Working from home
In the past, you had no legal right to ask for remote working but this is changing in 2023 under the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023 – see more below.
Employers must ensure the safety, health and welfare at work of all their employees. Your employer has the same duty of care for your health and safety when you are working from home (also called remote working). Employees also have responsibilities when they are working from home.
Right to request remote working
The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023 was signed into law on 4 April 2023. The sections covering remote working are not yet commenced (or taken effect).
Once commenced, all employees will have a legal right to request remote working if the following conditions are met:
- You have 6 months’ continuous service with your employer
- You submit the request at least 8 weeks before the date you intend to start the new arrangement
Once your employer receives your request, they must:
- Respond with a decision within 4 weeks (can be extended to 8 weeks if they are having problems deciding if your request is viable)
- Consider your needs and the business needs when deciding on your request (a code of practice will be published by the WRC)
- Give you reasons if your request is refused
Your employer will have the right to end the remote working arrangement if it is having a substantial negative effect on their business.
New regulations are needed to commence the different parts of the Act (to bring it into effect).
Can I continue to work from home?
You do not have a right to work from home. Once the new legislation is commenced you will have a legal right to request remote working but it will be up to your employer to agree to the request.
Check what your contract says
Your employment rights are primarily set out in your contract of employment. Some employees may have already written into their contract of employment that they can work from home for a number of hours or days per week. Those entitlements will remain the same.
Employers have specific duties to ensure the safety, health and welfare at work of all their employees. These duties include the employee’s workspace if employees work from home. Key duties include:
- Managing and conducting all work activities to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare of employees
- Providing safe work that is planned, organised, and maintained
- Assessing risks and implementing appropriate control measures
- Providing safe equipment including personal protective equipment, where necessary
- Giving information, instruction, training and supervision about safety and health to employees
- Having plans in place for emergencies
If employees have a disability, are young workers or are pregnant, employers need to ensure that the tasks and working conditions do not adversely affect their health. You can get more information on sensitive risk groups.
Your employer should check with you to ensure:
- You are aware of any specific risks when working from home
- The work activity and the temporary workspace are suitable
- You have suitable equipment to do the work. For example, your employer should make sure that the applications and systems you need are installed on your computer
- There is a pre-arranged means of contact
Equipment and your workspace at home
If your employer provides equipment, for example, a laptop, mouse, keyboard and headset it must be in good condition and suitable for the activity. If you already have suitable equipment at home, it can be used temporarily.
Employers must check that your temporary home workspace is suitable for the work. This includes things like safe access to the space, essential equipment, that the space is big enough and free of clutter, there is adequate lighting, ventilation and heat, and that electrical sockets, plugs and cords are in good condition.
You can find tips on how to manage work-related musculoskeletal health and other advice on ergonomics on the HSA website.
Employers need to communicate regularly with employees and ensure that employees are taking adequate breaks.
Employers should also:
- Keep in contact with employees
- Give regular updates to each employee
- Have emergency contacts and procedures in place
- Ensure employees take adequate breaks – see our document on rest periods and breaks.
Even though you are working from home you should have the same access to training and promotion opportunities as comparable colleagues working in the office.
The right to disconnect from work
As well as making sure your employee takes adequate breaks, you should also respect their right to disconnect from work outside of normal working hours.
The Code of Practice on the Right to Disconnect (pdf) is effective since 1 April 2021 and applies to all employees, including people working from home. Developed by the WRC, the Code of Practice provides guidance on an employee’s right to disengage from work outside normal working hours.
Under the code, the right to disconnect has the following main elements:
- A right not to have to routinely work outside normal working hours
- A right not to be penalised for refusing to work outside normal hours
- A duty to respect another person’s right to disconnect, for example by not routinely emailing or calling outside normal working hours
As an employer, you are encouraged to develop a ‘Right to Disconnect Policy’. Consult your employees when developing this policy, and make sure they understand what their normal working hours are.
Check that the policy factors in health and safety legislation, as well as your employees’ terms and conditions of employment. You should communicate this policy to all employees, unions and any other employee representatives.
You can find a template of a ‘Right to Disconnect Policy’ (pdf) on page 11 of the WRC handbook.
While failure to follow the code is not an offence, it can be used as evidence in a case taken to the Labour Court or WRC under employment legislation.
If you are working from home, you have a responsibility to take reasonable care of yourself and other people who may be affected by the work you are doing.
- Cooperate with your employer and follow their instructions
- Protect yourself and others from harm during your work. For example, you must take care of your equipment and report any problems immediately to your employer
- Report injuries to your employer immediately
- Follow any procedures put in place by your employer, for example, around checking in regularly
- Make sure you manage your own working time (see 'right to disconnect' below)
- Agree on temporary remote working arrangements with your employer, including regular communication with them
- Identify the work to be done at home with your employer
- Identify the equipment you need to set up a safe workspace at home and agree this with your employer
- Identify a suitable safe space within your home for home working
- Agree on plans and contacts to be used in the event of an emergency
- Ensure you have a suitable workspace – See good positioning at your workstation (pdf)
You have a right to disconnect from work outside of your usual working hours. This means you have the right to switch off and not respond immediately to work-related emails, calls or messages outside of usual work times. Similarly, you should respect your colleagues’ right to disconnect from their work too. Read about the Code of Practice on the Right to Disconnect (pdf) in the WRC handbook.
People working from home may feel reluctant to tell their employer that they are unwell. It is important to note that if you are feeling unwell the normal sick leave rules still apply.
Remote working hubs
Remote working hubs are offices where you can book a desk and work remotely, alongside other people. It’s also called hot-desking. You might prefer to work in a hub if your own home is not suitable for work.
You can register for hot-desk working days with connectedhubs.ie.
Data protection and cybersecurity when working from home
The Data Protection Commission has given guidance on protecting personal data when working remotely.
Both employers and employees should ensure that:
- Any device used has the necessary updates, such as operating system, software and antivirus updates
- Any device is used in a safe location, and that nobody else can view the screen, particularly if working with sensitive personal data
- Devices are locked if they are left unattended for any reason and stored carefully when not in use
- Effective access controls, such as strong passwords, and, where available, encryption are used to restrict access to the device, and to reduce the risk if a device is stolen or lost
- Work email accounts rather than personal ones are used for work-related emails involving personal data. If a personal email has to be used, any contents and attachments should be encrypted and personal or confidential data should be avoided in subject lines
- Where possible only the organisation’s trusted networks or cloud services are used
- Steps are taken to ensure the security and confidentiality of paper records, such as by keeping them locked in a filing cabinet or drawer when not in use and making sure they are not left somewhere where they could be read by others, lost or stolen
The National Cyber Security Centre has published Working From Home Security Advice (pdf).
There are certain privacy rules that your employer must follow when monitoring you in the workplace and these rules also apply when you are working from home. You can get information in our document on surveillance in the workplace.
E-working and tax relief
If you are working from home, you may be eligible for tax relief on expenses like light, heat, telephone and broadband.
If your employer pays you an allowance towards these expenses, you can get up to €3.20 per day without paying any tax, PRSI or USC on it. If your employer pays more than €3.20 per day to cover expenses, you pay tax, PRSI and USC as normal on the amount above €3.20.
If your employer does not pay you an allowance for your expenses, you can claim for tax relief at the end of the year. You will get money back from the taxes you paid. Since January 2022, you can claim remote working relief for 30% of the cost of heating, electricity and broadband for days spent working from home.
You can read more about E-working and tax relief.
Should I pay tax on equipment from my employer?
If your employer gives you equipment that you need to do your work, like a computer or printer, and you mainly use it for work, it is not considered a benefit in kind. This means that you do not have to pay any tax for receiving the equipment from your employer.
Capital Gains Tax
If you use only part of your home for e-working, your home remains your Principal Private Residence and you are not liable for CGT when you sell it.
You can get more information from Revenue.
Find out more about:
- Guidance for working remotely
- Protecting Personal Data When Working Remotely on the Data Protection Commissioner's website
- Changes to your contract of employment
- Your right to disconnect from work (pdf) outside of normal working hours
- The Government’s National Remote Work Strategy which aims to make remote working a permanent option in Ireland
You can also visit the remote working section of the HSA website for guidance on all aspects of working from home, including FAQs and advice for stress management.