The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment is conducting a public consultation on the introduction of a statutory right to request remote work.
This consultation will inform new legislation for the right to request remote work, which is a key action under the National Remote Working Strategy, launched in January 2021. The objective of the Strategy is to ensure that remote working is a permanent feature in the Irish workplace in a way that maximises economic, social and environmental benefits. Currently in Ireland, all employees can request remote work from their employers but there is no legal framework around which a request can be made and how it should be dealt with by the employer.
Introducing legislation on this topic will provide a framework around which requesting, approving or refusing such a request can be based. It would also provide legal clarity to employers on their obligations for dealing with such requests.
Working from home has become the norm for many people over the past 12 months. Though the adoption of remote work was already increasing in Ireland and across the globe, COVID-19 has greatly accelerated this trend and vast numbers of employees have proved that it can work, making it a viable option for many companies today and into the future. The impacts of increased remote work can be substantial and remote working has the potential to fundamentally change the nature of where, how, when and why people work.
However, not all work lends itself easily to remote working, for example where a worker needs to be physically present on-site to do a task, interact with others, or use location-specific specialised machinery or equipment. In cases where remote work is suitable, a hybrid or blended model with a combination of remote work and onsite work may be the preferred arrangement. Some organisations may adopt a model where employees are required to come onsite only a few days a week or month. Some companies will need a core of ‘anchor’ people, that will be in the office or onsite most days because they need to be.
It is recognised that not all occupations, or particular roles within an enterprise, will be suitable for remote working. Therefore, even in cases where employers want to support workers and be as flexible as possible, it will not always be an appropriate or suitable option.
Shannon Chamber will be responding to the Department of Enterprise and Employment’s Public Consultation on behalf of member companies/the business community and welcomes your involvement in this process.
We invite you to respond to the questions set out in the below word document. The responses you provide will be compiled into a document reflecting the collective feedback from member companies, which will be shared with you when complete.
Your responses by COB Friday, 23 April would be very much appreciated.