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Work Life Balance Directive

Evolution of Working Policies

Bhanavi Saxena
Bhanavi Saxena

Published on: Jun 28, 2024

Anjali Singh
Anjali Singh

Updated on: Jul 8, 2024

(25 Ratings)
240

Introduction:

The European Union has acknowledged from time to time the fundamental principle of equality between men and women in the social market economy, stringently concentrating on the equal pay and work under the employment sphere between men and women, and affirming the right to protection from dismissal concerning paid maternity leave and parental leave subsequent to the birth or adoption of a child, so as to balance the domestic or personal life with the bread-earning role the employees. Therefore, it is not only the right of a child to be provided with the best interest for their upbringing, but it is also the duty of the state to provide a means for the parents to have common responsibilities for the upbringing and development of the child.

For many parents and workers who have caregiving duties, finding a work-life balance is still a significant difficulty. This is especially true in light of the growing trend of longer workdays and more flexible work schedules, which negatively affects the employment of women. A primary cause of women’s underrepresentation in the workforce is the challenge of striking a balance between work and home responsibilities. Women are likely to work less hours in paid employment after giving birth and indulging in maternity roles, and to spend more time providing unpaid care. It has also been demonstrated that having a sick or dependent relative negatively affects a woman’s employment and causes some of them to completely leave the workforce.

Hence, a road was paved for “Work Life Balance Act” so as to contribute towards the goal of gender equality by not only by promoting equal participation of women in employment opportunities, but equality in terms of sharing and caring of responsibilities between men and women, and the close of gender gaps in remuneration and pay.

The WLBD Directive is passed by the EU keeping in mind the duty it has under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union which is the constitutional basis of the European Union, thus, repealing the Directive 2010/18/EU.

Click on the countries to know the implementation status of the Directive –

ROMANIA BULGARIA SERBIA UNITED KINGDOM UKRAINE GREECE TURKEY CYPRUS MONTENEGRO ALBANIA MACEDONIA BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA CROATIA SLOVENIA HUNGARY SPAIN PORTUGAL FRANCE BELGIUM NETHERLAND THE GERMANY Denmark ITALY SWITZERLAND AUSTRIA CZECH REPUBLIC SLOVAKIA BELARUS LITHUANIA LATVIA LATVIA ESTONIA ESTONIA POLAND FINLAND SWEDEN NORWAY IRELAND

Work Life Balance Act, 2023 – Ireland

The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 2023, was signed into a law on April 4, 2023 which implemented a directive from the EU. The Work Life Balance Act’s primary goal is to advance gender equality by encouraging women’s employment and an equal distribution of childcare duties among the two genders.

Many employers’ remote and flexible working policies have developed and grown after the Covid-19 outbreak. The Work Life Balance Act, 2023 offers more structure and clarity about agile working methods. Therefore, the Work Life Balance Act introduces the right to request remote and flexible working arrangements rather than the right for employees to work remotely or flexibly.

Few large enterprises may have already initiated and implemented the measures being enacted for. However, all employers will have to scrutinize the working policies concerning remote and flexible working and payroll practices so as to acclimate the new law.

  1. Significant Provisions of the Law
    The main provisions of the Work Life Balance Act, 2023 are:
    • Five days of unpaid leave (over a period of 12 month) for the purpose of medical care for parents of children under 12, and carers
    • Five days of paid leave (over a 12-month period) for victims of domestic violence
    • The right to request flexible working for careers and parents
    • The right to request remote working for all employee
  2. Right of the Employee to Request for Remote Working Arrangement
    Request for Remote Working Arrangement
    • Making a Request
      • The Work Life Balance Act, although, removes the mandatory requirement imposed on the Employer to have a Remote Working Policy, but the Act has mandated the Employers to consider the need of the employees who are making a request (while enjoying their right to request for remote work arrangement). The Employers shall also abide by the Terms of the Workplace Relations Commission’s Code of Practice while evaluating such Request Applications.
      • All such employees will have a right to request remote work who were in continuous service after six months’ and at least eight weeks before the commencement of the Work Balance Act, 2023
    • Responding to the Request
      • The Employer shall respond to such Request for Remote Work Arrangement not later than four weeks after the request. This may be extended by up to eight weeks if the Employer is having difficulty assessing the proposal’s viability.
      • Employees have the right to know the grounds for any refusal.
    • Terminating an already approved request Employers may terminate the remote working arrangement by written notice if they are satisfied that the remote working arrangement would have, or is having, a substantial adverse effect on the operation of the business by reason of:
      • Seasonal variations in the volume of the work concerned;
      • The unavailability of a person to carry out the duties of the employee in the employer’s place of business;
      • The nature of the duties of the employee in the employment; or
      • Any other relevant matters.

Following is the Process of Termination:

The Employer, firstly, must notify the employee about the proposal that the arrangement will be terminated and provide a statement outlining the grounds for terminating the arrangement. The employee may make representations regarding the proposal to terminate the arrangement within seven days of this statement.

Prior to making a decision to terminate the arrangement of remote working, the employer must consider the needs of the business, the employee’s representations and needs and the requirements of the COP (Code of Practice). At least four weeks’ notice of termination must be provided by the employer, if he decides to proceed with termination.

In circumstances where the employer has reasonable grounds for believing that the employee is not discharging all of their duties of employment, an expedited termination process may be used and the employer may, in these cases, provide a seven days’ notice of termination.

  1. Key Takeaways for Employers
    • To reflect the new rights that are contained in the Work Life Balance Act and those due to be commenced, employee handbooks should be reviewed.
    • If the employer already has an agile working policy in place, they should be reviewed in light of the new rights under the Work Life Balance Act.
    • Employers should be mindful of their obligations under the Organization of Working Time Act 1997, the WRC’s Code of Practice on the Right to Disconnect, the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Acts 2005 to 2014, under the GDPR, and the Data Protection Acts 1988 to 2018 when considering or implementing a flexible or remote working arrangement.
    • “Right to Request” remote and flexible working although seems to be relatively toothless, employers should still carefully consider all requests made by employees since refusal to grant the request of employee may be indirectly discriminatory on the family status or disability ground and practice of refusing such requests may also have an adverse effect on the ability to retain and recruit employees.
    • Facilitating employee requests for remote and flexible working has been shown to encourage greater female participation in the workplace and reduce an organization’s gender pay gap. Employers who are looking towards introducing initiatives that reduce the gender pay gap could seize the opportunity for the introduction or enhancement of existing agile working policies as part of a wider plan to promote gender equality in the workplace.
    • Breastfeeding break entitlements has significantly increased from six months to two years. As a DE&I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) initiative, employers must consider how their workplace can adapt or support breastfeeding mothers that are returning to work post their maternity leave.
  2. Key Takeaways for Employees
    • The right to request for remote working arrangements available for employees who are parents with caring responsibilities
    • The right to take up unpaid leaves with respect to medical care purposes for five days
    • The right to take up paid leaves available to victims of domestic violence up to five days paid leave per year
    • Extension of the period, from six months to two years, for new mothers who are entitled to paid time off work to breastfeed
    • An amendment to existing maternity protection legislation so as to ensure transgender males become pregnant (where such transgender males acquired gender recognition certificate)

Work-Life Balance Compliance Requirements for Companies Operating in the European

Importance of Work Life Balance on Productivity:

Non-compliance with work-life balance regulations can result in various penalties and fines imposed by Regulatory Authorities:

  1. Avoidance of Legal Penalties: Non-compliance with work-life balance regulations may result in legal penalties, including fines and sanctions imposed by labor authorities. By following these regulations, companies can avoid the financial burden associated with such penalties.
  2. Minimization of Lawsuits and Legal Costs: Non-compliance with work-life balance regulations can expose companies to lawsuits from employees alleging violations of their rights. Legal proceedings can be costly in terms of legal fees, court costs, and settlements or judgments. Compliance helps mitigate the risk of litigation, saving the company from significant legal expenses.
  3. Preservation of Reputation and Brand Value: Public perception of a company can be adversely affected by instances of non-compliance with work-life balance regulations. Negative publicity resulting from legal violations can damage the company’s reputation and brand value, leading to loss of customer trust and loyalty. Compliance helps safeguard the company’s image and preserves its brand equity, avoiding the need for costly reputation management efforts.
  4. Avoidance of Regulatory Scrutiny and Monitoring: Non-compliance may attract increased regulatory scrutiny and monitoring by authorities, leading to additional administrative burdens and costs for the company. By adhering to regulations, companies can minimize the likelihood of regulatory investigations and audits, thereby saving resources that would otherwise be spent on compliance-related activities and remediation efforts.
  5. Retention of Government Contracts and Licenses: Non-compliance with work-life balance regulations may jeopardize a company’s eligibility for government contracts or licenses, particularly in industries where compliance is a prerequisite for participation in public procurement processes. Maintaining compliance ensures that the company retains access to lucrative government contracts and licenses, preserving revenue streams and business opportunities.
  6. Avoidance of Reputational Damage and Business Losses: Non-compliance can lead to reputational damage, which can have far-reaching consequences for the company’s bottom line. Negative publicity resulting from legal violations may deter customers, investors, and business partners, leading to reduced sales, diminished market share, and loss of revenue. Compliance helps mitigate the risk of reputational harm and protects the company’s financial interests.

Disclaimer

The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The content of this article is not intended to create and receipt of it does not constitute any relationship. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional legal counsel.

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