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Frequently Asked Questions - Blended Working

Last Updated 31 January 2022

Employee FAQs

How do I request a blended working arrangement?

The first step is to have an initial conversation with your Line Manager and let them know you are interested in exploring whether blended working would work for you. Then complete the blended working request form and email it to your Line Manager.

In what time frame can I expect my request to be considered?

Requests for blending working arrangements should be considered and responded to in a reasonable timeframe, allowing for Managers to consider all applications and the impact they may have on business requirements of the School/Area.

Is there a service criteria required?

There is no minimum service criteria for requests for a blended working arrangement under the University's Pilot Blended Working Policy

Do I have to request a blended working arrangement?

No, you do not have to request a blended working arrangement

Can an application for blended working be refused?

Yes, an application can be refused. However, a reasonable justification for refusal must be provided by your line manager and noted in the application form.  Business grounds  that may be relied upon by your Manger may include, but are not limited to:

  1. The Nature of the work not allowing for the work to be done remotely
  2. Potential Negative impact on quality of business product or service
  3. Potential Negative impact on performance of employee or other employees
  4. Concerns for the protection of business confidentiality or intellectual property
  5. Concerns for the suitability of the proposed workspace on health and safety grounds
  6. Concerns for the internet connectivity of the proposed remote working location
  7. Planned structural changes would render any of (i) to (vi) applicable
  8. Employee is the subject of ongoing or recently concluded formal disciplinary process

Can my Line Manager propose a different pattern of blended working to the pattern I requested?

Yes, your Line Manager can make a counteroffer of an alternative work pattern, which is likely to arise in some cases.

Where your Manager is unable to agree to the requested pattern but are in a position to offer an alternative pattern, the counter-offer of the alternative pattern must be made to you in writing and you must agree to that offer or reject the offer stating your reasons for so in writing within one month of receipt of your Manager’s counteroffer.

What can I do if my request is declined? 

If your request has been declined and you are of the view that the reason(s) for refusal provided are unreasonable, you may address it through the relevant grievance procedure

Is there a minimum number of days I need to work in the office?

The policy does not dictate  a minimum number of days required in the office as there is no 'one size fits all' for blended working arrangements across the College; it will be based on the needs of your role/area/business needs.

How is my work pattern in workplace/remotely decided?

Best practice suggests that there should be some agreed time in the workplace on a regular basis.  This should be agreed between you and your line manager at the application stage, whilst always taking the University's needs and the needs of the unit into account.

Is there any change to my contract of employment?

Blended Working does not change your contractual entitlement in terms of general conditions of employment, pay, pensions, sick leave etc.  All of the University's policies still apply.

Will my working hours/arrangements be affected by a blended working arrangement?

It is expected that staff will continue to work their normal contractual hours and work patterns including taking regular breaks from the screen and desk.

I'm a part time worker, can I request a blended working arrangement?

Yes, part time workers can request a blended working arrangement.

Can I work remotely abroad?

As a public sector employee, you must be resident on the Irish jurisdiction to avail of blended working, and in accordance with Department Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) requirements, you must be available to attend in person if and when required.

Do I have to complete the self-risk assessment?

Yes, employees who wish to avail of a blended working arrangement must complete both the training module and the self-risk assessment on the on IProtectU.tcd.ie platform. Your application cannot be approved unless this step is completed as the arrangements cannot be covered under the University's Employer liability insurance if this is not done.

Will the University contribute towards my electricity/ heat/ broadband costs?

The University as a Public Sector employer is prohibited from contributing to  costs of electricity/ heat/ broadband for employees on a blended working arrangement.

Blended working expenses can be claimed by completing an Income Tax return. Staff can complete this form on the Revenue website as follows:

  • sign into revenue.myaccount;
  • click on 'Review your tax' link in PAYE Services;
  • select the Income Tax return for the relevant tax year;
  • select 'Other PAYE Expenses' in the 'Tax Credits and Reliefs' page and insert the amount of expense at the 'Amount Claimed' section.

As a claim may be selected for future examination, all documentation relating to a claim should be retained by you for a period of six years from the end of the tax year to which the claim relates.  Please check the revenue website  for details on how such relief is calculated.

Am I covered by the University's insurance while working remotely under a blended working arrangement ?

While working remotely under a blended working arrangement, you are considered to be at work. Therefore, once there is a record of your self-risk assessment (IProtectU.tcd.ie.  platform) and record of the details of your  blended working arrangement you are covered by the University's insurance.

If I have an accident whilst working remotely, what do I need to do?

While working remotely under a blended working arrangement, you are considered to be at work. Therefore, it is important to ensure that any accidents which occur within your defined working space while working remotely are reported immediately, in accordance with the University’s accident reporting requirements by completing the H&S Accident Reporting form and return it to insurance@tcd.ie 

I have an agreed blended working arrangement; will I have my own dedicated workspace for days in the office ?

Staff availing of blended working arrangements may not have a dedicated workstation on campus. If necessary, desk sharing arrangements will be agreed as part of the blended working arrangements within each School/Area.

Previously I had access to a flexitime scheme, will this be reinstated while on a blended working arrangement?

In line with current Public Sector norms,  Flexitime schemes are suspended  while availing of a blended working arrangement. This will be reviewed periodically.

If I have a blended working arrangement, can I also have a flexible working arrangement (early/late start etc)?

There is no prohibition to requesting a flexible working arrangement while availing of a blended working arrangement. However, as with any flexible working arrangement request, the business requirements of the School/Area needs to be considered.

Can I just work off my laptop while working remotely?

The self-risk assessment of your remote workstation will indicate the need for a monitor, keyboard and mouse. If you don’t  have  these, the self-risk assessment will fail and therefore you cannot avail of a blended working arrangement.

Can my manager contact me while working remotely?

While working remotely under a blended working arrangement, you are considered to be at work. Therefore, your manager can contact you, and vice versa, through the normal communication channels.

With regards to out of hours contact, employees have the right to disconnect.

What communication channels will be used to communicate?

Regular contact channels, times and dates should be agreed between you and your manager. It is very important that you have regular contact with your manager and colleagues the format of which should be discussed and agreed.

How will my Manager provide my work objectives/goals while I'm on a blended working arrangement?

Clear objectives, standards and timelines for delivery of work should be set for all employees whether availing of a blended working arrangement or not. Staff on a blended working arrangement should not be treated any different. There should be regular discussions with your manager to review work and provide feedback as well as discuss developmental opportunities.

Will I be required to attend the workplace on days outside of my agreed blended working arrangement?

There may be certain events/times that require in person presence. These events should be agreed in advance with your manager (where possible). 

Why has blended working only been introduced on a pilot basis?

The University wishes to take the time to fully consider its Remote Working Strategy for the future. Implementing a pilot policy now allows us facilitate staff and take the time to fully review and reflect what would work best for the University.

I have been on a working from home arrangement under the Teleworking policy, will this arrangement be affected?

Your arrangements under the Teleworking Policy will not be affected. However, at the next scheduled review date they should be reviewed under the Blended Working Policy

Is there a tax saver travel pass available for those that avail of blended working?

The tax saver travel pass is a Government scheme which incentivises people to use public transport travelling to and from work.  The University offers the schemes available but as yet, no change has been made to this scheme to reflect blended working.

Manager FAQs

Can I refuse an application?

Yes, you may refuse an application. However, decisions on blended working applications must be fair and  consistent and a decision to refuse an application needs to be supported by reasonable business grounds.

Business grounds  that you may rely on  may include, but are not limited to:

  1. The Nature of the work not allowing for the work to be done remotely
  2. Potential Negative impact on quality of business product or service
  3. Potential Negative impact on performance of employee or other employees
  4. Concerns for the protection of business confidentiality or intellectual property
  5. Concerns for the suitability of the proposed workspace on health and safety grounds
  6. Concerns for the internet connectivity of the proposed remote working location
  7. Planned structural changes would render any of (i) to (vi) applicable
  8. Employee is the subject of ongoing or recently concluded formal disciplinary process

What if the pattern proposed is not suitable, can I offer an alternative pattern?

Yes, you can make a counteroffer of an alternative work pattern if the requested pattern does not align with  the business requirements of  your School/Area.

Where you are unable to agree to the request but are in a position to offer an alternative pattern, the counter-offer of an alternative pattern must be made in writing to the employee and the employee must agree to or reject the offer stating their reasons in writing within one month of receipt of your counteroffer.

What am I required to do with the blended working application documentation once an arrangement has been finalised?

You are required to maintain a copy of the approval/agreement of each staff members blended working arrangement with local employee records.

Once a blended working arrangement is approved and finalised please provide the relevant data for each staff member to HR by completing the online form. This data will feed into EDI and Athena Swan reporting/statistics for the University.

How do I set objective for my team while they are on a blended working arrangement and ensure that they are delivering?

Clear objectives, standards and timelines for delivery of work should be set for all employees whether availing of a blended working arrangement or not. Staff on a blended working arrangement should not be treated any different. On a regular basis you should review work and provide feedback as well as discuss development opportunities.

As a Manager I'm concerned about Data Security while my staff work remotely

All University data must be safe and secure, everyone should continue to comply with GDPR and the College Data Protection Policy and all IT Security Policies. All staff are required to undergo the Data Protection Module, this can be accessed here. You should ensure that all your staff complete this, whether they are availing of a blended working arrangement or not.  For further information please see tcd.ie/data protection.

Assessment of their remote workstation will also assist to ensure that it is a suitable place to work.

What leave/absence records am I required to maintain for my staff on a blended working arrangement?

There is no change to the requirement to maintain and record periods of sick leave, annual leave,  statutory leaves as well as all other forms of unpaid leave for staff availing of a blended working arrangement.

Can I ask staff to attend the workplace on days outside of their agreed blended working arrangement?

There may be certain events/times that will require in person presence. These events should be agreed in advance and notified to your staff with as much notice as possible.