The right to request flexible work arrangements is set to become a reality this year for Irish employees.
The EU's Work Life Balance Directive must be implemented by the Government by October 2022. The EU directive means that employees who are also in a caring role such as parents or carers will have the right 'to request' flexible work arrangements.
In the UK, this has been the case since 2003 for employees with more than 26 weeks service.
However the directive will only offer employees the right to request flexible work arrangements, but employers will not be under an obligation to grant the request.
Karen O’Reilly, founder of Employflex, said that the Irish Government now has a chance to lead the way in Europe when it comes to flexible work practices.
“This year the Irish Government must implement this new legislation from the EU on the right for carers and parents to request flexible work arrangements. If the Irish Government went a step further and opened this up to everyone in the workplace, not just carers and parents, this would be a real commitment to changing the flexible work landscape and help Ireland gain competitive advantage in the global war for talent.”
Flexible working request
Ms O’Reilly points out however that just because an employee will have the right to request flexible working arrangement, it doesn’t mean the request will be granted.
“We will of course be encouraging employers to look outside the box and find ways that flexible work arrangements can work for everyone. If the pandemic has shown us anything when it comes to work it is that workers are resilient and new ways of working can work for everyone. Work/life balance is so important and employers and employees must work together to ensure this is achievable.”
Employflex is establishing a Flexible Work friendly database which will include flexible friendly workplaces. Any company which is deemed ‘Flexible Friendly’ will be awarded the “Flexible Place to Work’ badge. To obtain the ‘Flexible Place to Work’ accreditation, companies must meet nine out of 10 criteria which will be judged by Employflex.
“We want to separate the companies that are just paying lip service to their flexible work policy from the companies that are truly embracing a flexible work culture,” Ms O'Reilly said.
“Hybrid and remote work are not the same as flexible work. Flexible work can be small but important gestures such as having an hour off in the morning and afternoon for school drop-offs or having an extended lunch break to care for a loved one. Flexible work can also be compressed hours, full time with flexibility, annualised hours, job share, term time and part time. Now is the time to really embrace flexible work in Ireland. We need to ensure Flexible Work is not just a luxury but a right.”