Work Life Balance Bill becomes law: What does it mean for workers?

It will introduce the right to request remote working and paid leave for victims of domestic violence
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

07.01 5 Apr 2023

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Work Life Balance Bill becomes...

Work Life Balance Bill becomes law: What does it mean for workers?

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

07.01 5 Apr 2023

Share this article

A new Work Life Balance Bill is the strongest tranche of legislation that has been produced for workers, one HR expert has said.

Damien McCarthy was speaking after the bill was signed into law by President Michael D Higgins on Tuesday.

It will introduce:

  • five days unpaid leave for medical care purposes for parents of children under 12, and carers
  • five days paid leave for victims of domestic violence
  • the right to request flexible working for parents and carers
  • the right to request remote working for all employees
  • two years breastfeeding breaks

Mr McCarthy, CEO of HR Buddy, told Breakfast Briefing this is good news.

"This new legislation... is probably the strongest and most hefty and formidable of new workers rights legislation that historically has ever been produced in this country," he said.

Mr McCarthy said the legislation should be in place within weeks.

"The first provisions of the Work Life Balance Bill are expected to be in place within a matter of weeks," he said.

"That will mean that for the first time an awful lot of employers in workplaces would deal with that right of women to take breastfeeding breaks in the workplace.

"Previously, the 26-week entitlement timed out with maternity leave.

"This is very important and very effective workers rights legislation - but it may also be viewed as very daunting for workplaces to implement.

"I suppose that's where the support to employers and workplaces, with regards to the education and support that could be provided, is vitally and critically important".

Domestic violence leave

Mr McCarthy said other aspects, such as the domestic violence leave, may take a little longer.

"The indications are that it may be the far side of the summer, or even autumn, by the time that it's implemented," he said.

"The rate of pay has not been decided.

"As of yet, in general, there is a lack of clarity and a lack of information there for the employer - which is a small bit worrying".

'Lack of clarity'

Mr McCarthy said the new legislation has to be implemented properly.

"It's largely going to be very welcome across the board - it is historic... but it must be implemented well," he said.

"What was signed into law yesterday, at this moment in time, lacks clarity.

"There's still a great deal of the ins and outs of the legislation to be worked out.

"With regards to the right to request remote working, we still have a Code of Practice to come from the WRC (Workplace Relations Commission) on that.

"So it's very difficult for workplaces and management teams to know exactly how an awful lot of this new legislation is going to work".

Pandemic 'pushed everything forward'

Mr McCarthy also questioned if the legislation is coming a little too late.

"I think, in particular with regards to flexible and remote working, we have made fabulous advancements anyway," he said.

"The pandemic came and it pushed everything forward about 10 or 20 years.

"You could even argue, with regards to the right to request remote working legislation, that it's almost irrelevant at this point.

"An awful lot of workplaces and their workers have worked this out very successfully," he added.

Main image: Close up of a woman typing at a laptop working from home. Picture by: Tony Tallec / Alamy Stock Photo

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Breakfast Briefing Breastfeeding Breaks Damien McCarthy Domestic Violence Flexible Working President Michael D Higgins Remote Working Unpaid Leave Work Life Balance Bill

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