Thursday, 15 October 2020
Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment
45. To ask the Minister for Trade, Enterprise and Employment his plans to develop remote working opportunities further and improve the facilities and conditions to encourage remote working especially in rural areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25945/20]
As our country continues to navigate COVID-19, remote working is now more important than ever. I recognise the potential benefits that increased remote working options can bring to our society.
As a primary response to COVID-19, my Department launched a new webpage dedicated to providing guidance for working remotely. This webpage is a central access point for all of the Government guidance currently available on remote working. It allows employers and employees to navigate the existing guidance easily and helps to inform those working from home during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In July, my Department launched a public consultation on the existing guidance available on remote work to understand how this guidance could be improved. We received hundreds of responses to this from employers, employees, representative bodies and special interest groups. Based on an analysis of the submissions, my Department will use the insights and feedback arising to further enhance and refine the current remote working guidance. The webpage will be updated regularly to reflect any changes made in response to the consultation with the first update due before the end of this year.
Remote working is also an important part of the work of the enterprise agencies. For example, Enterprise Ireland’s regional plan, ‘Powering the Regions’ emphasises the importance of smart working. As part of this plan, Enterprise Ireland aims to support 10,000 co-working and incubation spaces in regional locations over three years. As a response to COVID-19, Enterprise Ireland have launched a €12 million Enterprise Centre Fund to help enterprise centres impacted by the pandemic to continue to provide important services to start-ups in towns and villages across Ireland.
Furthermore, the Programme for Government recognises that facilitating remote working provides potential benefits such as regional development, addressing climate change, and adapting to an evolving economy. As such, it contains a number of commitments to encourage remote working across our country. This includes the commitment to develop a national remote working strategy. My Department is leading on this action. Work is currently underway on this under the guidance of an Interdepartmental Group and it is expected to be published in the coming months.
Through these initiatives, my Department aims to facilitate the further development of remote working in our country.