Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The Government will not legislate to give people the right to work from home but will instead introduce a right for employees to request home-working.

As reported in The Irish Times, opposition politicians have called for a right to work remotely.

According to Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar, under proposed legislation, employers will have to consider requests to work remotely, however, they would still be able to reject them.

Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on enterprise Louise O’Reilly said the planned legislation should be “more robust” and that no reasonable request from an employee should be refused.

“The emphasis should be on the right to have it rather than the right to ask for it,” Ms O’Reilly said, recognising that not all requests can be granted due to the nature of some work.

‘At the whim of employers’

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said the Government must give workers a legal right to work remotely, “not merely the right to request flexible working arrangements”.

Ms Murphy said the proposed legislation “does not go far enough” and “The default position should be that flexible working is permissible. It should not be at the whim of employers to accept it or reject it.”

However, Mr Varadkar argued that employers are more likely to grant requests to work from home for fear of being brought to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). Under the proposed plans, the WRC will be the appeals mechanism.

“Government can only interfere in contracts that employers and employees have signed to a certain extent,” Mr Varadkar said.

The Tánaiste pointed out that remote working isn’t always going to be possible, giving examples of healthcare and hospitality.

“What we want to do is get to a position whereby remote working/home working becomes a choice and that employers facilitate that provided the business gets done and provided public services don’t suffer,” Mr Vardkar said.

“We want to see more remote working, more home working, more hybrid working”.

The Tánaiste added that he believes the legislation can “change the culture” and that employers will embrace it.

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