New work-life balance initiative to benefit working parents

Moira Grassick - Chief Operating Officer

May 17 2022

First published: April 19th, 2022

Last updated: May 17th, 2022


Work-life balance has many benefits both for the business and its employees.

With both parents working in many families, employees face ever-increasing time pressures and sometimes struggle to find an answer to the question of how to balance work and family life.

A good work-life balance initiative could hold the key to your employees' success. And, as a result, your success as a business, too.

EU Work-life Balance Directive

The new Work-Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022 is based on the Work-Life Balance Directive of the European Union. This states that working parents with children under the age of 12 should be able to request flexible hours.

The EU's work-life balance plan must be implemented by the Government by October 2022. The plan means that employees who are also in a caring role such as parents or carers will have the right to request flexible work arrangements.

The plan is part of an EU initiative to support parents and carers at work and to make such leave more equitable for both men and women. More broadly, it’s an attempt to modernise the EU legal framework in the area of family-related leaves and flexible working arrangements.

This new legislation is aimed at addressing the work-life balance challenges faced by working parents and carers in Ireland. These new work-life balance laws will introduce unpaid leave for any employee who needs to care for a family member. The plan is also part of the government’s spring legislative schedule and the latest in a series of workers’ rights recently introduced.

New work-life balance law

Under the proposed plan, new parents will be allowed up to five days off work to care for sick children. A memo brought by Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman to Cabinet this week outlined a number of new workers’ rights that will give employees more options. This includes plans to give “any parent of a child under 12, or a person caring for a relative, the right to request reduced or flexible working hours.”

In addition, there are proposals to increase the number of weeks that mothers are entitled to take off work to breastfeed their children from 26 to 104 weeks. Amongst the measures included in the plan is the proposal to extend breastfeeding breaks at work. Currently, women are entitled to take one hour, with pay, off work each day to breastfeed their child for six months. This is set to increase to two years.

Flexibility in the workplace

The landscape of the workplace in Ireland is rapidly changing. Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has separately introduced legislation giving employees the right to request to work from home, and employees are soon set to gain the right to paid sick leave in Ireland.

A positive work-life balance will contribute to your employees’ mental health and wellbeing. In an economy that has become more and more challenging, employees’ general wellbeing can hold the key to their success. Discuss work-life balance with your employees and what you can do to improve it.

Following the global movement toward more flexible working arrangements, many employers may have already implemented a Flexible Working Policy or similar policies. When establishing flexible working arrangements in your business, policies that define how requests can be accommodated are extremely useful.

Our HR consultants can tell you more about work-life balance

For guidance on work-life balance or updating employment contracts and handbooks, speak to one of our HR consultants today on 0818 923 923.

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