26 May The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill.
The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill has been signed into law and was introduced in order to give further effect to the EU Directive on work-life balance for parents and carers, as well as to amend a number of other pieces of legislation. Outlined below is a summary of the key provisions.
The changes will be brought into effect on a staggered basis and employers will need to update their policies accordingly.
Leave for Medical Care Purposes
The Parental Leave Act 1998 is amended to include a right for an employee to take up to 5 days unpaid leave in any 12-month period for the purposes of providing significant care or support for a serious medical reason. This can apply in respect of the spouse or civil partner of the employee; cohabitant of the employee; a parent or grandparent of the employee; or a sibling, amongst some others.
Right to Request a Flexible Working Arrangement for Caring Purposes
The Bill introduces the right to request a flexible working arrangement for caring purposes, by an employee who is a parent of a child or a person who is for example, the spouse or civil partner of the employee; cohabitant of the employee; a parent or grandparent of the employee; or a sibling, amongst some others. It applies for the giving of care of a child up to the age of 12 years old or 16 years old where the child concerned has a disability or long-term illness. In order to request such a flexible working arrangement, the person affected must be in need of significant care or support for a serious medical condition.
It should be noted that the legislation has introduced the right to request a flexible working arrangement and not an absolute right to have a flexible working arrangement.
Domestic Violence Leave
Domestic violence leave is available to be taken where an employee is experiencing or has experienced domestic violence in the past, and the leave is to give the employee the chance to seek medical attention, get counselling, relocate or seek advice or assistance from a victim service organisation, a solicitor or the Garda Síochána.
In this case the employee should give notice as soon as reasonably practicable after the leave was taken that they took domestic violence leave and similar to the medical care leave, cannot be for more than 5 days in a period of 12 months. Employees who take such leave will be paid a prescribed daily rate of pay, which as yet has not been set.
Right to request a Remote Working Arrangement
The Bill provides for the right for employees to request remote working (not to have the right) after having been employed for a period of 6 months with the employer.
The employer will be required to take into consideration the employee’s needs and the requirements of the WRC Code of Practice (as yet not published), as well as it’s own business needs when responding to a request.
A change has been made to the Maternity Protection Act 1994 in order to extend the entitlement to breastfeeding breaks to two years after the birth of the child.