Q&A: Everything you need to know about the Government's new remote working plan

A new landmark plan will radically change the future of how - and where - people work in Ireland.
Q&A: Everything you need to know about the Government's new remote working plan

Employees will be able to request to work remotely, with employers to be legally required to explain why they reject such requests, if they do so. Stock Picture.

With the country in the midst of its third Covid-19 lockdown, many thousands of us are now working from home for nearly a year now.

It is fair to say that when the pandemic comes to an end, a large cohort of workers will not simply return to our pre-pandemic work routine with many now seeking to stay at home or some form of a hybrid of home and office.

So just what has the Government announced?

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has announced a plan to give employees a legal right to request to be able to work remotely permanently. The plan, to be rolled out this year, will see greater tax breaks for employees to offset against the cost of working from home as well as supports for businesses who are transitioning away from a pure office model.

So what will change?

Employees can already request to work from home, but this legislative change will give the employee a legal right to do so, and shift the onus onto employers to explain why they turn such requests down.

Is it just home-working?

No, the phrase being used is remote working, so means you could work from home or a local hub in your town or some other facility away from your main office premises.

Will this be for everyone?

Clearly some jobs are not suited to this proposal, like healthcare and education which will have to continue on in their current form. But no one is being excluded: the right will apply universally.

What's this about more tax breaks?

So at the moment, employees can claim relief of €3.20 per day for working from home. According to Mr Varadkar, this will be enhanced in the next Budget. He also said there will be more supports for businesses, currently straddled with large office spaces, to help transition to allowing more people work from home.

Surely, this will mean huge office spaces in main cities will be left vacant?

A change will happen for sure and Mr Varadkar said this move will lead to a fall in commercial property prices, which he said is no bad thing. “It’s going to require us to reimagine our cities, something that's happening already, but something that is going to be accelerated by the pandemic and policies like this. We don't see cities as a place to commute in and out of. But we see cities as a creation space that people want to live in. So that they're living in city centres and walking to that HQ, you know and that's actually quite exciting,” Mr Varadkar said.

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