The Right to Request Remote Working

The Right to Request Remote Working Explained

The Right to Request Remote Working, Everything you need to know

The reopening of offices and the lifting of the last COVID 19 restrictions has already sparked numerous debates about whether remote working is a privilege or a right. Recently the Irish government has sought to settle the matter by enacting new legislation which will give employees the right to request remote working.

The draft scheme of the Right to Request Remote Working Bill 2022 has been published here. The Bill will provide a legal framework for requesting, approving or refusing a request for remote work. This is part of the Government’s National Remote Working Strategy which aims to ensure that remote working is a permanent feature in the Irish workplace in a way that maximises economical, social and environmental benefits. The Government has indicated that the Bill should be published before Easter and enacted into law before the summer recess.

The Bill will require all employers to have a written statement which sets out the company’s Remote Working Policy specifying the manner in which remote working requests are managed, the time frame within which decisions will be made and the specific conditions which will apply to remote working generally within the organisation. The General Scheme provides that it will be an offence for an employer to fail, without reasonable cause, to bring its Remote Working Policy to the attention of its employees, liable to a class C fine of €2,500 max. This will mean that employers must bring to the attention of their employees to this policy on commencement of employment and thereafter at least annually or when amended.

Employee’s must have 26 weeks’ continuous service with their employer to be eligible to submit a request for remote working under the Bill. An employer must return a decision within a reasonable time period but in any case within a maximum of 12 weeks from receipt of the request and this time period must be specified in the Remote Working Policy. An employee will have to wait a period of 12 months from the final decision of the employer to submit another request, provided the employee remains in the same role. If an employee moves to a new role within the company, he/she may submit a fresh request.

Having given the application due consideration, the employer may decline a request for remote working where satisfied that the request is not suitable on business grounds. The General Scheme sets out the following non-exhaustive list of business grounds:

  • The nature of the work not allowing for the work to be done remotely
  • Cannot organise work among existing staff
  • Potential impact on quality
  • Potential negative impact on performance
  • Planned structural changes
  • Burden of additional costs, taking into account the financial and other costs entailed and the financial resources of the employer’s business
  • Concerns re the protection of business confidentiality or intellectual property rights
  • Concerns re the suitability of the proposed workspaces on health and safety grounds
  • Concerns re the suitability of the proposed workspaces on data protection grounds
  • Concerns re the internet connectivity of proposed remote working location
  • Inordinate distance between the proposed location and on-site location
  • If the proposed remote working arrangement conflicts with the of applicable collective agreement
  • On-going or recently concluded formal disciplinary processes

At Paycheck Plus we recommend that all employers put in place a remote working policy as early as possible. If you already have a remote working policy in place, we recommend that you review the policy in light of the requirements which will be introduced by this legislation. While the General Scheme provides a very good indication of the parameters of the Bill, there may yet be some important changes to the scheme before it becomes law. Therefore, you should consider keeping your policy under review over the coming months.

For more on Remote Working read:

The Remote Work Problem

Tips for managing Remote Workers 

 

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