Dáil to debate Labour Party motion on right to flexible work

08 March 2022

Dáil Éireann will tomorrow (March 9th) debate a Labour Party motion on the right to flexible work. In response to the government’s bill which would effectively give employers the right to refuse requests from employees, the Labour Party want to make flexible work the default option and not the exception.

Speaking in advance of the Dáil motion, Labour finance spokesperson Ged Nash said there is overwhelming public support for a right to flexible work:

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

“There is massive interest in this issue from workers, women’s organisations, trade unions, disability groups and climate change campaigners. Earlier this month, the Labour Party published a bill following consultation with these stakeholders to prevent government from turning back the clocks in terms of work in Ireland.

“This is where working people are at. Results of an Ireland Thinks poll commissioned by the Labour Party showed an overwhelming demand from workers for this right – 71% of people believe in a right to flexible work. When you drill down into the statistics, there are clear cohorts of workers that this will benefit – namely women (81% of whom are in favour of the right to flexible work) and our young workers (with 81% of this cohort also in support of Labour’s position).

“The development over the last two years in both information technology and the increased knowledge of how to use it has been a game changer and has showed a new way of living for commuters in particular. These gains cannot be lost and a right to flexible and remote work is key to cutting climate emissions, maintaining a better work/life balance, reducing the cost of living, reducing transport congestion and rejuvenating local communities.

“Work has evolved over the past number of years, driven by the success of flexible work during the pandemic. Let’s build on that experience and give workers the right to flexible work, where it has been proven to be made work.”


Motion re: flexible and remote work

Dáil Éireann –

  • recognises that legislation to promote a flexible working environment is in the public interest, in order to achieve –
  • an appropriate combination of paid work with caring responsibilities, and the enjoyment of a better work life balance,
  • the promotion of access to work, particularly for persons who face particular obstacles in taking up employment,
  • a reduction in traffic congestion and carbon emissions caused by the commute to work,
  • a rebalancing of the population and of amenities and resources between more densely and less densely populated regions, and
  • the economic and social development of the State as a whole, in accordance with policies on proper planning and sustainable development,
  • rejects as inadequate Government proposals in its Right to Request Remote Work Bill, on the grounds that they –
  • fail to provide that access to flexible work should be the default entitlement and not the exception,
  • fail to include a presumption that, if work has been done remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is reasonably practicable for it to continue to be done remotely,
  • confer a right on employers to refuse the entitlement to work remotely on grounds that are both manifestly unreasonable and unchallengeable, and
  • calls on the Government as an immediate priority to produce or to support radical alternative legislative arrangements which ensure that –
  • all workers have a right to request flexible work,
  • there is a presumption in favour of flexible work, and
  • a reason for refusal relied upon by an employer must be objectively justifiable, appropriate and proportionate.
    Ivana Bacik, Brendan Howlin, Alan Kelly, Ged Nash, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Seán Sherlock, Duncan Smith.


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