Working parents to benefit from incoming work-life balance legislation

Last updated: June 21st, 2022

It’s no secret that a fair work-life balance benefits both employers and employees. And yet, many businesses and their people struggle to find that fair split. If you find that productivity stagnates from time to time, an effective work-life balance initiative could unlock future success…

New EU Work-life Balance Directive

The EU’s work-life balance plan, the Work-Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022, must be implemented by the Government by October 2022. The plan states that working parents with children under the age of eight should be allowed to request flexible hours. Employees in caring roles will also have the right to request flexible working arrangements.

The plan is designed to support working parents and carers and to make this kind of leave more equitable for both men and women. When in place, the plan is intended to address work-life balance challenges faced by working parents and carers in Ireland. For instance, unpaid leave will be made available to an employee who cares for a family member. The plan also forms part of the government’s spring legislative schedule and is the latest workers’ right to be introduced.

What does the new plan entail?

The plan will give new parents up to five days off work to care for sick children. In a memo presented by Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman to Cabinet, the plan aims to give “any parent of a child under 12, or a person caring for a relative, the right to request reduced or flexible working hours.”

Breastfeeding breaks at work are also under consideration, as women are currently entitled to take one hour, with pay, off work each day to breastfeed their child for six months. This will increase to two years. It’s also been proposed to increase mothers’ leave entitlement from 26 to 104 weeks.

Flexibility in the workplace

In Ireland, our working lives are constantly changing. Just recently, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar introduced legislation that gives employees the right to request to work from home. Employees will soon gain the right to paid sick leave in Ireland, too.

During any period of transition, it’s important to do what you can as an employer to protect your employees’ mental health and wellbeing. A positive work-life balance plays a vital role here, and a happier workforce could pave the way for greater business success. Discuss work-life balance with your employees, consider their feedback, and implement changes that you think will improve their work-life balance.

As new forms of flexible working have emerged over the past two years, it’s worth implementing a Flexible Working Policy if you haven’t already done so. Such a policy will be useful when handling employee requests.

Questions about work-life balance in Ireland?

Graphite’s HR consultants provide expert guidance on all aspects of work-life balance in Ireland. If you have urgent questions about work-life balance or updating employment contracts, contact our advice line on 018 86 0350. 

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Nora Cashe

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Nóra studied Law in Griffith College Dublin and qualified as a Barrister in 2008, practising in the area of Criminal law. She is also member of the Irish Employment Law Association.

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Nóra is a member of the Irish Employment Law Association and engages with the WRC Adjudication Service as part of their stakeholder engagement forum.

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