Poll shows overwhelming support for right to flexible work

24 February 2022

• Results of Ireland Thinks poll shows 71% believe in right to flexible work
• 81% of women want the right to flexible work
• 81% of young people call for the right to flexible work

At a roundtable meeting of stakeholder groups, including the National Women’s Council, ICTU, SPARK, the Financial Services Union and the Disability Federation Ireland, today (Thursday, 24th February) in Dublin, the Labour Party presented its new Right to Flexible Work Bill 2022.

Speaking at the event, Labour’s employment spokesperson Marie Sherlock said the gains for workers, families, communities, marginalised groups and the environment which have resulted from the greater adoption of flexible work practices during the pandemic must not be squandered.

Senator Sherlock said:

“The government are totally out of touch with where working people are at. There is a clear demand to keep the newfound flexibility of the work for better access to employment and a better work life balance. It’s time to create an Ireland that works.

“A right to flexible work can, and already has, make work more equal in this country. With female full-time employment rising by an impressive 7.5% in a two-year period between the end of 2019 and 2021, we know that something has happened during the pandemic. 81% of women surveyed on behalf of the Labour Party want flexible work to be the default and not the exception.

“Ireland has the highest rate of joblessness among lone parents in the EU. We also have the highest share of those with a permanent disability who are not in paid employment. There are many who want to work but due to structural reasons feel shut out by the jobs market. We believe that the availability of Flexible work is the answer to encouraging a more equal, more diverse workplace that works for people.

“We have seen communities throughout the country thrive during the pandemic, with many young people opting to leave the cities and return home. As well as improving their quality of life, this contribution to local economies has been clearly felt. At a time when government remains disinterested in resolving the extortionate cost of renting in our cities, Labour are demanding that government do not turn the clock back in terms of work in Ireland.

“That’s what the Bill we have published hopes to achieve. We want flexible work to be made available to all employees in jobs where it is possible. Work arrangements have evolved during the pandemic and this must be taken into account. Experience of flexible work must count for both existing and incoming workers.

“Under the government’s proposed legislation, employers essentially have the right to refuse requests for flexible work. Our Bill does not give an absolute veto to employers to refuse working arrangements. Any appeal on the grounds of refusal would be available through the Workplace Relations Commission. Unlike the government’s menu of options for refusal, the grounds for refusal in our bill have been tightly restricted to issues of practicality or security reasons.”


Results of the Ireland Thinks poll conducted on Friday 7th January 2022

The question asked was “Currently employees have a right to request to work remotely. However, should employees who can work remotely also have a right to do so?”

• 71% of respondents agree that employees who can work remotely also have a right to do so
• 81% of women agree that workers should have a right to flexible work
• 82% of low-paid workers (under €20k) agree with the right to flexible work
• 81% of people aged 25-34 years old agree that flexible work should be a right
• 67% of Dublin residents agree with the right to flexible work
• 74% of people living in rural areas believe employees who can work remotely also have a right to do so

A nationally representative sample of 1,369 responses was carefully selected from a larger group of over 30,000 panellists. The results were tuned by a weighting procedure all to ensure that the poll was exactly representative in terms of age, gender, region, educational attainment, religious adherence, housing status, and past voting behaviour. Methodologically this is overseen by statisticians.

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