The right to request remote working arrangements for all employees and the right to request flexible working arrangements for caring purposes, introduced by the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023, are now effective. More information on each of these rights is available in our briefing here.

In addition to the commencement of these statutory rights from today, the Workplace Relations Commission has also published the long-awaited Code of Practice on the Right to Request Flexible Working and the Right to Request Remote Working here. The Code is aimed at giving guidance on best practice to employers and employees navigating the complexities of requests for flexible or remote working arrangements.

Helpfully, the Code provides a template Work Life Balance Policy, along with template application forms for flexible and remote working requests. In addition, the Code gives examples of what constitutes flexible working, reasons for requesting remote working and details of the information to be included in requests on the suitability of a proposed remote working location. It states that employers should consider requests, and where necessary terminate arrangements, in an objective, fair and reasonable manner and sets out a non-exhaustive list of questions for an employer to consider when assessing whether both the role, and the individual employee, are suitable for remote working.

Employers should take the time now to review the Code, and their remote and flexible working policies and procedures in light of the guidance contained in the Code, to ensure that they are in a position to deal with the requests that, from today, may be received from employees in respect of these new statutory rights. While an employer’s failure to adhere to the principles of the Code is not an offence in and of itself, the Code is admissible in evidence in any proceedings before the WRC, the Labour Court and the civil courts.