Union urges more protection and choice in working from home

Workers cannot be asked to bear extra costs of remote working, Ictu warns

Laura Bambrick of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions: Union is seeking a change in the law to give every worker the legal right to request flexible working.  Photograph: Tom Honan

Laura Bambrick of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions: Union is seeking a change in the law to give every worker the legal right to request flexible working. Photograph: Tom Honan

 

The Government needs to review employment legislation to ensure that workers who are engaged in remote working or working from home receive adequate protections, trade unions have argued.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) said employment rights must be preserved when people are working from outside the traditional workplace.

It also said that workers cannot be made carry any additional costs involved in working from home.

On Monday, it will publish a guide for those who are working from home.

In the guide, Ictu general secretary Patricia King writes: “Working from home or remotely from another location close to home, such as a digital hub or co-working space, has many advantages for workers. It can, for instance, improve your work-life balance, reduce your commuting time and carbon footprint, and save you money.

“However, in the absence of a collectively agreed company policy on homeworking, workers can face challenges too, such as working longer hours, feeling lonely and stressed, and slower progress up the career ladder.”

Legal right

Ictu social policy officer Laura Bambrick said protections for workers needed to keep pace with changes in the ways of working and gaps in the law needed to be closed.

She said many workers had expressed an interest in continuing with remote working. However, she said, unlike workers elsewhere in the EU or in the UK, Irish workers had no legal right to work flexibly, including working from home.

“Under current law remote working is solely at the discretion of the employer.”

She said Ictu was seeking a change in the law to give every worker the legal right to request flexible working.

Ms Bambrick said that, for some workers, “the mass home-working experiment has been fraught”.

Utility costs

Higher utility and broadband costs were among the most common complaints reported to trade unions she said.

“Remote workers should not have to carry the cost of doing business,” she said. “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.”

The Ictu guide says flexi-working arrangements must be in compliance with working time legislation. It says at a minimum, workers are entitled to a daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours per 24-hour period.

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