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HR Update: Work Life Balance

It is expected that the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022 will be signed into law by the President shortly. This Bill provides for the introduction of new rights for employees to support a better balance of family life, work life and caring responsibilities and to support those who are victims of domestic violence.

Below is a snapshot into the main provisions of this Bill:

5 days unpaid leave for medical care purposes for parents of children under 12, and carers

Employees will be entitled to five days unpaid leave per calendar year to provide care or support under this provision. All employees are eligible for this leave as there is no service requirement necessary. Prior notice is not required if availing of this leave.  A final point to note is that this leave is not required to be taken together, it can be fragmented, but not in intervals of less than one day.

5 days paid leave for victims of domestic violence

This bill proposes to provide those who are enduring or at risk of domestic violence to five days of paid leave per year. This is the first statutory employment benefit when it comes to domestic violence. This leave will enable victims of domestic violence to seek:

  • medical help
  • obtain counselling
  • relocate
  • seek advice or assistance, and/or
  • obtain a safety order from the courts.

The right to request flexible working for parents and carers

Employees who have a child up to the age of 12 (or 16 if the child has a disability or long-term illness) and employees who are caring for a relative or someone they live with will have the right to request flexible working arrangements for caring purposes. To qualify to make this request an employee must have six months’ continuous service and must give 8 weeks’ notice of the request to their employer. On receipt of a request the employer will need to consider it with regard to the employees need and respond to the request within four weeks.

The right to request remote working for all employees

Once this Bill is commenced, all employees will have a legal right to request remote working once they have 6 months’ continuous service with their employer and they submit the request at least 8 weeks before the date the employee will commence this new working arrangement if approved. Employers are obliged to respond with a decision within 4 weeks of receiving the request. The employer must consider business needs and the needs of the employee when making a decision.  Finally, the employer must give the employee the reason(s) a request is refused. It is important to note that as part of this Bill an employer will have the right to end the remote working arrangement if it is having a substantial negative effect on their business.

Extension to entitlement to breast-feeding breaks 

This bill proposes to increase breast-feeding breaks. Currently breast-feeding employees are entitled to take up to one hour off work each day, with pay, for breastfeeding/lactation purposes. This entitlement is due to increase from 26 to 104 weeks. The Bill also proposes to provide a right to women who have given birth to a child and who have transitioned into males, provided they hold a gender recognition certificate under the Gender Recognition Act 2015.

The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022 can be viewed here. You can also view a press release from the Government here. 

For further information or support on this Bill don’t hesitate to contact the HR Advice line via [email protected] or 01 6622755 Option 2.