Another 11,063 Covid cases reported as Ryan suggests employers help cover home office costs

Working from home will be a ‘mainstay’ in the future, says Minister for Transport

Another 6,618 PCR-confirmed cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in the State, while 4,445 more people have registered a positive antigen test through the HSE portal.

These new case figures were among the latest Covid data reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team on Friday afternoon.

As of 8am on Friday, 615 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised in the State, of whom 64 are in ICU.

Four more people who had previously recently tested positive for Covid-19 have died in Northern Ireland, the North’s Department of Health said on Friday.

Another 2,923 confirmed cases of the virus have also been notified in the North in its latest 24-hour reporting period. On Friday morning, there were 423 Covid-19 inpatients in the North’s hospitals, with 12 in intensive care.

Cost of home offices

Meanwhile, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has suggested that employers should help to cover the cost of home offices where people continue to work from home after the pandemic.

The Minister for Transport said it will make sense for a great many people to continue working from home and that while individual arrangements are a matter for employers and their workers, it would make sense for companies to provide assistance where savings are made on the cost of office space.

"I definitely think we're looking at a future where working from home becomes the mainstay, everyday normal thing," Mr Ryan told Newstalk's Pat Kenny show.

“We do want people working from home, it is one of the innovations coming out of Covid that we want to keep. People like it, not everyone and I think younger people might get some social life through work as well, I think they’re very glad that the restrictions have ended and we can get back into offices,” he said.

In many cases, he continued, “people working from home is very beneficial. The key thing we need to get right is the protocols and these are tricky in terms of how do employers and employees decide how many days at home, how many days not, how will this work best?

“I definitely think we’re looking at a future where working from home becomes the mainstay, everyday normal thing.”

Case-by-case basis

Asked about the costs involved, Mr Ryan suggested that this should be decided on a case-by-case basis but that he sees a case for employers providing supports.

“Those are the details we need to work out and clearly if you are using infrastructure from home it will be for each employer and employee to work out where you are effectively establishing an office at home. It seems to me to make sense that the cost of those offices [at home] are covered.

“It would be significantly cheaper than providing office space in a city centre location so I think that is part of it.”

However, the Minister said that city centres also needed to be rejuvenated. There was too much reliance on people driving into work in the city centre and then driving home afterwards. There should be a more diverse range of use of property to create a better urban environment, he said.Additional reporting: PA