The Government has announced a series of new initiatives to support remote working including a voucher scheme that will give workers free access to local digital hubs.

Under the plan, at least 10,000 hot desk facilities will be provided free of charge to existing hub users and those availing of the facilities for the first time.

The scheme will initially provide three days of hub use per person between now and the end of August.

There are now 242 remote working hubs across the country.

Workers can book an office or desk space in their local hub through an app called 'Connected Hubs' and the average cost of using the hubs is between €15-20 a day.

The Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys also announced an investment of €5m to upgrade 81 remote working facilities nationwide.

Works will include the expansion of existing hubs, installation of privacy booths, access control and security systems, the conversion of existing open plan space to modular offices, and provision of podcast studios, enhanced audio visual, networking and conferencing facilities.

The Government has also announced the provision of €50,000 in funding to each local authority under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme.

The money will be used to fund marketing campaigns and promote local remote working opportunities.

Around 12,400 people use remote working hubs around the country and 1,800 users are registered with the 'Connected Hubs' app.

Speaking on RTE's News at One, Ms Humphreys said the Government wants to increase the number of workers using these facilities and that her aim was to raise awareness among people working at home who haven't taken up the offer to use their local remote working hub.

"I'm asking them to try them out and have a conversation with your employer because there are employers who will cover the costs," she said.

The Labour Party described the numbers using remote working hubs as "shockingly low" and "paltry".

"The Government is on one hand subsidising remote working while on the other hand failing to meet the clear demand for a legislative right to flexible work. It's madness and a plan that's doomed to fail," said Labour's spokesperson on employment and workers’ rights, Senator Marie Sherlock.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has welcomed the initiatives announced today but is calling for greater urgency when it comes to passing the 'Right to Request Remote Work Bill', which is currently making its way through the Oireachtas.

"Today's measures could be seen as tinkering around the edges. The real blockage to remote working and workers taking up theses remote hubs is that they have no legal guarantees that their request to work from home will be given a fair hearing," said Dr Laura Bambrick, Social Policy Officer with ICTU.

"There needs to be more urgency in getting that legislation enacted," she added.

The bill is currently undergoing pre-legislative scrutiny by the Oireachtas Enterprise Committee and it is likely to be the autumn before the remote working law in enacted.

ICTU is also calling for tax reliefs on fees paid by workers to remote working hubs.