The right to request remote working will be integrated into the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill which is expected to be delivered by the end of the year.
Leo Varadkar (Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment) and Roderic O’Gorman (Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth) have said that the amendment is the most efficient and practical way to introduce the right to all workers.
“The right to request remote work is an important item on my agenda to improve workers’ rights and modernise the world of work,” the tánaiste said.
“The benefits of remote working are obvious – less commuting, fewer transport emissions, better quality of life with more time with family and friends,” he added.
Job opportunities will be created for those who want to live in rural Ireland, for people with disabilities and for people with caring responsibilities, and smaller towns will benefit from new investment, increased footfall and local spend, he said.
The move means that workers and bosses will now be making and considering requests for flexible or remote working under one piece of legislation and one Code of Practice, to be developed by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
Bosses must have regard to the WRC Code of Practice when considering requests, as it will be established on a statutory footing, offering guidance on obligations regarding compliance.
Minister O’Gorman said that the legislation would have a provision for review after two years, including a consideration of extending the entitlement to a right to request flexible working to all employees.
Under the integrated bill, remote working will be defined as one type of flexible working.
The right to request any other type of flexible working, such as reduced working hours or adjusted working patterns, will remain limited to parents and carers.
The principal differences in the integrated bill compared with the original Right to Request Remote Working Bill are in the grounds for refusal and the right to redress.
The Right to Request Remote Working Bill provided for 13 specific grounds upon which an employer could refuse a request, as well as a general “business-grounds” provision.
Under the integrated bill, the enumerated grounds will be replaced by an obligation on the employer to consider both their needs and the needs of employees when considering a request.
The WRC Code of Practice represents an enhanced right to complain, and the review period will be intended to allow companies time to settle their flexible working policies.