Would you like to work from home on a permanent basis? Or do you miss the workplace, your colleagues, the banter?
Legislation is planned to give employees the right to request to work remotely. This arises from the National Remote Work Strategy which includes the introduction of a code of practice on the right to disconnect from work and a commitment to construct remote working hubs.
Other commitments in the strategy include the right to request remote working with legislation introduced to provide a framework to deal with such requests. Employers will have to justify a refusal on objective grounds.
If the employee is unhappy with the decision, he/shew will be able to appeal the decision to the WRC. How the WRC will then deal with it will depend on what is in the legislation and what objective reasons have been put forward by the employer.
The purpose of this part of the strategy is to strengthen the employee’s right to long term remote working. The legislation will be scrutinised with a great degree of interest by both employers and employees when it is eventually published.
Right to disconnect
The right to disconnect is an objective of the National Remote Work Strategy. The promise here is a code of practice to allow the employee to disconnect from phone calls and emails outside working hours. This code of practice may not be legally mandatory, but it will be referred to and regarded by the adjudicator when an employee makes a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission.
The primary piece of legislation in Ireland dealing with working time, rest breaks, annual leave is the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.
Remote work hubs
There is a commitment to the construction of remote work hubs to ensure maximum ease of access for commuters and which will be close to childcare facilities.
There may be some changes from a taxation perspective to make remote working a more attractive proposition from a tax perspective.
Finally, the National Remote Work Strategy will be looking at how the roll out of the National Broadband Plan can be used to accommodate the technology which will make remote working significantly easier.
What should employers do?
Employers should now be taking a look at how they might respond to requests for remote working in respect of various roles in their organisation. What jobs might be suitable, which ones will not be suitable? Can objective reasons be provided for refusal to an employee’s request?
At a minimum the employer should consider drawing up a remote work policy which will provide a framework for the new legislation when it is introduced. Such a policy should contain an appeal mechanism for the employee in the event of a refusal.