Ireland to face EU fine for failing to meet work-life balance requirements

Mike Finnerty 17 Nov 2023

The European Commission will refer Ireland, Belgium and Spain to the Court of Justice of the European Union after the nations failed to implement measures that would impose a directive on work-life balance.

Ireland, Belgium and Spain did not bring in the Work-Life Balance Directive, a European Union law drafted in 2019.

The aim of the bill was to equalise work-life balance rights for parents and carers.

The commission said they will ask the court to impose a fine on the nations they said are in breach of the measures.

Ireland missed the August 2nd, 2022 deadline to implement the Work-life Balance Directive into national law, and have not communicated with the European Commission about plans to implement it.

A spokesperson for Government told RTÉ “Ireland has informed the commission of significant progress on the transposition of the directive and of our intention to complete the final element requiring transposition at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Labour Senator Marie Sherlock has accused Government of “dragging their heels” on implementing reform that would grant workers the right to request remote and flexible work.

“The Work Life Balance Act 2023 was signed into law well over six months ago, yet this Government continue to drag its heels for workers,” she said.

“These delays are already costing all hardworking people who still feel like the world of employment rights has not caught up with the modern realities of the workplace.”

Sherlock stated that the issue has exposed Government’s “real attitude towards remote and flexible work which prioritises big business and protecting its bottom line ahead of workers’ rights.”

“With high levels of office vacancy in Dublin and beyond, it seems that there is a concerted effort by Government to get workers back into the office, and to ensure they have little to no rights in that negotiation with their employer,” she claimed.

We’ve had lone parents tell us of their frustration that they don’t have a framework to request flexible work arrangements and are caught in a situation where there is no after-school care available locally. A right to request flexible work would have a hugely positive impact on these workers’ lives.”

“Should the EU impose a fine for a failure to enact these vital protections, workers are set to pay on the double.”

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