The Government have just published the Right to Request Remote Work Bill 2021 which is part of the government vision to make remote working a permanent feature of Ireland’s workforce.
What is meant by remote working? The term remote work refers to the broad concept of an arrangement where work is fully or partly carried out at an alternative worksite other than the default place of work.
The Bill (as currently drafted) has not yet been enacted and may be subject to further change however the current Heads of Bill provide the following:
- Employees will need 6 months continuous service to make a request.
- The employer must respond to the request for remote work within 12 weeks.
- There are currently 13 listed conditions under which the employer can refuse the request. These include but are not limited to:
- The Nature of the work not allowing for the work to be done remotely
- The employer cannot reorganise work among existing staff
- Potential Negative impact on quality of business product or service
- Potential Negative impact on performance of employee or other employees
- Burden of Additional Costs on the employer, taking into account the financial and other costs entailed and the scale and financial resources of the employer’s business
- Concerns for the protection of business confidentiality or intellectual property
- Concerns for the suitability of the proposed workspace on health and safety grounds
- Concerns for the suitability of the proposed workspace on data protection grounds
- Concerns for the internet connectivity of the proposed remote working location.
- Concerns for the commute between the proposed remote working location and employer’s onsite location
- The proposed remote working arrangement conflicts with the provisions of an applicable collective agreement
- Planned structural changes would render any of (a) to (k) applicable
- Employee is the subject of ongoing or recently concluded formal disciplinary process
- A refusal to allow remote working can be appealed internally within the company or externally to the Workplace Relations Commission (“WRC”).
- An appeal of the WRC decision may be made to the Labour Court.
- An award of compensation may be made to the employee if they are successful.
- Codes of Practice may be developed to provide guidance to employers on how to implement the legislation when enacted.
- All employers must have a written statement which sets out the Company’s Remote Working Policy which will need to set out how requests for remote working requests will be dealt with and how working remotely will be generally be dealt with.
We will keep our readers updated as the Bill is enacted and passes through the various Houses of the Oireachtas before being signed into law.