The Government has revealed details of its planned legislation to give employees the right to request remote working.
However, the Tánaiste says it's not practical to give everyone a legal right to work from home.
Under the proposals, anyone working for a company for more than six months would be able to apply to work remotely, and the employer would have to respond within three months.
Workers whose request is turned down would be able to appeal to the Workplace Relations Commission.
Under the proposed legislation, employers would be able to refuse a request 'after due consideration' on the following grounds:
- The nature of the work not allowing for the work to be done remotely
- Cannot reorganise work among existing staff
- Potential negative impact on quality
- Potential negative impact on performance
- Planned structural changes
- Burden of additional costs, taking into account the financial and other costs entailed and the scale and financial resources of the employer’s business
- Concerns re the protection of business confidentiality or intellectual property
- Concerns re the suitability of the proposed workspace on health and safety grounds
- Concerns re the suitability of the proposed workspace on data protection grounds
- Concerns re the internet connectivity of the proposed remote working location
- Inordinate distance between the proposed remote location and on-site location
- If the proposed remote working arrangement conflicts with the provisions of an applicable collective agreement
- Ongoing or recently concluded formal disciplinary processes
The Government says refusals "may include but are not limited to" those reasons.
If refused permission to work from home, the employee would need to wait 12 months before submitting another request - although would be able to submit a fresh request if they moved to another role in the meantime.
There have been calls from the opposition for a full right to work from home.
However, Leo Varadkar claims that isn't an option.
He said: "That's not practical - there are some jobs that just can't be done from home or remotely.
"For example, construction, hospitality, care, most of retail, the transport sector... it just wouldn't be possible to do those jobs from home.
"In other cases, it might be possible to do a job remotely - but that would result in either very high costs being burdened on the employer, or potentially a diminution in services."
The Government is also trying to identify sites for remote hubs across the country so people can do their job closer to home.
Sinn Féin's Louise O'Reilly has called for those plans to be ramped up, to ensure the new remote working policies aren't just for "people with big houses".