The proceedings of Oireachtas committees will be conducted without the requirement for social distancing, with normal capacity in the committee rooms restored. However, committees are encouraged to take a gradual approach to this change. Members and witnesses have the option to attend meetings in the relevant committee room or online via Microsoft Teams. All those attending the committee room and environs should continue to wash their hands properly and often, avail of sanitisers outside and inside the committee rooms, be respectful of other people's physical space and practise good respiratory etiquette. If they have any Covid symptoms, no matter how mild, they should not attend in the committee meeting room. Members and all in attendance are asked to exercise personal responsibility in protecting themselves and others from the risk of contracting Covid-19. Members participating remotely are required to participate from within the Leinster House complex, as they are all fully aware. Apologies have been received from Deputy Shanahan.
The purpose of the meeting is to continue our discussion of the general scheme of the right to request remote work Bill 2022, which was referred by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Varadkar, for pre-legislative scrutiny by the committee. The Bill aims to provide a legal framework around which requesting, approving or refusing a request for remote work can be based. It also aims to provide legal clarity and procedures to employers on their obligations for dealing with such requests. The committee has discussed the proposed legislation with officials from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, representatives from IBEC and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, ICTU, and representatives from Grow Remote and Glofox. Having heard the views of various industry bodies, I am pleased that today we have an opportunity to consider matters further when we will hear from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. I welcome from the Department, Mr. Dermot Mulligan, assistant secretary, Ms Áine Maher, principal officer, and Mr. Mark Doheny, assistant principal officer.
Before we start, I wish to explain some limitations to parliamentary privilege and the practice of the Houses in respect of references witnesses may make to other persons in their evidence. The evidence of witnesses physically present or who give evidence from within the parliamentary precincts is protected pursuant to both the Constitution and statute by absolute privilege. Witnesses are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice that they should not criticise or make charges against any person or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable or otherwise engage in speech that might be regarded as damaging to the good name of a person or entity. Therefore, if witnesses' statements are potentially defamatory in respect of an identifiable person or entity, they will be directed to discontinue their remarks. It is imperative they comply with any such direction.
The opening statements have been circulated to members. To commence our consideration of this matter, I invite Mr. Mulligan to make his opening remarks.