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Bosses should offer location choice ‘once work gets done’
Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar Pic: RollingNews.ie

25 Jan 2022 / employment Print

Bosses should offer location choice ‘once work gets done’

Draft legislation will give workers the right to request remote working but falls short of providing a legal right to work away from the workplace.

However, employers must have a written policy on remote working rights, according to proposed new legislation which will be discussed by ministers at Cabinet today.

Preferred mode

Tanáiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar said yesterday that the draft laws will have a clause allowing employees to appeal to the Workplace Relations Commission, to enforce their preferred mode of working.

"Of course any worker can request remote working now but there isn't a proper legal framework.

“This legal framework will set out the reasons according to which an employer could refuse remote working and will also have an appeals mechanism adjudicated independently through the Workplace Relations Commission," he told the press yesterday.

The clause will help ensure that bosses take the request to work remotely seriously, he said.

Consultations with the attorney general on the draft legislation had arrived to the conclusion that a guaranteed right to remote working is not possible, Varadkar continued.

Contracts

"First of all, Government can only interfere in contracts that employers and employees have signed to a certain extent," he said.

The goal is that remote working becomes a choice and employers facilitate that provided the work gets done, he added.

Opposition parties want a guaranteed right to remote or hybrid work written into the new legislation.

"It makes sense for workers, for communities, for the environment and an innovative way of helping address the cost-of-living crisis," Labour employment spokeswoman Senator Marie Sherlock said.

In policy terms, the Government does not want “the old normal”, the Tanáiste said, and favours location choice and more remote working, home working and hybrid working.

Bosses should facilitate this so long as the business gets done, and as long as public services are delivered, he said.

Good ventilation

Good ventilation, hand hygiene and lack of overcrowding should be bedded in to workplaces in the future, he said.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has urged all employers to ensure they continue to take the necessary steps to keep workplaces safe.

"Remote and flexible working must now become a mainstream feature of future working arrangements," said Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) general secretary Patricia King, and employers must ensure they keep workplaces safe.

Maeve McElwee of IBEC told RTÉ that it is clear that workers would like a hybrid option.

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