Tánaiste Introduces Legal Framework For Remote Working Requests

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The Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, has published details of a new law giving workers the right to request remote working from their employers.

Announcing the legislation, Mr Varadkar said: “So long as the business gets done and services are provided, employers should facilitate it.”

HR Team Director, Martina McAuley, said: “The Right to Request Remote Working Bill 2021 will provide a legal framework for Irish employees to submit a request for remote working and have their request approved or refused by employers.

“An employee will be eligible to submit a request once they have worked for their employer for six months. Employers will now be required to provide reasonable grounds for refusing to facilitate an employees’ request.”

Key Points To Note:

  • Going forward, all companies must have a written statement which sets out the company’s remote working policy, specifying how remote working requests are managed and the conditions which will apply to remote working generally within the organisation.
  • If an employee’s request is denied and an appeal has been heard, the employee will have to wait 12 months to submit another request – provided they are in the same role.
  • If an employee moves to a new role within the company, they are entitled to submit a new request.
  • A time limit will also be in place for an employer to return a decision on a request, which can be set by the employer but can be no longer than 12 weeks.
  • An employee will only be eligible to submit a request once they have worked for their employer for at least six months. However, remote working can be offered by an employer from day one, if desired.
  • Under the legislation, employers will be allowed to decline requests for remote working under certain conditions. However, they must state reasonable business grounds when denying a request.

Acceptable reasons for an employer to decline a work from home request:

  1. The nature of the work cannot be done remotely, and it is not possible to reorganise work among existing staff.
  2. Remote working could have a negative impact on the quality of work.
  3. Remote working could have a negative effect on the employee’s performance.
  4. Planned structural changes are in place.
  5. There is a burden of additional costs to facilitate staff working from home.
  6. There are concerns for the protection of business confidentiality or intellectual property.
  7. There are concerns regarding health and safety regulations.
  8. There are concerns on data protection grounds.
  9. There are concerns for internet connectivity at the employee’s home.
  10. There is an unreasonable distance between the proposed remote location and the on-site location.
  11. If the proposed remote working arrangement conflicts with provisions of an applicable agreement.
  12. There are ongoing or recently concluded disciplinary processes.

How Can Employers Prepare For Remote Working Requests?

Although the pandemic has provided many employers with an opportunity to introduce remote working, there are productivity and other associated costs that employers may incur. Remote working also raises health and safety challenges which could attract further employer costs.

“Given the changes in employment law, employers should begin to prepare and consider updating employee contracts to remain legally compliant before the legislation is enacted.

“Employers must take into account and accept the working arrangements that have evolved over the past two years, and ensure that they do not rely on current contracts of employment,” Ms McAuley added.

Do You Need Help Handling Working From Home Requests?

If you need instant advice on handling remote work requests, contact our team today. Telephone from NI: 028 71 271 882, or from ROI: 01 695 0749. Alternatively, contact us via email: hello@hrteamgroup.com

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