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White writing on green background: 3 out of 10 employers do not have a flexible working policy in place

3 out of 10 employers (30%) do not have a flexible working policy in place and almost as many (27%) do not have a remote working policy. That's according to our recent survey of HR professionals from both the public and private sectors.

The survey was carried out at our recent Employment Law webinar, which attracted more than 500 attendees. The event discussed the rapidly changing employment law landscape in Ireland, with several significant pieces of new legislation governing working conditions, sick leave, whistleblowing, work life balance, gender pay gap reporting and more.

Melanie Crowley, Partner and Head of our Employment Law and Benefits team, commented: “Remote and flexible working have become commonplace and will be legislated for under the Work Life Balance Act. While this has yet to commence, we would advise employers to prepare now for when it comes into force.

To be clear, flexible working arrangements are about hours of work and can include remote working arrangements, but remote working arrangements are about where the work is being carried out. Employees will shortly have the right to request remote working, and employers should create or update their policies now in preparation for this new legislation.”

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More than a fifth of employers (21%) have had to deal with a protected disclosure, but 17% do not have a whistleblowing policy and 23% do not have the required internal channels in place for workers to report wrongdoing.

Lucy O'Neill, Senior Associate on our Employment Law team, said: “It’s been six months now since the protected disclosures legislation was amended but our survey shows that some employers have been slow to update their policies and procedures to comply with their new obligations.

Arguably the biggest and the most important change is that employers are required to establish, maintain and operate internal reporting channels and procedures through which workers can make reports of wrongdoing. Our clear advice is for employers to take action on this now.”

The survey found that less than half (45%) of employers have updated their sick pay policy in line with the new statutory sick pay legislation brought in this January.

Melanie Crowley said: “Previously, employees did not have a legal right to be paid while on sick leave, but we now have legislation which mandates for payment of sick pay in certain circumstances. While almost all companies we surveyed (92%) have a sick pay policy in place, we would urge employers to review their policies to make sure they take account of this new statutory obligation to pay sick pay.”

The event also reviewed the new EU rules on transparent and predictable working conditions, which came into force in December last year. When asked, less than half of employers (47%) said they have updated their template employment contracts or reviewed their probationary periods (44%) in line with the new legislation.

Lucy O'Neill added: “For many employers, the new regulations on transparent and predictable working conditions flew largely under the radar. However, the legislation introduced some significant new obligations for employers which include limits on the length of probationary periods, which can be no longer than six months for employees in the private sector and a year for employees in the private sector.

These periods can only be extended in exceptional circumstances and where the extension is in the interests of the employee. It is critical that employers review their practices around probationary periods and update their contracts of employment to ensure compliance with the new legislation.”

Read more about the survey results on the Law Society Gazette, Business Plus, Irish Legal News or, or find out more about our Employment team.

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