Employment legislation ‘not fit for purpose’ in remote working era 

HR body says much of law does not assist flexible work practices and urges review 
 
Employment conditions need to be “significantly reviewed” in light of the coronavirus pandemic, as much of the legislation in place is not fit for purpose in an era in which remote working is becoming the norm, a leading HR organisation has said. 
In a recent submission to the Department of Business, the body says more action is needed by Government and employers to increase the opportunity and uptake of flexible working arrangements. 
 
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, which represents more than 6,000 Irish HR professionals, said that there was no legal entitlement for workers to be granted part-time employment, or a broad entitlement for them to even request flexible or remote working. 
 
The institute said other statutory restrictions, including those relating to parenting and carer’s leave entitlements, should also be reviewed to increase the number of people able to work flexibly. 
 
“While lockdown has demonstrated how remote working can work for many cohorts of employees, it is critical that organisations are encouraged to continue to promote it for general appeal, and to assess the ongoing impact of flexible working on promotion, development, reward and recruitment outcomes,” the institute said. 
 
“Where government regulations mitigate against part-time, flexible and remote working, the implementation of employer solutions cannot on their own push the dial on flexible working unless regulations change,” it added. 
 
The institute is calling on the Government to “lead by example in the public sector”, by creating and sustaining more flexible and remote working roles. 
 
Strategy 
A recent survey by the institute found that just 14 per cent of Irish companies now opposed flexible working. Many were forced to embrace it due to Covid-19 and were surprised by how well it had worked. 
 
A more recent study from the body found that while employers were increasingly open to flexible working, only 38 per cent of workplaces had incorporated it into their attraction and retention strategy. In addition, 48 per cent of employers surveyed said they had insufficient IT to cope. 
 
“The Government should commission research on the impact of flexible and remote working particularly at various stages of the employee life cycle and life stage, with a focus on supporting diversity and inclusion,” the institute said in its submission. 
 
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions is among other bodies recently that have urged the Government to commit to a review of employment legislation to ensure protection of remote workers during the Covid-19 crisis. 
 
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