On 29th March 2023, The Work-Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022 was passed by the Irish government and now goes to be signed into law.
The Work-Life Balance Bill which has been called a gamechanger in terms of employee rights in Ireland gives employees the right to request remote working and will also see the introduction of a significant raft of family-friendly measures including:
The legislation will make it easier for workers to combine their professional and personal lives and puts an emphasis on family supports with the introduction of a statutory entitlement to carer’s leave, the right to request flexible and remote working, and makes breastfeeding breaks a reality for women returning to work from maternity leave.
Commenting on the Bill, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman said: “The Work-Life Balance Bill represents a significant advance in workers’ rights in Ireland. It recognises the importance of family life and an improved quality of life for all workers, by supporting employees to achieve a better balance between their home lives and work lives.”
Employers and employees will make and consider requests for flexible or remote working under one code of practice developed by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). The WRC will publish its Code of Practice setting out guidance for employers on how best to consider and manage remote and flexible working requests. Once signed into law by the President, there will be an obligation on the employer to consider both the needs of employees and theirs when assessing a request. A complaint can be taken to the WRC where an employer has not complied with the code.
This code will follow a similar template from the Code of Practice for the Right to Disconnect which was created in 2021 and refers to an employee’s right to be able to disengage from work and refrain from engaging in work-related electronic communications, such as emails, telephone calls or other messages, outside normal working hours.
Both the Balance Project and Work-Life Balance Bill are significant steps in empowering women and their employers to better manage work-life balance. While the practical application of the law has yet to be fully realised, it is hoped that it will ultimately go a long way in ensuring that employees feel valued and supported, which can only lead to a more productive and happier workforce.