March 7, 2024
WRC ‘code of practice’ will be judged on whether it delivers for workers – Louise O’Reilly TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Louise O’Reilly TD, has said that she remains to be convinced that the ‘Code of Practice for Employers and Employees Right to Request Flexible Working and Right to Request Remote Working’ will deliver for workers.

The Fingal TD said she feels it affords far too much power to employers to deny legitimate remote working requests from workers.

Teachta O’Reilly:

“Today, the long-awaited ‘Code of Practice for Employers and Employees Right to Request Flexible Working and Right to Request Remote Working’ was finally published. The code lays out the operational matters underpinning a worker’s right to request remote and flexible working.

“It has been a drawn-out process from publication of the general scheme of the bill on a right to request remote working in 2021, to the publication of the ‘Code of Practice’ today, in 2024.

“What’s more, it has been a process characterised by delays, mistakes, and confusion.

“At different stages the legislation to deliver a right to request remote working has been rewritten, amended, and finally moved from one department to another.

“I worry that the ‘Code of Practice’ published today does not balance the rights of workers and the rights of business.

“What it does is gives workers the right to request remote working, a request which must be underpinned with detailed explanation on close to 18 points as to why they wish to work in this fashion. Indeed, some of the reasoning to be assessed, such as the inclusion of the distance between the workers home and their place of work, is an overreach.

“There is also a checklist of 26 measures for an employer to consider for a request, many of which are, no doubt, included to ensure the balance of power is taken away from the worker.

“Workers must jump through a multitude of hoops to access remote working, but such arrangements can be refused, changed, withdrawn, or terminated at ease.

“Thankfully, the ‘Code of Practice’ will give workers avenues to vindicate their rights through the WRC. However, my fear is that the code has afforded far too much power to employers to deny legitimate remote working requests from workers.

“For four years I have said the right to request remote working will be judged on whether workers have confidence that it compels employers to be fair, reasonable, and consistent in their considerations. I remain to be convinced that the ‘Code of Practice for Employers and Employees Right to Request Flexible Working and Right to Request Remote Working’ does this.”

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