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Flexible and Remote Working in the Financial Services Sector

Our Financial Services or Employment Law & Benefits teams examine the scope of recently published Code of Practice on the Right to Request Flexible Working and the Right to Request Remote Working. They also look at why businesses in the financial services sector now need to review and adapt their relevant policies to ensure compliance with the new Code.

A new Code of Practice on the Right to Request Flexible Working and the Right to Request Remote Working was published in March 2024. The Code provides certain employees with a right to request flexible working for caring purposes, to include a variation in hours or days worked, or working compressed hours. It also provides all employees with a right to request remote working.

The Code does not provide employees with an automatic right to flexible or remote working but instead, employers are required to consider requests made by employees. The Code is not legally binding but sets out best practice for dealing with requests. The Code can be considered in proceedings before the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court.

Some statistics to consider

A large number of financial institutions currently offer flexible or remote working arrangements. In a recent survey, 90% of companies said they plan to implement return-to-office policies by the end of 2024. Nearly 30% indicated that this might involve returning to the office on a full-time basis, with only 2% of business leaders saying that they do not plan on requiring employees to work in person.

The Code provides clarity for both employers and employees and will shape how flexible and remote working arrangements are managed in the future.


Under the Code, employees can request flexible or remote working from their first day of employment but must have six months of continuous service with their employer before any arrangement can start. Employers can waive this requirement. While all employees are eligible to request remote working, for flexible working, an employee must be:

  • A parent (or certain persons acting in place of a parent) of a child under 12 (or 16, if the child has a disability or illness) who will be providing care to that child, or
  • Providing personal care or support to another person who requires significant care or support for a serious medical reason. This includes the employee’s child, spouse, civil partner, cohabitant, parent, grandparent, sibling, or a person who resides with the employee.

Making a request

Employees must apply for flexible or remote working no later than 8 weeks before the proposed start of the arrangement. Requests should be in writing and signed by the employee and should note:

  • Details of the proposed arrangement, i.e. the form of flexible working being sought or days on which remote working is being sought
  • The proposed start date and duration of the arrangement, and
  • Specific reasons for making the request, and for remote working, details of the suitability of the proposed work location

Employees requesting flexible working will need to provide documentation/information setting out:

  • Details of the person to whom the employee’s request relates
  • The employee’s connection to that person, and
  • Evidence of the significant care or support required by that person, where relevant

Right to a response and records

The Code states that employers should respond to requests for flexible or remote working no later than four weeks from receiving the request. This can be extended, however, in limited circumstances. Within four weeks of receiving the request, an employer must either:

  • Approve the request – and record this in a signed written agreement
  • Refuse the request – and provide written notice of the reasons for refusal, or
  • Notify the employee that more time is needed to consider the request

An employer who receives a request for flexible or remote working must consider the request, having regard to the employer’s business needs, the employee’s needs or the reasons for their request, and the guidance in the Code. The Code lists various factors that an employer can consider in dealing with requests. These factors include the suitability of a role/an employee for flexible or remote working.

Flexible or remote working arrangements may be subject to an initial trial period. Arrangements can be changed with the agreement of an employer and an employee and can be terminated in specific circumstances. An employer must keep a copy of signed agreements and notices. Employees should be given a copy of any agreement signed by them.

Top tips for employers

Employers in the financial services sector should review and adapt their flexible and remote working policies to comply with the Code along with Irish working time and health and safety legislation. Employers should ensure that:

  1. Requests made by employees are dealt with within the timeframes in the Code
  2. Appropriate records are retained, and
  3. Employees are not penalised for exercising their rights

We have extensive experience advising clients in the financial services sector on all aspects of the employment relationship, including requests for flexible and remote working. For more information and expert advice, please contact a member of our Financial Services or Employment Law & Benefits teams.

The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.

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