Over the next two days we will look at flexible working arrangements from two different angles. Today we are focusing on employee requests to work flexibly.
Look out for part 2 tomorrow.
The entitlement of parents and carers to request flexible working arrangements (“FWAs”) is one of the key workplace rights set out in the new EU Directive on Work-Life Balance (“the Directive”), which was adopted in August 2019. The right is to make a request for flexible working, which does not necessarily equate to an obligation to grant flexible working if there is an objective justification for declining a request. Click here to read our comments on the Directive from earlier in the year. The aim of the Directive is to improve work-life balance and increase employment amongst women. Member States have three years in which to implement its provisions.
FWAs can take many forms including, for example, working from home, part-time working or working at non-standard times. In its Future Jobs Ireland 2019 paper the government cited FWAs as a means of helping particular sections of society to participate in the workforce. For instance, these arrangements can remove obstacles to older employees extending their working lives, as we said in our article in October on the Economic & Social Research Institute’s report The Ageing Workforce in Ireland.
We recommend that employers put in place a flexible working policy if they have not done so already. A policy can be used to:
- manage expectations about the types of alternative arrangements that can be accommodated by the business;
- clarify the responsibilities of the employee and employer during the arrangement; and
- help managers to make decisions about flexible working requests that are fair, consistent and based on the staffing needs of the business.
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