Remote working

05 June 2020

First published: June 3rd, 2020

Last updated: April 27th, 2022

Many organisations were recently forced to switch to a remote working model to comply with the restrictions imposed to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

One offshoot of the pandemic is an increase in homeworking arrangements as part of future workforce planning.

So, how can you handle the present situation—as well as plan for working scenarios in the years ahead? We take a look in this guide. 

But don't forget, you can refer to our coronavirus business advice for further guidance on this topic—and many others. 

What is remote work?

There’s no statutory remote work definition as the law stands, but it’s broadly defined as work that’s completed away from the employer’s premises.

Most people associate remote work in Ireland with working from home, but a regional salesperson who travels around to clients’ premises is also a remote worker.

Advances in mobile communications technology is making remote work a much more common modern day work practice.

The Irish government has, in fact, recently published a report as part of its Future Jobs Ireland project.

With employers and the state exploring the wider possibilities of remote work from home, more workplaces look set to participate in the future of remote working by adopting remote work practices.

Handling remote workers

Although not yet a legal requirement, you’ll need to put flexible work arrangements in place on or before August 2022 to comply with the EU Directive on work-life balance.

When the Directive is transposed into Irish law, employees will have a legal right to request flexible working arrangements. Once the new law is in place, it will set out your obligations when you receive such a request.

Remote working stats reveal 70% of workers globally work remotely at least once a week.

As there’s a growing HR trend towards increasing the amount of remote work options for employees, it makes sense to be ahead of this trend.

So, employees often wonder how to ask to work remotely. They can be upfront with it and ask you directly—you can agree to their request, or not.

If remote work is the future, what's your business doing about it? The best way to handle requests to work remotely is to put a remote work policy in place.

It’ll address some of the following issues:

  • Requests for remote work options.
  • The criteria for assessing requests to work remotely.
  • Reasons a request might be refused.
  • Trial periods.
  • Managing a remote worker.
  • Rules on using IT equipment.
  • Communication with remote workers.
  • Health & safety responsibilities of employers and employees. 

As it's important to remember, you should consider the possibility carefully.

Mental health when homeworking is essential to keep in mind, for example. So don't forget your duty of care towards staff. 

Remote workers in foreign jurisdictions

Generally, the policy will only govern the employment relationship between an employer and an employee that are located in Ireland.

Of course, one of the positive aspects of remote working is that you can find human resources anywhere in the world.

A downside is that if you do find a person in a foreign jurisdiction and they agree to working remotely, taxes and other compliance issues will be more complicated and will require more specialist advice.

So, the modern workplace is going to be made up of more and more remote workers. Are you prepared to manage remote staff?   


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