Workers and employers at odds over remote working – Irish Examiner

Workers and employers are at odds over remote working, including the length of time people should be in employment before they can apply to base themselves outside the office.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is today publishing a report based on 175 submissions received as part of the process under way to draft laws to give employees the right to request remote work.

The submissions made by workers, private companies, industry bodies and trade unions, reveal that most employers believe their staff should have served a minimum of 12 months before having an entitlement to make a request for remote work.

This, they argue, would ensure that the employee has adequate opportunity to integrate properly into a business and create the necessary collegial relationships as well as obtain a strong understanding of an organisation’s culture.

However, submissions from employees argue that access to remote working should not be determined by length of service per se, but more importantly that both the employer and employee have a sense of trust of each other, the employer knows the capability and experience of the employee, and equally so that the employee is familiar enough with the job requirements to allow them to work remotely.

While most workers believe employers should respond to remote working requests within a month, businesses say a minimum of two months to consider the appropriateness of a request is needed.

However, 86% of submissions received considered it was acceptable that an employer offers an alternative hybrid working pattern, with a combination of remote work and onsite work.

When it came to the costs associated with working from home, 85% of those who responded were in favour of the employer bearing the cost, while 10% were not. Interestingly, 12% of those who responded suggested the introduction of a Government grant or tax incentive similar to the Cycle-to-Work scheme.

Mr Varadkar said there was now a “real opportunity” to make remote and blended working a much bigger part of normal working life. “Introducing a right to request remote working will set out a clear framework to facilitate remote and blended work options, in so far as possible.

“It will ensure that when an employer declines a request, there are stated reasons for doing so and conversations with workers are taking place in a structured way. We recognise that remote working won’t work for everyone or for every organisation, so the Government will take a balanced approach with the new legislation,” said Mr Varadkar.

Earlier this year, the Tánaiste published Ireland’s first National Remote Work Strategy, to make remote and blended working a bigger part of life after the pandemic.

Currently in Ireland, all employees can ask their employers for the right to work remotely, but there is no legal framework around which a request can be made and how it should be dealt with by the employer. The proposed new law will set out clearly how these requests should be facilitated as far as possible.

The submissions recognised that not all occupations, or particular roles would be suitable for remote working and Mr Varadkar said the Government had committed to take a balanced approach with the new legislation.

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