Fine Gael Champion Flexible Working for Better Work/Life Balance, Right to Disconnect

16th January, 2020

Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform, Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, today (Thursday the 16th of January) outlined Fine Gael’s plans to promote a better work/life balance by championing flexible working including remote working and the Right to Disconnect.

Minister Donohoe said:

“The Irish people have overcome enormous challenges since the dark days of the recession through resilience, talent and determination.

“With Fine Gael at the helm, unemployment has fallen from a high of 16% to 4.8%. We have more people working in Ireland today than ever before but our plans don’t stop there.

“Having reached full employment, we now want to make sure that people get more personal time through new modes of working, more family friendly workplaces and reduced travel times.

“We want Ireland to be a country where people work to live, not live to work. That’s why we will be publishing guidelines on remote working if re-elected to government.”

Minister Donohoe continued:

 “We are also mindful that every business has different needs and no one size fits all. That’s why we launched a national consultation on flexible working more broadly, which not only includes remote working, but also practices such as starting and finishing work at different times, shorter hours and flexi-time.

“We want this plan to have a real impact, so we will also ensure that the IDA are able to incentivise multinational companies to offer remote working.”

Minister Humphreys said:

“Flexible working can breathe life into towns and villages right across the country by allowing people to work and live where they’re from. It can also take pressure off our cities and bring environmental benefits with reduced commuting times.

Of course, the research tells us that the biggest challenge for people who work remotely is switching off, so the guidelines we publish will also look at giving Irish workers the right to disconnect after office hours, an approach used in France.

“Fine Gael in Government are delivering the National Broadband Plan, giving every home, farm and business in the country access to a high speed, reliable broadband connection, opening up huge opportunities. No one will be left behind. Under Future Jobs Ireland and Project Ireland 2040, millions has already been invested in digital hubs, co-working and hot desking facilities all over Ireland.

Pointing to the benefits for employers and employees alike, Minister Humphreys continued:

Businesses can benefit from having a happier and more productive workforce, not to mention a better chance of attracting and retaining staff in a tight labour market.

“Similarly, flexible working brings many benefits for workers by improving their work/life balance and reducing costs.

“For example, remote working might give a young mother the flexibility she needs to return to work if she wants to. It could also make things easier for a person with a disability who is looking to enter the workforce but finds a 9-5 job too restrictive.”

Minister Donohoe concluded:

“The world of work is changing and we need to change with it. By promoting these practices, Fine Gael will make it easier for people to balance between time spent at work and time spent at home or with your family.”