Ireland gives workers the right to request remote working

New law gives employees the right to request remote working.

Under new legislation passed by the Irish Government there now is a legal framework for requesting, approving or refusing requests for remote work.

“Up until now, remote and home working has been imposed on a lot of people due to the public health restrictions, said Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, TD.

“We have a real opportunity now to change the norm and learn what we can from the pandemic”

“Now that they have been lifted, I want it to be a choice.  I want workers to be able to work from home or remotely or hybrid if they want to. So long as the business get done and services are provided, employers should facilitate it.

“I know throughout the pandemic, many employers have gone to great lengths to give their employees as much flexibility around where they work as possible. We want this to continue. The world of work has changed and I know many would like to retain some amount of remote working once Covid is behind us.”

Varadkar said that this new law will give every employee the right to request remote working from their employer.

“Employers will be required to provide reasonable grounds for refusing to facilitate an employees’ request. These grounds are set out in the legislation and we will develop Codes of Practice to provide guidance to help employers implement the new law.

“It will give employers and workers legal clarity on remote working, which became the default for many during the pandemic.”

How Right to Request Remote Working legislation will work

All workplaces must have a written statement which sets out the company’s Remote Working Policy, specifying the manner in which remote working requests are managed and the conditions which will apply to remote working generally within the organisation.

Where the employer has diligently completed the assessment process and any appeal has been heard, the employee will have to wait a period of 12 months to submit another request, provided they are in the same role.

If an employee moves to a new role within the company, they may submit a fresh request.

The new law provides for a time-limit for an employer to return a decision in relation to a request from an employee. The employer can set out their own specific time limit but it must not be more than 12 weeks.

An employee will be eligible to submit a request once they have worked for their employer for a period of six months. However, an employer is free to offer remote work from day one if desired.

There will be a right of appeal to the Workplace Relations Commission where an employer has failed to respond to a request or to provide any reasonable grounds for refusal of a request for remote working and protections for employees from penalisation for having exercised their entitlement to request remote working.

The General Scheme and the Regulatory Impact Assessment are available at Right to Request Remote Work Bill 2021

“We have a real opportunity now to change the norm and learn what we can from the pandemic,” said Varadkar.

“This new right is in addition to the right to disconnect, our investment in remote working hubs across the country and our changes to the treatment of home working costs through Budget 2022.”

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.