Our guidance outlines the key points for consideration and communication as remote working is implemented to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 in line with government advice
Remote Working Strategy
CIPD Ireland welcomes the government’s Remote Working Strategy
In its Remote Working Strategy Making Remote Work published on 15 January 2021, the government has recognised both the challenges and benefits of remote working, which dramatically accelerated in use during the pandemic. CIPD Ireland is reporting a strong interest among members and employers in maintaining this through a blended working approach for the future.
The introduction of legislation to provide employees the right to request remote working is a positive move but CIPD Ireland calls for this to be broadened to cover flexible working, not just remote working. The report acknowledges the benefits of flexible working, which can cover how long, where, and at what times employees work, and not just the location of where work gets done. The government should move to bring in the right to request access to flexible working, not solely remote working, from the first day of employment.
The requirement to have 20% of public sector employees remote working is welcomed but has to account for adopting a blended approach whereby employees spend some working times/days at home and other times in the office. This will benefit both employees and employers more than 100% remote working, as it will reduce the risks of isolation and reduced collaboration.
CIPD Ireland members are very aware of the work-life boundary issues that have emerged during COVID-19. These need to be addressed, and the proposed code of practice on the right to disconnect from work will be welcome. While such a code should recognise the right of employees to disconnect, employers should not be penalised for giving employees the flexibility and ownership around hours and ways of working.
We welcome the review of the tax treatment of remote working in advance of the next Budget and believe the government should introduce tax incentives for employers and employees to make remote/flexible working more attractive. The current scheme, where an employer can pay up to €3.20 per day tax free to home working employees, is little used, 9% according to recent CIPD Ireland research, and requires a daily analysis of where work gets done. A more comprehensive incentive scheme is required.
Key elements of the Remote Working Strategy
Over the course of 2021, the government proposes to:
- Legislate to provide employees the right to request remote working.
- Introduce a legally admissible code of practice on the right to disconnect from work – covering phone calls, emails and switch-off time.
- Invest in remote work hubs, ensuring they are in locations that suit commuters and are close to childcare facilities.
- Explore the acceleration of the National Broadband Plan.
- Review the treatment of remote working for the purposes of tax and expenditure in the next Budget.
- Lead by example by mandating that home and remote working should be the norm for 20% of public sector employees.
Read CIPD Ireland’s submission on remote working in advance of the strategy, and find some of our resources to support remote working below.