Tens of thousands of Irish civil servants will now be able to work remotely at least some of the time.
The Government has hailed the move as a “major shift” in working arrangements for around 40,000 civil servants, which will see officials able to work from home at least 20% of the time.
It also partly formalises many of the remote-working reforms ushered in overnight by the Covid-19 pandemic two years ago.
Launching the policy on Thursday, Michael McGrath, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, said the plan “marks the formal beginning of a new way of working in the civil service”.
The plan envisages blended working arrangements in place before the summer, with civil servants offered the chance to work both from home and from the office.
It's certainly not the case that somebody who is working remotely for part of the week is at any disadvantage whatsoeverMichael McGrath
However, civil servants will have to work from somewhere in Ireland.
Mr McGrath said that he anticipated some civil servants working from home more than 20% of the time in the future, but ruled out a 100% shift to remote working.
“As a general rule of thumb, we don’t envisage that anyone will be working 100% from home.
“Because it is important there would be collaboration in the place of work.
“We all know that younger and new members of staff in particular to really get the benefits of collaboration,” he said.
Mr McGrath confirmed that there is no additional money for civil servants as part of the plan who choose to work from home.
Instead, he said that the Government had already introduced some tax relief for home-workers.
“There was a change in the Budget in relation to the taxation element of expenses involved in remote working and of course that is an issue the Government will keep under review in the context of future Budgets,” he said during a press conference at Government Buildings.
Mr McGrath confirmed that not every civil servant will be able to work from home.
He also rejected any suggestion that remote workers could lose opportunities for promotion.
“It’s certainly not the case that somebody who is working remotely for part of the week is at any disadvantage whatsoever,” he said.
The Fianna Fáil minister also indicated that the Government hoped that generous remote working policies might attract more talent to the Irish civil service.
“This is a space that is evolving very rapidly,” he said.
“There is a really intense battle for talent under way at the moment in both the public sector and the private sector.
“As an employer, we are acutely conscious that one of the considerations for any potential recruit now is work-life balance and the ability to work remotely for part of the working week is a key attraction.”