Right to request remote working


Since 7 March 2024, all employees have a new legal right to request remote working.

You can request remote working from your first day in a new job, but you must have 6 months of continuous service before the arrangement can start.

What is remote working?

Remote working is an arrangement where instead of going to your employer’s workplace, you do some or all of your work from another location. You still work the same hours and duties as if you were physically at the workplace.

This page summarises the duties and responsibilities set out in the Code of Practice. You and your employer can agree on more favourable arrangements than what is set out in the legislation.

Code of practice on remote working

The law on the right to request remote working is set out in Part 3 of the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023.

For full practical guidance for employers and employees on how to make and handle requests for remote working, you can read The Workplace Relations Commission’s (WRC) Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Right to Request Flexible Working and Right to Request Remote Working.

Supports for employers

If you are an employer, you can use the templates in Section 3 of the WRC Code of Practice to develop:

  • A Work-Life Balance Policy
  • An application form for remote working requests

Who has the right to request remote working?

All employees have the right to request remote working.

Length of service

You have the right to request remote working from your first day in a new job, but you must have 6 months of continuous service before the arrangement can start.

If you left your job and came back to the same employer within 26 weeks, this gap does not count towards the 6-month requirement.

Making a request for remote working

When making a remote working request to your employer, you must:

  • Submit it as soon as reasonably practicable, but at least 8 weeks before the proposed start
  • Provide a written request or use an online application form
  • Outline details of the remote working arrangement, such as how many days and which days you are requesting
  • Set out your reasons for requesting remote working
  • Set out the proposed start date and duration of the arrangement
  • Detail the proposed remote location, such as at home or a work hub
  • Give information on the suitability of the proposed remote working location, for example the workstation is suitably equipped and meets health and safety requirements (see page 16 of the WRC code of practice for detailed guidance on relevant information to include)

Your request is your chance to explain to your employer why you are confident you can do your job remotely and the specific reasons for the request. Some examples could include:

  • Reducing your commute and carbon footprint
  • Improving the quality of life outside working hours
  • Personal or domestic circumstances
  • Special medical needs that prefer a quiet working environment

Support for employees and employers

A template application for remote working is in Section 3 of the WRC Code of Practice.

Right to a response to your request

Your employer must respond to your request as soon as possible. They must give you their decision within 4 weeks of getting your request, at the latest.

If your request is approved

Your employer approves your request with an agreement signed by both you and your employer. The agreement should set out:

  • The details of the arrangement
  • The start date
  • The duration of the arrangement

This agreement should be added to your contract and kept by both parties. A remote working agreement might change your terms and conditions, in line with the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 (as amended).

If your request is refused

Your employer must tell you in writing that your request has been refused and give you the reasons why.

If your employer needs more time

Your employer can ask for more time to decide on your request. They must tell you how much longer they need, but it cannot be more than 8 weeks.

What your employer should consider

Your employer should consider your request based on:

  • Their own needs (the business needs)
  • Your needs and reasons for the request
  • The WRC Code of Practice

Your employer may consider the suitability of the role and your suitability for remote working. Considerations include:

  • If the duties can be done remotely
  • If on-site work is necessary for certain tasks
  • If technological solutions are available for remote work
  • Any health and safety concerns

Support for employers

Employers can get detailed guidance on questions that may be considered in assessing a remote working request on page 18 of the WRC Code of Practice.

Changing your remote working arrangement

You and your employer have the option to change the arrangement after it has been approved, either before or after it begins.

Changes must be agreed in writing. They could include:

  • Postponing the arrangement and agreeing on a new start date
  • Shortening or changing the length of the arrangement
  • Changing details of the arrangement in a way that you both agree to

Terminating your remote working arrangement

Your employer can end your arrangement if it substantially affects their business.

Reasons your employer can terminate your arrangement

Your employer may want to end the arrangement because of:

  • Seasonal changes in workload
  • Unavailability of someone to do your job in your employer's workplace
  • The nature of your job responsibilities
  • Any other factors affecting the operation of their business

Employers should ensure their reasons for termination are fair, objective, and reasonable.

Notice of termination

Before giving you a notice of termination, your employer must:

  • Tell you in writing of the proposal to end your arrangement[
  • Detail the reasons for termination
  • Allow 7 days after you get notice to make representations regarding the proposal
  • Consider, objectively and fairly, any representations you make before making a final decision

When you ‘make a representation’, you can mention any facts or reasons why you think the remote working arrangement should continue.

If your employer still decides to end your arrangement, they must give you a written notice of termination. This must include the reasons for ending it and the date you must return to your original working arrangement.

The return date must be at least 4 weeks from the date of the termination notice (unless the arrangement's original end date is less than 4 weeks away).

Termination for abuse of the arrangement

You must continue to meet the job requirements while working remotely.

Your employer can terminate the arrangement if they have reasonable grounds to believe you are not meeting the requirements of your role while working remotely.

They must give you notice and allow you 7 days to make representations before terminating the arrangement.

Asking to return to your previous working arrangement

You can ask to return sooner to your original working arrangement. You should do this in writing, setting out your reasons and the proposed new date.

Your employer must respond within 4 weeks, considering business needs and the reasons for your request.

If your employer agrees for you to return sooner, they can suggest a different date for returning to the original working arrangement.

Enforcing your rights

Protection of your employment rights

You must not be victimised for using or requesting a remote working arrangement.

Resolving issues

If you have concerns that your request has not been properly considered according to the law and the WRC Code of Practice, you should try to solve the issue informally with your employer first.

If you cannot resolve it informally, you can raise a formal complaint with your employer.

If there is a collective agreement between a trade union and an employer, they should use those procedures for discussing grievances.

Breaches of the WRC Code of Practice

If you think your employer has breached the WRC Code of Practice, you can make a formal complaint to the WRC. You should use the online complaint form.

You must make your complaint within 6 months of the breach. The time limit can be extended for a further 6 months if there is reasonable cause for the delay.

Read more about how to make a complaint, including details of the WRC adjudication process.

Contact the Workplace Relations Commission

Workplace Relations Commission - Information and Customer Service

O'Brien Road
R93 E920

Opening Hours: Mon. to Fri. 9.30am to 1pm, 2pm to 5pm
Tel: (059) 917 8990
Locall: 0818 80 80 90
Page edited: 21 March 2024