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Firms must preserve right to review bespoke remote-work set-ups

23 Feb 2022 / employment Print

Firms should hold 'right to review' remote-work set-ups

A total of 87% of firms surveyed by Mason Hayes & Curran LLP (MH&C) have begun bringing employees back on site, with the end of the emergency stage of the pandemic.

A remote-working survey of over 150 HR professionals in both public and private sectors has also shown that 44% of employers will be “very flexible” about facilitating remote working.

Head of the employment and benefits team Melanie Crowley said: “Employers and employees also need to bear in mind that remote working is not the same as flexible working, and that flexibility in this post-COVID reality we all now inhabit is, I think, what employees really want”.


And 51% of organisations state that they will be “partially” flexible on remote work, while just 5% will not be flexible at all.

The survey was carried out by business law firm MH&C LLP at a recent webinar considering the key aspects of the Government’s National Remote Work Strategy, the Code of Practice on the Right to Disconnect and the draft Right to Request Remote Working Bill 2022. 

“As it stands, employees don’t have the legal or statutory right to request remote working, so that’s what the Right to Request Remote Working Bill is trying to legislate for,” said senior associate Jessica Bielenberg. 

Disgruntled employee

There is not much a disgruntled employee can do if their employer refuses a request for remote working, she added.

“They can put in an appeal – employers should have an appeal process in place in their remote work policy and an employee has to wait two weeks to allow the employer to deal with that appeal.” 

Bielenberg added that, currently, an employee may only take a claim to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) on procedural grounds.

Senior partner Ger Connolly noted that it is “interesting and somewhat unusual” that the bill provides that it will be an offence not to have a remote working policy in place.   

The survey found that currently 41% of organisations do not have such a policy in place.

“Organisations should absolutely have a policy that sets out their position in relation to remote working,” said Ger Connolly. 

“Before the legislation comes in, organisations should take the time to consider what this means to them from an operational point of view because, unlike other policies, your remote working policy will have a bearing on your employees’ performance of their jobs on a weekly basis.

Strong advice

“Our strong advice is to spend time drafting a policy that suits your organisation’s needs, and be clear about how this impacts on the contract of employment. If bespoke arrangements are in place, these should be clearly communicated by email, and employers should reserve the right to review and revisit arrangements on a regular basis.”

However, fewer than half (38%) of organisations have conducted risk assessments of employees’ remote working spaces.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland