My Department and I understand the importance of promoting a good work-life balance for employees. This is addressed under Pillar 4 of the Government's Future Jobs Ireland strategy. Pillar 4 is focussed 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. A number of these ambitions are centred on flexible working solutions which offer potential 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. Such 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.
There are a number of key deliverables under Pillar 4 with the objective of fostering participation in the labour force through flexible working solutions. These 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.
A further deliverable under this Pillar is the completion of research on remote working. My Department is currently leading on this research which focusses on understanding 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 research will include desk research, a national employee survey, and one-on-one consultation with key stakeholders. The recent report published by the Financial Services Union on the impact of technology on employees will be considered as a part of this process. The research will also include an international policy review which will consider the ‘right to disconnect’, as currently in place in France, in order to understand the impacts of this on remote working. A further input to this project will be the results arising from a Remote Working Stakeholder Forum which I held in the Cavan Digital Hub on 18 July.
The research will be completed in Q4 of this year and will be published shortly thereafter.