Archive RSS
Blog  »  Hybrid Working
9
May 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

The EU Work-Life Balance Directive Ireland

The Irish government has published details of the Work-Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022. It will introduce a right to request flexible working for employees with children up to the age of 12 and those with caring responsibilities. It will also introduce a right for employees to take up to five days’ unpaid leave per year to provide medical care for family members or those in their households.

The proposed bill is necessary to implement the EU Work-life Balance Directive, which is due to be transposed by August 2022.

Key Changes

The right to request flexible working

  • Employees who have a child up to the age of 12 and employees who are caring for a relative or someone they live with all have the right to request flexible working arrangements for caring purposes for a particular period.
  • Employees will be required to make such requests in writing no longer than six weeks before they intend to commence the period of flexible working. The request must specify the nature of the changes requested, the date of commencement and the duration of the set period.
  • If the request is granted, the employer and employee must sign an agreement outlining the changes to working arrangements, patterns or hours and stating the date of commencement and duration of the set period.
  • At the end of the flexible working arrangement, the employee is entitled to return to the original working arrangements, hours, or patterns.

Leave for medical care purposes

  • Any employee will be allowed to take up to five days unpaid leave per year, where for “serious medical reasons” the employee needs to provide personal care or support to a family member or the person who lives in the same household as the employee. The leave may not be taken in periods of less than one day.
  • Employees must confirm to their employer in writing that they have taken or intend to take this leave, the date of commencement, duration and a statement of the facts entitling the employee to the leave.
  • Employers will be able to request evidence from the employee of their relationship with the person being cared for, the nature of that care and medical certification of the serious medical issue in respect of the person requiring the care.

It is intended that the legislation will be passed and enacted by the August 2022 deadline.

 

Related Articles: 

New Legislation is Being Brought to Cabinet this Week

The 411 on The Right to Request Remote Working

 

 

 

Posted in Employment Law, Hybrid Working

25
Jan 22

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

The Nation Rejoices: The Removal of COVID-19 Restrictions & The Return to the Workplace

Ireland rejoiced as it was announced over the weekend that most of the public health measures currently in place can be removed giving the Irish a sense of normalcy again, something we have all been waiting a long time for. However, this news will have also been met with many questions by the business community, particularly around how to effectively manage a safe, gradual return to the workplace.

The government confirmed that the transition to office working could commence with immediate effect from yesterday, Monday the 24th of January which is amazing news for all but it is strongly encouraged that employers engage with employees to plan, prepare and engage with their staff to put into motion that return in the coming weeks.

The return of employees to the office is very much a measured response, taking into account business needs as well as the needs of the employee. The experiment of working from home has been a success over the past two years therefore the we see it that there must be very justified reasons for a business to require staff to work in the office five days of the week. 

The return to office working must be considered in line with obligations under existing Safety, Health and Welfare legislation to provide a safe place of work. Organisations COVID-19 response plans will naturally need be edited to take into account these new measures and it is hoped that the revised guidance document will be finalised and published in the coming days. Once published our Bright Contracts software will be updated to reflect these changes.

While the lifting of restrictions is great news for all it is still important to bear in mind that the government still continue to reiterate the need for ongoing close monitoring of the virus. The pandemic is not over and the emergence of new variants with increased levels of transmissibility remains a risk both nationally and globally so businesses are encouraged to still keep this at the forefront of their office plans.

While the restrictions have been lifted, it is advised that employers develop plans for their return to work and continue the use of Covid-19 control measures:

  • Employers should re-examine the potential risks and hazards and update business and safety plans. (e.g. Covid-19 Response Plan, the occupational health and safety through risk assessments and the safety statement). 
  • The Health and Safety Authority’s website contains resources for employers including the Pre-return to work form, and Employer checklists.
  • Implement control measures and comply with the HSE’s and Government’s protocol/guidance. This includes appointing at least one lead worker representative to ensure safety measures are in place and being adhered to. Access a Health Safety Authority online course on the role of lead worker representative.
  • Develop, consult on, communicate and implement workplace changes or policies. 
  • Continue to follow the current advice for those with symptoms, cases and close contacts as announced by the government on the 12th of January 2022.
  • Continue to focus on maximising the uptake of the primary and booster vaccination.

Further changes coming down the line for businesses is this year, Leo Varadkar will bring in five new workers’ rights, which will include the right to request remote working. The others will be the right to statutory sick pay, new rights around redundancy for people who are laid off during the pandemic, a new right on the protection of workers’ tips and the new public holiday on St Brigid’s Day which was announced last week. These will be in addition to the previously introduced Right to Disconnect.

Today, Leo Varadkar provided some guidance into the specifics of The Right to Request Remote Working which we have summarised below for you:

  • The employee must have at least 6 months service in order to submit a request.
  • The employer will have 12 weeks to reply to the employees request.
  • The employer can counter offer the employees request which the employee will have one month to accept or refuse.
  • Right of appeal will apply to this strategy which will either be dealt with internally or through The WRC.
  • Employees can submit another request after 12 weeks.
  • A requirement of this strategy will be that all employers MUST have a Work From Home (WFH) Policy in place

Bright Contracts already has a WFH policy in the handbook of the software which can be found under the 'Terms & Conditions' tab. Further guidance in relation to The Right To Request Home Working is expected over the coming months which we will then communicate to our customers.

Related Articles:

Q&A: The Vaccine & The Workplace

The 411 on The Right to Request Remote Working

Helpful Articles/ Documents:

- Role of a Lead Worker Representative

Posted in Coronavirus, Employment Law, Health & Safety, Hybrid Working

14
Oct 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

The Budget 2022: What You Need to Know

The 2022 budget was released this week which aims to explain how money will be raised and spent in 2022. The budget saw some important changes across a variety of sectors with some important ones for employers to know which is why we have summarised them for you below so you don't miss out!

  • The National Minimum Wage

The NMW will rise by 30 cent to €10.50 per hour

  • Family

Maternity benefit and parental leave payments to be increased
Parent's Benefit extended by 2 weeks to 7 weeks from July next year

  • Covid Supports

The employment Wage Subsidy Scheme will remain in place, in a graduated format, until 30 April, 2022 - the scheme will close to new employers from 1 January, 2022

  • Working from Home & Income Tax

People who work remotely will see an income tax deduction of 30% of the cost of vouched expenses for heat, electricity and broadband. In his Budget speech, the Minister for Finance said Government policy is to facilitate and support remote work. 

If you would like to read some more detailed information and analysis, or even read the Ministers’ Budget day speeches to the Dáil, visit http://gov.ie/budget to find out more.

Related Articles:

Key Features: Updates to the Work Safely Protocol

The Essential Elements of a Hybrid Working Policy

Posted in Coronavirus, Employment Law, Health & Safety, Hybrid Working, News

27
Sep 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Key Features: Updates to the Work Safely Protocol

Following on from our post The Phased Return to the Workplace , further guidance has been given into the recent government changes effect on the Work Safely Protocol. The Protocol sets out the minimum public health measures required in every place of work to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

While employers are still expected to comply with their normal health and safety obligations, employers should note that from 22 October 2021 the requirement to work from home will be removed and the statutory regime in place to protect public health will be wound down. Further guidance is expected in advance of that date. So what are some of these key changes:

From 20 September 2021:

  • Businesses can begin a phased and staggered return to workplaces for specific business requirements
  • Two metre social distancing, the wearing of masks in certain circumstances, hygiene measures and appropriate ventilation remain in place
  • Appropriate attendance levels should be maintained in accordance with the Protocol
  • Staggered arrangements should be considered, such as non-fulltime attendance and flexible working hours
  • Each workplace must have a Lead Worker Representative that works with the employer to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, and
  • The requirement for self-isolation / restricted movements will continue for those with symptoms, who should immediately seek a test, those with positive test results, and close contacts of confirmed cases, unless fully vaccinated with no symptoms

From 22 October 2021:

  • Depending on continued satisfactory vaccination rates, the Government intends to remove further statutory restrictions from this date. In particular, the requirement to work from home will be removed, allowing a return to physical attendance in workplaces on a phased and cautious basis, appropriate to each sector.
  • Remote working will become a regular feature of Irish working life as the Government continues to implement Making Remote Work, Ireland’s National Remote Work Strategy, and
  • Legal requirements in relation to social distancing and mask wearing will no longer apply in the majority of circumstances. An emphasis on personal responsibility will be encouraged. This means that employees cannot insist on compliance with social distancing, mask wearing or the provision of sanitising equipment or products in the workplace

With employee's returning one of the most important actions for employers to take is to review their risk assessments and health & safety policies. In order to pinpoint how and where could the virus be transmitted in your workplace you must look at the hazards, evaluate the risks and put control measures in place and The Health and Safety Authority has produced checklists to assist in the reopening of workplaces.

In conclusion, the return to the workplace should be conducted in a cautious manner and in consultation with employees. The government is moving towards a focus on personal responsibility from the 22nd of October 2021 and the Government will consult with employers in advance of this date to prepare guidance for the next phase of easing public health restrictions.

Related Articles:

The Phased Return to the Workplace

Let's Get Topical - The Vaccine Policy

Posted in Coronavirus, Customer Update, Employment Update, Health & Safety, Hybrid Working

21
Sep 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

The Essential Elements of a Hybrid Working Policy

Following on from our previous post 'Your Must Have Hybrid-Working Checklist' having hybrid working policies and agreements in place is essential when returning employees to the office and agreeing a split between working form home and in the office. We see the important elements of a hybrid working policy to be the following:

1. Detail the split between attending work and working remotely

Your hybrid working policy should detail the split between attending work and working remotely and state what number of days an employee will spend attending the workplace and working remotely. The number of days will depend on but is not limited to some of the following;

  • the nature of the employees role 
  • what is happening within their role and team at any particular time 
  • individual circumstances 
  • the needs of the business, including space available at the businesses work locations

2. Working Hours
The working hours the employee must work in the office and at home must be stated, for example: For days on which the employee is attending the office, their normal hours of work are set out in their contract of employment.

Ensure you also detail that while working remotely, they must be available and working during their normal hours of work, as set out in their contract of employment while also listing the break and lunch times and being clear that they must avoid overworking, down time from work is essential.

3. Safe-Working While Working Remotely
Detail the procedure your employees must follow should they have any health & safety concerns while working at home, for example; if any work-related accidents occur in your home.

4. Remote Working Procedures
This section of the policy is where you will detail:

  • Sickness Absence
  • Compliance with Policies
  • Technology & Equipment
  • and a reference to data protection

Bright Contracts have recently updated the software to include a hybrid working policy which can be found under the 'Terms & Conditions' section of the handbook. If you'd like to preview this content prior to consider purchasing a licence you can do so here.

Related Articles:

Your Must Have Hybrid-Working Checklist

- The Link Between Hybrid Working & Employee Engagement 

Posted in Contract of employment, Coronavirus, Employment Contract, Hybrid Working, Software Upgrade, Staff Handbook

16
Sep 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Your Must Have Hybrid-Working Checklist

The coronavirus pandemic has completely changed how we live, not just in our personal lives but the way we work too. With hybrid-working becoming a dominant feature in the workplace for everyone businesses are now faced with developing a hybrid policy, creating agreements with their employees and ensuring the success of these arrangements. We believe that preparation is essential for employers when implementing hybrid working which is why we have developed a checklist for employers which can be followed when looking an the implementation of a hybrid model:

Step 1: Look at what works best for your organisation

Step 2: Communicate your intentions

Step 3: Written agreements

Step 4: Implement your hybrid policy

and 5: Refer back to your covid-19 response plan

  • Step 1: Hybrid working can bring huge benefits in terms of productivity, flexibility and employee wellbeing – but it’s not the best option for everyone.Think carefully about what your organisation has learned during the pandemic and how your people feel about it. What have been the benefits of working at home and the disadvantages of not being together in the workplace? If hybrid working does appeal, think about what would be the best blend – more home working or more time in the office. Ensure you also look at your HSA health & safety checklists for office and home working. The HSA has these checklists available on the HSA website.
  • Step 2: Once you’ve worked out what could work best for your business, make sure you communicate your plans to your employees. Do this well in advance of any change so employees have a chance to feed back their views. 
  • Step 3: You must ensure you have written agreements in place with your employees which communicates what is expected of them in order to avoid any confusion and any possible future disputes. Bright Contracts have template hybrid working letters available on the Bright Contracts website which can be downloaded here and edited to suit your businesses hybrid model arrangements.
  • Step 4: Once written agreements are in place next you need to implement a hybrid working policy within your organisation which we have just made available on our Bright Contracts Software. We hope this provides organisational leaders and business owners a simple but effective framework to make hybrid working a successful reality. With government guidelines on safe working constantly changing in response to the pandemic, hybrid working policies need to be reviewed much more regularly than most other policies

See our follow up blog post 'The Essential Elements of a Hybrid Working Policy' to read what your hybrid policy should detail.

Bright Contracts has a hybrid working policy available in the software which is available under the 'Terms & Conditions' tab. If you'd like to see a sample of this content you can do so by downloading the software and availing of a free trial. we have also recently upgraded our software to include hybrid working in the employment contracts which can be viewed in the contract section fo the handbook under the heading 'Places of Work'.

Related Articles:

Hybrid Working: Know The Basics

The Link Between Hybrid Working & Employee Engagement

Posted in Contract of employment, Hybrid Working, Software Upgrade, Staff Handbook