Time for government to get real about flexible work

27 April 2022

Supporting the call of Grow Remote for a right to flexible work, Labour employment spokesperson Marie Sherlock has today (Tuesday, 26th April) called on government to fast-track Labour’s Right to Flexible Work Bill 2022.

Speaking ahead of the resumption of pre-legislative scrutiny of the Right to Request Remote Working Bill 2022 at the Oireachtas Enterprise Committee tomorrow (Wednesday 27th April), Senator Sherlock said:

“The appetite is there for working people to have a genuine right to flexibility. The pandemic shone a light on the impact that flexible and remote working can have for all workers, but particularly cohorts of people who previously felt locked out of the labour market like people with disabilities, lone parents and those with caring responsibilities.

“The CSO’s Personal and Work-Life Balance Survey published today shows that employees who worked remotely, either during the pandemic or pre Covid-19, had higher job and life satisfaction ratings, when compared with those who had not worked remotely. 92% workers who had worked remotely in the previous 12 months were satisfied or very satisfied with their job.

“Unfortunately the government seems determined to ignore these workers and go back in time through its flexible work legislation, which would essentially give employers a right to refuse requests for flexible work. We in the Labour Party share many of the concerns raised by Grow Remote, including the government proposal that flexible work would be a reward for good behaviour – with employers only asked to consider requests for flexibility after six months of employment. This is simply unacceptable and fails to grasp the reality of how work in Ireland is organised.

“The reality is, government’s plans are not worth the paper they’re written on. In reality, the government’s proposals would introduce a system in relation to remote and flexible working which is actually worse for workers than the legislation which was imposed on Britain by the Tories, on which it is modelled. Labour instead proposes that legislation enshrining a right for workers, who have proven their ability to work successfully remotely, to maintain flexible working arrangements.

“The future of how work in Ireland is organised is one of the great issues of our times. We have seen perhaps 15 years of change pushed into two years. It is our intention to work with a broad coalition who are committed to not turning the clock back in terms of work in Ireland but rather seeking to create a Right to Flexible Work which is in the best interests of women, low paid workers, families, local communities and our environment. I will be raising this during the Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment where we will debate government’s proposals.”

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