People will have a legal right to seek to work from home in the future under Government plans being announced on Friday.
The Government says it will legislate to provide employees with the right to request their employer allow them work remotely.
It will also introduce a new legally admissible code of practice on the right to disconnect from work – covering phone calls, emails and switch-off time.
The Government has also proposed that working from home should be the norm for up to 20 per cent of staff in the public service, but accepts this is an average figure and could pose challenges in frontline areas such as health.
The measures form part of a new strategy on remote working to be published on Friday by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar.
As part of the new initiative, the Government is also to explore the acceleration of the national broadband plan to facilitate more people to work remotely as well as investing in more remote working hubs that are close to childcare facilities. There is also a plan to review the treatment of remote working for the purposes of tax and expenditure in the next budget.
Mr Varadkar said that “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 to be 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.”
It is expected the new system will be put in place before the end of this year.
Mr Varadkar said to facilitate greater remote working, employment rights required to be updated and the Government needed to give guidance and, in many cases, “to provide actual physical working space”.
He said it would also require a cultural shift in favour of facilitating it as an option.
Many people would want to continue to carry out at least some remote working after the pandemic, he added. It was very important that the Government protect the rights and entitlements of such workers so that they could “switch off” from their jobs.
“The requirement to work from home where possible, for reasons of public health, has demonstrated how viable home, remote and blended working can be,” he noted.