Promise of “free hot desks” doomed to fail without a proper right to flexible work

08 June 2022

Labour Party spokesperson on employment and workers’ rights, Marie Sherlock, has today (8th June) said the shockingly low uptake of “free hot desks” to support remote working is down to the Government’s failure to take remote working seriously and legislating for a right to flexible work.

Senator Sherlock said:

“The Government announcement of 10,000 free ‘hot desks’ while welcome is sidestepping the real issue here and that is evidenced by the shockingly low uptake of the initiative so far. The Government is on one hand subsidising remote working while on the other hand failing to meet the clear demand for a legislative right to flexible work. It’s madness and a plan that’s doomed to fail. The reality is that the Government produced very narrow and rigid draft legislation in January and despite promises to make changes, we have yet to see anything substantial that suggests anything other than tokenistic changes will be made.

“That is why we believe we are seeing such paltry numbers taking up the Government’s offer. There is no legislation to protect these workers and remote work is still firmly in the gift of an employer. It is no good to simply say “have a conversation” with an employer without workplace protection to back it up.

“We believe the Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, has a major role to play in the pre-legislative scrutiny process. He has so far not met with members of the Committee or given any clear indication of when, or if, his government will take any serious amendments on-board. If he doesn’t, working people risk losing the gains won over the course of the pandemic and all the promises made will amount to little.

“Furthermore, questions must be asked about the real beneficiaries of the Government’s new scheme. Many of the hubs and remote working spaces are privately owned, which means the payment is a direct subsidy to the hubs themselves, instead of giving it to workers.”

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