Government attitude to workplace progress laid bare by potential EU fines

17 November 2023
  • EU fines could be imposed for delay in introducing work life balance legislation. 
  • Workers left to bear brunt of legal limbo.
  • Are high office vacancy rates in Dublin causing Government to back off remote and flexible work rights?

Labour workers’ rights spokesperson Marie Sherlock said potential EU fines over Ireland’s work-life balance rights were totally unavoidable.

Senator Sherlock said the inaction from Government to pave the way for robust workers’ rights is costing us all.

Senator Sherlock said:

“Ireland is now potentially facing fines for failing to transpose the 2019 EU Directive on Work Life Balance to improve the working lives of parents, and to ensure a better work life balance for all workers.

“The Work Life Balance Act 2023 was signed into law well over six months ago, yet this Government continue to drag its heels for workers and enact critical sections of the law, including the right for workers to request remote and flexible work.

“These delays are already costing all hardworking people who still feel like the world of employment rights has not caught up with the modern realities of the workplace.

“It also lays bare the Government’s real attitude towards remote and flexible work which prioritises big business and protecting its bottom line ahead of workers’ rights.

“With high levels of office vacancy in Dublin and beyond, it seems that there is a concerted effort by Government to get workers back into the office, and to ensure they have little to no rights in that negotiation with their employer.

“There’s clearly an oversupply of office space in the capital, with vacancy rates at around 14%. Government is essentially giving businesses a right to refuse requests from employees to work from home, so that management can justify the costs of office space, and private developers can feel assured that they can continue to reap enormous profits.

“Government refused to engage with Labour’s Bill to provide all workers with an immediate right to flexible work. Instead, the measures drafted, which are yet to be enacted, represent a right for employers to refuse requests for flexibility and are a retrograde step for workers in this country.

“The Code of Practice proposed by Government on flexible work has still not been published by this Government. These delays are having a real impact on workers.

“We’ve had lone parents tell us of their frustration that they don’t have a framework to request flexible work arrangements and are caught in a situation where there is no after school care available locally. A right to request flexible work would have a hugely positive impact on these workers’ lives.

“Should the EU impose a fine for a failure to enact these vital protections, workers are set to pay on the double. Why the delay? Workers are crying out for clarity, and now the EU is weighing in behind them. The Government needs to stop resting on its laurels and protect the rights of workers in Ireland.”

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