ICTU calls for a review of employment protections for remote workers

27 Jul 2020

ICTU Working from home guide (FINAL)

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has called on Government to commit to a review of employment legislation to ensure protections are fit for purpose for remote working in the post-pandemic world of work. 

Speaking ahead of the publication of the union’s guidance for workers working from home, Social Policy Officer, Dr Laura Bambrick said: “Workers’ hard-won rights must be preserved when working from home. Protections need to keep pace with changes in ways of working, and gaps in law closed. What is urgently needed is a more ambitious public consultation on remote working than that recently launched by the Department of Business.” 

Dr Bambrick said: “Many workers have expressed an interest to continue remote working. However, unlike workers across the EU, in the UK and Northern Ireland, Irish workers have no legal right to work flexibly, including working from home. Under current law remote working is solely at the discretion of the employer.”

She added: “When implemented in the right way, flexible and remote working can really improve people’s working lives, make them happier and more productive. That is why ICTU is calling for a change in the law to give every worker the legal right to request flexible working and for employers to be obliged to give the request serious consideration.”

“The need for flexibility must be balanced with the needs of the business. Not all jobs can be done from home. What a statutory right to request flexible working does is require bosses to deal with workers request in a reasonable and considered manner” she said.

For other workers, the mass home-working experiment has been fraught. Higher utility and broadband costs is among the most common complaints reported to trade union reps.

Dr Bambrick said: “Remote workers should not have to carry the cost of doing business, whether in the form of higher household bills or the daily desk charge at a digital hub. ICTU is calling for a review of the adequacy of the €3.20 tax-free daily expense allowance paid by employers to homeworkers, and for payment of this allowance to be made mandatory.”

On Monday, the Private Sector Committee of ICTU publishes a remote workers’ guide to employment rights - When your Home is your Workplace. Despite successive governments, since the 1990s have supported a switch from office-based to remote working, there is still no national guidance for workers or employers engaging in remote working.

See the guide here: https://www.ictu.ie/publications/fulllist/when-home-is-your-workplace/