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The right to request flexible work arrangements is set to become a reality this year for Irish workers as the EU’s Work Life Balance Directive must be implemented by the Government by October this year.

The EU Directive means that employees who are in a caring role such as parents or carers will have the right “to request” flexible work arrangements.

Hybrid and remote work are not the same as flexible work.

Flexible work can be small but important gestures such as having an hour off in the morning and afternoon for school drop-offs or having an extended lunch break to care for a loved one.

It can also be compressed hours, full time with flexibility, annualised hours, job share, term time and part time.

The new EU Directive will only offer employees the right to request flexible work arrangements but employers will not be under an obligation to grant the request.

Karen O’Reilly, founder of Employflex, said the Government now has a chance to lead the way in Europe when it comes to flexible work practices.

“This year the Irish Government must implement this new legislation from the EU on the right for carers and parents to request flexible work arrangements,” Ms O’Reilly said.

“If the Irish Government went a step further and opened this up to everyone in the workplace, not just carers and parents, this would be a real commitment to changing the flexible work landscape and help Ireland gain competitive advantage in the global war for talent,” she added.

Ms O’Reilly urged the Government to find ways that flexible work arrangements can work for everyone.

“If the pandemic has shown us anything when it comes to work it is that workers are resilient and new ways of working can work for everyone. Work/Life balance is so important and employers and employees must work together to ensure this is achievable,” she added.

Employflex is establishing a flexible work friendly database which will include flexible friendly workplaces.

To obtain the accreditation, companies must meet nine out of 10 criteria which will be judged by the company.

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