Written answers

Thursday, 15 September 2022

Department of Rural and Community Development

Flexible Work Practices

Photo of Claire KerraneClaire Kerrane (Roscommon-Galway, Sinn Fein)
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97. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the recent engagement that she has had with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment regarding remote working legislation; the way that this will support rural workers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44715/22]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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Our Rural Futureclearly recognises the transformative role that remote working can have on rural communities. In the context of quality of life indicators, carbon reduction and sustainable regional economies, remote working has much to offer.

The National Hub Network interdepartmental group, chaired by the Secretary General of my Department, was established in 2020. The working group includes representation from key government departments and public bodies, including the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

On foot of that group’s co-operation, a nationwide network of 281 hubs is now established, supported by the online platform ConnectedHubs.ie. I am confident that the network will exceed its target of 400 hubs by 2025.

The Right to Request Remote Working Bill is one part of a broader Government strategy to make remote working a permanent feature of Ireland’s workforce.

Through the proposed legislation there will be, for the first time, a legal framework for requesting remote work. It will also provide clarity to employers on their obligations for dealing with such requests.

I undestand that it is intended to publish the the Bill itself later this year.

The Right to Request Remote Working Bill is one of several measures the Government has introduced to incentivise remote working. Others include the right to disconnect and substantial investment in remote working hubs across the country.

The use of remote working hubs can have a transformative impact on rural economies and communities and can facilitate a more equal geographical distribution of high value knowledge economy roles. The presence of remote working hubs with high-speed broadband will facilitate many to work locally and result in increased regional employment.

I and my colleagues in Government remain committed to ensuring that remote working can continue to deliver real benefits for people all across the country, as envisaged inOur Rural Future.


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