This article is an extract from GTDT Market Intelligence Remote Working 2022. Click here for the full guide.
1 What are the most consequential issues that an employer should consider when determining its post-covid-19 remote work policies?
In Ireland, the recently enacted Remote Working Bill places an obligation on all employers to ensure that they have a remote working policy in place. Employers should consider the following when drafting and implementing their remote working policies.
Right to request remote work
The draft scheme of the Right to Request Remote Working Bill 2022 has been published and once enacted, it will give employees a legal right to request remote working. Employers will be able to refuse a request for remote working if there are ‘reasonable grounds’ for doing so. These reasonable grounds will be set out in the upcoming legislation. Employees will also have a right to appeal to the Workplace Relations Commission where the employer does not respond to the request, give reasonable grounds for a refusal or penalises the employee for accessing the right to request remote working. As such, remote working policies will need to strike a balance between the organisation’s needs and the employee’s entitlement to work remotely. Policies will look different for different organisations, however it is clear that flexibility will need to be provided to employees in relation to the right to request remote work in order to retain key talent, boost employee morale and ensure productivity amongst employees.
A remote working policy should outline that employees may be permitted to work from a safe, secure workspace in their home. If an employer wishes to permit their employees to work from abroad or from co-working spaces, then details of the proposed remote working arrangement should be included in the employee’s request to allow the employer to adequately assess the risks involved. Permitting employees to work from abroad for extended periods of time may create additional employment law and taxation obligations on employers. For co-working spaces, confidentiality and data protection issues may arise.
Equipment / home office expenses
Employers must also consider what contribution they will make, if any, to the employees’ home working arrangement. If equipment such as laptops, monitors, keyboards or desk chairs are to be provided by employers, this should be outlined in the policy along with any financial contributions that might be made to electricity, heating, internet or telephone costs. If no employer contribution will be made, then the policy should inform employees that it is their obligation to provide their own home office equipment and to apply for any tax reliefs available. To note, employers can provide a tax-free financial contribution to household bills for remote workers of up to €3.20 a day.
Health and safety
From a health and safety perspective, employers who permit remote working requests will still be required to ensure that its employees are working from an appropriate and safe workspace. We recommend that a remote working questionnaire be appended to the policy requesting details of any potential health and safety concerns or ergonomic risks arising with the employee’s proposed workspace. A provision should also be included in the policy permitting employers to carry out ergonomic assessments of workstations either remotely or in person.
Irish employers are obliged to keep accurate records of their employees’ working hours and rest breaks. Employers will need to consider whether their …….