Government approved the integration of the Right to Request Remote Work into the Work Life Balance Bill
On 09 November, the Government approved the integration of the Right to Request Remote Work for all employees into the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022. The Bill, which is expected to be delivered by the end of the year, will introduce a legal right to request remote working along with measures to improve family-friendly work practices and paid leave for victims of domestic violence.
Some of the key features of the Bill include:
- A right for parents and carers to request flexible working arrangements for caring purposes.
- The introduction of five days unpaid leave per calendar year to provide care or support for a relative or a person who lives in the same household as the employee.
- The extension of the current entitlement to breastfeeding breaks under the Maternity Protection Acts from six months to two years.
- An amendment to the Maternity Protection Acts to provide a transgender male who has, in accordance with the Gender Recognition Acts 2015, obtained a gender recognition cert, subsequently becomes pregnant to fall within the scope of the maternity protection legislation.
- Amending an anomaly in the Adoptive Leave Act 1995 whereby the amendments brought under the Family Leave and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2021 refer to the qualifying adopter as “her” only, when the qualifying adopter can be either a male or female adopter.
- Those who are suffering or at risk of domestic violence will be entitled to five days of paid leave per year.
- There are various other amendments including to the Unfair Dismissals Acts (arising from the new medical care leave).
- As noted above, the Government recently approved the integration of the Right to Request Remote Work for all workers into the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill which is expected to be delivered by the end of 2022.
Key points of note:
- Under the integrated Bill, remote working will be defined as one type of flexible working. All employees will have a right to request remote working.
- The right to request any other type of flexible working, such as reduced working hours or adjusted working patterns, will remain limited to Parents and Carers, as defined in the Bill.
- The principal differences in the integrated Bill compared with the original Right to Request Remote Working Bill are in the grounds for refusal and the right to redress. The Right to Request Remote Working Bill provided for 13 specific grounds upon which an employer could refuse a request, as well as a general “business grounds” provision. Under the integrated Bill, the specified grounds will be replaced by an obligation on the employer to consider both their needs and the needs of employees when considering a request. Employers will also be required to have regard to a Code of Practice. Under the integrated Bill a complaint can be taken to the WRC where an employer hasn’t complied with the Code of Practice or the other requirements of the Bill. This represents an enhanced right to complaint, when compared with the original Right to Request Remote Working Bill as published earlier this year, which did not include a requirement for an employer to have regard to a Code of Practice and contained a number of grounds for refusal of a request.
- The Government has also instructed that a review of flexible working should take place after two years. This review will include a consideration of whether the right to request flexible working should be extended to all workers. This sequenced approach will allow companies time to settle their flexible working policies so the review can take into account lessons learned over the next two years.
The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022 can be viewed here. The SFA will continue to keep members updated on the introduction of this legislation as it progresses over the coming weeks. If your business is concerned about this issue or has any questions, please contact Fiona on email@example.com or ring 01 6051557.