Trade unions have this week called on the Government to review employment laws to make sure they protect those working at home in the post-pandemic world of work. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) said the State’s current approach was inadequate, and that legal protections for employees need to keep pace with changes in ways of working.
Responding to a public consultation on remote working, which is currently being run by the Department of Business, ICTU’s social policy officer Laura Bambrick said a “more ambitious” plan was needed.
A slew of recent surveys has shown a strong appetite among workers for maintaining remote working options post-Covid. Fórsa is set to reveal the results of its membership survey next week.
Employers appear to be on the same page. A recent study for the Institute of Directors found that only 12% of business leaders expect all their staff to return to work premises once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. Almost a third said they were considering downsizing office space, while 40% predicted an equal mix of staff working in the office and remotely.
The new focus on remote working – and the pandemic experience – have exposed some weaknesses in worker protections. ICTU says this includes the lack of a legal right to work flexibly, as all such arrangements are legally at the discretion of employers.
ICTU wants a change in the law to give every worker the legal right to request flexible working and to oblige employers to give such requests serious consideration.
Publishing its guide to remote workers’ employment rights this week, ICTU also said remote workers should not have to “carry the cost of doing business,” in the form of higher household bills or the digital hub desk charges.
The federation has called for payment of a daily tax-free allowance for home workers to be made mandatory – a move that some fear would act as a disincentive to expanded remote working after the pandemic.
Read Fórsa’s guide to remote working HERE.
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