How is the remote work bill changing? Not very well, apparently

What is the Right to Request Remote Work Act?

This is a bill that will create for the first time in Irish law a right for an employee to ask their employer to work remotely. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed everything in the world of work, with hundreds of thousands of people forced to work from home. Remote working has wider societal benefits: less congestion on the roads and shorter commuting times, which means more time spent with friends and family. It could also benefit rural communities, as more workers potentially choose not to live in cities.

Who proposes the bill?

The commitment to introduce legislation to support employees’ right to request remote work was made in the National Remote Work Strategy, released in January 2021. This is a priority for Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, who said that employers should continue to facilitate remote work “as long as the deal is done and the services are provided”. This is part of a strategy that also includes investing in centers of remote work across the country and gives workers the right to disconnect, he says.

How is it supposed to work?

It will give the employee the right to request remote work. Employers will be required to provide reasonable grounds for refusing to facilitate an employee’s request. All workplaces must have a written statement that sets out the company’s remote work policy. Currently, there are 13 grounds for refusal, although these are not exhaustive. They understand that the nature of the work does not allow for the work to be performed remotely; that work cannot be reorganized among existing staff; and that it would have a potentially negative impact on the quality of the work or on the performance.

What will happen if an employer denies an employee’s request?

The employee will be able to take his case to the Professional Relations Commission, which will rule and issue binding recommendations. An employer can be fined up to ¤2,500 for breaking the law. An employee can also bring the employer before the district court.

How is it in general?

Not very well, judging by the reaction of members of the Joint Committee for Business, Trade and Employment, who this week examined the heads of the bill. Many believe its terms are vague and weighted in favor of employers. Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly said there should be a presumption in favor of the employee and requests for remote work should be granted unless there is a compelling reason why they should not can’t be.

Department officials who attended the committee said they addressed many of the concerns raised about the bill inside and outside the House of Oireachtas. It still takes into account 175 submissions, engagement with other government departments and international review. Varadkar replied, “There is still some way to go before this becomes law, and I have said throughout that I am open to hearing realistic ways to strengthen it.”

When will it become law?

The government hopes the bill will become law before the summer recess.

About admin

Check Also

Centene backs out of Charlotte headquarters move, city loses thousands of promised jobs, ends up with huge property with no tenants

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – Centene has confirmed that the healthcare company is no longer moving …