A new law aimed at giving employees the right to request remote work is to be included in The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022 which is expected to be signed into law by the end of the year.
Rather than passing separate pieces of legislation, the Government said that amending the Work Life Balance Bill is the most efficient and practical way to introduce the right to request remote work to all workers. It means that employers and employees will now be making and considering requests for flexible or remote working under one law and one Code of Practice to be developed by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
The Code of Practice will be established on a statutory footing and it is expected that it will include guidance to employers and employees on their obligations regarding compliance. According to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, "This will streamline the process and will help avoid inconsistencies and confusion".
Unions had criticised the 'Right to Request Remote Working Bill' saying it was stacked in favour of the employer when it came to grounds for refusal and grounds for appeal. Meanwhile, employers had questioned the need for the legislation and had warned that it could result in additional administrative burdens for businesses.
The Right to Request Remote Working Bill provided for 13 specific grounds upon which an employer could refuse a request. Under the new integrated bill, the grounds for refusal will be replaced by an obligation on the employer to consider both their needs and the needs of employees when assessing a request. Employers will also be required to have regard to the new code of practice and a complaint can be taken to the Workplace Relations Commission where an employer hasn't complied with the code.
The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022 was published last month. The Bill will transpose the EU Work Life Balance Directive (Directive) into Irish law and provide additional statutory entitlements to parents and carers in support of a better work life balance.
Three of the key changes to be introduced by the Bill are: