Any blended working agreement should include an initial trial period, according to the HSE’s new policy for the area.
The HSE Blended Working Policy for the Public Health Service, which also covers employees in section 38 agencies, came into effect on 20 December 2022.
The policy states that the trial period should last no less than three months and no more than six months.
The approval of any blended working arrangement is at the discretion of management.
In a circular to management on the new policy, the HSE National Director of Human Resources Ms Anne Marie Hoey, stressed that, in general, “no employee should work 100 per cent remotely.”
The policy states blended working arrangements must align with “business/service needs and support the delivery of efficient, high-quality health and social services”.
Employees must be in a position to carry out all the responsibilities of their role while working remotely under a blended working arrangement.
“Senior management will encourage and facilitate blended working where practical based on a role identification exercise and determination of eligibility criteria to be undertaken within each organisation/division/unit,” according to the policy.
Employees who are granted blended working arrangements will generally have no automatic right to a dedicated workstation, or single occupancy office at the employer’s work premises, but will have a suitable workspace available to them when required to attend.
“The employee should be advised of the specific arrangements that will apply in relation to allocation of desks/offices prior to confirmation of their blended working application (if approved).”
An employee may submit a blended working application for consideration no more than once every 12 months unless their role and/or unit changes or there have been significant changes to their proposed home workstation.
The Government has approved the integration of the right to request remote work for all workers into the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill.
Once the new legislation is enacted, employees will have a legal right to request remote working from their employer.
In addition, employers will be required to have regard to the code of practice to be developed by the Workplace Relations Commission when considering requests.
The code of practice will be established on a statutory footing and it is expected that this code will include guidance to employers and employees on their obligations regarding compliance.