Employees to be given right to request remote working

Employees to be given right to request remote working

Employees will be given the statutory right to request remote working under new government legislation.

Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste and minister for enterprise, trade and employment, yesterday published the general scheme of his Right to Request Remote Work Bill, which forms part of the government’s plan for post-pandemic life.

Under the bill, employers will have to draw up and publish a remote working policy and will be required to provide reasonable grounds for refusing to facilitate an employee’s request for remote working.

The proposed scheme sets out a number of these reasonable grounds, including “the nature of the work not allowing for the work to be done remotely”, the “potential negative impact on quality of business product or service”, the “potential negative impact on performance of employee or other employees” and the “burden of additional costs”.

Codes of practice will be drawn up by the government to provide guidance to help employers implement the new law.

Once an employee has submitted a request for remote working, the employer must return a decision within 12 weeks. Where an employer has diligently completed the assessment process and any appeal has been heard, the employee will have to wait 12 months to submit another request, unless they move to a new role within the company.

There will be a right of appeal to the Workplace Relations Commission where an employer has failed to respond to a request or to provide any reasonable grounds for refusal of a request for remote working and protections for employees from penalisation for having exercised their entitlement to request remote working.

Mr Varadkar said: “Up until now, remote and home working has been imposed on a lot of people due to the public health restrictions. Now that they have been lifted, I want it to be a choice. I want workers to be able to work from home or remotely or hybrid if they want to. So long as the business get done and services are provided, employers should facilitate it.

“I know throughout the pandemic, many employers have gone to great lengths to give their employees as much flexibility around where they work as possible. We want this to continue. The world of work has changed and I know many would like to retain some amount of remote working once Covid is behind us.”

He added: “We have a real opportunity now to change the norm and learn what we can from the pandemic. This new right is in addition to the right to disconnect, our investment in remote working hubs across the country and our changes to the treatment of home working costs through Budget 2022.”

Share icon
Share this article: