The way we work in Ireland is changing. In recent years, there has been increased discussion online and in the media around the trend of flexible working arrangements - from working from home to alternative working hours.

While it may seem an attractive proposition at first glance, there is a lot to consider. We would recommend Irish employees carry out some research to find out if such an arrangement would work for them, and their employers.

 

What is flexible working?

‘Flexible working’ generally means a working arrangement that differs from the traditional working week of Monday to Friday, 9am - 5.30pm. It gives employees some flexibility on how long, when and where they work.

 

What is the legal status in Ireland?

Unlike Britain, Australia and the US, there is currently no Irish legislation in relation to flexible working.

Legislation such as the Maternity Protection Act, the Parental Leave Act, the Adoptive Leave Act, the Organisation of Working Time Act, the Protection of Employees (Part Time Work) Act and Careers Leave does provide for some flexible working arrangements, but only in very particular circumstances.

Employees returning from parental leave also have a statutory right to request changes to working hours or patterns of work, under the European Union (Parental Leave) Regulations of 2013. The Code of Practice for Access to Part Time Work, published in 2006, does encourage employers to provide part time work options to employees and to have policies in place to help provide access to these.

 

What are my options?

There are a range of flexible working options such as flexitime, job sharing, remote working, or compressed hours.

  • Flexitime allows workers to work when they want as long as they complete an agreed number of hours.
  • Job Share is, as it says, a full time job, but shared with another employee in the organisation.
  • Remote Working is very popular as technology allows employees to work from home. According to an Irish Times article published this year, 216,000 Irish employees are now working from home.
  • Compressed Hours is similar to flexitime. However, employees doing compressed hours usually work longer days in order to make up enough hours to take a week off.

 

Things to consider

If you are thinking about exploring a flexible working arrangement, ask yourself the following questions to see if it would work for you.

  • What kind of arrangement am I looking or?
  • Would I be able to get my work done on time?
  • Would this suit my employer and their business?
  • Do I need any IT or other support?
  • Can I financially afford any impact that the flexible arrangement may have?
  • Will my terms and conditions of employment be affected?

 

If you still think this may be a suitable option for you and your employer, draft and submit a business case to your employer and considering proposing a trial period.

While there is no statutory requirement for an employer to grant a request for flexible working arrangements, the employer should be able to give you good reasons why they are not granting it, or offer a reasonable alternative. There should also be policies in place in your workplace detailing how these requests are to be dealt with.

For more information, the Health and Safety Authority has also published information in relation to work life balance and flexible working arrangements.

 

Article by Naomi Gardiner, Associate Solicitor. 

 

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