With many employees still working in a hybrid situation, there are a large amount of people requesting a remote working option on an ongoing basis. Currently this is not regulated, however, legislation has been introduced that when passed into law will give workers the right to request a remote working option. Employers will have the right to refuse on grounds to be stated in the bill. If the worker is dissatisfied there will be a right to bring the matter before the WRC.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of some of the reasons an employer can refuses a remote working request on business grounds:
The past couple of years have been shrouded in uncertainty and volatility, largely due to epidemiological and political events, rather than economic fundamentals per se. However, it is not possible to divorce economic developments from politics and pandemics, as they have had and continue to have a significant impact on economic performance. Before looking at the year ahead, it is always worthwhile to look back at what I said in this piece a year ago to see how that turned out. Last year I had to eat humble pie as the declaration of a global pandemic a few weeks after I wrote an upbeat piece in February 2020 changed everything.
This time last year I said that looking ahead to 2021, “it is possible to be optimistic about the global and the domestic economy. This is of course subject to all of the caveats about the mutating virus and the vaccines. The very stringent restrictions put in place here in Ireland and in many other countries at the end of 2020 could last well for the first quarter and possibly into the second quarter, and will obviously have a very significant impact on economic activity. There is not a lot that can be done about that.
Maintaining communication with the absent worker is important and will help you in assessing whether the worker is fit / unfit to return
to work. Employers should apply existing policies and procedures to encourage workers back to work, after a longer absence due to COVID-19, in the same way that return to work following any long illness is managed.