Guidelines on remote working requests to be published within weeks

Coveney tells Dáil there is a sense of urgency around code of practice but Coaliton wants ‘to get this right’

Government-backed guidelines intended to set out how employers should deal with requests from their staff to work at home are likely to be approved in the coming days and published within weeks, the Minister for Enterprise and Employment has said.

Speaking in the Dáil on Thursday, Simon Coveney said the Code of Practice on the Right to Request Remote Working compiled by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) needs to be signed-off by two Government departments.

“We are actively working on that and I suspect it will be done within the next couple of weeks,” he said.

Responding to criticism from Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly over delays in publishing the code, provided for in the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, Mr Coveney denied there was a lack of urgency in relation to the publication. The legislation was enacted last April and was the subject of a subsequent public consultation.


“There is a sense of urgency, but we also want to get this right,” Mr Coveney said. “We set a very clear target that the WRC would report back to me with a code of practice for the end of January and that is what happened. I need to fully consider it now, which we are doing, and we will get that done quickly.

“The Minister (for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth), Deputy (Roderic) O’Gorman, also has to do that under the legislation. We will finalise it and it will be a code of practice which will be in use under the legislation. We are on time. We are doing it. There is a sense of urgency around it.”

Ms O’Reilly said discussion on patterns of employment were happening in workplaces around the country and that participants – employers, unions and staff – were urgently waiting on the guidelines.

She said there had been various previous commitments to publish detail of the proposals, most recently during January when officials at the Department of Enterprise and Employment had said the code would be issued by the end of that month.

The WRC has overseen the compilation of the code on foot of the public consultation and input from employer and worker representatives.

However, Mr Coveney said the Government “only got the draft code back 10 days ago” and was now aiming to test it before approving and publishing it.

“It is probably a matter of days before that happens. We are now in a good place. We are moving towards putting a lot more structure, permanency and acceptance around how arrangements for flexible working and remote working are going to work,” he added.

“This is a challenging thing to get right (but) from what I have read, this code of practice does get the balance right and I think it will be welcomed by employers, workers and workers representatives. I believe we will get it finalised in the coming days.”

A succession of surveys have suggested that a gradual return to the office is happening at many workplaces. Those employing hybrid models are tending to increasingly require attendance, mainly on midweek days. A significant number of companies where remote working had become normal during the pandemic have also sought a full-time return to the office.

The code is intended to set out the basis on which requests to continue working remotely should be dealt with and the requirements around refusals for this by employers.

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Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times