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Leo Varadkar warns working life can’t return to how it was before pandemic


Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said working life cannot return to the way it was before the pandemic as employees begin returning to offices this week.

Speaking ahead of the launch of new legislation giving employees the right to request to work from home, the Tánaiste said he wants employers to give workers more options after Covid-19 restrictions were lifted.

“One thing we are concerned about happening, that we don't want to happen, is businesses and employers just returning to things the way they were before the pandemic,” Mr Varadkar said.

“We want to see more remote working, more home working, more hybrid working. What happened during the pandemic was very much that people had to work from home not by choice but by because of public health advice.

"We want to move to a situation whereby people aren't working from home because they have to but they're working from home because they choose to,” he added.

Mr Varadkar said employers should “facilitate” employees who want to work remotely “so long as public services are not damaged in any way”.

The Fine Gael leader shot down a proposal by the Labour Party that employees should have the right to work from home rather than just the right to request to work from home.

Mr Varadkar said the Government cannot interfere in contracts between employers and employees. He also said there will be some industries such as education, healthcare and hospitality where remote working will not be possible.

He said people will be able to appeal refusals of their requests to work from home with the Workplace Relations Commission but said he hopes the appeals mechanism will not be used too often.

“I think the vast majority of employers are actually going to embrace this. Everyone sees the benefits of home working or remote working, (it will) reduce traffic, reduced crowding in office spaces and it's very much an employee's market at the moment,” he said.

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He said it makes sense for employers to offer employees new models of working to make their companies more attractive.

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