Blended working framework too rigid and shows lack of trust

03 April 2022

Labour Party spokesperson on Employment Affairs, Senator Marie Sherlock has sharply criticised the Government for failing to show a real lead on flexible and secure work practices and to properly embed pandemic gains for workers.

Senator Sherlock said:

“As the biggest employer in the State, the public service should be playing a leading role in making remote, flexible and blended work a real gain for people as we adjust to post-Covid working life. Unfortunately, the Government is choosing to display a real lack of leadership in developing flexible work as a long term and secure way of working. As we emerge from the pandemic and start settling into a new normal the Government has taken a very rigid view of flexible work conditions. It is completely at odds with what so many thousands of workers are demanding.

“Unfortunately, this policy delivers the bare minimum and reflects a real and extraordinary lack of trust on the part of the Government towards its own workforce in the public sector. Time and time again we have seen that a trusted workforce, a respected workforce is a more productive workforce. The experience of remote working during the Covid-19 emergency has demonstrated that many roles can be carried out remotely in ways that are productive, cost-effective and attractive to employers and their staff.

“Remote, flexible, hybrid or blended working, are set to become one of the biggest global trends that remain with us as lockdowns ease and the normal patterns of life return across societies. As President Michael D Higgins said at the SIPTU conference in Sligo this week if implemented correctly, with safeguards to protect employees, flexible, blended and remote work can facilitate a better work-life balance and improve the quality of community and life; “It has the potential to make our world a healthier place and foster a sense of community and support for local businesses and communities. It can address the two-sided problem of rural decay and urban congestion and help implement real regional planning.

“Many companies have already made the leap to permanent remote and flexible working. Research shows that 80% of European employers require or are considering more employees to work remotely once the pandemic is over. There can be no going back.

“We very much believe a right to flexible and secure work can make work more equal in this country. It’s not a silver bullet on its own and it needs stronger gender pay gap legislation and working from home protections to realise its full potential. Ultimately, the pandemic has taught us so much is possible. For a more inclusive and equal workplace to be possible Government must take the lead.”

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