The right to request flexible working arrangements is set to become a reality this year for Irish employees.
The government must implement the EU work-life balance directive by October 2022. The EU directive means that employees in caring roles such as parents or caregivers have the right to “request” flexible working arrangements.
In the UK, this has been the case since 2003 for employees with more than 26 weeks of service.
However, the directive will only provide employees with the right to request flexible working arrangements, but employers will not be obligated to agree to the request.
Karen O’Reilly, founder of Employflex, said the Irish government now has an opportunity to lead the way in Europe when it comes to flexible working practices.
This year the Irish government must implement this new EU legislation on the right of caregivers and parents to request flexible working arrangements. If the Irish government goes a step further and opens this up to everyone in the workplace, not just caregivers and parents, it will be a real commitment to changing the flexible working landscape and helping Ireland gain a competitive advantage in the global war on talent.”
Flexible work order
Miss O’Reilly points out that just because an employee will have the right to request a flexible work arrangement, it does not mean that the request will be granted.
“We will of course encourage employers to look outside the box and find ways flexible working arrangements can work for everyone. If the pandemic has shown us anything when it comes to work, it is that workers are flexible and new ways of working can work for everyone. Work-life balance is a matter of course. It is very important and employers and employees must work together to ensure that this can be achieved.”
Employflex is creating a flexible business database that will include flexible and friendly workplaces. Any company deemed “flexible friendly” will earn the “flexible workplace” badge. To receive a Flexible Workplace accreditation, companies must meet nine criteria out of 10 which will be judged by Employflex.
“We want to separate companies that only pay lip service to their flexible work policy from companies that truly embrace a flexible work culture,” said Ms O’Reilly.
“Hybrid working and telecommuting is not the same as flexi-work. Flexible working can be small but important gestures like getting an hour’s break in the morning and afternoon to take time off from school or having an extended lunch break to care for a loved one. Flexible working can also be stressful. hours, full time flexibly, annual hours, job sharing, class time, part time. Now is the time to truly embrace flexible working in Ireland. We need to make sure that ‘flexible working’ is not just a luxury but a right.”
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