Written answers

Thursday, 8 February 2024

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Flexible Work Practices

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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197. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which working from home or working through digital hubs is being optimised and progressed with a view to ensuring the optimum results for employer, employee and the taxpayer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5975/24]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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The Government published Making Remote Work, the National Remote Work Strategy, in January 2021. The Strategy identified 15 actions to be undertaken to ensure that remote work from homes and hubs is a permanent feature of the Irish workplace in a way which maximises its economic, social and environmental benefits for employers, employees and the taxpayer.

My Department led the development and implementation of the Strategy through the Remote Work Interdepartmental Group (IDG) during 2021 and 2022. All actions outlined in the Strategy have been delivered. The Remote Work IDG continues to meet to coordinate remote working policy across Government.

Actions delivered by various Government departments and agencies include the following:

-Legislating for the right of all workers to request remote working, and the right of parents and carers to request other flexible working arrangements, through the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023.

-The legislation was signed into law on the 4th of April 2023 and will be commenced as soon as practicable following approval of the relevant Code of Practice recently drafted by the Workplace Relations Commission.

-The publication of the Code of Practice on the Right to Disconnect by the WRC in April 2021.

-The introduction of an enhanced income tax deduction for people working from home amounting to 30 percent of heat, electricity and broadband expenses announced in Budget 2022.

-The launch of Ireland’s National Hub Network, and the ConnectedHubs.ie platform in May 2021, underpinned by ongoing investment of over €150 million in Ireland remote working and hub infrastructure from a variety of funding streams managed by the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD) and my Department. There are currently 343 facilities across the country onboarded to the online platform.

-The development of Ireland’s first national Hub Strategy. Work on the Strategy is being led by the DRCD, together with my Department, in consultation with hub managers, local authorities, communities and other stakeholders. The Strategy is expected to be brought to Government this year. The Strategy will inform the future strategic direction of the National Hub Network and ensure the strategic development and sustainability of Ireland’s Hub Infrastructure.

-Ongoing remote work promotion, guidance, enterprise engagement and skills training from a variety of organisations including my own Department, the Health and Safety Authority, Enterprise Ireland, the IDA, Údarás na Gaeltachta, the Western Development Commission, LEOs, Skillnet Ireland and local ETBs.

An Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service (IGEES) research paper, published in 2022, examined the impact of remote working on several key policy areas, finding that remote work can have positive effects on productivity, the environment, regional development, public and private finances, and labour market participation.

Remote work can help achieve greater work-life balance and flexibility for employees while providing firms with increased pools of talent to choose from, enhancing competitiveness and labour market performance overall. Remote working is an important mechanism for achieving the Government’s employment targets, helping those most distant from the labour force into work, while contributing to achieving Ireland’s ambitious climate targets. For example, remote and hybrid working has been identified as a contributor to achieving Ireland’s record-breaking rates of female employment, which stood 70% in the third quarter of 2023 according to CSO figures.

Overall, the Government is committed to ensuring that the benefits of new ways of working are fully realised to the benefit of employers, employees and taxpayers in all parts of Ireland.


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