The ‘Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill’ has now been approved by Cabinet and will, if passed, provide workers with a new range of additional employment rights. The bill will transpose elements of the EU Work Life Balance Directives into Irish law.
The Directive has been in place since 2019 and introduced a set of legislative actions designed to modernise the existing EU legal and policy frameworks, with the aim of better supporting a work-life balance for parents and carers, encouraging a more equal sharing of parental leave between men and women, and addressing women’s underrepresentation in the labour market. Member states were given three years to implement the provisions of the directive.
The legislation will give parents of young children a legal right to request flexible working hours as well as a right to five days of unpaid leave to look after sick family members and will also extend the right to paid breastfeeding breaks from six months to two years.
Under the legislation, employers that refuse a request for remote or flexible working or who dismiss or penalise an employee for either requesting or availing of flexible working, may find themselves before the Workplace Relations Commission.
It is expected the legislation will be in place before the end of the summer. Once enacted, it will be important to see how this fits in with existing legislation and company terms and conditions of employment.
Tips for employers; HR Practitioners should familiarise themselves with the legislation once enacted and initiate strategic discussions around flexible working practices. It is anticipated that policies and handbooks will need to be updated to govern the processes surrounding requests and entitlements for flexible working and leave arrangements.