Hot-desking continues at bank call centres, workers say

Employees tell union survey they don’t have enough hand-washing breaks

Some 40 per cent of staff in Irish bank call centres and departments have said that hot-desking continues to be practised by their employers, even as most in the industry are working from home amid the Covid-19 crisis, according to a union survey.

A fifth of these say that they do not have sufficient breaks to wash their hands, while two-thirds say the intensity of their work has "increased or significantly increased", according to the Financial Services Union (FSU) survey of 4,270 employees across the State's retail banks in the two weeks to May 8th.

The survey also found that 56 per cent of bank workers now operating from home have seen an increase in work intensity, with 66 per cent reporting an increase in work-related stress, and 44 per cent feel pressure to answer calls and emails outside of work hours.


“FSU members across banking and finance are working hard to ensure that customers’ needs are met during Covid-19. Many thousands of our members are now working from home, and our survey has revealed that they face some very real challenges in going about their work.


“Our members have worked on the frontline in bank branches as essential workers, serving communities every day,” said John O’Connell, general secretary of the FSU.

"We will be raising the issues of work-related stress, and increased work intensity directly with employers, as well as the Irish Banking Culture Board and the Banking and Payments Federation. However, we also want to ensure that Government takes appropriate action to protect staff who are working from home."

The FSU said that the next government should prioritise the introduction of laws regulating against excessive out-of-hours contact between employers and staff – or what’s known as the “right to disconnect”, Mr O’Connell said.

“We will shortly be releasing an FSU homeworking protocol for the finance sector, where we will lay out what we believe ought to be done to upgrade homeworking from the current emergency situation to a sustainable model by providing appropriate supports and structure to staff,” he said.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times