Remote Working Rights and Responsibilities

Useful Resources




Employers’ duties


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, heat, and that electrical sockets, plugs and cords are in good condition.

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. employer’s remote working checklist.



Employee responsibilities


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.


You must:


  • Cooperate with your employer and follow their instructions

  • Protect yourself and others from harm during the course of 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


You should:


  • Agree 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 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)


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.



Annual leave during COVID-19 restrictions


You continue to build up your annual leave when you are working from home and working your usual hours. You may not want to take annual leave during the COVID-19 restrictions as your travel options are limited.

However, employers may not want you to keep all your leave until later in the year. Your employer may ask you to take some of your leave before a certain date. The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 provides that the timing of an employee’s annual leave can be determined by the employer having regard to work requirements.

Under the Act, an employer can require an employee to take annual leave provided they consult with the employee or their trade union at least one month prior to the taking of annual leave. Employers need to consider the following when deciding on annual leave:


  • The need for the employee to reconcile work and family responsibilities, and

  • The opportunities for rest and recreation available to the employee


It should be noted that employees should be left with a proportionate amount of annual leave for the remainder of the year to allow them avail of opportunities for rest and recreation when businesses return back to normal.

Employers are also entitled to refuse annual leave which has already been booked from being cancelled. Your employer may allow you to carry over annual leave until the next annual leave year.



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 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 osurveillance in the workplace.