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Right to Request Remote Work proposals must be supported with campaign, says Senator

Gary Ibbotson 21 Dec 2021

The forthcoming Right to Request Remote Work proposals need to be supported by guidance for both employers and employees with a sustained communications campaign, Fine Gael Senator Emer Currie has said.

Senator Currie, Fine Gael’s Seanad Spokesperson on Work/Life Balance and Employment Affairs, said: “In the New Year, the Tánaiste will publish a Bill on the Right to Request Remote Work.

“This will bring fundamental changes to the workplace, create new rights and alter the employee-employer relationship.

“These measures are part of Fine Gael’s commitment to create more flexible family-friendly working arrangements, including working from home and more flexible working hours.

“All employees in Ireland can currently 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.

“In the face of this public health emergency, we have seen just how essential flexible work arrangements have become and we need to have the structures and resources in place to adapt to this reality.

“Earlier this year, the Tánaiste asked the public to submit their views on plans to put the right to ask for remote working into law.

“This public consultation revealed the breadth and complexity of issues involved. In the Seanad this month, the Tánaiste restated this, saying we are creating rights for the first time and we must strike a delicate balance.

“Earlier this month, for example, a German Court ruled that a man slipping on his way from a bedroom to his home office was a workplace accident. These kinds of reports have the ability to spook employers.

“We need to ensure the Government proposals are supported by guidance explaining what the new legislation means both legally and in practice.

“We should also borrow from what other countries are doing too, because so many countries are grappling with the same issues we are.

“This is such a positive opportunity for employers and employees, and we need to make sure any concerns are pre-empted and responded to.

“What we want to avoid is a situation where radical change is avoided because of a fear of complexity or impracticality. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity and we need to grasp it,” Senator Currie concluded.

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