Ireland launches remote work strategy, with right to disconnect

Ireland launches remote work strategy, with right to disconnect

The Irish government announced its remote working strategy in January 2021, and several proposed measures will be issued later in 2021 according to a published timetable. The government plans to make remote working a permanent option for employees after the COVID-19 pandemic ends, and measures will include granting employees the right to request remote working and introduction of a code of practice to give employees the right to disconnect from work outside of working hours. The strategy follows a 2020 public consultation on remote work.

Highlights

  • Establish three pillars and supporting initiatives that aim to create a conducive environment for remote working; develop and leverage a remote work infrastructure; and build a remote work policy and guidance framework.
  • Promote the advantages of remote working to private sector employers, including advice on training and skills required for successful remote working, in Q1, 2021.
  • Propose legislation to grant employees the right to request remote working, in Q3, 2021.
  • Introduce a code of practice on the rights of employees to disconnect from their work during nonworking hours and holidays — covering phone calls, emails and switch-off time. The Workplace Relations Commission will draft the code for ministerial approval in Q1, 2021.
  • Provide remote working guidance to employers and employees on an ongoing basis. The strategy highlights the need for quantitative evidence of employers adopting remote work solutions outside of the COVID-19 pandemic.  
  • Review tax arrangements applicable to remote working, in particular with regard to employees and employers. The applicable tax arrangements will feature in the 2022 budget in Q3, 2021.
  • Establish a cross-departmental knowledge base on the costs and benefits of remote working, including the impact on employment, equality considerations, transport, carbon emissions and broadband provisions.
  • Map commuter patterns, skills and childcare facilities to better inform decision making about remote working hub developments (Q3, 2021), and a commitment to “significant investment” in the expansion of remote work facilities in Q4, 2021
  • Mandate that public sector employers achieve an average of 20% home and remote working (Q4, 2021). The strategy recognizes the difficulties faced by some sectors, such as healthcare.

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Joanna O’Riordan
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Partner, Mercer

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Principal, Mercer’s Law & Policy Group

Stephanie Rosseau
by Stephanie Rosseau

Principal, Mercer’s Law & Policy Group

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