Employees to have right to request remote work before end of 2021

Moira Grassick - Chief Operating Officer

January 15 2021

The Government has launched ‘Making Remote Work’, the country’s new National Remote Work Strategy.

The stated objective of the strategy is to ensure that remote working is a permanent feature in the Irish workplace in a way that maximises economic, social, and environmental benefits.

What does this mean for employers?

From an employer’s perspective, the introduction of an employee right to request remote working will be of most interest.

The legislation underpinning this new employee right is expected to be in place by the end of September. While employees will have the right to request remote working arrangements, it’s not an absolute right and employers may refuse a request provided they have a justifiable reason for doing so.

Employees, however, will have the right to bring a case to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) if they’re not satisfied with the employer’s reason for the refusal. The WRC is also developing a Code of Practice on the Right to Disconnect that will be admissible in disputes and adjudications.  

Will remote working become the norm post-COVID-19?

The announcement of the remote work strategy confirms that Government policy is now strongly directed towards making remote, blended, and flexible working arrangements a much bigger part of working life after COVID-19.

What remote working challenges might employers face?

Although the pandemic has provided many employers with an opportunity to trial remote working, there are productivity and other associated costs that employers suffer.

Remote work raises health & safety challenges which will also attract further employer-side costs. After a very difficult year for the SME sector, the timing of this fundamental employment law update will likely be questioned by employers as it introduces an extra layer of remote work compliance that will be an unwanted distraction from the goal of returning to profitability post-pandemic.    

Need our help handling remote work requests?

If you need instant advice on handling remote work requests, Peninsula is here to help.

To speak to a HR expert now, call 0818 923 923.

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