Recommended Changes to Right to Request Remote Work Bill – Ireland
The increase in remote working since the start of the pandemic has brought a lot of conversation about hybrid and remote working in Ireland.
In February 2022, the Right to Request Remote Work bill was passed forward to the Committee for Pre-Legislative Scrutiny for recommendations and amendments. The bill which was passed early in the year is part of the governments efforts to make remote working a permanent feature of Ireland’s workforce in a way that can benefit all.
Areas of amendment to Right to Request Remote Work Bill
Areas identified by the Committee and witnesses for further examination include:
- Number of grounds to refuse a request
- Requirement for a remote working policy
- Codes of Practice, the six-month service requirement
- Submitting another request
- The time-limit for a response to a request
- Right of Appeal to the Workplace Relations Commission
Some of the Recommendations
- The Committee advocates improving the initial right of the worker by removing the need to work 26 weeks before request.
- The Committee proposes the service timeframe be reduced from 26 weeks to 12 weeks, or less.
- The Committee acknowledges difficulties faced by small and medium enterprises regarding the drafting of policies relating remote working. Bureaucracy should be kept to a minimum for such enterprises and supports should be provided where this is the case.
- The Committee recommends that codes of Good Practice are quickly evolved so that once in place, refusals must be grounded in a stated policy from employers, founded on these codes.
- The Committee notes if remote working is agreed and operationalized the Code of Practice should allow for a review so that both the employer and the employee could revisit their working arrangements which may include a reversal in certain circumstances. There should be flexibility regarding the number of requests to remote work.
- The Committee recommends a balance must be struck that gives employers and the WRC (Workplace Relations Commission) time to adapt. However, after a reasonable passage of time, the policy of an employer should be open to challenge if it is leading to a high level of refusals of reasonable requests.
- The Committee recommends introducing tighter grounds in primary legislation so that unreasonable refusal should be open to challenge.
- The Committee proposes that the legislation should align with the General Scheme of a Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022.
- The Committee notes the employer should retain the right to respond within 12 weeks if the employer can cite a reason such as the need to engage health and safety consultants or check a proposed remote working location for internet quality.
- The Committee recommends the proposed Bill should consider, encourage and support ‘remote first’ or ‘digital first’ environments, which ensures equality between workers regardless of their location.
- The Committee recommends remote working should incorporate hybrid and flexible working as well.
See the full article here. Although initially aimed for summer 2022, the proposed bill is likely to be in place by autumn 2022.
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