By Chamber Press Office, 25 January 2023
When Dublin Chamber members were recently asked to discuss updates resulting from the integration of the right to request remote into the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill, several issues of concern were identified, particularly with regard to the Code of Practice yet to be designed by the Workplace Relations Commission. Firms noted that while an official definition of what constitutes an eligible role suitable to the request of remote work is missing, HR departments and managers may become subject to severe scrutiny and resentment from staff who have their applications denied due to a lack of consistency with operational demands.
Similarly, concerns were raised that the application process within the legislation and the process for refusal may be too onerous, lengthy or problematic from a management perspective. The application of the Code of Practice must be fair to avoid the development of an inequitable two-tier system of those who can access their right to request and those who cannot. Equally, the employer must be protected by the Code of Practice through a transparent and prescriptive process outlining the mechanism by which employee requests can be accepted or denied. Members stated that the Code of Practice must also consider the time, money and resources already invested into remote working policies, new infrastructures, and office spaces when considering the practical elements of its integration within different companies.
To ensure the Work Life Balance Bill’s success, roundtable discussion participants called for:
- Government to showcase organisations that have successfully executed policies that are in line/already compatible with the new legislation as an example of best practice; and
- Time to respond – the larger the organisation, the more time this will take to process requests against competing interests. There will be a considerable admin burden, and operational requirements must be paramount. No business should be at a disadvantage through operating this legislation; and
- Where it’s going to be prescriptive, be really prescriptive. Where there’s a need to be flexible, set this out carefully, particularly with regard to what will be subject to employer discretion. The more prescriptive, the greater the understanding and transparency will be for employers and employees alike.