13 reasons why an employer can decline your right to remote working under new legislation 3 months ago

13 reasons why an employer can decline your right to remote working under new legislation

"So long as the business gets done and services are provided, employers should facilitate it," the Tánaiste said.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has published details of a new law that will give employees the right to request remote working but also includes at least 13 reasons for employers to decline a request from employees to do so on reasonable grounds.

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The Right to Request Remote Working Bill 2021 for the first time will provide a legal framework for which making, approving or refusing a request for remote work can be based.

It comes as the Tanaiste has expressed a desire to make better terms and conditions for workers a "legacy of the pandemic".

“Up until now, remote and home working has been imposed on a lot of people due to the public health restrictions," Varadkar said.

"Now that they have been lifted, I want it to be a choice. I want workers to be able to work from home or remotely or hybrid if they want to.

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"So long as the business gets done and services are provided, employers should facilitate it.

“I know throughout the pandemic, many employers have gone to great lengths to give their employees as much flexibility around where they work as possible. We want this to continue.

"The world of work has changed and I know many would like to retain some amount of remote working once Covid is behind us.

“This new law will give every employee the right to request remote working from their employer. Employers will be required to provide reasonable grounds for refusing to facilitate an employees’ request.

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"These grounds are set out in the legislation and we will develop Codes of Practice to provide guidance to help employers implement the new law."

Under the bill, an employee will be eligible to submit a request to work from home once they have worked for their employer for a period of six months.

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However, an employer is free to offer remote work from day one if desired.

The new law provides for a time limit of 12 weeks for an employer to return a decision regarding a request from an employee.

Also, as part of the bill, all workplaces must have a written statement that sets out the company’s remote working policy.

This should specify the manner in which remote working requests are managed and the conditions which will apply to remote working generally within the organisation.

As set out in the legislation, an employer may decline a request for remote working by stating the reasonable business grounds for doing so.

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These may include but are not limited to:

  • The nature of the work not allowing for the work to be done remotely
  • Cannot reorganise work among existing staff
  • Potential negative impact on quality
  • Potential negative impact on performance
  • Planned structural changes
  • Burden of additional costs, taking into account the financial and other costs entailed and the scale and financial resources of the employer’s business
  • Concerns regarding the protection of business confidentiality or intellectual property
  • Concerns regarding the suitability of the proposed workspace on health and safety grounds
  • Concerns regarding the suitability of the proposed workspace on data protection grounds
  • Concerns regarding the internet connectivity of the proposed remote working location
  • Inordinate distance between the proposed remote location and on-site location
  • If the proposed remote working arrangement conflicts with the provisions of an applicable collective agreement
  • Ongoing or recently concluded formal disciplinary processes.

Where an employer has "diligently" completed the assessment process and any appeal has been heard, an employee must wait a period of 12 months to submit another request, provided they are in the same role.

If an employee moves to a new role within the company, they can submit a fresh request.

There will be a right of appeal to the Workplace Relations Commission where an employer has failed to respond to or to provide any reasonable grounds for refusal of a request for remote working.

Also, there will be protections for employees from penalisation for having exercised their entitlement to ask to work from home.

"We intend to have this legislated before the summer recess and certainly in place this year," Varadkar said.

Main image via Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie