Findings from the Consultation on Right to Request Remote Working

By Steven Galvin - Last update


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Findings from the Consultation on Right to Request Remote Working

Earlier this year saw the publication of a new National Remote Work Strategy by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD. to make remote and blended working a bigger part of life after the pandemic. 

The objective of the strategy is to ensure that remote working is a permanent feature in the Irish workplace in a way that maximises economic, social and environmental benefits. Currently in Ireland, all employees can request remote work from their employers but there is no legal framework around which a request can be made and how it should be dealt with by the employer. An important commitment in the Strategy was to introduce a new law giving workers the right to request to remote work.

In April, The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment launched a public consultation on the introduction of a statutory right to request remote work.

In August the department published its findings in a report on the submissions received from the Consultation on Right to Request Remote Working.

Here we present a  breakdown of the responses to the questions asked in the public consultation. The findings will inform the ongoing process in drafting the proposed legislation to give workers the right to request to remote work.

Consultation on Right to Request Remote Working 

Question 1 What timeframe for response should apply to employers on receipt of an employee’s complete request to work remotely?  

In the questionnaire, the options available to respondents were 

  • 1 Month  
  • 2 Months  
  • Other 

 

  • 64% were in favour of one-month timeframe 
  • 18% were in favour of two-month timeframe 
  • 18% suggested other options – Of those that responded with “other” there was a wide range of views varying from 2 days to up to 3 months.  

 

Question 2(a) What minimum length of service is appropriate for an employee to have served in the employment of the employer before having an entitlement to make a request for remote work? 

In the questionnaire, the options available to respondents were 

  • No minimum
  • 2 Years
  • 1 Year
  • 6 Months After probation
  • 6 Months
  • 3 Months
  • Other   

 

  • 31% were in favour of a one-year timeframe 
  • 25% were in favour of having no minimum timeframe 
  • 16% were in favour of 6 months 
  • 12% were in favour of having an entitlement once probation was complete 
  • 9% listed other answers 
  • 4% were in favour of 3 months 
  • 3% were in favour of 2 years
  •   

Of those that chose to respond with a specific figure the majority chose one year. However, a quarter proposed no minimum timeframe to be entitled to submit a request

Question 2(b) After what duration can another request be submitted if the first request was declined?  

In the questionnaire, the options available to respondents were 

  • No minimum
  • 1 Year
  • 6 Months
  • 3 Months
  • 1 month
  • Other

 

  • 24% were in favour of 6 months 
  • 22% were in favour of 1 year 
  • 18% were in favour of another criteria 
  • 17% were in favour of 3 months 
  • 11% were in favour of having no minimum timeframe 
  • 8% were in favour of 1 month. 

 

Of those that chose to respond with a specific figure a slim majority chose 6 months, marginally ahead of 1 year. 18% selected other criteria and those responses varied from when the reasons for an initial refusal are no longer applicable, to change in performance or of circumstances.

Question 3 As an employer, how confident would you currently be in carrying out a risk assessment of an employee’s proposed remote workplace? What, if any, additional information, guidance or assistance might you require? 

In the questionnaire, the options available to respondents were 

  • Confident
  • Not Confident
  • Other

 

  • A majority of 44% responded that they were not confident to carry out such an assessment. 
  • 33% responded that they were confident 
  • 23% didn’t specify being either. 

 

Drilling down further, 56% of those who responded provided additional comments that comprehensive guidelines in relation to health and safety would assist or are required in order to raise confidence.  

Question 4 Should there be a provision inserted in the legislation that employers must have a policy on remote work which can be inspected by employees and the Workplace Relations Commission?  

In the questionnaire, the options available to respondents were 

  • Yes
  • No
  • Other

 

  • 84% were in favour of a policy on remote work 
  • 11% were not in favour 
  • 15% provided another answer. 

Drilling down into the figures further, 16% of respondents suggested that policy content should be specified in a Code of Practice or that such a code would provide clarity and best practice.  

Question 5 a Reasonable grounds for refusal of request for remote working 

  • 38% considered the physical nature of the job to be reasonable grounds for refusal of a request for remote working. 
  • 9% considered it reasonable to refuse requests in respect of client-facing roles. 
  • 4% considered that there are no reasonable grounds for refusal of a request. 

A number of submissions considered that the grounds for refusal of a request should be included in a Code of Practice. There was a significant number of respondents who cited insufficient wi-fi/broadband connectivity as a reason.

Question 5(b) Is it acceptable that an employer offers an alternative hybrid working pattern with a combination of remote work and onsite work? 

In the questionnaire, the options available to respondents were 

  • Yes
  • No

 

  • 86% considered that it is acceptable that an employer offers an alternative hybrid working pattern with a combination of remote work and onsite work.  

Question 6(a) If an employer seeks to withdraw from the arrangement, what is a reasonable notice period of intention to do so?  

In the questionnaire, the options available to respondents were 

  • 6 months
  • 3 months
  • 2 months
  • 1 month
  • 6 weeks
  • Other

 

  • 27% were in favour of 1 month 
  • 25% were in favour of 3 months 
  • 18% gave another response 
  • 11% were in favour of 2 months 
  • 8% were in favour of 6 months 
  • 7% were in favour of 6 weeks 
  • 4% were in favour of 1 year 

Question 6(b) If an employee seeks to withdraw from the arrangement, what is a reasonable notice period of intention to do so? 

In the questionnaire, the options available to respondents were 

  • 6 months
  • 3 months
  • 2 months
  • 1 month
  • 6 weeks
  • Other

 

  • 40% were in favour of a period of 1 month 
  • 20% were in favour of 3 months 
  • 13% were in favour of 2 months 
  • 11% gave another response 
  • 8% were in favour of 6 weeks 
  • 7% were in favour of 6 months 
  • 1% were in favour of 1 year 

Question 6(c) If an employer seeks to change the specific details of the arrangement, what is a reasonable notice period of intention to do so?  

In the questionnaire, the options available to respondents were 

  • 1 year
  • 6 Months
  • 3 months
  • 2 months
  • 1 month
  • 6 weeks
  • 2 weeks
  • Other

 

  • 36% were in favour on 1 month 
  • 20% were in favour of 3 months 
  • 11% were in favour of 2 months 
  • 11% gave another response 
  • 9% were in favour of 6 months 
  • 7% were in favour of 6 weeks 
  • 4% were in favour of 2 weeks 
  • 2% were in favour of 1 year  

Question 6(d) If an employee seeks to change the specific details of the arrangement, what is a reasonable notice period of intention to do so?

In the questionnaire, the options available to respondents were 

  • 1 year
  • 6 Months
  • 3 months
  • 2 months
  • 1 month
  • 6 weeks
  • 2 weeks
  • Other

 

  • 44% were in favour of 1 month 
  • 17% were in favour of 3 months 
  • 11% were in favour of 2 months 
  • 10% gave another response 
  • 8% were in favour of 6 weeks 
  • 5% were in favour of 2 weeks 
  • 4% were in favour of 6 months 
  • 1% were in favour of 1 year 

Question 7 Should the employer bear the cost of providing all equipment for a remote working arrangement as well as covering the cost of maintenance? 

In the questionnaire, the options available to respondents were 

 

  • Yes
  • No 
  • Other answer

 

  • 85% were in favour of the employer bearing the cost
  • 10% were not in favour
  • 5% provided another answer which includes 50/50 split for hybrid, employee providing furniture but employer IT/ICT equipment only.
  • 12% of those who responded suggest the introduction of a Government grant or tax incentive similar to the Cycle-to-Work scheme. 

 

Question 8 Monitoring of activity Should an employer have entitlement to monitor the activity of the employee? 

In the questionnaire, the options available to respondents were 

  • Yes
  • No 

 

  • 84% considered that an employer should have entitlement to monitor the activity of the employee. 

However, the vast majority of submissions were only in favour of monitoring to the same extent applicable in the office environment. Responses stated that monitoring should only be permitted to a level required to ensure compliance with the Organisation of Working Time Act and Health and Safety legislation, and that the employees right to privacy and GDPR must be respected by employers.

You can download the Submissions Report from Consultation on Right to Request Remote Working here.

 


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Steven Galvin

Survey Indicates Irish Workers Want Remote Working to Stay


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