Rogue attempt by Tánaiste to muddy the waters on flexible work

19 May 2022
  • Flexible work increases employee morale and productivity
  • Flexible work creates more diverse work force
  • Flexible work benefits local economies
  • Labour Bill would provide right to flexible work not government’s preferred option of right to refuse

Labour employment spokesperson Marie Sherlock has slammed the spin emanating from government regarding the cost of flexible work to the taxpayer.

Senator Sherlock said:

“It is laughable to see the spin emanating from the Tánaiste’s Department on flexible work. The business lobby is making every attempt to stymy the greatest change in the world of work in recent years. The report published by the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service fails to consider the variety of benefits associated with flexible work – from additional time with family, more money spent in local communities and overall benefit on people’s mood.

“The CSO’s Personal and Work-Life Balance Survey published in April 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. This positive employee morale has genuine and measurable economic and productivity benefits for business.

“This report also fails to consider the people who have been lifted back into the labour market as a result of flexible work, people who previously felt locked out of the world of work. 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.

“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, felt shut out by the jobs market. Flexible work has created more diverse workplaces that actually works for people. Why are government determined to row back on this progress?

“The pathetic suggestion that city centres will be destroyed as a result of flexible work is simply ridiculous. Indeed, flexible work has been central in reviving local economies in suburbs and across rural Ireland. 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 – we have seen an increase in coffee trucks and small businesses having the courage to make the leap to expand, for example. 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.

“This cynical, narrowminded approach by government to giving workers what they want will erode trust between workers and employers in the labour market, will represent a step back in time in terms of work, and will diminish the vibrancy of local communities that grew as a result of people working at home in their community.

“Rather than this constant attempt to muddy the waters, Labour is reiterating our calls to government to fast track Labour’s Bill which would provide a right to flexible work for all employees in jobs where it is possible.

“Whether the Tánaiste likes it or not, work arrangements have evolved during the pandemic and this must be taken into account. Instead of this government’s preferred option of providing a right to refuse requests for flexible work, Labour is demanding that the government catch up with where working people are at and provide a right to flexible work for all.”

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