Longford senator backs new laws aimed at promoting working from home

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Remote working

There has been a broad welcome given to the Government's new plan to encourage and empower more staff to work from home

New laws empowering staff to work from home have been given the seal of political approval locally.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has published Ireland’s first National Remote Work Strategy to make remote working a permanent option for life after the Covid-19 pandemic.

It will also introduce a new legally admissible code of practice on the right to disconnect from work – covering phone calls, emails and switch-off time.

Longford Fine Gael Senator Micheal Carrigy said the move was reflective of a "norm for many" in the face of a growing coronavirus pandemic.

"We want remote, blended and flexible working arrangements a much bigger part of life after Covid," he said.

"We’ve seen that there can be huge benefits – more flexibility, less commuting, more time for family and friends. It’s better for the transport emissions, and for quality of life, but it has to be done right.

"Employment rights need to be updated, we need to give guidance, and in many cases, we need to provide actual physical working space. It also requires a cultural shift in favour of facilitating it as an option.

"This plan shows how we will bring all those parts together. I think it will make a real difference to people’s working lives.  However, the acceleration of the National Broadband Plan will need to be explored to allow people the choice to work from home."

For his part, Mr Varadkar said the document would strengthen the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees, to provide the infrastructure to work remotely, and sets out clear guidance on how people can be empowered to work remotely from the office.

"The pandemic has exacted a terrible toll on life and livelihoods in Ireland," he said.

"We all hope and pray for the day when it will be over, not so we can go back to the old normal but rather so we can have a new and better normal incorporating all that we have learned from living our lives and doing business in a very different way.

"The requirement to work from home where possible, for reasons of public health, has demonstrated how viable home, remote and blended working can be.  Post-pandemic, I want remote working to be part of a whole new world of work and this new Government strategy sets out how we will enable it."