I thank the Deputy for raising this matter. My Department and I understand the importance and potential of flexible working. As the nature of work and society changes, the way in which we organise work must also change. A labour market which offers flexible working solutions can result in tangible benefits for employers, employees and wider society. This is addressed under pillar 4 of the Future Jobs Ireland strategy. Pillar 4 is focused on increasing participation in the labour force as this will lead to the more equitable, balanced and sustainable development of Ireland's workforce.
Pillar 4 of Future Jobs Ireland outlines a number of key ambitions and deliverables to help to increase participation in the labour force. Specifically, ambition 4.2 of the strategy is focused on fostering participation in the labour force through flexible working solutions. Flexible working can encompass a wide variety of practices, including part-time and compressed hours, job sharing, home working and remote working. Such solutions allow for tangible benefits for employees, including improving their work-life balance. Flexible working also assists in the development of an inclusive society. By removing some of the barriers to work for people with caring responsibilities and providing a framework for flexible retirement, increasing flexible working could improve labour market participation, particularly among people with caring responsibilities, older people and people with disabilities. For wider society, remote working has the potential to stimulate regional growth, lessen accommodation pressures and support the transition to a green economy.
There are a number of key deliverables under pillar 4 of Future Jobs Ireland, with the objective of fostering participation in the labour force through flexible working solutions. They include deliverables such as holding a national consultation on flexible working options, the development of guidance for employers on family-friendly working options and the extension of unpaid parental leave. These deliverables are being led by the Department of Justice and Equality, with an input from my Department. A further deliverable under this pillar, on which my Department is leading, is the completion of research on remote working.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
The objective of this research is to understand the prevalence and types of remote working arrangement within the workforce and the attitudes towards such arrangements. The research will also identify the influencing factors for both employers and employees partaking in remote working.