Employment Law

Rules of Engagement - The New Era of Work

8 October 2021

In what was an incredibly engaging webinar on ‘Rules of Engagement - The New Era of Work', panelists Jennifer Cashman, Brian Kelly and Joyce Rigby-Jones, moderated by Henry Daly, gave helpful insights on the “great reset” – the return to the office, managing remote teams and requests, the importance of company culture, navigating the war for talent and what the modern office might look like. We have provided 6 key takeaways from the event below.

  1. Contracts of employment. Employment contracts for new hires need to reflect remote or hybrid work models discussed and agreed during a hiring process. The terms ‘Remote Working’, ‘Flexible Working’ and ‘Hybrid Working’ are often being used interchangeably as if they have the same meaning.  Not only do they not have the same meaning, the terms also mean different things to different employers and employees. Therefore, companies need to be very clear in their communications about what working arrangements apply and what each term means in that specific company.  Employers must also ensure they are complying with health and safety obligations when considering remote working arrangements. The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has published helpful checklists for employers on their website here. While the HSA’s guidance documents are practical, in terms of equipment and resources, other pertinent issues for employers, such as data protection, cyber security and obligations under the Organisation of Working Time Act, mut also be considered in any flexible working arrangements offered.
  2. Culture. Culture has become a major consideration for employees as they consider a return to the office as they factor in what’s important in both their professional and personal lives. Employers need to focus on their branding and culture and really think about what is going to attract the right type of employee to their company. However, it will be important to maintain a fluid approach over the next number of months and carefully consider what way of working is going to be best not only for employees, but also the wider organisation in the long term.
  3. War for talent. Many organisations are looking to fill talent gaps across the globe having exhausted searches in Ireland. Employers need to factor in longer wait times now for work permits and visas, depending on where the employees are coming from. For employees seeking to work from abroad, there are significant legal and tax considerations and specialist advice should be sought on facilitating or continuing any arrangements to work remotely from outside the country, as to do so long-term is tricky and potentially a legal minefield.
  4. Right to request to work remotely. There is currently no legal entitlement to work remotely, either temporarily or permanently. An employee can request to remote work but there is no legal framework around such a request. The Government has committed to legislate for an employee’s right to request to work remotely and the Tánaiste has said the legislation will be published by the end of this year. Government has also said there may be tax changes related to remote working in the next budget. One to watch.
  5. The Big Reset. Remote working involves a whole new way of thinking on how to manage employees. It will be important for employers to put in place a framework around the future of work and hybrid work practices, to include investment in training for line managers in relation to managing a hybrid workforce.
  6. Designing the modern office. Post pandemic, the office is now seen as place, not just to get work done, but a place to collaborate, connect with fellow employees and learn. Each of our panelists have seen clients look to reconfigure current office spaces as we move from workplace to collaborate and connect space.

For more information on the content of this Insight please contact the event speakers:

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