In March this year, the Government launched Future Jobs Ireland, a framework of focused ambitions which will form a key part of Ireland’s future economic agenda over the medium term. Primary responsibility for the programme rests with my colleague, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys T.D.
Future Jobs Ireland addresses challenges to participation in the labour force by developing and implementing a range of new initiatives aimed at easing barriers to entry into the workforce including investment in Early Learning and Care, providing tailored activation and training supports and generating attractive employment opportunities including intelligent working arrangements.
As the nature of work and society changes, the way we organise work must also. One of the ambitions in Future Jobs Ireland 2019 is to foster participation in the labour market through flexible working solutions. Flexible working solutions, including part-time, remote working, compressed hours, home-working and job sharing, are understood to have the potential to improve labour market participation, particularly amongst women with young children, as well as those with caring responsibilities, older people, and people with disabilities. Flexible working can also provide solutions for those who would otherwise take unpaid parental leave but cannot afford to do so.
Flexible work can assist in the development of an inclusive society by offering options to the benefit of employers, workers and wider society. We already have many companies in Ireland who offer remote working to their employees and this trend is expected to increase in the future. For workers, flexible work solutions such as remote working can mean substantial savings in terms of rents and property costs while also reducing the need to commute, leading to a better work-life balance. For businesses, intelligent working arrangements can support staff retention, a more motivated workforce with fewer sick days, and greater productivity, as well as the opportunity to draw workers from a larger pool of talent.
Under Future Jobs Ireland 2019, the Department of Justice and Equality will develop guidance to support employers in offering more family-friendly working options and promoting the adoption of flexible and or remote working solutions and structures for parents. In addition to this, the Department of Justice and Equality will commence a national consultation on the extension of flexible working options to all employees. The findings of the research and the outcome of the national consultation may lead to the development of further, new deliverables for inclusion in the next stage, Future Jobs Ireland 2020.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.