering a request to approve remote working.

The Government has today (9 November) approved the integration of the right to request remote work for all Irish workers into the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill. The Bill is expected to be delivered by the end of the year.

By integrating the right into the Work Life Balance Bill, the Government aims to help streamline and expedite the process of having a worker’s request to work remotely approved by an employer.

The integration of the two pieces of legislation also means that employers and employees will now be making and considering requests for flexible or remote working under one piece of legislation and one code of practice. This is to be developed by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

Under the new legislation, employees will have a legal right to request remote working from their employer.

The updated legislation defines remote working as one type of flexible working, with all employees having the right to request it.

The right to request any other type of flexible working, such as reduced working hours or adjusted working patterns, will remain limited to parents and carers.

The Government published its original Right to Request Remote Working Bill in January of this year. It aimed to provide “legal clarity” to the right to request remote working for both employers and employees, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said at the time.

The legislation was heavily criticised for a number of reasons, chief among them the liberal grounds for refusal afforded to employers.

The original Right to Request Remote Working Bill provided for 13 specific grounds upon which an employer could refuse a request, as well as a general “business grounds” provision.

Under the integrated bill, the grounds will be replaced by an obligation on the employer to consider both their needs and the needs of employees when considering a request.

With the new legislation, a complaint can be taken to the WRC where an employer hasn’t complied with the code of practice or the other requirements of the bill.

The Government has also instructed that a review of flexible working should take place after two years. This review will include a consideration of whether the right to request flexible working should be extended to all workers.

It is hoped that this approach will allow companies time to settle their flexible working policies so the review can take into account lessons learned over the next two years.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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