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Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure IE-2021-3/1855 Updated – measures in Ireland

National Remote Work Strategy aims to make remote working a permanent option after the pandemic

Country Ireland , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 15 January 2021
Context COVID-19
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Protection of workers, adaptation of workplace
– Teleworking arrangements, remote working
Author Roisin Farelly (IRN Publishing) and Eurofound
Measure added 12 April 2021 (updated 23 July 2021)

Background information

The National Remote Working Strategy was launched in January 2021. The objective of the Strategy is “to ensure that remote working is a permanent feature in the Irish workplace in a way that maximises economic, social and environmental benefits”. Currently in Ireland, all employees can request remote work from their employers but there is no legal framework around which a request can be made and how it should be dealt with by the employer.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar said: "Working from home has become the norm for many in 2020. We want remote, blended and flexible working arrangements a much bigger part of life after COVID-19. We’ve seen that there can be huge benefits – more flexibility, less commuting, more time for family and friends. It’s better for the transport emissions, and for quality of life, but it has to be done right. Employment rights need to be updated, we need to give guidance, and in many cases, we need to provide actual physical working space. It also requires a cultural shift in favour of facilitating it as an option. This Plan shows how we will bring all those parts together. I think it will make a real difference to people’s working lives."

A Public Consultation on the introduction of a Right to Request Remote Work was also launched in April. Launching the consultation Tánaiste said: "Putting the right to request remote working into law will provide a clear framework around which requesting, approving or refusing remote work can be based. In putting this into law, we recognise that remote working doesn’t work for everyone or for every organisation, so the government will take a balanced approach with the new legislation. I encourage employers and employees alike to engage with this consultation and make their views known."

Content of measure

Key actions under the National Remote Work Strategy include:

  • legislate to provide employees the right to request remote working
  • introduce a legally admissible code of practice on the right to disconnect from work – covering phone calls, emails and switch-off time
  • invest in remote work hubs, ensuring they are in locations that suit commuters and are close to childcare facilities
  • explore the acceleration of the National Broadband Plan
  • review the treatment of remote working for the purposes of tax and expenditure in the next Budget
  • lead by example by mandating that home and remote working should be the norm for 20% of public sector employees


The following updates to this measure have been made after it came into effect.

28 June 2021

In June, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar launched a making remote working work campaign which aims to promote Government advice and information to help employers and workers switch to remote and blended working.

The Minister called on employers and employees to make remote and home working a much bigger part of working life after COVID-19. “I’m asking employers to consider how they can make remote working a more permanent feature of life after the pandemic. Whether it means keeping home working and remote working as an option, or a blended model of home and the office, or working from the office and remote working hubs, now is the time for employers to speak to staff about works best for them and the company as a whole.”

01 April 2021

In April a new Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Code on the Right to Disconnect was launched. (see separate case) It gives employees the right to switch off from work outside of normal working hours. There are three rights enshrined in the Code:

  • The right of an employee to not have to routinely perform work outside their normal working hours.
  • The right not to be penalised for refusing to attend to work matters outside of normal working hours.
  • The duty to respect another person’s right to disconnect (e.g., by not routinely emailing or calling outside normal working hours).
01 April 2021

On 1 April 2021 the Government launched a public consultation on the the introduction of a Right to Request Remote Work.

The closing date for submissions was Friday 7 May.

Use of measure


Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Applies to all workers Applies to all businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Trade unions
Employers' organisations
Company / Companies
No special funding required

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Consulted Consulted
Form Direct consultation outside a formal body Direct consultation outside a formal body

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Social partners jointly
  • Main level of involvement: Peak or cross-sectoral level


Social partners have been invited to make submissions as part of the Government's public consultation on the introduction of a statutory right to request remote work.

Views and reactions

The employer group, Ibec, said that the publication of the National Remote Work Strategy is a timely recognition of the accelerating changes in our workplaces. Maeve McElwee, Ibec Director of Employer Relations, said: “There has been an increasing trend towards more flexible and remote working in recent years and this pace of change has been vastly accelerated by COVID-19. We are pleased to see Government commitments to invest in necessary infrastructure such as remote working hubs, alignment with childcare facilities, and the National Broadband Plan, as well as reviewing tax arrangements to incentivise remote working.”

The proposals to introduce legislation will require careful development to meet a balance for businesses and employees in order to ensure competitiveness, equality and flexibility considerations are addressed. Allowing time for a full regulatory impact assessment, including the costs of administration of new employment legislation, will be critical, according to Ibec.

Responding to the launch of the National Strategy on Remote Working, Irish Congress of Trade Unions General Secretary Patricia King said: “It took a pandemic to fully awaken us to the potential for remote working. While the experience has been fraught for some workers, for the vast majority it has been a positive experience and there is now a huge appetite to continue to work remotely after the COVID-19 restrictions end.

“Working from home or remotely from another location close to home, such as a digital hub or co-working space, has many advantages for workers. That is why ICTU was first to call for legislation to oblige employers to give requests for flexible working arrangements serious consideration. Without this requirement, Irish employers have shown themselves to be too quick to refuse out of hand to negotiate company-level agreements on remote working.

ICTU Social Policy Officer, Dr Laura Bambrick added: “Much of the same technology that enables us to work remotely also makes us reachable outside of work hours. The plan to have the Workplace Relations Commission draft legally enforceable regulations on workers’ right to switch off from work-related calls and messages outside of working hours without consequences for not replying is a good starting point to tackle the always-on work culture”.


  • 15 January 2021: Tánaiste publishes Remote Working Strategy (
  • 15 January 2021: New Remote Work Strategy a welcome, timely recognition of our changing workplaces (
  • 15 January 2021: Stronger Workers' Rights Vital to the Success of Remote Working (
  • 15 January 2021: Making Remote Work: National Remote Work Strategy (
  • 01 April 2021: Tánaiste signs Code of Practice on Right to Disconnect (
  • 01 April 2021: Public Consultation on the introduction of a Right to Request Remote Work (
  • 01 April 2021: Tánaiste signs Code of Practice on Right to Disconnect (
  • 01 April 2021: Public Consultation on the introduction of a Right to Request Remote Work (
  • 28 June 2021: Tánaiste calls on employers to make remote working a much bigger part of life after Covid-19 (


Eurofound (2021), National Remote Work Strategy aims to make remote working a permanent option after the pandemic, measure IE-2021-3/1855 (measures in Ireland), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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