For Oral Answer on : 03/06/2021
Question Number(s): 106 Question Reference(s): 29904/21
Department: Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
* To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment the progress being made by his Department to ensure that remote working remains a viable option for employees when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– David Stanton T.D.
For ORAL answer on Thursday, 3 June, 2021.
I believe the pandemic has changed the world of work forever. Many of us will return to the office, but video-conferencing will be more common and travelling for work much less so. While some people will work full-time from the office or from home, most of us will be blended workers, working sometimes from the office and other times from home, a hub or on the go.
The Remote Work Strategy, which I published in January, aims to ensure that remote work is a permanent feature in the Irish workplace in a way that maximises economic, social and environmental benefits.
Among the main actions we will take are:
- Mandating that home and remote work should be the norm for 20 percent of public sector employment
- Reviewing the treatment of remote working for the purposes of tax and expenditure in the next Budget
- Mapping and investing in a network of remote working hubs across Ireland
- Legislating for the right to request remote working
- Developing a code of practice for the right to disconnect
- Doing what we can to accelerate the provision of high-speed broadband to all parts of Ireland
My Department is leading on the implementation of the Strategy through the Interdepartmental Group on Remote Work.
Members will be aware that I signed a new Code of Practice on the Right to Disconnect on 1 April and a public consultation on the Right to Request Remote Working concluded on 7 May.
I am aware of the importance of remote work infrastructure for the development of remote work. Under the Strategy, significant investment will be made in remote work hubs and infrastructure in underserved areas to underpin the development of the national hub network. The Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD) is leading the interdepartmental National Hub Network Working Group, which my Department is represented on, and have recently launched a €5 million Connected Hub Call.
Earlier this week, Minister Humphreys launched Connected Hubs.ie which will provide a shared booking platform for hubs across the country. It is Ireland’s first ever digital hub network. 66 hubs across the country are on board and are accessible to remote workers via an online map. This number will rise to over 100 by the end 2021 with the overall target of 400 set to be exceeded.
I plan to launch a publicity campaign on remote working ahead of the return to the office at the end of the summer. We must provide as much information and advice as possible to employers and employees so that we don’t drift back to the old normal. We’ve a window to grab this opportunity and I want to make sure we make a lasting change for the better.