Recently-published legislation that claims to give workers a right to request remote working arrangement is “fatally flawed” and needs major amendments, according to Fórsa and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU).
In a submission to the Oireachtas committee charged with scrutinising the new laws, the union said employers should be obliged to give objective reasons if they refuse an employee’s request to work from home. And it says the long list of grounds for refusal set out in the first draft of the proposed law is far too extensive.
Unions also say staff should have a legal right to appeal to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) if their employer turns down a request. As currently written, the bill only allows for a complaint to the WRC on technical grounds. It doesn’t allow an employee to appeal the reason for refusing the request.
In oral evidence to the Oireachtas committee earlier this week, ICTU general secretary Patricia King said the Request Remote Work Bill would not deliver robust legislation guaranteeing fair procedure and balancing employer and employee needs in its current form.
“While most jobs require a physical presence in the workplace, as many as one in four workers in employment worked from home during the first lockdown. Remote working has now moved into the mainstream of workplace issues.
"Remote working has been shown to improve workers’ quality of life and their wellbeing. It can benefit the environment and rural regeneration. It makes good business and economic sense too. Studies repeatedly find that most employers report that productivity either increased or stayed the same over the past two years.
“ICTU and affiliates are urging all members of the Oireachtas to work with trade unions and Government in getting this legislation fit for purpose and enacted without delay to ensure that the gains from remote working are not lost,” she said.
Fórsa and other ICTU affiliates first called for legislation on requesting remote work in the summer of 2020, saying this would bring Irish workers’ rights in line with other wealthy European countries. The Government agreed, but its proposed law falls far short of what’s required.
Read the union submission HERE.
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