Written answers

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Flexible Work Practices

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Social Democrats)
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63. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when he expects to bring forward legislation to give workers a right to work remotely; if he is undertaking engagement with employers and trade unions on the draft legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53548/21]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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The pandemic presents an opportunity to make a permanent change in the way we work - to make remote and blended working a much bigger part of normal working life and achieve a better work-life balance. After the pandemic, I believe people should have a choice to work from home or in the office, so long as the work gets done and business and service needs are met.

The right to request remote work is part of the Government vision to make remote working a permanent feature of Ireland’s workforce in a way that can benefit all – economically, socially and environmentally. The commitment to introduce legislation to underpin employees' right to request remote work was made in the national Remote Work Strategy published last January.

Currently, all employees can ask their employers for the right to work remotely, but there is no legal framework around which a request can be made and how it should be dealt with by the employer. This new law will set out a clear framework around which requesting, approving or refusing remote work can be based.

I carried out a public consultation in April and there was significant engagement. Informed by the public consultation, which included submissions from both employer and trade union representative groups and also a review of international best practice, the drafting of the General Scheme of the Bill has commenced. I will be seeking Cabinet approval for the drafting of Heads of a Bill this quarter and the Bill will be progressed through the Oireachtas as quickly as possible thereafter. The intention is to introduce a mechanism for employees to request remote working that is fair but does not place an undue burden on employers.

In the meantime, there is plenty of advice and information available. The Government launched the #MakingRemoteWork campaign in June this year. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the advice and information available from Government to help workers and employers facilitate more remote and blended working.

This includes guidance for employers and workers and a Remote Working Checklist which are all available on the DETE website.


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