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Views on Right to Request Remote Work published

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar TD today published views from members of the public and stakeholder groups on the right to request remote work.

Earlier this year the Tánaiste published Ireland’s first National Remote Work Strategy, to make remote and blended working a bigger part of life after the pandemic. An important commitment in the Strategy is to introduce a new law giving workers the right to request to remote work.

Currently in Ireland, all employees can ask their employers for the right to work remotely, but there is no legal framework around which a request can be made and how it should be dealt with by the employer. This new law will set out clearly how these requests should be facilitated as far as possible.

A total of 175 submissions were received, most of which came from individual workers. The report published today summarises the key points of the views received. The questions asked covered topics such as:

  • Timeframe for replying to requests to work remotely
  • The length of service, if any, an employee should have before being entitled to work remotely
  • Health and safety & equipment required for remote working
  • Reasonable grounds of refusal of a request to work remotely
  • How to manage changes in any arrangement agreed between workers and employers

 The Tánaiste said:

“Because of the pandemic, a lot of people are required to work from home. After the pandemic, people should have a choice, so long as the work gets done and business and service needs are met. That’s the principle I want to apply.

“The intention is to introduce a mechanism for employees to request remote working that is fair to workers but does not place an undue burden on employers. This new legislation will be a priority in the new Dáil term. We will also continue to provide up to date advice, guidance and information on all aspects of remote working for workers and employers.”

On 28 June the Tánaiste launched his department’s #MakingRemoteWork campaign. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the advice and information available from Government to help workers and employers facilitate more remote and blended working. This includes guidance for employers and workers and a Remote Working Checklist.

Along with engagement from trade unions and industry representatives, submissions were also received from businesses, political parties and individual workers. The summary report on submissions on a Right to Request Remote Work can be found at Report on the submissions received from the Consultation on Right to Request Remote Working.

The Government, via the National Remote Working Strategy, has committed over the course of this year to:

  • legislate to provide employees the right to request remote working
  • introduce a legally admissible code of practice on the right to disconnect from work – covering phone calls, emails and switch-off time. This was published in April 2021.
  • invest in remote work hubs, ensuring they are in locations that suit commuters and are close to childcare facilities
  • explore the acceleration of the National Broadband Plan
  • review the treatment of remote working for the purposes of tax and expenditure in the next Budget
  • lead by example by mandating that home and remote working should be the norm for 20% of public sector employees.