May 18, 2022
Department officials admit draft remote working legislation was flawed – Louise O’Reilly TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Workers’ Rights, Louise O’Reilly TD, has welcomed the admission of officials from the Department of Enterprise, Trade, and Employment that the Tánaiste’s draft remote working bill was “flawed”, and that changes will be brought forward.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“Remote working, or working from home, is not just a response to the pandemic.

“For many years workers, trade unions, and politicians have been highlighting the benefits of remote working and pushing for it to be recognised as a protected form of work with particular safeguards, protections, and allowances for those workers.

“A report on the right to request remote working, published by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, highlighted that workers see remote and hybrid working as key to the future of work.

“Therefore, it was unsurprising that workers were confused and angry that the government’s proposed legislation on a right to request remote working was conservative and fell far short of what was expected.

“The Tánaiste’s 13 sweeping and subjective reasons to allow an employer deny a remote working request were far from fair, reasonable, or proportionate.

“The flawed legislation was exacerbated by the fact the appeal mechanism outlined in the draft heads of bill was far too weak.

“These were issues which Sinn Féin, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, and many others raised when the legislation was first published.

“Thankfully, at the Oireachtas Enterprise, Trade, and Employment Committee this morning, officials from the Department outlined that they are currently strengthening the bill and looking to reduce the number of grounds for refusal, improve the redress provisions, and strengthen the right of appeal mechanisms.

“This legislation will be judged on whether workers have confidence that it compels employers to be fair, reasonable, and consistent in their considerations – unfortunately, as it stands, it does none of these things.

“For the vast majority of workers, remote working throughout the pandemic was a positive experience, however, it stands, the Tánaiste’s remote working bill is one step forward, two steps backwards for workers.

“Therefore, it is essential that the Tánaiste and officials in the Department of Enterprise, Trade, and Employment Committee significantly amend the draft remote working bill to ensure it delivers for workers.”

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