My Department and I understand the importance of promoting a good work-life balance for employees. As the nature of work and society changes, the way we organise work must also change. This is recognised under Pillar 4 of Future Jobs Ireland, which outlines a number of key ambitions and deliverables to help to increase participation in the labour force. A number of these ambitions are centred on flexible working solutions which can offer benefits for employers, employees and wider society in general.
Flexible working encompasses a wide range of practices including part-time, compressed hours, job sharing, home-working and remote working. Flexible working solutions allow for tangible benefits for employees including improving their work-life balance. It also provides solutions for those who would otherwise take unpaid parental leave but cannot afford to do so.
Ambition 4.2 of Future Jobs Ireland places focus on fostering participation in the labour force through flexible working solutions. This Ambition includes deliverables such as the development of guidance for employers on family-friendly working options, the extension of unpaid Parental Leave, and a consultation on work-life balance which the Department of Justice and Equality will be launching shortly, to identify further areas of consideration for flexible working.
My Department is currently leading on research on remote working under Ambition 4.2(I). The objective of this research is to understand the prevalence and types of remote working arrangements within the Irish workforce and the attitudes towards such arrangements. The research will also identify the influencing factors for both employers and employees partaking in remote working.
This report will include the outcomes from desk research, quantitative research and engagement with key stakeholders, including employer representative bodies and remote working interest groups. This report will also include an international policy review which will consider relevant policies abroad, such as the right to disconnect in France. To assist with this work, an Interdepartmental Steering Group has been formed with representatives from my Department, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, the Department of Rural and Community Development, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of An Taoiseach.
As part of the consultation process, my Department held a Remote Working Consultation Forum on 18th July of this year in Cavan Digital Hub to gain key insights into the remote working landscape in Ireland. This Forum was attended by a wide range of key stakeholders across Government Departments, State Agencies, enterprise and the remote work community.
Furthermore, a national Remote Work in Ireland Employee Survey was undertaken by my Department in October to derive further insights into the prevalence and types of remote working employees are engaging in across regions and sectors.
The final report will outline the relevant key implications for remote working in Ireland. It is due to be completed in Q4 of this year and will be published shortly thereafter. Based on the report’s findings, consideration will be given as to the appropriate next steps to be taken by Government on this matter.