At the end of January this year, The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment in Ireland, Leo Varadkar announced that legislation would be set out to give employees the right to request remote working, as part of plans to make remote working a permanent right for employees in the country. The plan is for the bill to be finalised and ready for implementation, later this year.
Why was this set out?
When the vast proportion of the workforce worked from home during the pandemic, many businesses saw an increase in productivity whilst employees felt it provided more freedom and a better work-life balance. Whilst the proposal has had mixed reviews from some employers and ministers alike, the Right to Request Remote Working will be the first legal framework for requesting remote work for employees. Should employers not wish to allow employees to work from home, under the new law, they will be obligated to justify the acceptance or denial of that employee.
Terms of the legislation
As part of the legislation, employers will have to establish a formal policy laying out how remote working requests can be made, the criteria that need to be met and the time frame for a decision. Those not doing so could be fined up to €2,500.
When remote working requests are made, should they be disproved, employers will have to justify their decision and the way in which remote working would have a negative impact on the quality of the product or service the business supplies. Some concerns employers can express about allowing employees to work remotely include:
- Issues with internet connectivity
- Commute distance to the business on-site location
- Any structural changes to the company
- Additional costs that could incur because of the request
- A disciplinary process
- Data protection grounds
Employees can appeal their employer’s decision of rejection however; they cannot submit another remote working request for 12 months unless they move to a new role. To submit a request to work remotely, employees need to have been with their employer for at least six months. Should they wish to, employees can make a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission two weeks following the beginning of the internal appeal process.
How will this impact the decision of other countries?
Should this legislation have positive impacts on businesses and the economy, there is a likeliness that more countries could consider implementing similar legislation.
However, even before the bill, there’s been no shortage of evidence for the benefits that come with allowing employees to work remotely. A recent study by Gitlab, which surveyed remote workers, found that 1 in 3 respondents would quit their job should remote working be no longer an option, and 52% reported they would consider leaving their co-located company for a remote role. Further to this, employers have reported that the top 3 remote working benefits have been increased productivity (42%), increased efficiency (38%), and increased employee morale (31%).
Expand your business into a country with some of the most productive workers
Although the results of this legislation are yet to be known, it’s clear the benefits of allowing staff to work remotely extend beyond just flexibility.
With a PEO, you can mobilise your business and get a team set up in Ireland without the need to establish an entity. Plus, with a PEO like Procorre Global, we take care of all the HR-related admin that comes with global expansion. Speak to one of our PEO experts today, to find out how we can help you.