The government has launched the 'Making Remote Work' National Remote Work Strategy, which aims to ensure that remote working "is a permanent feature in the Irish workplace that maximises economic, social and environmental benefits". Under the strategy, the government promises to, among other things, mandate that remote work be the norm for 20% of public sector employees and develop a code of practice for the right to disconnect.
Under the latest Level 5 restrictions, employees in Ireland must work from home unless they are classified as essential workers and their work cannot be done at home. The government has updated the list of essential workers to provide that it does not include workers who perform administrative or other support activities for businesses, unless these constitute essential administrative and support activities and the physical presence of the administrative or support worker in the workplace is required.
With a vaccination against COVID-19 in sight, many employers in Ireland will understandably be eager to have their employees vaccinated in hope of their workplace returning to some form of normality. This article explores some of the legal issues of which employers must be aware.
The mass move to homeworking triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the increasingly blurred boundaries between work and home and reignited the debate on the right to disconnect. Notwithstanding the protection afforded to employees under existing working time rules and health and safety legislation in Ireland, the current legal framework is inadequate to ensure a genuine right to disconnect. It remains to be seen how the government will choose to tackle the issue.
As the COVID-19 crisis begins to ease, employers must think carefully about how to safely manage the process of returning employees to the workplace. Companies must ensure the health and safety of their employees and visitors to their premises and comply with any continuing government guidelines, including in relation to physical distancing. This article summarises the legal landscape and various considerations that employers will need to take into account in Ireland.