Leo Varadkar has said Ireland now has an opportunity to make remote working a major part of working life.
The Tánaiste said the Government will pass a law this year that will provide employees with a right to request remote working arrangements.
The Government, Mr Varadkar said, will also introduce a legally admissible code of practice on the right to disconnect from work — a code that would cover phone calls, emails and switch-off time.
The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically shifted how people work across the world — with many more people working either remotely or from home than before the pandemic began.
The Tánaiste said that home and remote working would become a standard arrangement for 20 per cent of public sector workers.
“We have a real opportunity now to make remote and blended working a much bigger part of normal working life,” Mr Varadkar said.
“Introducing a right to request remote working will set out a clear framework to facilitate remote and blended work options, in so far as possible. It will ensure that when an employer declines a request, there are stated reasons for doing so and conversations with workers are taking place in a structured way.
“We recognise that remote working won’t work for everyone or for every organisation, so the Government will take a balanced approach with the new legislation.”
The Tánaiste earlier this year published Ireland’s first national remote work strategy.
At present, all employees can ask their employer for the right to work remotely, but there is no legal framework to manage that process.
In a report published on Friday by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment — based on 175 submissions from works, businesses and trade unions — 84 per cent were in favour of a legal requirement for a workplace policy on remote work.
The department said the submissions will help inform the drafting of legislation, while a review of international best practice has already begun.
“The intention is to introduce a mechanism for employees to request remote working that is fair to workers but does not place an undue burden on employers. This new legislation will be a priority in the new Dáil term,” Mr Varadkar said.