Government concede on need for right to flexible work after almost a year of time wasting

08 November 2022
  • Government must end time wasting and provide certainty to workers
  • Dealing with a Right to Flexible Work in the Work Life Balance Bill must provide certainty for workers

Responding to the announcement by Minister Roderic O’Gorman during the discussion of government’s Work Life Balance Bill in Committee today, Labour employment spokesperson Marie Sherlock welcomed the announcement that a right to flexible working will be legislated for.

However, Senator Sherlock said this move comes after huge Oireachtas time wasting by Government on it’s Right to Request Flexible Work legislation.

Senator Sherlock pointed to Labour’s Bill published in February following consultation with a broad range of stakeholders that would embed a legal right to flexible work for employees.

Senator Sherlock said:

“While we welcome the announcement by Minister O’Gorman that government will seek to legislate for a legal right to flexible work, I am appalled by the colossal amount of Oireachtas time wasted heretofore by Government on its bill that would have effectively given businesses a right to refuse requests to work from home.

“Since the start of this year, we’ve called for a right to flexible work for all workers, and to have one bill dealing with this in train through the Oireachtas as opposed to the Government’s proposed two (Work Life Balance Bill and Right to Request Remote Work Bill). Government opposed consolidating these as recently as a fortnight ago, but we welcome the belated fact that common sense seems to finally have prevailed.

“What remains to be seen is how the right to flexible work will be enshrined in legislation, what grounds for refusal will be proposed and the mechanism employees will have to appeal refusals. Workers must be supported through a clear right to appeal route via the workplace or, failing that, the Workplace Relations Commission.

“Workers need to have a guarantee around flexibility. Employees who can work from home must have a legal right to do so. We saw the impact this had on our economy during the pandemic, bringing a diverse group of people into the workforce that were previously excluded. Labour proposed legislation back in February in tandem with advocacy groups representing women, people with disability, lone parents and many others to support this.

“We’re almost a year on from the full return to the office and we cannot allow government to turn back the clocks on flexible work. There is clear demand to keep the newfound flexibility in the workplace for better access to employment and for a better work life balance.

“Government have done enough time wasting for both workers and members of the Oireachtas. We need to pave the way for modern work practices and a right to flexible work is crucial to this.”

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