Almost half of workers have still not discussed their remote working plans with their employer, and most are anxious about doing it.
A Labour Party survey to be published today reveals 47pc of workers have not yet had a conversation with their boss about working off-site.
Of these, 72pc are concerned about having that chat. Yet, 93pc would like the choice of flexible work and most only started working remotely during the pandemic.
Workers still do not have a legal right to request remote working. Proposed legislation has not been enacted while thousands of workers are returning to the office.
“I have a chronic illness, working from home has been life-changing for me,” said one worker in the survey.
“I asked to continue working from home for health reasons. I put my case to HR, had supporting letters from a specialist, yet I received a one-line response saying I had to return to the office like everyone else.”
Labour Senator Marie Sherlock said the survey results were stark. “A huge majority of people surveyed want at least the choice to avail of flexible and remote working, but some seem to be very apprehensive of even asking their employer for fear of refusal and how that could potentially harm their career prospects.”
She claimed a new Labour bill on flexible working would tip the balance between workers and their employer.
A separate survey of HR professionals by business law firm Mason Hayes and Curran shows 41pc of organisations do not have a remote working policy in place.
Senior partner Ger Connolly said it was unusual that the Government’s draft Right to Request Remote Working bill meant it would be an offence for an employer not to have a remote working policy.
“Organisations should absolutely have a policy that sets out their position in relation to remote working,” he said.
The survey shows 87pc of employers have started bringing employees back on site. A total of 44pc said they would be very flexible about facilitating remote working, 51pc would be partially flexible, and 5pc would not be flexible at all.
Just 38pc had conducted risk assessments of their employees’ remote working spaces.
Senior associate Jessica Bielenberg said that under the draft bill there was not much a disgruntled employee can do if their request for remote working was refused.
Once they have an outcome, they can make an appeal to the Workplace Relations Commission but only on the basis that procedures were not followed correctly. The survey also shows 63pc of organisations do not have a right-to-disconnect policy in place, despite a code of practice introduced last year.
“The fact that so many employers haven’t put in place policies around the right to disconnect, coupled with the fact that complaints under the bill are limited to process issues and not the substance of an employer’s refusal, makes me wonder whether it is all a bit of a non-event,” said Melanie Crowley, head of employment law and benefits.