Flexible Working Arrangements Are on the Way

Would you like to avail of a ‘flexible working’ arrangement?

Would your lifestyle be improved beyond recognition by a little bit of space and stillness that flexible working might bring?

In August 2019 a new EU Directive came into force: the EU Directive on Work-Life Balance. Member states have three years within which to implement the Directive.

The goal of the directive is to increase the participation of women in the workforce and to allow workers make a request for flexible working. The bad news, however, is that there is no obligation on the employer to grant the request if he can objectively justify the refusal.

Flexible working arrangements could take many forms, for example

  • Part time work
  • Working from home
  • Working outside normal work hours.

Takeaway for employers

Employers should put in place a workplace policy for flexible working. This will allow expectations to be managed on all sides, especially if the policy is fair, transparent, and consistent.

Once employers implement flexible working arrangements in the workplace, they need to be mindful of their obligations in respect of breaks between shifts, and other obligations, under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.

Keeping an eye on working time will be an important task to be carried out by supervisors or management. This may require extra training for staff who have this responsibility of balancing the rights of the employee under flexible working arrangements and their rights under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.

Employers must also ensure that they comply with their record keeping obligations regarding working time and rest breaks. If they fail to do so they will have great difficulty defending claims of breaches in respect of working time and/or rest breaks at the Workplace Relations Commission.

The CJEU in a 2019 Spanish case involving Deutsche Bank SAE (C-55/18) held that member states must ensure that employers have a functioning system in place to record working time accurately. Without such a system it is impossible to ascertain whether the employee’s rights are being respected or not.

That CJEU case, the Judgment of the Grand Chamber,  Federación de Servicios de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) v Deutsche Bank SAE, in which a reference was made from the Natinoal High Court in Spain for a preliminary ruling can be found here.