The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has renewed calls for legislation to oblige employers to pay remote workers an allowance to cover some of the costs of working from home. ICTU also wants a review of the current €3.20-a-day rate that workers can receive tax-free.
The call came after Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe extended tax relief for home workers’ utility expenses to include broadband, but fell short of announcing any other supports to facilitate remote working or assist those working from home.
Right now, home workers can claim tax relief on some heating and lighting costs if they don’t get a home working allowance from their employer. Workers can also claim tax relief on other vouched expenses incurred "wholly, exclusively and necessarily" when working at home.
Almost a half of respondents to a Fórsa members’ survey on remote working said that they incurred costs that they would not incur in work while working at home. The survey, which was conducted in July, drew responses from over 4,300 members.
Meanwhile, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) has updated its guidance on remote working on foot of a public consultation that took place during the summer. Its website now includes a remote working checklist for employers.
Tax and financial incentives were the single most-mentioned issue in submissions to the consultation, with many saying current tax allowances were inadequate and difficult to understand and claim.
The consultation attracted over 500 submissions including a detailed paper from Fórsa, in which the union made 20 recommendations.
A number of submissions, including Fórsa’s, called for better health and safety protocols to cover work-related accidents in the home. Greater clarity over responsibility for provision of equipment and technology was also sought.
The department says the consultation will be used to inform a national strategy on remote work, with a cross-Government approach to facilitating and encouraging longer-term remote working in Ireland.
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