Varadkar: Bosses must give strong reasons for rejecting remote working requests

Varadkar: Bosses must give strong reasons for rejecting remote working requests

Employers will have at least 13 grounds to refuse an employee's request to work remotely under the draft legislation.

Employers will have to provide strong reasons that "stack up" in order to deny remote working requests, the Tánaiste has warned.

Employers will have at least 13 grounds to refuse an employee's request to work remotely under new draft legislation.

While the bill requires employers to formally set out a reason for rejecting a request, it does not guarantee any worker a right to work from home.

"It won't be just enough to give one of the reasons, you'll have to be able to show that that reason stacks up, but there are lots of reasons, that's the truth of it," said Leo Varadkar. 

"There are lots of reasons as to why remote working or home working may not be possible."

He said the Government is trying to "move the dial" to make it easier for employers to say yes to remote working and harder for them to say no.

'Favouring businesses'

However, trade unions and opposition parties accused the Government of favouring businesses over workers with new measures on working from home.

Irish Congress of Trade Unions general secretary Patricia King described the 13 reasons as "sweeping and subjective", adding that the bill does not strike a balance between employer and employee needs.

Labour leader Alan Kelly said the bill means that the "power is still with the bosses".

Sinn Féin's Louise O’Reilly accused Mr Varadkar of "pulling a fast one", accusing him of trying to appear as if he is providing an additional workers’ right but making that right almost impossible for a worker to access.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy described the bill as "an employers’ charter which only serves to undermine the right to work from home".

Reasons to deny requests

Among the reasons to decline remote working are if a job cannot be done remotely, such as in healthcare or retail, or if the employer cannot re-organise work among existing staff.

Remote working can be rejected if the employer feels there is a potential negative impact on quality of work or performance.

Concerns around protection of business confidentiality or intellectual property or concerns about the proposed workspace on either health and safety grounds or data protection grounds can also be used for refusal.

Poor internet connectivity or the additional costs associated with allowing a person to work from home are among the 13 reasons set out.

Mr Varadkar stressed that the bill, which he hopes to have enacted by the summer recess, will allow significant numbers of people to work from home.

Under the bill, all workplaces must have a written statement which sets out the company’s remote working policy, specifying the manner in which remote working requests are managed and the conditions which will apply to remote working within the organisation.

If rejected, the employee will have to wait a period of 12 months to submit another request, provided they are in the same role, but if an employee moves to a new role within the company, they can submit a fresh request. The employee must receive an answer within 12 weeks.

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