Fórsa is seeking additional staff in the Department of Social Protection to underpin services and reflect the increased numbers of people on the live register. The union also says staffing in Intreo centres (ICs) is currently inadequate to restore normal ‘pre-Covid’ opening hours.
In a claim submitted to Departmental Council, Fórsa official Paul MacSweeney said the numbers on the live register was increasing as people move from the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) to jobseekers’ allowance.
But there are fewer staff available in IC front offices because significant numbers have been moved to the National Processing Team (NPT) or National Information Contact Centre (NICC).
“As part of local management assessment of working arrangements, we are seeking that local management engage with lead worker representatives and health and safety reps regarding restoration of normal level of service, including bringing more staff into the office, and whether this can be done while observing health guidelines,” he said.
Paul explained that there are staff who have worked in front-facing roles throughout the pandemic who will be seeking the opportunity to work from home.
“We have sought that all positions in areas like NICC and NPT are filled through expression of interest to maximise the opportunity for blended working for as many staff as possible who wish to avail of it. At present there are staff that were selected for these areas who have no interest in home working,” he said.
Paul noted that the transition back to the office will be welcomed by some, but will be a challenge for others.
“We will work with our branch and national committees, our members and the department to try to ensure that, subject to business needs being met, as many of our members who want to work remotely can be facilitated, regardless of their grade, gender or location,” he said.
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