Leo Varadkar has recently implemented a fresh strategy for remote working in Ireland labelled “Making Remote Work”. As Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, he has introduced the strategy as a means to:

“A form of organising and/or performing work, using information technology, in the context of an employment contract/relationship, where work, which could also be performed at the employer’s premises, is carried out away from those premises on a regular basis.”

With so many employees working from their residences in Ireland, an element of this project will be identifying ways for the National Broadband Plan to be expedited, providing a streamlined internet-access setup for businesses with remote staff.

The strategy can be broken into several key objectives:

  • Ensuring that the public sector sees a minimum threshold of 20% employees working from home/ remotely.
  • Carefully analysing the tax implications and relief consequences for remote workers in the upcoming budget.
  • Identifying remote working hubs to invest in across the country
  • Establishing freedom for workers to “disconnect” where needed.
  • Working to expedite internet access around Ireland.

The Remote Work Strategy incorporates core principles reinforced by a set of conditions for each pillar. 

Pillar One Plan – Establish A Suitable Environment

Pillar One aims to produce a working environment suitable for working remotely. With so many Irish people now working from home, new measures will be required to facilitate the change. The human resources side of this shift needs to be scrutinised with regards to worker rights and the duties of employers to monitor conditions and adhere to tax regulations. Pillar One focuses on supporting both workers businesses.

Timeline

In Q1 of 2021, a code of practice will be introduced for employees right to disconnect. By Q3 of 2021, legislation for workers to request a remote-work agreement will be the focus. Also, by this same timeline, the Tax Strategy Group will be tasked with reviewing remote working tax arrangements for both workers and businesses and assess the economic, financial and organisational implications for Budget 2022.

There will be a continued focus on ensuring guidance is provided for employees as developments are made. 

Pillar Two Plan – Build and Invest in Remote Working Infrastructure 

Pillar Two points out the significance of improving and optimising facilities to speed up people’s adaption to remote working. Ensuring the right infrastructure is there to accommodate employers and their staff for both remote working hubs and home offices is the focus. Pillar Two identifies methods of developing and investing in hub infrastructures to ensure broadband is widely available to assist remote work. 

Timeline

In Q1 of 2021, there will be a focus on identifying hub facilities as completed by Western Development Commission on the Atlantic Economic Corridor. Expediting the provision of internet facilities across Ireland will be a key objective, particularly in more remote locations with worse signal. Building data on commuter, skills and childcare facilities will be important for report building on the economic effects of remote working. There will be a strategy around exploring current hub infrastructure and the correlation with environmental policies. By Q4 of 2021, there will be an increased effort to invest in hub networks around Ireland and develop remote working facilities. 

Pillar Three Plan – Establish Remote Work and Guidance Policy

Pillar Three establishes a practice of ensuring the advantages of working remotely are in line with the goals of public policy. Pillar Three will ensure to focus on ways of reaching State policy targets through effective collaboration in remote working. 

Timeline

By Q4 of 2021, concrete information on the prevalence of remote working in Ireland will be accumulated to streamline processes and improve policy going forward. Efforts will shift to create a physical database comprised of information on costs and advantages of working out of the office and the effects it has had on economic and social policies. There will be continued efforts by the Remote Work Strategy IDG to meet every 4 months to encourage collaboration across departments to support policy adherence. 

Guidelines:

  • In Q1 of 2021, there will be efforts to build campaigns for hub facilities awareness in Ireland
  • There will be a focus on encouraging businesses to adapt their policies and assist with support and training to facilitate this shift. Businesses will receive consultation on best practices to maintain a positive focus on equality and fairness for all workers. 
  • In the public sector and educational facilities, a minimum of 20% of employees working either remotely or from home will be implemented as a mandate.