Minister of State and Boyle native Frank Feighan TD has warmly welcomed the publication by The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, TD, of Ireland’s first National Remote Work Strategy to make remote working a permanent option for life after the pandemic.
The Strategy sets out plans to strengthen the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees, to provide the infrastructure to work remotely, and sets out clear guidance on how people can be empowered to work remotely from the office.
“I believe this strategy presents huge opportunities for our local region, heretofore most people engaged in work around software development for example needed to base themselves at company HQ however the lockdown in recent months has taught us that it is possible for many skilled technicians to work remotely many miles from the Companies base, probably in Dublin or another large City” stated Minister Feighan
The Tánaiste Leo Varadkar T.D. said:
“The pandemic has exacted a terrible toll on life and livelihoods in Ireland. We all hope and pray for the day when it will be over, not so we can go back to the old normal but rather so we can have a new and better normal incorporating all that we have learned from living our lives and doing business in a very different way. The requirement to work from home where possible, for reasons of public health, has demonstrated how viable home, remote and blended working can be. Post-pandemic, I want remote working to be part of a whole new world of work and this new Government strategy sets out how we will enable it.
“Working from home has become the norm for many in 2020. We want remote, blended and flexible working arrangements a much bigger part of life after Covid. We’ve seen that there can be huge benefits – more flexibility, less commuting, more time for family and friends. It’s better for the transport emissions, and for quality of life, but it has to be done right. Employment rights need to be updated, we need to give guidance, and in many cases, we need to provide actual physical working space. It also requires a cultural shift in favour of facilitating it as an option. This Plan shows how we will bring all those parts together. I think it will make a real difference to people’s working lives.”
Headline actions include:
Legislate to provide employees the right to request remote working
Introduce a legally admissible code of practice on the right to disconnect from work – covering phone calls, emails and switch-off time
Invest in remote work hubs, ensuring they are in locations that suit commuters and are close to childcare facilities
Explore the acceleration of the National Broadband Plan
Review the treatment of remote working for the purposes of tax and expenditure in the next Budget
Lead by example by mandating that home and remote working should be the norm for 20% of public sector employees
These actions will be completed over the course of 2021. An Implementation Group will be formed to monitor the progress of the actions with meetings being held every four months.
The Tánaiste said:
“Many people will want to continue on to do at least some remote working after the pandemic, and it’s really important that we protect the rights and entitlements of those workers so that they can still ‘switch off’ from work. That is why we have included the right to disconnect piece. We want to put in place the structures which ensure we take advantage of the benefits of remote working and protect against the downsides.
The Strategy was developed under the guidance of a broad Interdepartmental Group consisting of Government Departments and State Agencies. The research for the Strategy draws from the findings of the 2019 Remote Work in Ireland report, the results of the Public Consultation on Remote Work Guidance, and new research carried out on the topic in 2020.
“I note in recent months local authorities in Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal and Roscommon have worked to develop a strategy for remote working and in many cases have sought national funding to develop working hubs across many communities and towns to facilitate people who’s preference was to work from a ‘hot desk’ or office. The challenge for Government and indeed local authorities is the quality of broadband especially in the very rural communities, we are aware of the Government’s commitment through the national broadband plan, so it is imperative that this rollout continues apace” concluded Minister Feighan
Here in Boyle, the Spool Factory Co Working Hub is the base for many remote workers.