New working from home law: everything employers need to know

Soon your staff will have the legal right to request remote working. But do you have to say yes? Let’s take a look at how to handle the situation…

First published on Friday, Apr 30, 2021

Last updated on Wednesday, Feb 24, 2021

2 min read

In January this year the government launched ‘Making Remote Work’, the country’s new National Remote Work Strategy.

The main objective of the strategy is to make remote working ‘a permanent feature in the Irish workplace in a way that maximises economic, social and environmental benefits’.

For employers, one of the most significant elements of the strategy is the plan for employees to have a new legal right to request remote working arrangements. This is a fundamental change in Irish employment law and is due to come into effect before the end of 2021.

There are a lot of benefits to remote working, both for employers and employees. But when you’re trying to run a business, it could sometimes be tricky to have your team split up and working in different places…

If an employee asks to work from home, do I have to say yes?

Not necessarily. While the new law is far from being finalised, reports indicate that you, the employer, may refuse an employee’s request for remote working on ‘objectively justifiable grounds’...

Translation? If you’re going to say no, you need a good reason for it.

Because if your employee isn’t satisfied with the reason for refusing the request, then they may have the right to make a claim against you in the Workplace Relations Commission. And that could spell bad news for you and your business…

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar commented on the publication of the strategy:

"Working from home has become the norm for many in 2020. We want remote, blended and flexible working arrangements to be a much bigger part of life after COVID-19.

“Many people will want to continue on to do at least some remote working after the pandemic, and it’s really important that we protect the rights and entitlements of those workers so that they can still ‘switch off’ from work.

“We want to put in place the structures which ensure we take advantage of the benefits of remote working and protect against the downsides."

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